Thursday, May 15, 2014

An end of an era...

The Atlanta Chamber Players (ACP)  performed at the Shakespeare Tavern.  This was their last concert under the Artistic direction of Ms. Paula Peace.  AMC has interview Ms. Peace in the "Conversations with..." series on this site.

The program was a summary of why Ms. Peace has been so appreciated by audiences over the years.  The Quantz piece was classic baroque, played beautifully by Mssrs Skitch and Richie and Mmes Peace and Tiscione.  Ms. Peace played on a new digital harpsichord.  Purists may quibble, but AMC was intrigued.  Upon careful listening, AMC could tell it wan't "the real thing."  But since AMC has never been a fan of the sound of "the real thing", the emulation of the historic harpsichord was enjoyable- it was a bit less steely and shrill.  Composer Quantz was a flute virtuoso and apparently his writings about flute playing are used to this day.

The Harbison work was commissioned by the ACP, along with several other organizations. It was receiving its Southeast (USA) premiere.  The soloist was Beverly Blouin.  She is credited as a soprano but the color of her voice seemed to AMC more like in the mezzo range.  Harbison is  a leading American Pulitzer Prize winning composer.  For AMC, the piece was not immediately accessible and likely will require repeated hearings to fully appreciate it.  The text for the work, however was compelling, especially in the Crossroads movement which was kind of a paean to one's body, made even more acute when one begins to appreciate that it is wearing out.

The final work on the program was the humorous "Coffee Cantata" by Bach.  It is a short piece that is built around a father's disdain for his daughter's love of coffee, which at the time was considered a bit risque.  The humor of the work also lies in the fact that Bach wrote mostly religious works, and if one didn't know the meaning of the lyrics, one might confuse it for one of his church works.   The soloists included baritone William Killmeier who sang the role of the exasperated father.  The wayward daughter was performed by soprano Arietha Lockhart, whose soprano voice is clear, bright, and beautiful.  The narrator was played by tenor Richard Clement.  This was a fine performance that was played with the usual skill by the ACP and the guest soloists.

Atlanta's Shakespeare Tavern is an excellent venue for chamber music.  The musicians play on a raise stage that, in combination with the acoustics, make for a grand sound.  Patrons can also enjoy food while the performance takes place.   The informality adds to the convivial nature of the event.

Here is an aria from the piece with an English Translation (Ms. Lockhart did a much better job!):

Best wishes to Ms. Peace. She will be missed.  Her successor will be pianist Elizabeth Pridgen. AMC is planning to feature Ms. Pridgen in the near future.

Thanks to all of the musicians, benefactors, patrons and volunteers who made this concert possible.

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