CEDAR RAPIDS — The music of J.S. Bach, Michael Haydn and Johannes Brahms provided an entertaining evening Saturday at the Orchestra Iowa Opus Concert Cafe in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Orchestra Iowa Concertmaster Takuya Horiuchi, Principal Violist Lisa Ponton, Principal Bass Volkan Orhon and Maestro Tim Hankewich, playing the harpsichord, opened the concert with Bach’s “Trio Sonata in C minor, BMV 526.” With Horiuchi and Ponton engaging in dialogue and playful imitation, accompanied by Hankewich with Orhon providing bassa continua, the selection helped set the musical pace for the remainder of the evening.
Although Michael Haydn is not as well known as his older brother, Joseph, his music was very popular during his lifetime. Haydn’s “Divertimento in C Major for Oboe, Viola and Double Bass,” performed Saturday by Principal Oboe David Hempel and Ponton with Orhon again providing bassa continua, was very enjoyable with its mix of joyous and more somber movements.
Hempel, Ponton and Orhon, building on Bach’s “Trio Sonata in C minor,” prepared the audience for the final selection in Saturday’s “Three’s Company” Orchestra Iowa Chamber series program.
Brahms wrote the “Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano in E-flat Major” in the summer of 1865 after the death of his mother earlier that year. The contrasting moods of the selection vary from a brooding, somber first movement to a lively second movement, until the composer interrupts it with a moody and somber middle section.
Brahms’ third movement is melancholy and deeply moving, most likely as the composer reflected on his mother’s death. It also provides a hint of the main theme in the finale, which celebrates a joyous hunting melody that provides a lively interchange between the horn, violin and piano.
The “Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano” was performed to perfection by Orchestra Iowa Principal Horn Charles Harris, violinist Horiuchi and pianist Hankewich. The selection showcased the talent of all three musicians, who played with a passion that drew equally strong applause from the audience.
While Orchestra Iowa regulars have enjoyed the talents of Harris and Horiuchi for many years, Hankewich dramatically demonstrated that he is a gifted pianist when he is not serving as maestro.
Saturday’s Orchestra Iowa Chamber series concerts at 6 and 8:30 p.m. were sold out, a tribute to the reputation of the performances and the new intimate Opus Concert Cafe.