Monday, June 25, 2012

Brahms at his best

The North Georgia Chamber Music Festival presented the last of its inaugural season concerts, which included:
Stravinsky- Suite italienne for cello and piano
Brahms- Piano Quintet, Op. 34

This concert took place at North Georgia College and State University in beautiful Dahlonega, GA.

William Ransom, piano, and Charae Krueger performed the Stravinsky.  I have a great deal of respect for each artist.  This was not Ms. Krueger's best performance and I will focus my comments on the Brahms.

The Piano Quintet was played by Kenn Wagner, violin; Olga Shpitko, violin; Yang-Yoon Kim, viola; Ms. Krueger, cello; and Mr. Ransom, piano.  This is a masterpiece of the chamber music literature.  It is big, bold, lyrical, and demonstrates Brahms' mastery of musical development.  The second movement is so beautiful and loving.  In a pre-performance talk, Mr. Ransom expressed his belief that this movement uses Clara Schumann's name as the basis for the main theme.  And so it seems and that interpretation makes the music all the more moving.  The third movement is big and very symphonic-like.  The same is true of the fourth movement.  Sunday's performance was stunning.  The musicians seemed to love playing it and with each other, particularly Mr. Wagner and Ms. Krueger.  They were animated and often smiled while joyfully playing the work.  Ms. Shpitko is always strong; she is a regular at Atlanta's Music on the Hill series, and has always been a solid musician.  William Ransom is a wonderful pianist and played boldly.  Finally, Ms. Kim was similarly gifted in this performance.  All of these fine players deserve a great deal of credit for what they achieved.

Mr. Wagner, a violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, may be an underappreciated musician.  Hs playing was technically strong, and his tone was absolutely wonderful.  I hope that in the future he has more opportunities to display his talents. 

Congratulations to Cecylia Arzewski for the this new chamber series.  Based on what I heard, it is an auspicious inaugural season. 

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