The first on the program was the Brahms Viola Quintet No. 2 in G major. The combination of this glorious music, the grand acoustics and the skillful playing brought tears to AMC's eyes. The shear beauty of this work astounds. AMC finds it difficult to believe that a human could produce it, but Brahms rarely disappoints. Kudos to Ms. Alice Hong for her bold leadership of the group, as well as her very solid performance. This was followed by Puccini's "Crisantemi" (chrysanthemums), which is full of the kind of splendid melodies that the composer is best know for through his operatic output. It was played robustly and beautifully, though it tended to lack some subtlety.
Vivaldi's Concerto for Four Violins in B minor was played in its entirety, although the program only indicated the first movement. Stravinsky once said something to the effect that Vivaldi did not write 600 concerti; he wrote one concerto 600 times. Notwithstanding Stravinsky, Vivaldi's music is always upbeat, rhythmic, and spare and to the point. This performance was certainly enhanced by the very strong playing of David Coucheron, the ASO's concertmaster. He has a big tone, strong rhythmic sense, and great intonation. Lee Sheehan also played with strength and taste. This performance was a real showcase for the talents of this group.
The final piece was Richard Strauss's swirling, intense, and beautiful tribute to Munich's art scene that was nearly destroyed in WW2. Jun-Ching Lin from the ASO provided a very strong first violin-base for the performance. Like Coucheron, he has a big tone that kept this piece on track and focused. The Kellett Chapel is wonderful in supporting a strong bass line. Andrew Sommer, the son of the ASO's late bass player Doug Sommer, played facing the audience and he gave a very strong perfromance that added depth to the sound. It was a wise move to have placed this way. Congratulations to all who were involved. It was a performance worth hearing.