August 20, 2008
"From the outset the considerable poise and virtuosity of the brilliant players of the Dempster St. Pro Musica engaged the listeners in a sound world of elegant melodic line and rich texture."
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Chicago Symphony Orchestra assistant principal oboe Michael Henoch established the Dempster St. Pro Musica in 2008. “Just before the economic crisis,” he remarked wryly to the audience Sunday afternoon Nov. 4. A packed house had filled the 120 seats at 1245 Chicago Ave., in Evanston’s cleverly constructed S.P.A.C.E.
Henoch’s Dempster St. has survived and is obviously thriving, with a dedicated audience enjoying its informal atmosphere and high performance standards. This critic arrived late, due to numerous tow-away signs on Chicago Avenue and only heard half Robert Schumann’s “Funf Stucke im Volkson” played by cellist Kenneth Olsen and pianist Andrea Swan.
The afternoon was titled “Brahms and Friends,” and focused on composers who were part of his intimate private circle. Schumann is a familiar name, but the program also featured a wind and piano quartet in four movements by Heinrich Von Herzogenberg, played by Henoch, clarinetist Steven Cohen, CSO hornist Daniel Gingrich, bassoonist Tariq Masri, and Swan.
“Herzogenberg was a fine composer, but not a great one,” Henoch said before the music began. It was implied that we should listen carefully, as, he explained, “You’ll probably never hear this piece again.”
It was, in fact, filled with charming music that brought out the distinct qualities of the wind instruments — the rotund French horn, the slender voices of the clarinet and oboe, plus the deep growl of the bassoon, set against the shimmering percussion of the piano. The score had a merry heart, laced through with a lilting folk-style.
A short number, Hirtenlied for oboe and strings, by another Brahms friend Julius Rontgen was followed by the Brahms Sextet No. 2. For this Henoch assembled his CSO colleagues violinists Robert Chen and Lei Hou; violists Lawrence Neuman and Yukiko Ogura, and cellists Kenneth Olsen and Brant Taylor.
The theme of the afternoon was fascinating, the program was unusual and was played by musicians who are among the best in Chicago. So it is not surprising that Henoch’s winning approach to chamber music is now in its fifth season.
DSPM recommended concerts: March 3, 2013: 'Northern Lights' and March 22, 2013; Benefit Concert for The Evanston History Center.
"The theme of the afternoon was fascinating, the program was unusual and was played by musicians who are among the best in Chicago. So it is not surprising that Henoch’s winning approach to chamber music is now in its fifth season." Evanston Review(Dorothy Andries)- November 5, 2012
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