The Rembrandt Chamber Musicians Concert IV Review – Delightful!

Rembrandt Chamber Musicians
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The Rembrandt Chamber Musicians offered Concert IV, “Eastern European Delights” on March 25, 2018 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. This venue is the perfect setting, intimate, beautiful and has excellent acoustics, all of which enhance the musicians who are talented and skilled.

The Kairos String Quartet from MIC’s Academy that won first place at the 2018 Annual Rembrandt Chamber Players High School Chamber Music Competition, began the program. They performed the finale of Béla Bartók’s String Quartet No. 5. with perfect timing, skill, energy and enthusiasm. This work was spectacular and intense, with just a touch of humor. It was beautifully executed. Each of the members of the quartet is a fellow at the Music Institute of Chicago. They are Joshua Brown (violin/viola), Julian Rhee (violin/viola), Thompson Wang (violin), and Lydia Rhea (cello).

Kairos Quartet
Julian Rhee, violin/viola; Joshua Brown, violin/viola; Lydia Rhea, cello; Thompson Wang, violin

The program continued with music that was lyrical, romantic and lovely. The blend of instruments, and their resulting sounds, were beautiful and uplifting.  Contrasting to the first work, was Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890 -1959): Promenades for flute, violin, and harpsichord, H. 274. The guest artists for this piece were David Perry, violin and Andrew Rosenblum, harpsichord and piano (taking the place of Mark Shuldiner who was ill). Rembrandt artist Sandra Morgan-flute completed the group. The work is charming, and light, with wonderful tonal blends. The strong presence of the harpsichord was delightful.

Andrew Rosenblum, Photo: Karjaka Studios

Ilja HURNÍK (1922-2013): Variations on a Theme of Pergolesi for flute, oboe, violin, viola, cello, and piano (Commissioned by Rembrandt Chamber Players in 1995) was especially interesting. Performers were Sandra Morgan-flute; Robert Morgan, oboe; John Macfarlane, violin; Carol Cook, viola; David Cunliffe, cello; and Andrew Rosenblum, piano. These themes were captivating and compelling and went by quickly, ending with a theme that was haunting and mystical.

MARTINU: Quartet for oboe, violin, cello, and piano
Jeannie Yu, piano; John Macfarlane, violin; David Cunliffe, cello; Robert Morgan, oboe

Following intermission, we were treated to second work by Bohuslav MARTINŮ, this time it was the Quartet for oboe, violin, cello, and piano, H. 315. Composed in 1947, this was his second to last quartet. The oboe is distinctive as it leads and follows the other instruments. Performers were Robert Morgan, oboe; John Macfarlane, violin; David Cunliffe, cello; Jeannie Yu, piano. The sounds were mellow with the oboe seeming to lead and then to follow.

DOHNANYI: Piano Quintet No. 1 in C Minor, op. 1
David Perry, violin; John Macfarlane, violin; Jeannie Yu, piano; Calum Cook, cello; Carol Cook, viola

The final work was that of Ernő DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960). His Piano Quintet No. 1 in C Minor, op. 1 was gorgeous, romantic and “dancy”. It was almost hard to sit still. The pizzicato cello lent richness and interest. What was especially remarkable was that it was written in 1895 when DOHNÁNYI was still a student at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest. It impressed Brahms who was influential in launching the young man’s career as a composer. The five performers in this work were David Perry and John Macfarlane, violins; Carol Cook, viola; Calum Cook, cello; and Jeannie Yu, piano. This brought the afternoon to a close except for the “encore” reception across from the music hall at Vinic Wines where conversation with other audience members and musicians took place.

DOHNANYI: Piano Quintet No. 1 in C Minor, op. 1
Calum Cook, cello; John Macfarlane, violin; David Perry, violin; Carol Cook, viola; Jeannie Yu, piano

Concert V is “Paris in the Springtime” on Friday, May 18th and Sunday, May 20th and promises to be a must see.


Founded in the fall of 1990, Rembrandt Chamber Musicians features six of the most highly accomplished musicians in the Chicago area, including principal members of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The ensemble’s expansive repertoire, ranging from historically informed performances of baroque classics to contemporary works by local composers, has consistently garnered high praise and recognition.


Photo credit: Darron McNutt unless otherwise noted.


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