New Asia Chamber Music Society in ReviewNew Asia Chamber Music Society in Review Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall April 19, 2011
There is an infusion of fresh blood in the chamber music world, if the recent performance by the New Asia Chamber Music Society is any indication. This newly formed ensemble, comprised of many young and gifted players, is an impressively organized and professional group. Their debut at Weill Recital Hall was tight and well rehearsed, which allowed the players to make music with sense of pleasure and spontaneity.
In the Brahms F minor Quintet, the heart of soul of this particular performance rested squarely with the cellist Nan-Cheng Chen and the violist Wei-Yang Andy Lin. Mr. Chen is a natural musician, who plays with a beautiful, singing tone and a keen awareness of ensemble. Mr. Lin, just as integral, but in a quieter way, is an ideal collaborator. He uses vibrato as a measured, expressive tool, and his pure intonation anchors the group. Although this quintet didn’t quite master the blend and uniformity of style that more seasoned players achieve, this was still a compelling performance. The use of nuanced dynamics and articulation, especially in the middle movements, gave texture and life to the music. Mr. Lin spun a pristine, cantabile melody in the Andante second theme, and the entire ensemble dispatched the Scherzo with breathtaking fire and precision.
Jay Lin’s, “…as time flows and eclipses…” was given a dark hued, richly vibrant reading by the New Asia players. Mr. Lin has a real gift for layering sound and color to create tension. Both his piano writing and his shimmering string figures sounded fresh and evocative.
The program finale, Tchaikovsky’s Sextet, op. 70 (Souvenir de Florence) was the least convincing offering on the program. All the elements that go into a good performance were present. Each individual made important, musical contributions to the whole, yet there were whole passages in which the players seemed to have conflicting ideas about interpretation. The Adagio movement especially felt too tightly controlled, so that I missed that floating, Italianate quality. This is a piece that would benefit from more instinctual impulses.
In general though, this is an ensemble of a very high standard. I enjoyed their music making and I congratulate them on generating a large and enthusiastic audience.