Concordia Chamber Players, Caterina Szepes, Peter Winograd, Kenneth Cooper, Michelle Djokic and Dan Panner
By Roy Ziegler
Photo by Brian Keyes
The Concordia Chamber Players treated its audience to one of the most unique and pleasant concert experiences in its nine-year history at the season opener on Sunday afternoon in New Hope.
Keyboard virtuoso and musicologist, Kenneth Cooper, led the first part of the program using a harpsichord to give musical life to the whimsical, free-falling leaf of Martin Peerson and Francois Couperin’s amorous nightingale. Victoria Bond’s rapturous fig plants and even the snappy Venus Fly trap sprang to life in the delicate, then rapid, dramatic tones created by Cooper. The vegetation theme continued in George Frideric Handel’s Concerto in D for Harpsichord and strings, as Cooper explained Handel’s friendship with Georg Philipp Telemann that moved him to send exotic plants from London as gifts to the German composer. In return, Handel “borrowed” Telemann’s composition for his Concerto in D. Cooper’s intriguing performance clearly showed why he is one of the world’s leading specialists in the music of the eighteenth century.
Concordia’s artistic director and Associate Principal Cellist for the San Francisco Symphony, Michelle Djokic, opened the second part of the concert program with a passionate rendering of John Corigliano’s Fancy on a Bach Air that communicated the feeling of deep love between two of his closest friends and the eternal beauty that love creates.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s grand Quintet in G minor continued Corigliano’s theme dramatically stating how tragedy and loss must give way to peace and joy. Mozart biographer, Maynard Solomon, believes that the great composer felt, perhaps, that such deep yearnings could not possibly be conveyed with a single viola in this quintet. Violists, Maria Lambros of the New York chamber ensemble, Le Fenice and Dan Panner, Principal Violist for the New York City Opera validated Mozart’s perception. They communicated a restless intensity heightened by Djokic’s probing cello. Then, Peter Winograd’s violin seemed to burst into song and, accompanied by Caterina Szepes’ soaring violin, successfully led the ensemble to a bright conclusion where tragedy evaporated giving way to the sunshine of tranquility that Mozart strove to achieve.
The Concordia Chamber Players will continue its season on January 29, 2006 with a celebration of Mozart’s 250th birthday, cake and all, in the Stephen Buck Theater at the New Hope-Solebury High School at 3 PM. Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, Beethoven’s Viola Quintet and Kernis’s A Little Traveling Music will be performed. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling 215-297-5972 or at www.concordiaplayers.org. Children under 15 years of age are always admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.