MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Tribute to Clara Schumann

On Sunday 28 March at 5pm PST, Port Angeles’s Music on the Strait — the Strait of Juan de Fuca, that is — presents Tribute to Clara Schumann from the shores of Lake Sutherland. The performers include co-artistic director James Garlick (violin), Saeunn Thorsteindottir (cello), Orion Weiss (piano), and Nathan Hughes (oboe). Violist and Music on the Strait co-artistic director Richard O’Neill, who just won the Best Classical Instrumental Solo Performance Grammy Award, will introduce.  The concert can be accessed for free here.

Program:

Clara Schumann: Three Romances for Violin and Piano, Op 22 

Robert Schumann: Three Romances for Oboe and Piano, Op 94 

Johannes Brahms: Wiegenlied and Liebestreu arr. for Cello and Piano

Clara Schumann: Piano Trio, Op 17

My story for the New York Times on Clara Schumann’s 200th birthday can be read here.

Filed under: chamber music, music news

Emerald City Music’s Spring Online Offerings

Emerald City Music has announced a series of concerts and musical events through May. Every month features a new cast of musicians who perform, share about their craft, and provide insights into the music they perform. The series is filmed in collaboration with two New York City-based filmmakers, Tristan Cook and Zac Nicholson, who bring their own artistic merits to this unique experience of chamber music. 

All concerts will be available on Emerald City Music’s website and Vimeo platform for one month;  at which point the next performance premieres. Listeners have a choice of how to gain access: pay for each performance for $20 (which supports future listening experiences) or share it on social media to gain free access. 

Currently in rotation: The Calidore String Quartet pairs two quartets recently recorded for their newest album, Babel. These two works by Robert Schumann and Dmitri Shostakovich stem from bleak periods when each composer suffered, and overcame, depression. Their music transmits what occurs when music substitutes for language. In the case of Shostakovich, words aren’t enough to fill the void of forbidden speech. Schumann uses music to sing the name of his wife, Clara.

Filed under: chamber music, music news

Winter Festival: Seattle Chamber Music Society

Week 2 of Seattle Chamber Music Society’s 2021 Winter Festival continues on Saturday with a program of Schumann, Sibelius, Massenet, and Prokofiev. And since the performance is streamed online, no worries about how the coming winter storm will shape up.

Every concert is available to stream on demand from its release through March 15. Subscriptions for all 6 concerts are $100.

Filed under: chamber music, Seattle Chamber Music Society

Tessa Lark and Andrew Armstrong at Cal Performances

Cal Performances at Home opens its season with a violin-piano recital by Tessa Lark and Andrew Armstrong on October 1 at 7pm PDT. The program includes:

BARTÓK (arr. Székely)Romanian Folk Dances
YSAŸESonata No. 5 for Solo Violin
SCHUBERTFantasy in C major, D. 934
GRIEGViolin Sonata No. 3 in C minor
RAVELTzigane

I had the pleasure of writing program notes for this performance, which can be found here. The stream was filmed exclusively for Cal Performances on location at Merkin Hall, Kaufman Music Center, New York City, on August 17, 2020. There will also be a pre-concert conversation with Tessa Lark and Cal Performances executive and artistic director Jeremy Geffen. 

Filed under: chamber music, music news, violinists

Tippet Rise at Home: Escher String Quartet

On Thursday, 10 September, at 6pm MT, Tippet Rise continues its monthly streaming series, Tippet Rise & Friends at Home, with a concert featuring the Escher String Quartet.

Their program includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Quartet in F major, K. 590 and the Adagio from Samuel Barber’s Quartet, Op. 11 (otherwise known as the “Adagio for Strings”).

You can access the stream here.

Here are the last two months’ streams:

Pianist Behzod Abduraimov

Pianist Stephen Hough

Filed under: chamber music, string quartet, Tippet Rise

A Virtual Festival of Chamber Music


[clip from the earlier incarnation of the James Ehnes Quartet, which launches Seattle’s Virtual Summer Festival this week]

The Seattle Chamber Music Society launches its Virtual Summer Festival this evening. This isn’t just a visit to the archives but a 12-concert series of all brand-new live performances that will be taped before being released to the public as streams.

