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Martinez Impressive in Ft. Worth Performance with Diaz Trio

FORT WORTH The Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth continued its winning streak Saturday afternoon with its fourth impressive program of the season.

The presence of the Fort Worth Stock Show practically next door to the society’s venue, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, created parking problems, but that didn’t keep the audience from packing the museum’s auditorium to hear music of Dohnanyi, Turina, Piazzolla and Brahms.

As that musical lineup suggests, these were composers and pieces both well- and little-known – a pattern that is becoming standard for the Chamber Music Society, regardless of who the guest musicians are.

The performers this time were pianist Gabriela Martinez and the Diaz Trio: violinist Andres Cardenes, violist Roberto Diaz and cellist Andres Diaz (the Diazes are brothers).

All have had distinguished careers: Martinez is a former semifinalist in the Cliburn Competition, Cardenes is a former concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Roberto Diaz is a former principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and currently head of the Curtis Institute, and Andres Diaz is a former winner of the Naumburg Competition. All continue to be active performers and educators.

The opening piece, Erno Dohnanyi’s Serenade for String Trio, gave the string players an opportunity to display their skills without the dominating sound of the piano. Such factors as subtle dynamic contrasts among the three and impressive solo turns (Roberto Diaz’s lovely viola sounds in the second-movement Romanza come to mind) made the piece a pleasure to hear.

Martinez joined the three for Joaquin Turina’s Piano Quartet in a minor, a little-known work to many lovers of chamber music but, on the basis of this performance, one well worth getting to know. The piece is suffused with fine melodies and has a distinctly Latin flavor (Turina was from Spain). Martinez produced bold sounds (somewhat magnified by the hall’s tendency to favor the piano), but never descended to banginess.

Martinez and Andres Diaz teamed for Astor Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango, which was a bit macho and certainly grand. They gave it a lively and atmospheric performance that must have convinced many present that this is one of Piazzolla’s more substantial works.

Finally, there came the best-known composer of the afternoon with Brahms’ Piano Quartet in c minor. Again, Martinez’s piano was strong but consistently well-judged, and all four musicians displayed an artistic teamwork that did this dramatic composition full justice.

Olin Chism, DFW.com
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