By Lawrence Budmen

The twelfth annual Mainly Mozart Festival opened Sunday afternoon at the Colonnade Hotel with a program of chamber works for strings (hosted by Festival Director Frank Cooper). Two of Mozartís rarely played String Quintets and a dramatic quartet provided a showcase for the Amernet String Quartet, the new resident ensemble at Florida International University, and guest violist Richard Fleishman. The beautifully warm and balanced sound of the Amernet foursome was greatly enhanced by the recently acquired Amati instruments played by violinist Misha Vitenson and violist Michael Klotz. The music was bathed in plush tones of Vienesse velvet.

Some of Mozartís most deeply personal, emotional works are in minor keys. In the dramatic String Quartet in D Minor the Amernet players shaped the graceful Andante with cultivated elegance and musicality. The groupís vigorous attack and taut intensity were riveting in the stormy Menuetto. The quartetís spacious tempo and felicitous phrasing evoked the romantic heartbeats beneath the finely chiseled classicism of the Allegretto finale. The entire performance glowed with the burning inner fire of interpretive discovery. 

Mozartís two String Quintets are rich in melodic invention and emotional depth. The dramatic tension of the opening movement of the C Major Quintet was firmly anchored by violinist Marcia Littley de Arias and cellist Javier Arias. The remarkably angular Menuetto was played with smoldering intensity. In the divine Andante the darkly burnished tones and supple interplay of Vitensonís violin and Klotzís viola was scintillating. The sparkling opera buffa finale was essayed with brio. 

Fleishmanís patrician musicianship and instrumental subtlety brought ruminative passion to the tempest tossed Allegro that opens the D Minor Quintet, one of Mozartís greatest works. The playersí subtly underplayed version of the Menuetto made the sudden dissonances all the more shocking. The endless melody of the Adagio sang eloquently from the instrumentsí darkly burnished tonal aura. The tension of the grave Adagio was unleashed in the final Allegro, a veritable mini violin concerto played with sparkling ťlan by Vitenson Ė festive Mozart indeed.

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