Chamber music is to many listeners an acquired taste, and it certainly demands from the audience member a proactive listening involvement. Not everyone is willing to “invest” that much effort into a concert, but the rewards can be tremendous. The most common defintion of chamber music is “instrumental ensemble music performed by one player for each part, as opposed to orchestral music in which there may be several players for each part,” (from the Harvard Dictionary of Music). Obviously, vocal chamber music can be defined the same way, although in most cases small vocal ensembles will still have at least three or four voices on a part. Chamber music (whether instrumental or vocal) is often enormously satisfying for the performer, because it allows an opportunity for complexity, virtuosity, collaboration and self-expression not always so common in music designed for orchestras and choruses.
I experienced a tremendously satisfying and rewarding chamber music concert at my church yesterday. The Sounds of the Spirit Concert Series of Roswell United Methodist Church presented the Atlanta Chamber Players in a program featuring the Beethoven Quintet in E flat Major for Piano & Winds, Opus 16 and Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in C Minor, Opus 66. The Atlanta Chamber Players features some of Atlanta’s finest instrumentalists, many of whom are principals with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. All the players were in top form yesterday as they made the music “live” in a way that no recording could surpass, no matter how fine it might be. This is because the audience members were privy to musicians performing at the top of their form with skill, finesse, and enthusiasm. Being in the room and witnessing the “transformation” of the players as each “became” the music he or she played was a special experience. As someone who is usually involved in the music making, it was wonderful to sit back and be transported by the inspiration of others.