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  • Writer's pictureIlona Oltuski

Late Night at the Rose

Insiders might know about the salon-style seated Late Night Rose chamber music offerings. However, within NYC’s mainstream classical music fare advertisement, these intimate feats still manage to fly a bit under the radar.

Perhaps it’s the relatively compact size of the room with a capacity of only up to one hundred guests, which additionally loses quite a bit of space to its comfortably arranged seating around small tables. Yet, the positive impact of creating a more intimate setting with a glass of wine in hand, building engagement opportunities for existing members of the Chamber Music Society, and inviting newcomers to the genre could, in the long run, more than make up for the smaller targeted ticket revenue.

CMS’ longtime artistic directors, Wu Han and David Finckel seem to have finally fully realized the PR potential of this gem of a room, which has been part of their CMS premises on the Rose building’s 10th floor all along. Equipped with a full-size Steinway concert grand and recording/streaming capacity, it is usually used as a rehearsal studio for CMS concert performances at Alice Tully Hall. While it has been allocated as an additional outlet for CMS’ diverse presentations of educational activities like masterclasses, lectures, and seminars, in the past, it has only more recently become an additional full concert outlet for CMS’ fine roster of already more experienced and younger, up-and-coming artists.

This Thursday night, the young violinist Stella Chen hosted audiences with her personal account through the simultaneously broadcasted program. Her natural approach was quite refreshing, letting her own words come through as she introduced some descriptive details of Ligeti’s, as she put it, “somewhat chaotic” Trio:” Hommage à Brahms.”

Indeed, she admitted, Ligeti’s homage, besides offering some structural parallels, had very little in common with the following Brahm’s Trio in B-major for Piano, Violin, and Cello, in the second part of the program, which she praised for showcasing “all the beautiful stuff.” Indeed, Brahms’ later re-edited piece, which omits some of the repetitive elements of its earlier version, is en pare with some of the composer’s most romantic fare.

“I have never had to work so hard yet to prepare for a performance,” commented Chen, praising her partners’ experience, namely pianist Gilles Vonsattel and horn player David Byrd-Marrow for the Ligety, and cellist Sihao He, for the Brahms – and their great collaboration. And indeed, between the mid-note exchange of glances, from cellist to violinist, from pianist to violinist, the utmost dependence of each ensemble member on the other became quite palpable.

Apart from some minor timing issues, both trios excelled with refined sound and great synergy, leaving audiences not only with a fascinating-to-follow exchange of virtuoso subtleties but some beautiful moments of heartfelt renditions – and with a positive and fulfilling performance experience.


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