PARADIGM CONCERTS, Wasatch Presbyterian Church, Friday.
The Paradigm Concerts offered its first performance of the season in its old home at Wasatch Presbyterian Church with a creatively diverse program that spanned a wide range of musical periods, from the 14th to the late 19th centuries, and played by an array of local musicians.
There were two major works on the program, Johannes Brahms' Trio in A minor, op. 114, and Niccolo Paganini's Quartet No. 15 for Viola, Violin, Cello and Guitar.
One of Brahms' last works, the trio is contemplative, and filled with resignation and a sense of peaceful repose. As with all of his late works, the stormy passion of his earlier music isn't present. There is still drama, especially in the opening movement, but it's subdued and doesn't have the impetuousness of his early works.
The threesome playing the work (violist Joel Rosenberg, cellist Ellen Bridger and pianist Susan Duehlmeier) gave a wonderfully perceptive and lucid reading. They captured the lyrical poignancy, the expressive emotions and the eloquence (particularly in the second movement) with their poetic playing.
On the other hand, the Paganini quartet, which closed out the concert, is anything but subtle. It's a charming work that contains the melodic twists and harmonic turns one expects to find in his music. It's filled with a light melodicism that's infectious and appealing.
Seemingly not content to just be a violin virtuoso without equal, Paganini also took up the viola and guitar and became quite adept at playing both instruments. He also wrote a fair amount of works that use the guitar.
In this quartet, Paganini transposes the violin and viola, so that the viola takes what normally would be the first violin part, and the sole violin is relegated to second. This gives a little more texture and depth to the work.
Playing the quartet were Rosenberg and Bridger, along with violinist John Thompson and guitarist Todd Woodbury. They brought a seamlessness to their performance that allowed the lyricism of the music to come forth. Rosenberg gave an especially poignant reading of the Adagio movement, capturing the music's eloquence with his poetic playing.
The rest of the concert consisted of shorter pieces.
Rosenberg opened the program with three Italian dances from the 14th and 16th centuries, transcribed for viola. Duehlmeier followed with an expressive reading of Felix Mendelssohn's Fantasy in F sharp minor, op. 28.
Thompson and Woodbury opened the second half with Fernando Carulli's Nocturne, op. 115, a captivating set of variations. Woodbury also played Gaspar Sanz's "Pavanas" and "Canarios."