By DOROTHY ANDRIES
Why go to a live concert? CDs deliver near technical perfection, and televised performances give us a much better look at the players. The Rembrandt Chamber Players answered that question Sunday evening with a program so fresh and brilliantly played that it was definitely the place to be.
The Music Institute of Chicago’s Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston was the setting for many of the Rembrandt regulars: J. Lawrie Bloom, clarinet; Keith Conant, viola; Barbara Haffner, cello; Robert Morgan, oboe; Sandra Morgan, flute; Collins Trier, bass, and Yuan-Qing Yu, violin.
Guests artists were William Buchman, bassoon; Teresa Fream, violin; Gail Williams, horn, and Howard Levy, harmonica.
The music came from the Americas — “Aires Tropicales” by Cuban composer Paquito D’Rivera; “Impressions de la Puma” by Alberto Ginastera from Argentina, and “Five Tango Sensations,” by Argentinian Astor Piazzolla.
D’Rivera’s piece was a tapestry of many hues, with strands both jagged and smooth. As ably as the composer devised designs, so skillfully did the players — both the Morgans, Bloom, Buchman and Williams — execute them. The finale, “Contredanza,” overflowed with rollicking Latin rhythms, accentuated at times by the players stamping their feet.
Sandra Morgan unearthed the out-of-print Ginastera work for flute and string quartet, and the soulful, flashy music was worth the search.
Piazzolla’s tango renderings for string quintet and harmonica concluded the program, with the harmonica taking the part written for the bandoneon, the accordion-like instrument from Argentina.
The section titled “Asleep” was unabashedly Romantic in roots and expression, while in “Anxiety” the harmonica seemed to be crying out in distress. Levy favored us with an encore, his own dense, daring rendition of “Amazing Grace.”