A lovely companion for your morning coffee, it is also unlike any other book on music I have read. But it is certainly one that lovers of chamber music and fans of the Takács Quartet will want to read.
Dusinberre focuses on just four composers—Edward Elgar, Antonín Dvořák, Béla Bartók and Benjamin Britten—and music by them that he has played and recorded as first violinist of the Takács. In each case, he discusses the composer’s life and what “home” might mean to them, and to him.
This interest on Dusinberre’s part grows out of his experience as a dual national who grew up in England but has lived many years in the United States. Like Dusinberre, three of the composers left their homes for the U.S. at some point in their careers: Dvořák, who lived in New York and Iowa 1892–95 before returning permanently to his homeland in Bohemia; Bartók, who was forced to flee Europe in 1940 and died in the United States in 1945; and Britten, who voluntarily moved to the US at the outbreak of war in 1939 but whose longing for home led him to return in 1942.
In contrast, Elgar lived his entire life in Britain, apart from tours in the U.S. and continental Europe, and he provided some of the most identifiably “British” music in the form of his “Pomp and Circumstance” marches and other works.
But the book is far more than an introduction to these composer’s biographies, because Dusinberre describes his own relationship with each work, both individually and as a member of a leading quartet. He begins in fact with his own childhood in Leamington Spa and his move to New York, followed by his rediscovery of Elgar, as it were, as acknowledgment of his own Englishness. That sets the theme of the connection between home and music.
The section on Elgar is best understood to those who are familiar with British geography, such as the Malvern Hills, which I had to look up. The rest is easily accessible to American readers, and it is great fun to read about life in a top string quartet—both in and out of rehearsals, which are both mundane work and distilled artistry. If you follow the Takács, these will be your favorite parts of the book. For others, it will be the insight into the specific works around which the book revolves—Elgar’s Piano Quintet, Dvořák’s “American” String Quartet, Bartók’s Sixth String Quartet and Britten’s Third String Quartet—and the related works that Dusinberre mentions.
Throughout the book, he connects the works he has played to other works of the same composer, to literary works, and to the times in which they were written. As I said at the outset, I know of no other book that manages this balancing act, combining personal experience with digressions without ever losing the thread.
In its scant 210 pages of text, I came to enjoy Dusinberre’s pleasurable company, I learned from his many insights into music, and ultimately I was sorry to put it down at the end.
Programs in January, March and April cover repertoire from 18th to 21st centuries
By Peter Alexander January 4 at 3:05 p.m.
The Takács Quartet has announced their spring series of concerts on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. As usual, each of the three concerts will be played twice, on a Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. and the following Monday at 7:30 p.m.: Jan. 8 and 9, March 12 and 13; and April 16 and 17 (see full programs below). All performances will be in Grusin Hall of the Imig Music Building.
Each concert includes at least one piece that is outside what is regarded as the core repertoire for string quartet. The first concert of the series, scheduled for the coming weekend (Jan. 8 and 9) includes the String Quartet in E-flat major by Fanny Mendelssohn, programmed together with quartets by Haydn and Beethoven.
Fanny Mendelssohn was the sister of the better known composer and an accomplished musician in her own right. The Quartet in E-flat was performed only once during Mendelssohn’s life, largely because her brother disapproved of it.
The second program features two quartets by Schubert—the early Quartet in B-flat major, written when the composer was 17, and his last quartet, composed 12 years later. Completing the program is Summa by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Originally written as a choral work, Summa has been subsequently arranged by the composer for strings, and has been performed alike by quartets and string orchestras.
The final program of the spring series will feature the Takács with guest artist Julien Labro performing on bandoneon, the Argentinian cousin of the accordion, and accordina, a mouth-blown harmonicon with a keyboard of a button accordion. The program will feature music by Labron, Bryce Desner, Dino Saluzzi and Clarice Assad, as well as the String Quartet in F major by Ravel.
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Haydn: String Quartet in F major, op.77 no. 2
Fanny Mendelssohn: String Quartet in E-flat major
Beethoven: String Quartet in A minor, op.132
4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9 Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building
Performances will be on the Takács Quartet concert series, Sunday and Monday
By Peter Alexander Nov. 2 at 4:46 p.m.
The Ivalas Quartet spent the years 2019-22 in residence at CU-Boulder, under the mentorship of the Takács Quartet. Now serving as the Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School in New York, they have returned to the CU campus to perform as guests on the Takács’s concert series.
