Over the past decade, Murray Perahia has emerged as the most consistently engaging of the postwar generation of concert pianists. Technically brilliant (of course) and astutely insightful (a far less common trait), the New York-born, Juilliard-trained Perahia also possesses that all-too-rare gift of being able to get to the heart of any music and to turn a listening experience into an emotional and intellectual odyssey. His recordings of the Beethoven and Mozart concerti are proof enough: they are among the more palatable of the recent releases. Now, at age 40, Perahia has matured into a provocatively passionate chamber musician as well. In this Chicago debut recital, he’s teamed up with the Vermeer, Chamber Music Chicago’s resident string quartet, in two landmarks of the romantic repertory–the Brahms Piano Quintet and the Faure Piano Quartet. In addition to their youthful spirit and great beauty, both works are noted for their subtle and dauntingly difficult piano parts–just the right stuff for Perahia’s astounding skills. The concert will open with an intriguing item–a string quartet attributed to, yes, Benjamin Franklin. Thought to have been composed Paris when the polymath Franklin was emissary to France, this curiosity, I’m told, resembles Boccherini and early Haydn. Its inclusion on the program aptly inaugurates CMC’s welcome, season-long tribute to American music. Monday, 8 PM, Civic Theatre, 20 N. Wacker; 242-6237.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steve J. Sherman.