Reviewer’s Notebook, CORNELIA COTTON
The recent recital by The Chamber Players of Croton at the library was the most accomplished, but also the most touching, of the group’s concerts so far – it was dedicated to Its founder, Stephen Morris, who was gravely ill.
After a free-spirited, sunny Mozart trio, soprano Terri Huntington sang, with stirring emotion, the melancholy Schubert lied, “Auf Dem Strom,” beautifully accompanied by horn player Liz Dejean and pianist Erika Schenker. The consort’s wind quintet shone in an arrangement of Puccini arias, in a suite by Debussy, and in a witty set of bagatelles by Ligeti. This vastly influential contemporary composer is not everyone’s favorite, but the presence of this piece infused into an otherwise traditional program a bit of zing along with the tone clusters. The Bach Siciliano arranged for bassoon and piano featured the wonderful playing of Edwin Cabrero, one of the mainstays of the group. Due to him, I have come to appreciate better the bassoon and its possibilities, both as part of an ensemble and as a solo instrument. Flute and piccolo parts throughout the program were taken by Ann Butler, an excellent musician, but sadly, as she took Stephen’s place, a bittersweet note was lent to her sensitive artistry. The program began and ended with Mozart. The Piano Quartet #1, K. 478, one of the glories of the chamber music repertoire, was given a radiant performance –the crowning end to a moving event.
The end came to Stephen Morris a few days later, the tragic finale to a brilliant man, mind, and musician, and an immense loss to our community. As a newcomer to Croton, he jumped with both feet into the activities of the Croton Council on the Arts, invigorating the group with his irrepressible enthusiasm and vision. A tireless worker, he did not limit himself to creating the Chamber Players, with whom he participated as the flautist and all-around impresario, but he envisioned a newly flourishing arts council that would make its presence felt in all branches of the arts.