Their program, featuring the music of Beethoven, Eleanor Alberga and Osvaldo Golijov, will be performed at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7, in Grusin Music Hall of the Imig Music Building. Tickets to both live performances, and to a live stream that will be available from 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, though 11 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, are available from CU Presents.
The Ivalas Quartet has always been creative in the their programming. The group has stated a goal to “disrupt the classical music world by . . . spotlighting BIPOC composers.” Among the composers whose works they have presented is Eleanor Alberga, a Jamaican composer who currently lives and works in the United Kingdom.
Although not well known in the U.S, Alberga’s music has been performed throughout the United Kingdom as well as in Australia, China, South American and Canada. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2021. She has said that her First String Quartet was inspired by a lecture on physics, particularly the notion that our bodies are made of stardust.
Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov draw on both his Jewish heritage and his Latin American roots in works such as The Dream and Prayers of Isaac the Blind for klezmer clarinet and string quartet, and his opera Ainadamar. Golijov described Tenebrae as “the slow, quiet reading of an illuminated medieval manuscript” that offers “a ‘beautiful’ surface” but with pain beneath that surface.
Compared to works by Alberga and Golijov, Beethoven’s String Quartet op. 130, is familiar to most classical music audiences. One of the composer’s late quartets, it was completed in 1826. The slow movement, titled “cavatina,” is considered the high point of the score and was included on the “Golden Record” sent on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977.
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Eleanor Alberga: String Quartet No. 1
Osvaldo Golijov: Tenebrae
Beethoven: String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, op.130
4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building
Tickets to both live performances and a live stream of the concert are available HERE.
Guest conductor Giancarlo De Lorenzo and violinist Loreto Gismundi, both from Italy, will launch the 2022–23 season of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra (BCO) Saturday, Oct. 29, in a program titled, unoriginally, “Mostly Mozart” (see concert details below).
In this case, however, the name definitely fits: the program features a violin concerto (No. 4 in D major, K218) and a symphony (No. 29 in A major, K201) by a youthful Mozart, and just one short intro to the concert, Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” from the oratorio Solomon.
This concert is part of an exchange between De Lorenzo and BCO director Bahman Saless, who previously conducted the Italian orchestra with which De Lorenzo is affiliated.
The two Mozart works were both written in Salzburg, between the young Mozart’s three trips to Italy as a teenaged opera composer (1769–71, 1771–72 and 1772–73) and his disastrous trip to Paris (1777–79) during which he failed to find a permanent job and lost his mother. He was not particularly happy in Salzburg, but this was a fairly stable period of his life, and these are some his first important, mature compositions.
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“Mostly Mozart” Boulder Chamber Orchestra with guest conductor Giancarlo De Lorenzo and Loreto Gismundi, violin
The English composer Benjamin Britten (1913–1976) comes from a later generation then the Hungarian Bélá Bartók (1881–1945), but in their next CU campus concert the Takács Quartet scrambles the chronology just a little bit by playing the very first quartet by Britten, followed by the last quartet by Bartók, written four year later (1941 and 1945).
That program, which also features Mozart’s String Quartet in D major, K499, will be presented at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, in Grusin Hall on the CU campus. The performance is also available by live stream (see ticket information here).
Due to World War II, both the Britten and Bartók quartets were written in the United States. A pacifist and conscientious objector, Britten left England in 1939, although he returned to his native country before the war was out. He wrote several works in the US, including the String Quartet No. 1 and his first opera, Paul Bunyan. He wrote his popular Ceremony of Carols on a dangerous and stressful return voyage across the U-boat infested North Atlantic in 1942.
Bartók came to the US a year later out of his opposition to nazism, and eventually became a US citizen shortly before his death from leukemia in 1945. In addition to the Sixth String Quartet, other works written in the US include his Third Piano Concerto, his unfinished Viola Concerto, and the Concerto for Orchestra.
The Takács, which started in 1975 as quartet of four music students in Budapest, has long been associated with the music of fellow-Hungarian Bartók. Only one of the original four—cellist András Fejér—remains, but from long history and tradition, the quartet retains its reputation as performers of music by the Hungarian composer, alongside an unparalleled recognition for excellence across the quartet repertoire.
Although the exact CU program is not duplicated elsewhere, all three works do appear on upcoming concerts by the Takács Quartet while on tour in England.
