Concert 1: July 14 & 15
Our first program begins in the Renaissance with music of lutenist and composer John Dowland and then veers toward the neo-Baroque with Kenji Bunch’s 2017 composition for string quartet entitled Apocryphal Dances a work he describes as “a love letter to the 18th and 19th centuries”. Robert Beaser’s Mountain Songs for flute and guitar round out the first half with variations of folk melodies that harken back to the Renaissance lute tradition heard in Dowland’s work.
Our musical journey then takes us to 1785 with Mozart’s wonderful Quartet for piano and strings in g minor. This piece is considered the first major work for an ensemble consisting of violin, viola, cello and piano. Heard here in the context of olden styles, its cutting-edge ‘newness’ is apparent.
Concert 2: July 21 & 22
Our second concert comprises bold pieces with familiar names, and yet they are new, or almost new, to the CCP stage. We keep an ongoing record of music we have performed and are currently at 879 works over the past 53 years. This does not count repeat performances! The Beethoven duo that starts the concert was done once in 2000 in the off season. The Schubert violin fantasy has not been played here since 1975, and the Grieg quartet has never been programmed here. Perhaps the theme of this concert should be “It’s about time!”
Concert 3: July 28 & 29
Our third program has a fascinating pairing of two works by young composers written c. 1825: a viola sonata by 21-year-old Mikhail Glinka and a piano quartet by 16-year-old Felix Mendelssohn. Glinka was a child of privilege and was groomed by his father for service in the Foreign Office. A light work schedule allowed him to pursue his first love and immerse himself in the study of music. He would come to be known as the father of Russian musical nationalism. The first movement of his viola sonata was written in 1825. Glinka returned to the piece in 1828, writing a second movement that remained unfinished. Russian violist Vadim Borisovsky completed the final 40 measures of the work and premiered it in 1931. Felix Mendelssohn’s third piano quartet comes just 40 years after the Mozart quartet on our first program. Mozart had brought this grouping of instruments into prominence. Mendelssohn’s fiery romantic voice shows how much stylistic change had come about in such a short time. Included on this program is another composer we have been rediscovering among the many whose careers and lives were cut short by World War II. Erwin Schulhoff’s Duo for violin and cello was written in 1925 and is rooted firmly in the native soil of Czech folk music and language. Written at a time when theoretical notions of musical expression dominated, it is most decidedly anti-Schoenbergian ‘new-music’.
Concert 4: August 4 & 5
When we talk about Italian musical masters, we immediately conjure names we know from the world of opera. This glorious and wildly popular theatrical tradition was the path to fame and security for so many gifted musicians, but there has always been much other music going on in Italy as well. The fourth concert brings forward two Italian composers with whom you may not yet be familiar, but we are sure you will be happy to hear more from them. To start the program, we have a cello sonata by Antonio Vivaldi, arguably the most popular Italian composer of all time. We are performing this piece with an accompaniment updated in the 1950s for the modern piano by Mario Dalapiccola, a 20th century Italian master of 12-tone music. His version keeps Vivaldi’s original bass line intact but weaves canons with the cello melody and adds the occasional ‘blue’ note. A string trio from 1950 by composer Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco follows. He was a WWII refugee who made it safely to America and found employment as a film composer. Completing this concert is an epic quintet for piano and string quartet by Giuseppe Martucci written in the 1870s. His music is the height of romanticism.
Concert 5: August 11 & 12
Our fifth concert of the series again features music of composers who are household names. Brahms’s gorgeous Sonata no. 3 in d minor for violin and piano, begins the concert and is followed by two works for trios of violin, cello and piano. Haydn’s Trio in C Major from 1797 is one of 45 works he created for this combination. Critics have always admired the great piano virtuosity of the pieces as well as Haydn’s interesting and adventurous harmonic writing. Sergei Rachmaninoff’s powerful Trio élégiaque comes almost 100 years later. It was composed by the 20-year-old composer as a tribute to the recently deceased Tchaikovsky and modeled on that composer’s own trio. It is a dark and brooding experience, in stark contrast to the joyous optimism of Haydn’s work.
Concert 6: August 18 & 19
To end the 2020 season, we celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birth year with music spanning the most traumatic five years of his creative life: the onset and total descent into profound deafness. Looking back, knowing this history and the suffering that was to come, it is astonishing to hear the pure joy and delight in life that shines throughout these three pieces. The youngest work, the Clarinet Trio, opus 11 was composed in 1797 and is a wonderful romp by a composer just starting to make a name for himself. Its attraction to a public that relished woodwind chamber music would have been strong. The final movement’s use of a very popular song for a set of variations added to the immediate appeal. Work on the Septet, opus 20 began two years later. It, too, is upbeat and energetic and became his most popular opus during his lifetime. The Violin Sonata, opus 30 no. 3 that starts the concert was completed in the summer of 1802 just a few months before Beethoven was to pen the famous (and never delivered) letter to his brothers, frankly outlining the depths of his despair and suicidal thoughts as he faced the inevitability of total deafness. Once again in the thick of this, Beethoven creates an untroubled and gay piece of music that has been variously dubbed the ‘Charmer’ and the ‘Champaign Sonata’.
*all programs are subject to change*