Headed by ISO principal clarinetist David Bellman and his wife, ISO cellist Ingrid Fischer-Bellman, the Ronen Chamber Ensemble returned to their always-former home, the Circle Theatre Wood Room for three works made for experiencing in these intimate surroundings. First we had the Suite d'après Corrette for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon by Darius Milhaud (1892-1974). The oboist was Wei-Tzu Chiu, an Indianapolis resident currently in her senior high-school year at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.
Clearly showing remarkable talent, Chiu held her own with Bellman and ISO bassoonist Oleksiy Zakharov in the suite's contrasting eight parts, beginning with "Entrée et Rondeau" and ending with "Le Coucou." Chiu showed lots of promise as a potential future symphony-orchestra oboist.
Next came the Serenata for Clarinet, Bassoon, Trumpet, Violin and Cello, in six parts, by Italian composer Alfredo Casella (1883-1947)--more spiky . . . and more interesting than the Milhaud. ISO principal Marvin Perry played the trumpet, Areta Zhulla the violin--in her Indy debut--and Fischer-Bellman the cello. The work's opening "Marcia" recalls the opening of Stravinsky's more famous chamber piece L'Histoire du Soldat in its pounding rhythm. Strong contrasts abounded, with No. 5, "Cavatina," employing only violin and cello. That the five players were clearly having fun with the piece made it all the more enjoyable for the rest of us sitting very near them.
Continuing this season's Brahms cycle, the Ronens concluded with the German Romantic's Piano Trio No. 1 in B, Op. 8, but completely rewritten late in his life, making it the most profound of the three works Brahms gave us in that genre. The only "new" player was pianist Gregory Martin. The Zhulla/Fischer-Bellman/Martin trio once again made this Brahms and an ingratiatingly immediate experience, sharing their best in giving us Brahms at his best.
The Ronen series returns on Monday, March 11, 2013, this time to the Christel DeHaan Center at UIndy, as part of the university's Faculty Artist Series. The concert is free-admission and is titled "Brahms and the Moderns." Brahms' Clarinet Trio will be featured along with works of Liebermann and Nielsen. Jan. 29; Hilbert Circle Theatre