The Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth bid its goodbye to 2012 on Saturday afternoon with a remarkable concert that was both well played and unusual in its programming.
The society generally -- actually, almost always -- programs pieces that were composed by giants of the distant past and are reassuringly familiar to chamber-music aficionados. This time it presented music by Josef Suk and -- horrors! -- a work by Witold Lutoslawski dating from 1984.
The society did comfort its audience in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth by concluding with music by Brahms.
The performers for this program were four distinguished musicians familiar to local audiences: violinist Robert Davidovici, former concertmaster of the Fort Worth; pianist Gustavo Romero of the University of North Texas; Symphony; violist Misha Galaganov of Texas Christian University; and cellist Eugene Osadchy of UNT.
The pre-intermission part of the program was devoted to Suk's Piano Quartet in A minor, Opus 1, and Lutoslawski's Partita for Violin and Piano. It's a good bet that none of those in the auditorium except the performers and annotator Laurie Shulman had heard either work before.
Suk shouldn't be confused with another Josef Suk, his grandson, who was a noted Czech concert violinist who died not long ago. The older Suk had another famous kinsman, Dvorak, who was his father-in-law.
Suk composed his piano quartet when he was 17 years old. It's amazing in how mature it sounds. Judging by this work, Suk had a real gift for melody, a familiarity with the intricacies of all four instruments, and a sense of musical drama.
Lutoslawski's partita was played by Davidovici and Romero (Davidovici will soon be recording an orchestrated version of the work with a London orchestra).
Basically a three-movement composition with a couple of interludes, it reflects the anguish of World War II with moving music that reaches a climax in a long, emotional largo. It's dissonant at times, but I found it a compelling, highly expressive work.
The one work on the program in familiar style was Brahms' Piano Quartet No. 2 in A major.
The four musicians in Saturday's program formed a cohesive team. Especially compelling were Davidovici and Romero in the Lutoslawski, and Romero proved to be a superb partner in the Brahms, forceful when the music called for that but never domineering when his colleagues were the center of attention.
The Chamber Music Society will say hello to 2013 on Jan. 5, in a program featuring former Cliburn Competition finalist Antonio Pompa-Baldi and clarinetist Gregory Raden of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.