“Rather than celebrate Mother’s Day with a mom-flavored program at their Sunday evening concert in Bethany Lutheran Church, a six-member contingent from the Colorado Chamber Players chose to honor the recent birthdays of Brahms and Tchaikovsky, who both arrived on a May 7 (the former in 1833, the latter seven years later).
……In her introduction, the violist alluded to Brahms’ infatuation with Agathe von Siebold- who, as the group demonstrated, was immortalized with a brief tune in the composer’s Second Sextet. This shimmering, tuneful work was then given a fine reading by four CCP regulars: Margaret Soper Gutierrez and Paul Primus, violins, Hamilton and cellist Jeffrey Watson – plus guest artists Thomas Heinrich, cello, and Matthew Dane, viola.
“……the Scherzo received a more spirited reading, with some wonderful playing from Gutierrez in the first violin chair.
Particularly effective was the third movement, richly scored in its lush orchestral texture, amply showcasing the ensemble’s cohesive blend and its impeccable balance. This work and the Tchaikovsky sextet that followed intermission place severe demands on each player, a challenge met with flying colors by these experienced, solidly professional musicians.
As Primus noted, this work is orchestral in its construction, calling on the each player to project a big, full-blooded sound. Here again, the ensemble delivered the goods. The two hair-raising codas in the opening and closing movements proved as exciting as anything delivered at chamber-music concerts this season, inspiring a standing ovation from those gathered to hear this stimulating program of two undeservedly neglected works.
This program once again reminded us of the value of this adventurous floating organization, which, under Hamilton’s leadership, has served up rare and unusual repertory of all shapes and sizes for 21 years – a distinction clearly evident in the announcement of offerings for next season, titled “A Year of Shostakovich.” Can’t wait!”
-Marc Shulgold, thescen3.org, May 10th, 2015
“While their counterparts in the festival choir and orchestra got to deliver Bach’s exquisite “St. John Passion” over the weekend, the string quartet took on one of the composer’s more cerebral triumphs, Art of the Fugue, arranged for string quartet. The performance had… moments of tender lyricism. Throughout Monday’s concert, the quartet skillfully highlighted the latticework voices and lifted the melodies off the page. They brought a keen use of dynamics that supplied depth and tension to the material. ….The musicians turned Bach’s voicewriting into a nuanced conversation….in more intimate moments the voices soared. The concert enabled audiences in Denver and Fort Collins to experience Bach as an innovator during a week of programming by the Colorado Bach Festival that also highlights Bach as a creator of sacred masterworks.”
– Brad Turner, Colorado Public Radio, June 10, 2014
“The CCP and Bermel played with incredible finesse and expression throughout, clearly drawing the chromatic richness of this piece while maintaining a sense of hushed urgency. Bermel was particularly effective in the second movement, Adagio – Piu lento, beautifully and effortlessly articulating his part as it blossomed from the balanced sound of the string quartet. This work comes late in Brahms’ output, and his maturity is evident in treating the clarinet as a fifth member of the ensemble rather than as a soloist supported by quartet. The elegant, old-world charm of his writing brought the concert to a close with the Con moto (Theme and Variations) movement. The sound of the clarinet (as played by Bermel) was the star of the evening, with a wonderful variety of effects and shadings produced in Bermel’s, Hogan’s, and finally Brahms’ writing. The mix of new and old brought compositional elements into focus, with CCP’s nuanced chamber playing as the lens. …..The most successful of Bermel’s compositions was the most recent, A Short History of the Universe (2013), which closed the first half. ….Bermel and Primus were joined by Margaret Soper Gutierrez on violin, Barbara Hamilton on viola, and guest cellist Danielle Guideri. The ensemble gave this imaginative, vivid piece a fine and detailed reading.”
– Ruth Carver, thescen3.org, May 17, 2014
“Which brings us to Joseph Haydn, and a bold undertaking instituted by two local viola players (no viola jokes, please). Haydn virtually defined the word prolific. He just could not stop composing during the bulk of his 77 years, penning dozens of sonatas, operas, sacred works, plus 104 Symphonies and more than 120 Trios for an extinct contraption called the Baryton (don’t ask). Oh yes, and 83 brilliant, ground-breaking String Quartet. Surely, no one would dare attempt to serve up all those Quartets. “Ha!!,” says Barbara Hamilton”
– Marc Shulgold, thescen3.org blog, April 2013
“Tuesday’s performance by the Colorado Chamber Players was one of the finest quartet concerts that I have heard. It was pure Haydn for many reasons, and this ensemble is absolutely beyond compare. ……..Performing is a re-creative art. One has to do exactly what the composer wished, and to do so, one has to know a great deal about music history, the composer, as well as performance practices of the period on one’s own particular instrument. The Colorado Chamber Players, Primus, Gutierrez, Hamilton, and McIntyre, have that knowledge and the dedication to their art. This was a spellbinding performance. Hearing three Haydn quartets on one program was electrifying as well as illuminating.”
– Robin McNeil, Opus Colorado, March 2013
“The Colorado Chamber Players truly excelled in the performance of these pieces. Not only do the members of this organization know how to perform, but it seemed to me that their instruments, and the quality of sound they produced, matched each other amazingly well. I was immediately reminded of the old Budapest Quartet which I grew up listening to in my younger days. The CCP’s playing was incredibly liquid and extremely refined.”
– Robin McNeil, Opus Colorado, October 2011