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Benjamin Britten: String Quartet No. 1 (1941)
Bartók: String Quartet No. 6 (1945)
Mozart: String Quartet in D major, K499
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31 Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building In person and live-stream tickets HERE
CU Quartet in residence will play Grusin Hall Sept. 18–19 and October 30–31
By Peter Alexander Sept. 14 at 11:18 p.m.
It’s hard to keep up with the Takács Quartet.
The CU quartet-in-residence is celebrated worldwide, giving them access to the top classical festivals. Over the past summer, they played the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, the Tanglewood Festival in Lennox, Mass., the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, at the Snape Maltings in Aldeburgh, England—a venue made prominent by composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears—and the Luberon Festival in France.
But now they are back in Boulder, and their local fans can look forward to their annual series of campus concerts, starting this weekend with an all-Beethoven program (4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19 in Grusin Concert Hall). Other events during the fall semester will be concerts Oct. 30 and 31, featuring music by Britten, Bartók and Mozart; and concerts Nov. 6 and 7 by the Ivalas Quartet, who concluded a two-year residency with the Takács in May (program tba; other details and ticket information below).
Between the September and October concerts, the Takács will be touring in Japan and Korea. “We’re looking forward to that,” Takács cellist András Fejér says. “They always bring a special joy because they regard culture and classical music very highly, and they are treating us as such wonderful friends.”
Just this month the quartet released its latest recording, featuring works of Joseph Haydn. The CD, of quartets opp. 42, 77 nos. 1 and 2, and 103, was recorded in the Lone Tree, (Colo.) Arts Center. “We had probably the top American producer, Judy Sherman, and a wonderful, wonderful sound engineer, Mike Quam, whom we got to know at the Colorado Music Festival,” Fejér says.
In addition to working for the Colorado Music Festival, Quam lives and has a recording studio in Boulder. “He’s the most wonderful all-around sound man anywhere,” Fejér says. “We never met anyone like him, so we were very happy.”
In case you are wondering, in addition to the touring and recording and campus concerts, Fejér says “we always make time for (our students)! We have a wonderful new ensemble-in-residence and they are eager and hungry. That’s always a great encouragement for us, because teaching is wonderful!”
The Takács has of course played all of the Beethoven quartets, many times. In the case of the upcoming concert, the choice of an all-Beethoven program is partly from the exploration of familiar repertoire with the ensemble’s newest member, violist Richard O’Neill. “We need to re-learn the Beethoven with our new member,” Fejér says.
“He’s full of great ideas and he’s got an encyclopedic memory. He’s a great, great all-around artist, so we are very happy to be listening to new ideas, new solutions. It’s all a new dynamic, which I am enjoying tremendously.”
The three quartets chosen for the September concerts span the major periods of Beethoven’s life: Op. 18 no. 5 from Beethoven’s very first set of six quartets published in 1801, in the sparkling key of A major; Op. 95 in the gloomier key of F minor, known as the “Serioso” Quartet, from 1810; and Op. 127 in E-flat major, from 1825.
“We love these pieces,” Fejér says. “They are wonderful pieces. Maybe the audience is not jumping on its feet because of the final effect, but it doesn’t take away from the overall greatness.”
The Quartet op. 127 provides unique challenges, Fejér explains. “Some ensembles might not program it because it’s not so spectacular. It’s so deep, and herein lies the difficulty. Its first and last movement are extremely soft, piano, pianissimo, very ethereal, up in the clouds. It takes work and rehearsing and it’s not easy to make it flow and make it light, ethereal and transparent.”
Fejér explains that the Takács usually has three main areas of work when they rehearse. First is “what we play on tour, which might be pieces we already played many times. And then there’s practicing and getting familiar with new or newish pieces, (and finally) the ones we are planning to record.”
What that means is that rehearsing the program for the October concert will mostly come a little later. About that program—Britten’s String Quartet No. 1, Bartók’s String Quartet No. 6 and Mozart’s String Quartet in D major, K499—Fejér declines to comment right now.
“I might refrain trying to be smart about Britten at this point,” he says. “We recorded (his quartets) eight or nine years ago, but we haven’t played them again. So basically now we’re relearning and discussing what’s new and what’s changed, and what we wish to be changed.
“What matters is how we feel about it today or the next week, so we can be even more convincing and find even more joy in bringing it together.”
