On Sunday afternoon, the unique Asheville Chamber Players performed a short concert as part of their 17th concert season entitled "First Sundays at St. Matthias" at the venerable Episcopal Church in Asheville. The ACP is a group of professional and amateur musicians who share a love of music and performing. This concert series represents a partnership between the ACP and St. Matthias; all concerts are free to the public, although donations are accepted and split between the Players and the church.
After a short introduction from host Ron Lambe, conductor Stephen Klein, the Music Director of the Asheville Chamber Players, entered and got the program underway. The concert opened with one of Haydn's early symphonies, No. 8, also known as "Le Soir" ("The Evening"). The group started off strong, filling the basilica with a cheerful baroque sound. However, after a few minutes of playing, several issues began to creep into what was otherwise an enjoyable performance. The group was plagued by intonation troubles and various stylistic disagreements. The most daring moment of the performance was the beginning of the second movement, which calls for very precise intonation and phrasing that would be difficult for any ensemble. The ACP put forth a valiant effort in performing this difficult work but some additional polishing was left to be desired.
The second and final piece of the performance was Mozart's Concertone for Two Violins, featuring the Asheville Chamber Players' own violinists Arnold Brown and Day Ann Emory. This three movement work, a slightly esoteric part of Mozart's catalogue, suited the ACP's style. This cheerful music featured both violinists, several individuals, and the entire ensemble in equal parts. The canonic motifs throughout the piece presented some difficulty for the ensemble as once more the individual players did not align stylistically with one another.
While this performance was not perfect, the enthusiasm and passion the members of the ensemble have for music made it an enjoyable experience. The Asheville Chamber Players are not booked to play again this year, but will return for the 18th First Sundays season in 2014. See our calendar closer to the end of the calendar year for details.