There was an simple sense of transition to Sunday’s live performance by the Georgian Chamber Gamers because the group opened its first correct season for the reason that passing of its founder, cello luminary and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra fixture Christopher Rex.
With a supergroup roster of expertise principally related to the ASO, the live performance at Peachtree Street United Methodist Church was a concise and nice affair, a discussion board for an alternate of musical conversations amongst high shelf gamers.
The afternoon started in an unassuming vogue with pianists Julie Coucheron and Elizabeth Pridgen performing a duet of Felix Mendelssohn’s Andante and Allegro Brillante, Op. 92.
A piece supposed to strike a tough distinction between the melodic and the virtuostic, Andante and Allegro Brillante supplies fertile floor for the mixed abilities of Pridgen and Coucheron — who’ve by now shared the four-handed piano format so many instances that it feels as if they function off of a shared consciousness. In that communal headspace they have been capable of seize Mendelssohn’s precarious stability between method and enjoyable for a mild however upbeat opening to the afternoon’s live performance.
The second piece, Johannes Brahms’ Viola and Piano Sonata No. 2 in E-flat main, Op. 120, No. 20, was a marked shift in tone and one chosen, as Coucheron defined later, as a darker distinction to the Mendelssohn items that bookended it.
The efficiency afforded listeners the chance to understand Pridgen as a soloist. Her naturally sturdy hand served the music of Brahms nicely: His is a darkly deliberate and thundering type that, even in lighter moments similar to these, casts darkish clouds throughout in any other case blue and clear skies.
Middle stage for the Brahms, nevertheless, was the stellar efficiency of violist Zhenwei Shi, a local of China who joined the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 2019 as principal violist and exemplifies the casual alliance between the Georgian Chamber Gamers and the symphony.
Shi captured nicely the darkly tense nature of Brahms melodies — he’s a musician unafraid to dig deep into the brash, gut-wrenching depths that Brahms sought to discover. Shi remains to be a younger man proving himself regardless of an already achieved efficiency historical past, however he displayed a depth of maturity past his years in his sonorous interpretation of Brahms.
Brahms’ Viola and Piano Sonata No. 2 is a bit other than itself. Initially written for clarinet and devoted to his good friend, clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, the reinterpretation for viola stays a well-liked staple of chamber performances to at the present time.
The important query turns into simply how nicely the violist in query can emote phrases initially supposed for a woodwind instrument. To this finish, Shi was cautious to intensify his longer notes within the heart of the tone, a stylistic selection that seems like a carryover from the clarinet’s breath-oriented tonality. It’s that sort of consideration to element and nuance that marks an awesome musician.
The ultimate, and longest, work of the afternoon noticed a return to the extra playful pastures of Mendelssohn with Concerto for Piano, Violin and Strings in D Minor and with it a renewed curiosity within the function of cellist throughout the group. That function was, for the afternoon, crammed by ASO appearing principal cellist Daniel Laufer as a stopgap for unique Rex substitute, Rainer Eudeikis, who stays out of pocket as a result of his current work with the San Francisco Symphony.
Becoming a member of Laufer have been Coucheron on piano, her brother and ASO concertmaster David Coucheron on violin, double bassist Joseph McFadden and extra violin help from Justin Bruns and Kevin Chen.
The Concerto for Piano, Violin and Strings in D minor sits properly amongst Mendelssohn’s catalogue of cheerful, layman-friendly melodicism. It bears explicit distinction for having been written whereas the composer was a lad of 14. That youthfulness is instantly obvious within the work, which has a kind of educational minimalism within the accompanying devices — they principally transfer collectively and infrequently intersect in any dynamic ways in which might distract from the melody line.
Laufer’s function was a passive one though he had a way of deliberate area in his pacing — a subdle restraint that balanced him nicely amongst his different counterparts. Prime honors for the efficiency go to David Coucheron, whose tonally wealthy efficiency noticed him delve right into a deeper diploma of sonic element than what he’s usually afforded by the acoustic vastness of Symphony Corridor.
The Georgian Chamber Gamers have returned in drive for what guarantees to be a charming season, even because the seek for a everlasting cellist stays unresolved. The ensemble will return January 29 at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta.
Jordan Owen started writing about music professionally on the age of 16 in Oxford, Mississippi. A 2006 graduate of the Berklee Faculty of Music, he’s knowledgeable guitarist, bandleader and composer. He’s presently the lead guitarist for the jazz group Different Strangers, the facility steel band Axis of Empires and the melodic demise/thrash steel band Century Spawn.