Friday, April 24, 2009

Springtime chamber music...and ducklings

Spring is truly here and the weekend weather will be wonderfully sunny and warm. Our Spring Bach Festival continues on Sunday (April 23) at 3 PM, when three outstanding instrumentalists -- Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord) and Jonathan Manson (cello) -- perform Bach Flute Sonatas; their EMI recording of these works was released back in October. Each musician takes a solo turn as well, so we'll also have the pleasure of hearing Bach's First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, Telemann's flute Fantaisie in D major, and a Purcell Suite in A minor for Harpsichord. (It's been long time since we've heard solo harpsichord in recital at Spivey Hall. ) I love the program's mix of works. This promises to be an utterly delightful performance.

Mr. Pahud, an EMI recording artist and principal flute of the Berlin Philharmonic, has performed at Spivey Hall to critical and popular acclaim in past seasons. We gladly welcome him back. Mr. Pinnock -- a leading figure in historically-informed performance, as well as founder and long-time conductor of The English Concert, with which he made many superb recordings -- makes his Spivey Hall debut, as does Mr. Manson, who is principal cellist of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and active in other early-music circles and ensembles. Clayton State University Music Department faculty member Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller gives the pre-concert talk at 2 PM, which never fails to give patrons effective ways of enhancing their appreciation and understanding of the music to be performed.

I do believe this Bach Festival program will suit the mood of our springtime Sunday afternoon very well. As much as I love Mahler's Sixth Symphony, which the Atlanta Symphony is performing with Donald Runnicles this week, I confess that I'm just not ready to contend with its anguish, darkness and angst when the weather's this fine and my mood is up.

Weather was an issue for the Atlanta Chamber Players earlier this season -- their March 1st Spivey Hall concert got SNOWED out...! Thankfully, schedules in April somehow meshed, so the rescheduled performance takes place tomorrow (as I write), Saturday, April 25, at 8:15 PM. Theirs is a program of three beautiful works. Beethoven's Serenade for Flute, Violin, and Viola features ASO principal flute Christina Smith, with her ASO colleagues violinist Justin Bruns and violist Catherine Lynn; more woodwinds in the spotlight, with Poulenc's delightful and very effective Trio for Piano, Oboe, and Bassoon, in which ACP artistic director and pianist Paula Peace is joined by ASO principal oboe Elizabeth Koch and principal bassoon Carl Nitchie. After intermission, and with the participation of ASO players John Meisner (violin) and Brad Ritchie (cello), the program concludes with the Piano Quintet in E major, Op. 15, of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, known for his fabulous film scores from the golden days of Hollywood, but also the opera "Die tote Stadt." His musical language is richly Romantic, his textures embrace the voluptuous, and his melodies can be very shapely indeed. I've only ever heard the Korngold Piano Quintet on CD, so I'm looking forward to hearing it performed live.

Another sign of spring: the waterfowl around Spivey Hall who call Swan Lake home have been nesting, and ducklings are in evidence! I know I'm something of a broken record on this topic (and I guess that phaseology dates me a bit), but the ducklings are my favorites. They always make me smile. One of the swans on the lake has been especially aggressive in chasing away the Canada geese from a specific area, so it's likely they're expecting, too. Cygnets always draw special ooohs and aaahs from Spivey Hall patrons, who enjoy strolling lakeside before performances and during intermission, particularly on bright afternoons. So perhaps a ballet of the newly-hatched chicks (pace Mussorgsky and Pictures at an Exhibition) may also entertain us on Sunday.


Blogger Lila said...

Loved the concert this afternoon, Sam! I have several recordings with Trevor Pinnock, and I really chose this concert because I wanted to see him. But Emmanuel Pahud was amazing!

Tell us about the harpsichord. It is a beautiful instrument. Does it belong to Spivey Hall?

5:24 PM  

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