The concerts will be made available on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule at 7pm PST. These will be “on-demand”: in other words, you won’t have to view them at the specific streaming time but can access all concerts for which you have purchased a pass through 10 August 2020 — as many times as you like.

This is an experiment and a risk. How many will pay for internet performances, as opposed to free streams? Each concert costs $15, or you can purchase a pass to all 12 programs for $125. For the first time, SCMS’s Chamber Festival is thus available to anyone anywhere with internet access, and performances cannot be “sold out.”

I wrote about the planning that went into this approach for the Seattle Times.

Artistic Director James Ehnes and his quartet will perform part two of their complete Beethoven quartet cycle in the three concerts on offer this week. This continues and concludes the journey they began in January — under normal circumstances — at the shorter Winter Festival.

Meanwhile, Ehnes put his quarantine time to use at his home in Florida by recording the solo partitas and sonatas of J.S. Bach and the corresponding Ysaÿe sonatas. He will be releasing these in a series, starting here.

Filed under: Beethoven, chamber music, COVID-19 Era, festivals, James Ehnes, Seattle Chamber Music Society

Seattle Chamber Music Society’s Summer Festival Goes Forward

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James Ehnes, Seattle Chamber Music Society artistic director, in the recording studio he set up while sequestered at his home near Tampa, Florida, where he just completed recording Bach’s solo violin Sonatas and Partitas. (Courtesy of Kate Ehnes)

Here’s my story about Seattle Chamber Music Society’s plan to go forward with its beloved, month-long Summer Festival with an online version.

Along with its terrible human toll, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the performing arts. Cancellation announcements are now so routine that the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s (SCMS) decision to proceed with a 2020 Summer Festival comes as a welcome respite…

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Meanwhile, here’s something from James Ehnes’s makeshift home studio. I’ll write more about his latest project there in an upcoming post.

Filed under: chamber music, James Ehnes, music news, Seattle Chamber Music Society

RIP Lynn Harrell (1944-2020)

This week brought the sad news that Lynn Harrell has died. He was only 76. Here are some “master class” observations on Beethoven’s Op. 104, no. 1 that the incomparable cellist shared with The Strad last year:

There is the most wonderful moment in the first movement of Sonata no.4, at the beginning of bar 94, where Beethoven writes in A major in the piano part and D minor for the cello. This lasts only for a moment, but for a Classical composer to have the concept that the two main poles of traditional harmony – the dominant and the tonic – could be played at the same time shows that he was starting to think in a way that might have led, if he had lived another 15–20 years, to a Schoenbergian breaking up of traditional harmony altogether. It’s just extraordinary.

Filed under: cello, chamber music, music news

Eötvös and Joyce

The Cuarteto Quiroga and Jörg Widmann recently performed this fascinating program centered around music by Peter Eötvös inspired by James Joyce at the Boulez Boulez-Saal. My essay for the program is here.

The video above is from the recording of Eötvös’ Sirens Cycle by the Calder Quartet and soprano Audrey Luna, which is the origin piece for the new Joyce-inspired works for string quartet and clarinet.

Filed under: chamber music, Pierre Boulez Saal

A Prismatic Program from the Danish String Quartet

Danish-Quartet-759x500

Currently touring the West Coast, the Danish String Quartet paid a visit recently. I now get what the fuss is about. Here’s my review for Strings:

The Danish String Quartet‘s contribution to the Beethoven 250 celebrations this season includes a tripartite North American tour. As part of the fall segment of this tour, which is currently underway, the Scandinavian foursome made a recent stop in Seattle. On offer was the first of the Beethoven-themed programs they are presenting under the project name PRISM. The performance launched this season’s International Chamber Music series at the Meany Center for the Performing Arts of the University of Washington.

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Filed under: Bach, Beethoven, chamber music, Danish String Quartet, review, Shostakovich, string quartet, Strings

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