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Chicago Chamber Musicians 

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This concert of romantic works includes one of the most glorious examples of the genre: Schumann's Piano Quintet, whose virtuosic piano writing and scale almost make it a concerto. The exhilarating first movement alternates optimism and yearning tenderness; the second is mournful and tumultuous. The joyful third contrasts a rush of ascending scales and dotted rhythms with tranquil and dancelike sections, and the fourth introduces a double fugue that builds to a triumphant finale. CCM members Deborah Sobol (piano), Joseph Genualdi and Jasmine Lin (violins), and Rami Solomonow (viola)--will be joined by guest cellist Marina Hoover. Also on the program is the original chamber version of Wagner's poetic Siegfried Idyll, written for his second wife, Cosima. He assembled an orchestra in their house early on the morning of her 33rd birthday, waking her up with the serene, pastoral opening; the work takes some time to reach a full crescendo, long enough for her to realize she wasn't dreaming. Like the Siegfried Idyll, Brahms's Variations on

a Theme by Haydn is better known as a symphonic work, though the two-piano version on this program was composed at the same time. Brahms was a genius when it came to the color and textural range of the piano, and when this version of the work is done well--as on the new recording by Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman--it can be as satisfying as the orchestral one. But the performers have to be careful to balance the sounds of their instruments and not drown out the subtler voices of the piece. The opening statement of the cheerful theme is followed by eight exquisite variations and a finale using a vast array of compositional styles and techniques. Sobol will be joined by guest pianist Kuang-Hao Huang, a doctoral student at Northwestern University. Sun 3/13, 7:30 PM, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University, 50 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, 312-692-9000 or 312-225-5226, $18-$36. See also Monday.


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