|Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes extended his stay in town. (Simon Fowler/The New York times)|
You can't really hold an ad-hoc ensemble like this one, with limited opportunity for rehearsals, to the same standards of nuance one might use to judge a veteran piano trio, but this threesome made a reasonably strong case for this seldom-heard work, bringing vigor and lucidity to its bright outer movements and a warm lyricism to the inner ones. Lowe's playing was polished and incisive; one wished at times for more assertiveness from Eskin, but his tone was unerringly sweet and resonant; and Andsnes played with his typical intelligence and pellucid grace. For those keeping track, the Claremont Trio is also working its way through the trios of Schumann and Brahms in an ongoing series at the Gardner Museum, concluding March 16.
After intermission came an even more rarely heard work: Manuel de Falla's stage pantomime "El Corregidor y la Molinera" ("The Magistrate and the Miller's Wife"), an early incarnation, premiered in 1917, of the composer's popular ballet "The Three-Cornered Hat." Its stripped-down scoring for small chamber orchestra - in this case 12 players plus mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy - was originally born of wartime necessity, but it also works well on its own terms, bringing out the taut construction of Falla's exceedingly colorful score with all of its witty instrumental flourishes. More generally, this is precisely the kind of work that the Boston Symphony Chamber Players should be taking on: seldom heard yet deserving music whose scoring requires a depth of personnel that only an ensemble drawn from a full orchestra can easily provide.
Like the ballet, the work's scenario is based on Pedro Antonio de Alarcón 1896 novel: A magistrate has designs on the miller's pretty wife but is outsmarted by the miller himself. The score is full of delightfully characterized woodwind solos, here delivered by the BSO principal players - Elizabeth Rowe, John Ferrillo, William Hudgins, Richard Svoboda, and James Sommerville - with a vividness that would have made miming actors seem almost redundant. As the vocal soloist, Murrihy sang the "Song of the Cuckoo" with a pure and generous tone, warning married couples to keep their door tightly locked, all through the night.
Not least, this was a chance to hear the work of BSO assistant conductor Julian Kuerti before he makes his subscription debut in March with the full orchestra. His account of the Falla was surely paced and notable for the fluidity with which he made the score's many dance forms - the fandango, the jota, the seguidilla, and the farruca - come vibrantly to life.
Jeremy Eichler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.