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Beethoven: String Quartet in A Major, Op. 18 no. 5 —String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95 —String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127
4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19 Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building In person and live-stream tickets HERE
Benjamin Britten: String Quartet No.1
Bartók: String Quartet No. 6
Mozart: String Quartet in D major, K499
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31 Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building In person and live-stream tickets HERE
4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building In person and live-stream tickets HERE
NOTE: Due to spell checker error “encyclopedic” first appeared as “encyclopedia.” Corrected on 9/15.
Programs include Haydn, Shostakovich, Dvořák, Schumann, Mendelssohn
By Peter Alexander March 4 at 1:25 p.m.
COVID-19 is, momentarily, receding, and the Takács Quartet is back to a full performing schedule.
They had to cancel several concert tours over the past two years, but not in 2022. “We just came home from Princeton, Berkeley and Los Angeles,” the group’s cellist, András Fejér, explains. “And now we will go to New York, Sarasota, Los Angeles and San Francisco.”
Around and between those trips, they have their usual concerts on the CU campus: music by Haydn, Shostakovich and Dvořák March 6 and 7; and music by Schumann performed with pianist David Korevaar, and Mendelssohn with the CU graduate quartet in residence, the Ivalas Quartet, April 10 and 11 (see performance details below).
Except for the interruption caused by the pandemic, touring is a normal part of life for the Takács Quartet. “It’s a nice chugging-along routine,” Fejér says. “We just say we would love to tour, say, 10 days each month in the States, and that gives us enough time to rehearse and teach and rest a little.” They also make longer tours every year to Europe and Asia, all arranged through their agents.
Like the Takács now, Haydn had just returned from touring in 1796, in his case home to Vienna from two trips to London. Upon his return, an aristocratic patron commissioned a set of six quartets, published a few years later as Op. 76. These works are considered the pinnacle of Haydn’s quartet composition.
The Fourth Quartet of the set, known as the “Sunrise Quartet,” opens the Takacs’s March concerts—but Fejér wants you to know that Haydn is not “just a warmup piece” for the rest of the program. “I mean, the guy invented the (string quartet)!” he says. “We are just in awe—(playing his music) is a constant wonderment. Even familiar pieces, we try to dig deeper. We always try to give his music justice.”
Likewise, Dvořák wrote his G major String Quartet, the final piece on the program, soon after returning home from his years in America. It is considered one of the composer’s most profoundly expressive quartets, particularly the meditative slow movement.
The quartet has enjoyed exploring Dvořák ‘s score. “It’s fascinating for us,” Fejér says. “Its scope is unprecedented, in length and orchestration. Most of the time it sounds totally symphonic. He goes left and right and returns—just totally unpredictable and delightful. We love it.”
Between Haydn and Dvořák, the Takács will play Shostakovich’s Eleventh Quartet. Written in memory of a violinist with the Beethoven Quartet, which was long associated with Shostakovich’s music, the Eleventh Quartet is an austere work that uses the instruments sparingly. It’s seven movements are anything but cheerful, but as Fejér says, with Shostakovich “cheerful is not the first description which would come to mind.
“I’m always amazed about the simplicity of his motifs. How such simple notes can work in mysterious ways on the audience is unbelievable. You cannot put together a more simple music and somehow the effect on audiences is mesmerizing. I notice it every time.”
For the April concerts the quartet has programmed two pieces, each of which includes invited guests. First they will be joined by pianist David Korevaar to perform Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet. Written in 1842 and dedicated by the composer to his wife, Clara, it is the first major quintet written for piano and string quartet.
Schumann alternates between intimate passages that feature conversational exchanges among the five instruments, and nearly symphonic passages that feature the four strings together against the piano. At a time when chamber performances were first moving into the concert hall, Schumann helped create the model for the quintets that followed by Brahms, Dvořák and Franck, all destined for the concert hall.
The April program concludes with another piece that had no precedent, the Octet for Strings, which the Takács will play with the members of the Ivalas Quartet. Like the Schumann Quintet, the combination of instruments was unprecedented when Mendelssohn wrote the Octet at the age of 17, and it’s one of the most magical pieces to come out of the Romantic era. “It’s such an adrenalin rush (to play it),” Fejér says.
“It’s wonderful and makes you humble all over again. Comparing what most of us had been doing at 17, it’s even more impressive.”
