“Music-Making in WWII” was the program title for music played by the Atlanta Chamber Players (ACP) at Ahavath Achim Synagogue. In spite of the beautiful spring-like weather the ACP played to a full house. The program began with Bohuslav Martinu’s trio for Flute, Cello and Piano (1944). The music was light-weight, and its thinness was attributable to the prominent flute part. The second movement was lyrical with the two outer movements having a touch of polite excitement. Everything was played strongly by Tood Skitch (flute), Brad Ritchie (cello) and Elizabeth Pridgen (piano). The second work was Gideon Klein’s String Trio, played by Helen Kim (violin) Catherine Lynn (viola), and Brad Ritchie (cello). Klein (born December 6, 1919; died January 27, 1945) was Czech. His death occurred shortly after he left Auschwitz, where he had been held captive after being held at Terezin, the “model” death camp that was responsible for the extermination of many composers and musicians. The Trio is thought to have been composed in September 1944. The first movement (Allegro) is brief, beginning with a strong introduction that morphs into a rather quiet ending. The second movement, Lento, incorporates Moravian themes and is a bit reminiscent in style or Kodaly or Janacek. The final movement, Molto Vivace, was a bit Bartok-like. Klein obviously had potential in a musical career cut short. Kim and Ritchie were joined by Catherine Lynn (viola).
The final work was the passionate and gorgeously romantic Piano Quintet No. 1 in C minor by Erno Dohnanyi, written in 1895. Dohnanyi’s Piano Quintet was fully as lush and dense as the music of Brahmas, from which it has stylistic lineage. This is big and melodious music that requires a big and melodious performance, which it received. Pridgen, Kim, Lynn, and Ritchie were joined by first violinist David Coucheron. Pridgen, Kim and Coucheron play large and they set the occasion for their colleagues to join with equal vigor. This was a near flawless performance; it was bold, rich, and riveting. All five musicians had a shared vision of this work and it showed in their great ensemble and sharply shaped dynamics. This may have been the performance of this concert season.