Already looking forward to the next Chamber ME Music free concert at this venue on December 18, this Saturday brought a second delightful late morning concert, enjoyed by more than double the first audience at the River Tree Arts venue on Route 9 in Kennebunk Lower Village. The Eleventh Hour, so to speak, allowed time for just two works before noon, both by Robert Schumann (1810-1856). Violinist Jon Poupore performed the first half of the program as soloist in the Violin Sonata No. 1 in a minor, Opus 105, with Donald Alfano at the piano. The piano accompaniment was beautifully complementary to Poupore’s fine interpretation of the work.
As soon as the stage area was set for the quintet, the program continued with Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major by Schumann. The overall enjoyment level of the presentation was very high and no first time listener would find any fault with it. However, my role is that of the music critic who is expected to present constructive criticism.
My suggestion, with which Jon Poupore agreed when we spoke following the program, is that next time there is a piano quintet, they should place the seats of the string players just a little more to the right of the piano, so that the pianist could watch Poupore conduct via peripheral vision rather than having to turn the head to follow his leadership. The pianist was obviously entirely familiar with the work having played from time to time at a slightly runaway pace. The strings acquitted themselves well. It seemed to me that the cellist appeared to miss the opportunity to let his melodies sing out strongly from time to time.
The performance was remarkably good, considering the professional musicians had played the entire work together for the first time the day before, with only the Freeport concert prior to this one in Kennebunk. Naturally, all had prepared in advance. As compared with longstanding touring ensembles that rehearse with each other almost daily throughout the year, this would have to be considered a pick-up ensemble.
Members of the quintet in addition to Principal Violinist Poupore who led the ensemble, and Pianist Donald Alfano, were Second Violinist Ann Wallace, Violist Julia Eiten, and Cellist Tim Garrett. The violist studied at USM with Julia Adams of the Portland String Quartet. It is within the mission of Classical Voice of New England, dba Classical Voice of Maine, to review concert performances that include Maine-trained musicians and Maine music faculty. Soon the other New England States will be following suit as CVNewEng.org expects financial support to review musicians from the other five states. CVNewEng is finding Maine graduates engaged in performances throughout New England.