Members of Ritz Chamber Players Perform Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Style

Flair, pizzazz and sophistication are what can best describe the ultra-talented members of the Ritz Chamber Players, who were the featured performers at a recent concert of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Pianist Terrence Wilson, Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins and Cellist Tahirah Whittington performed Ludwig van Beethoven’s (1770-1827) glorious Triple Concerto for Piano, Violin and Cello in C Major, op. 56.

Ritz Chamber Trio (from left): Cellist Tahirah Whittington, Pianist Terrence Wilson and Violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins.

The opening movement of the concerto, “Allegro,” is jovial, light and instantly seizes your attention. Within a few measures, the cello—the prominent solo instrument—joins the orchestra. Tahirah exuded fierceness and confidence when she struck the cello’s strings. The violin follows and Kelly swept the bow in graceful motion. Finally, Terrence joined them and the piano’s notes rung out both with intensity and ease. All three are a fabulous trio of talent and were harmoniously joined to bring Beethoven to life.

The cello sets the tone for the second movement, “Largo,” a sentimental, melodious tune. The instrument aches to sing and everyone remains quiet and drawn into its melody. Tahirah was pure sweetness here, yet still determined. The piano later chimes in with its calming melody, followed by the alluring violin. Beethoven must have been a romantic, a lover of nature, a lover of tranquility, for such emotions are highlighted here.

The third movement, “Rondo alla polacca,” is when the colors really coil together, leaving trails of turquois blue (Tahirah’s gown was turquoise, while Kelly wore a white Grecian gown) and streaks of pleasantness along the way. Terrence clearly enjoyed his part—his fingers danced on the keyboard, his body moved with the beat and he easily interacted with Tahirah and Kelly. The trio’s conversation at the end was more dynamic, flavorful and rich. The piece is a challenge, but the trio performed as if there was nothing to it.

Johannes Brahms’s (1833-1897) Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, op. 98 was the final piece in the concert program. Could Brahms have been thinking about Clara Schumann when he composed his final symphony? Their relationship endured until her demise and he loved her like no other woman. (He died not quite a year after her.) The graceful opening waltz in the first movement, “Allegro non troppo,” flows into a deeper, more brooding layout of music and could be Clara inspired. The woodwinds are like voices calling out from the shadows. The violins are the plaintive cries of despair.

The second movement, “Andante moderato,” is a flowing splendor of elegance. The strings’ song grabs at your heart, pulls you in, so that you want to reach out to Brahms. They provide an exquisite melody, genteel glimpses into the composer’s own heart.

Allegro giocoso” is a dance of sorts and the music is uplifting. The pace is quicker, the mood lighter, though it grows dramatic toward the end.

The strings in the final movement, “Allegro energico e passionate,” weave in and out with the brass and woodwinds, creating layer upon layer of color. The flute, again gorgeously played by Les Roettges, is the lone voice crying out in its passionate tone to be heard. Then another cry emerges from the trumpets and horns before the violins and cellos respond with a fury.

The evening was a triple treat with the Chamber Players, Beethoven and Brahms under one roof.

(For an earlier post about Terrence Wilson, click here)

Upcoming Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Performance:
March 8 – 10, 2012

Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony
Corgliano: Oboe Concerto
Eric Olson
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, op. 92

Upcoming Performances with Tahirah Whittington:
April 4, 2012

Spring Concert
Ritz Chamber Players
Jacksonville, Fla.

Upcoming Performances with Terrence Wilson:
May 12 & 13, 2012

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2
Bay Atlantic Symphony, NJ

Upcoming Performances with Kelly Hall-Tompkins:
March 10, 2012

Mozart: Sinfonia concertante, K.364, E-flat Major
Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, Penn.

March 16, 2012
Mozart: Sinfonia concertante, K.364, E-flat Major
Erie Chamber Orchestra, Penn.

April 4, 2012
Spring Concert
Ritz Chamber Players
Jacksonville, Fla.

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