By Roy Ziegler
Artistic Director, Michelle Djokic, welcomed the Concordia Chamber Players’ audience to its eighth season on Sunday afternoon promising to help relieve the turmoil, clamor and chaos that the political season had wreaked on the public. As usual, Djokic, the popular, peripatetic cellist fulfilled her promise in stark contrast to many dissipating political oaths.
What better way to begin the healing the quadrennial partisanship than to present Ingolf Dahl’s Concerto a Tre? It set the mood for tranquil afternoon. Djokic described the work as portraying open spaces as where folks “hang out” enjoying the beauty of nature and trading thoughts about its glory. Todd Palmer’s wistfully, contemplative clarinet coaxed the somber violin of Peter Winograd to join him and cellist Michelle Djokic wandering through a jazz-inspired rhythm concluding with an airy lightness of mood. No wonder the great Benny Goodman was selected for the premier in 1947.
Samuel Barber’s Hermit Songs, magnificently arranged by Todd Palmer for clarinet and piano continued the poetic theme established in the opening work. Here a monk’s thoughts sometimes veer from the supernatural to the mundane. Celebrated pianist, Melvin Chen, joined Palmer in the musical interpretation as Djokic eloquently recited the verses to songs ranging from meditative visions and heavenly banquets to cat and mouse chases and back to the solitude of the hermit. Palmer’s clarinet evoked heavenly images giving way to Chen’s piano vividly portraying a feline pouncing on its unmatched prey.
In the finale Brahms’ Piano Trio in B Major the solemn precision of Djokic’s cello and the penetrating melody of Chen’s piano joined the soaring violin of Peter Winograd that would certainly have pleased the venerated composer. Although Brahms has written numerous works prior to the Trio, it was the first work that he allowed to be performed publicly. After a light and pensive opening the Trio arises phoenix-like to an impassioned allegro that soars beyond the melancholy to heights not previously attained leaving behind a haunting memory of its passion.
The Concordia Chamber Players’ season continues on February 13, 2005 in the Stephen Buck Theater at the New Hope-Solebury High School at 3 PM presenting works by Messiaen and Ravel. Tickets are $20 and can be reserved by calling 215.297.5972.