April 9, 2019: Chamber Music Amarillo, March 30.

On March 30, a packed house at the Fibonacci Space was treated to an evening of The Three B’s: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms for the final concert of the season for Chamber Music Amarillo,with four virtuosi performing solo, duet and quartet.

The first selection of the evening featured Annamarie Reader playing Bach’s Suite no. 1 in G Major for Cello, bwv 1007. Bach composed this early in his career, and the score is a virtual tabula rasa sans compositional mandates , thus enfranchising the performer with broad interpretive latitude.

The individual pieces are all dances, each having a different character but all colored by the rich sonority and overtones of the cello, immediately evident in the Prelude.

Of particular “note” was the double-stopping in the Allemande, more difficult on this instrument, and the two Minuets. The first had a happy tilt and lilt whereas the second was darker and had more force with an emphatic downbeat.

Lastly, Annamarie and JSB offered us a little Gigue, a final treat in this terpsichorean/cello sojourn, which ended all too soon. This artist needs a return to Cowboy Country ASAP, to again take us all dancin’!

Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Cello no. 3 in A Major, op 69 was written in 1808, just as the maestro started to recognize his encroaching deafness. Perhaps his Sturm und Drang informed parts of this work, especially the Allegro with its ebb and flow, unannounced eruptions bracketed by benign collaboration between the instruments.

The Scherzo contains passages of protracted syncopation, some sounding almost tongue-in-cheek after the mutability of the Allegro. The Adagio cantabile favors the piano with a sometimes coy cello provoking a high octane response, for which the Fazioli 278 and David Palmer were more than equal. Ultimately both instruments played in tandem leading to Beethoven’s patented final pound.

Hopefully David and Annamarie will have other occasions to play ’cause I wanna hear em!

The last number on the program was Brahm’s Piano Quartet no. 3 in C Minor, op. 60, with Evgeny Zvonnikov on violin and Vesselin Todorov on viola joining the piano and cello.

This work casts a morbid pall while being very alive. One senses an almost bipolar character to the piece, whose conception was in the context of Robert Schumann’s suicide attempt. Almost manic escalations tip into wistful declines throughout the four movements.

Some phrases stand out, such as Vesselin Todorov’s beautiful viola, wrapped around the cello and violin at the end of the Allegro. The pulsing ferocity of the piano in the Scherzo makes one wonder whether David Palmer or Brahm’s himself was venting his inner Beethoven.

The Andante with its elegant interplay twixt piano and cello is later matched by a consummate duet involving the violin and viola. This is a beautiful section in which to get lost.

The Finale builds to a series of incredible peaks before plaintively leveling out, two crashing chords marking Das Ende.

Such musical ambrosia we consumed Saturday night! If art brings us to the level of the divine, as Beethoven says, what we heard here in Cowboy Country was heavenly.

Our thanks to David Palmer for arranging this spectacular program, and his co-performers Annamarie, Evgeny and Vesselin. Such artistry, bestowed on us liberally and frequently in this place, is why we say, gratefully, “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!”

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