The Atlanta Chamber Players began their concert at the Cecil B Day Chapel at the Carter Library a little late. Apparently, the featured guest artist, Robert McDuffie, was running late due to traffic. When the concert finally began, McDuffie and Pridgen performed Brahms’ Violin Sonata no. 1 in G major. McDuffie didn’t seem to be playing his best through the first movement, though he seemed to gain more control as the piece progressed. I have to admit to zoning out a little during the second movement — though I blame that on Brahms, whose work has never really captured my esteem, and on my own fatigue from a long, stressful week.
I found that the second piece, Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat major, held my attention much better. I’d love to hear for piano, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn: I really liked this particular blend of timbres in this piece. The performance was mostly very good, though there was a distracting amount of breathiness from the clarinet that left me wondering if there was a problem with the reed or mouthpiece.
If I’m to be completely honest, the main reason that I came to this particular concert was the was Chausson’s Concert for Violin, Piano, & String Quartet in D major. This piece is so completely filled excitement, beauty, and fun that finishing the program with it pretty much guarantees a standing ovation. I particularly liked the performance of it that ACP and McDuffie gave: they brought a something along the sense of friendship out of it. As they revisited or passed along the three note motive of the first movement, it almost seemed like some kind of private joke shared between close friends. I would need to be an animator to fully express my perception of their performance of the second movement. I might frame it as the adventures of a friendly gang of birds. I might continue animating the third movement as tracing the relationship of two people from childhood through adolescence and adulthood and into old age — close friends and occasionally lovers, perhaps. I don’t know what I’d do with the final movement, but I can say that Pridgen, McDuffie, et al. did amazing things with it and I’m very glad that I went to hear it; they really did bring a lot to the piece.