Georgian Chamber Players at Madison-Morgan Cultural Center: David Coucheron, Julie Coucheron, Zhenwei Shi, and Daniel Laufer. (credit: Mark Gresham)

Georgian Chamber Players close Madison Chamber Music Festival with a powerful reprised program

Georgian Chamber Players
March 5, 2023
Madison-Morgan Cultural Center
Madison, GA
David Coucheron, violin; Zhenwei Shi, viola; Daniel Laufer, cello; Julie Coucheron, piano.

Johannes BRAHMS: “Scherzo” from the F-A-E Sonata WAoO 2
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN: Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 1 No. 3
Antonín DVOŘÁK: Piano quartet in E♭ major, Op. 87

Mark Gresham | 8 MAR 2023

The final concert of the 2023 Madison Chamber Music Festival took place this past Sunday in the auditorium of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center this past Sunday afternoon, favorably complemented by a day of warm, sunny, spring-like weather. The Georgian Chamber Players performed a program of music by Beethoven, Brahms, and Dvořák, which they had previously presented at the end of January in Atlanta at First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.

Madison, Georgia, is located 65 miles east of midtown Atlanta and 30 miles south of downtown Athens, making it far enough away from each for a reprised program like that to attract its own core local audience to the concert but close enough to either city for art and music lovers to take a day trip to attend as well—the best of both worlds.

Madison-Morgan Cultural Center. (credit: Mark Gresham)

Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, March 5, 2023. (credit: Mark Gresham)

Violist Zhenwei Shi and pianist Julie Coucheron opened the concert with Johannes Brahms’ Scherzo from the F-A-E Sonata, a four-movement collaborative composition by Robert Schumann, the young Johannes Brahms, and Schumann’s pupil Albert Dietrich. Brahms composed the Scherzo third movement, arguably the best of the four. Although originally for violin and piano, violist Thomas Riebl of the Royal Northern College of Music transcribed the Scherzo for viola and piano, which is how Shi and Coucheron performed it on Sunday.

Ms. Coucheron, violinist David Coucheron, and cellist Daniel Laufer then performed Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Trio in C minor, Op 1 No 3, and all four musicians came together in the program’s second half for Dvořák’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in E♭ major, Op. 87 (B. 162). The singular difference between the first iteration and this performance was that Elizabeth Pridgen was pianist for the Dvořák in January, while Ms. Coucheron was pianist for the entire Madison concert.

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Both concerts were solidly well-played. Both venues possess excellent acoustics but have different personalities—all the better reason to attend both and experience the character of each.

From the perspective of sitting at the back of the audience, the auditorium at MMCC allowed for a surprising degree of projection and presence of sound, especially given the heavy curtains lining the back of the proscenium stage behind the musicians. The predominantly wood construction of the space provided a roundness of quality without being overly wet. The sonic balance among the musicians was also gratifyingly excellent.

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About the author:
Mark Gresham is publisher and principal writer of EarRelevant. he began writing as a music journalist over 30 years ago, but has been a composer of music much longer than that. He was the winner of an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for music journalism in 2003.