ASO: Pre-Concert Chamber Recital

I was fortunate enough to be sitting with a member of the ASO’s Talent Development Program before the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s pre-concert chamber recital this evening. I was fighting a horrible amount of grumbly grumpiness but she was sweet enough to humor some random adult asking her about her music studies. It’s amazing what a dose of youthful optimism can do to turn a mood around. Thanks to her, I was already in a pretty good mood when the music began and I’m grateful for that because it let me quickly settle into the best of the pre concert chamber recitals that I’ve been to this year.

Of the three pieces on the program, I’d already heard the musicians play two of them in other venues. The first of those was Elisabeth Remy Johnson’s transcription of Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango for flute and harp performed by Remy Johnson and Christine Smith. I originally heard them play this at the Schwartz Center, performing as the Aster Duo, in a really good recital last Autumn that I never got around to writing about. The change in timbre from guitar to harp is really very interesting for the piece: it makes it have this sense of sweet nostalgia for the first three movements and it makes the final movement, “Modern-Day Concert”, sound really cool and kind of wild in a more intellectual than visceral way.

The next piece was Bernard Garfield’s Quartet for Bassoon and Strings. This was, at times, very sweet and, at others, quite beautiful. The thing that really struck me about it, though, was how good the bassoon sounds with a string trio. There really should be more written for that combo.

Finally, we heard Ginastera’s String Quartet no. 1 performed by three quarters of the Peachtree String Quartet, with cellist Charae Krueger replaced by the ASO’s Thomas Carpenter. I scribbled the words “Carpenter Krueger” on the back of my hand so that I could remember to come up with a clever Nightmare on Elm Street reference but I’m afraid that I’m just not sharp enough to pull that off. If either of my readers can think of an appropriate one then please leave it in the comments section below. Anyway, I heard the Peachtree String Quartet play this just last month as part of what was probably my favorite concert of theirs that I’ve attended so far. They were good then and they were good this time. It’s a very exciting piece that builds a lot of tension and provides a lot of fun along the way.

Between the pre-show company and the music, my mood has been much improved and my afternoon off rescued from a terrible gloom. I expect that I’ll enjoy Saturday’s concert: I’m definitely looking forward to the program and hopefully the musicianship will be as good in the featured event as it was in this pre-concert recital.

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