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Overview: The Georgian Chamber Gamers charming kick-off to its new season

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 because the passing of its founder, cello luminary and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra fixture Christopher Rex.

With a supergroup roster of expertise largely related to the ASO, the live performance at Peachtree Street United Methodist Church was a concise and nice affair, a discussion board for an trade of musical conversations amongst prime 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 meant to strike a tough distinction between the melodic and the virtuostic, Andante and Allegro Brillante offers fertile floor for the mixed expertise of Pridgen and Coucheron — who’ve by now shared the four-handed piano format so many occasions that it feels as if they function off of a shared consciousness. In that communal headspace they have been in a position to seize Mendelssohn’s precarious steadiness between approach and enjoyable for a mild however upbeat opening to the afternoon’s live performance.

Elizabeth Pridgen (left) and Julie Coucheron performed four-handed piano on a Mendelssohn piece for an upbeat opener.

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 robust hand served the music of Brahms nicely: his is a darkly deliberate and thundering fashion that, even in lighter moments similar to these, casts darkish clouds throughout in any other case blue and clear skies.

Heart 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, intestine wrenching depths that Brahms sought to discover. Shi continues 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 chunk 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 essential query turns into simply how nicely the violist in query can emote phrases initially meant for a woodwind instrument. To this finish, Shi was cautious to intensify his longer notes within the middle of the tone, a stylistic selection that appears like a carryover from the clarinet’s breath oriented tonality. It’s that type of consideration to element and nuance that marks an excellent musician.

Georgian Chamber Players
Zhenwei Shi, principal violist for the ASO, confirmed nice nuance in his studying of the Brahms piece with Elizabeth Pridgen on piano.

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, stuffed by ASO appearing principal cellist Daniel Laufer as a stopgap for authentic Rex substitute Rainer Eudeikis, who stays out of pocket attributable to his latest work with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. 

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 Burns and Kevin Chen.

The Concerto for Piano, Violin and Strings in D minor sits properly amongst Mendelssohn’s catalogue of cheerful, layman pleasant melodicism. It bears specific 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 largely transfer collectively and rarely 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 tonaly 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 an expert guitarist, bandleader and composer. He’s at the moment the lead guitarist for the jazz group Different Strangers, the ability metallic band Axis of Empires and the melodic dying/thrash metallic band Century Spawn.



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