Evermay Chamber ensemble at Strathmore performs ‘Souvenir de Florence’

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that Evermay Chamber has presented concerts for several years. The S&R foundation launched Evermay Chamber in May 2013.


Evermay Chamber Players in a November 2013 performance. (Ben Powell for S&R Foundation/Ben Powell for S&R Foundation)
June 6

Evermay Chamber, the ensemble of young international artists that began life in 2013 with concerts in the elegant surroundings of Georgetown’s Evermay estate, is looking outward to new venues and larger audiences. The first such venture was on Thursday at Strathmore where they attracted a respectable if not capacity crowd for a program that paired Tchaikovsky’s ardently romantic sextet “Souvenir de Florence” with the tongue-in-cheek “Carnival of the Animals” by Saint-Saens in its original octet scoring (with a marimba in place of the glass harmonica).

Tchaikovsky, master of orchestral sonorities, offers some options in this sextet, particularly in the first movement. It can be played with a broad orchestral opulence powered by the extra viola and cello or, given some breathing room in its phrasing, it can veer toward a more chamber-like transparency. The Evermay chose the former and managed to sustain lush energy under the powerful and lyrical give-and-take of violinist Alissa Margulis and cellist Claudio Bohorquez. There were times when the second violin might have been more assertive, but the ensemble outlined the movement’s architecture with impressive clarity. Their second movement pianissimos were diaphanous and the two concluding movements with their folk dance-like melodies moved with irresistible momentum.

The Saint-Saens was pure fun. It took several species to get the Ogden Nash poetry aligned with the music (the description of the fearsome lion headlined a tiptoe through a crowd of hens and roosters) and the pauses between music and narration seemed too long, but the characterizations were vivid, and the children near me in the audience seemed delighted.

Reinthaler is a freelance writer.

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