Fejér gives two reasons that he is looking forward to playing the Octet. First, he says, “we love playing with additional people because the function of our individual instruments is different from a string quartet. I’m not playing as much bass line as I usually do, (and) I enjoy the different role very much.”
The second reason is the opportunity to share the stage with the their students in the Ivalas Quartet. “It is their final month in April at CU of their three years, and we loved working with them,” Fejér says.
“We look forward very much to have fun with capital letters with this Mendelssohn Octet!”
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Haydn: String Quartet in B-flat Major. op.76 no. 4 (“Sunrise”)
Shostakovich: String Quartet Nr.11, op.122
Dvořák: String Quartet No. 13 in G-major, op.106
4 p.m. Sunday, March 6 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 7 Grusin Music Hall
Takács Quartet, composer John Adams will be among the featured artists
By Peter Alexander Jan. 19 at 3 p.m.
The Colorado Music Festival (CMF) announced its 2022 festival season last night (Jan. 18) in an event live-streamed from the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.
During the hour-long event, music director Peter Oundjian introduced the concerts that are scheduled during the festival, planned for June 30–Aug. 7. “Every festival should be a celebration,” he said by way of introduction. “This is no exception. It’s a very eclectic series of programs.”
Also speaking remotely from his home in California was composer John Adams, who will be composer in residence during the festival. He will conduct parts of two concerts that feature his music, and he also helped Oundjian curate the “Music of Today” week, July 11–17, which will feature works by contemporary composers most of whom are still living.
The announced programs for the summer make good on Oundjian’s intention to make the festival a lively event that both honors the great works of the past and recognizes the music and composers of today. There have been times in the past when the CMF seemed unfocused and unadventurous, but under Oundjian’s leadership that has changed. Through thoughtful programming, the participation of figures like Adams and some remarkable young performers, the CMF is becoming an event worthy of broad attention.
As part of the emphasis on music of today, this year’s festival will include three premieres: the world premiere of a commissioned work by Timo Andres (July 14); the world premiere of Wang Jie’s Flying on the Scaly Backs of Our Mountains (Aug. 4); and the Colorado premiere of a work co-commissioned from Wynton Marsalis (Aug. 7).
Introducing these works, Oundjian noted that “We always love to have premieres at the festival. It’s so important for us to hear new ideas and to give opportunities to composers.”
In addition to Adams, other composers featured during the “Music of Today” series include Steven Ellison (known as Flying Lotus), Anne Müller, Philip Glass, Caroline Shaw, Stacy Garrop, Valerie Coleman, Osvaldo Golijov, John Corigliano and Christopher Rouse, among others (see the full summer program below).
In addition to the Music of Today, interest in the 2022 festival will be generated by the inclusion of composers who are outside the standard repertoire. African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor will be represented by his Fantasiestücke for String Quartet (July 5) and Solemn Prelude for orchestra (July 21–22); and African-American composer Florence Price will be represented by her Violin Concerto No. 2 (also July 21–22). Starburst by the young American composer Jessie Montgomery will be played on July 31, outside of the Music of Today programs.
Concerts of chamber music on Tuesday nights will form the second Robert Mann Chamber Music Series, named for the founding first violinist of the Juilliard Quartet. The series will feature the Takács Quartet playing music by Haydn, Dvořák and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (July 5); the Attacca Quartet in a wide-ranging program of contemporary pieces during Music of Today (July 12); and the Danish String Quartet in a creative program that includes a collection of folk music from Britain. Other chamber concerts will feature members of the CMF Orchestra.
The Takács Quartet will also be featured on opening night, marking their return to the Chautauqua stage for their first live performances at CMF since 2004. They will be soloists with the CMF Orchestra in a performance of Adams’s Absolute Jest. Other works on the opening night program are Fate Now Conquers by Carlos Simon and Dvořák’s Symphony “From the New World.”
Other featured soloists during the summer will include pianist Jan Lisiecki performing all of Beethoven’s piano concertos in programs that also honor the 150th birthday of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (July 7, 8 and 10); pianist Jeremy Denk playing Adams’s Must the Devil have all the Good Tunes? (July 17); violinist Randall Goosby playing Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (July 21–22); pianist Simone Dinnerstein on an all-Mozart program (July 24); pianist Gabriela Montero playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor (July 28–29); and clarinetist Anthony McGill (Aug. 4).
Conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni, former music director of CMF, returns to lead two programs (July 28–29 and 31). The award-winning young American conductor Ryan Bancroft will also lead the orchestra in two programs (July 21–22 and 24).
Reverting to past patterns, there will be three pairs of Festival Orchestra concerts with the same program on Thursday and Friday nights, with the Thursday performance at 7:30 p.m. and the Friday performance at 6:30 p.m. (June 30–July 1; July 21–22; July 28–29). The annual Family Concert will be Sunday, July 3, with Tubby the Tuba and Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
The 2022 Festival ends on Sunday, Aug. 7, with the Colorado premiere of a fanfare by Wynton Marsalis and Mahler’s massive Fifth Symphony, which Oundjian described last night as “virtuosic for the orchestra, incredibly entertaining for all of us.
“The final moments of Mahler 5 are as exuberant as music can possibly get. There is no greater way to witness a symphony orchestra than to come and listen to a Mahler symphony!”
Single tickets to the 2022 Festival will be available for purchase on the CMF website beginning March 1. You may also email email@example.com, or call 303-440-7666. At this time, CMF states that they will follow recommended and required COVID guidelines during the 2022 festival. Any specific rules have not yet been announced.
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Colorado Music Festival 2022 All performances at Chautauqua Auditorium
7:30 pm. Thursday, June 30: Opening Night 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 1 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with the Takács Quartet
Carlos Simon: Fate Now Conquers (2020)
John Adams: Absolute Jest (2012)
Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor (“From the New World”)
11 a.m. Sunday, July 3: Family Concert Maurice Cohn, conductor, with Really Inventive Stuff
George Kleinsinger: Tubby the Tuba
Benjamin Britten: Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 5 Takács Quartet
Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in F Major, op. 77 no. 2
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Fantasiestücke for String Quartet
Dvořák: String Quartet No. 13 in G Major
7:30 pm. Thursday, July 7 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jan Lisiecki, piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major —Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor
6:30 p.m. Friday, July 8 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jan Lisiecki, piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Overture to The Wasps
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major —Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jan Lisiecki, piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5 in D major
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major (“Emperor”)
——-Music of Today——-
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 12 Attacca Quartet
John Adams: selections from John’s Book of Alleged Dances
Flying Lotus: Clock Catcher —Remind U —Pilgrim Side Eye
Anne Müller: Drifting Circles
Louis Cole: Real Life
Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 3, “Mishima”
Caroline Shaw: The Evergreen
Gabriella Smith: Carrot Revolution
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14 Peter Oundjian and John Adams, conductors With Samuel Adams, composer; Tessa Lark, violin; and Timothy McAllister, saxophone
Timo Andre: world premiere commission
Samuel Adams: Chamber Concerto
John Adams: City Noir
7:30 p.m. Friday, July 15: Kaleidoscope Timo Andres, piano; Tessa Lark, violin; Timothy McAllister, saxophone; and members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
David Skidmore: Ritual Music
Stacy Garrop: Reborn in flames (from Phoenix Rising)
Osvaldo Golijov: Last Round
Valerie Coleman: Red Clay & Mississippi Delta for Wind Quintet
Timo Andres: Honest Labor
Roshanne Etezady: Recurring Dreams
John Corigliano: STOMP
Philip Glass: Etude No. 6
John Adams: Road Movie
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 17 Peter Oundjian and John Adams, conductors, Jeremy Denk, piano
Gabriella Smith: Tumblebird Contrails
John Adams: Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?
Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 6
7:30 Tuesday, July 19: Flavors of Russia Members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
Borodin: String Sextet in D minor
Mikhail Glinka: Trio Pathétique in D minor
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence Sextet in D Minor, op. 70
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 22 Ryan Bancroft, conductor, with Randall Goosby violin
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Solemn Prelude
Florence Price: Violin Concerto No. 2
Saint-Saëns: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, op. 28
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 24 Ryan Bancroft, conductor, with Simone Dinnerstein, piano
Mozart: Serenade in C minor for winds, K388 —Piano Concerto B-flat major, K595 —Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major, K543
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 Members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
Mozart: Flute Quartet in D Major, K285
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson: Movement for String Trio
Dvořák: Terzetto in C Major, op. 74
Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 29 Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Gabriela Montero, piano
Mussorgsky, arr. Rimsky-Korsakov: Night on Bald Mountain
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 31 Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor with Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson and Abigail Nims, sopranos; John de Lancie and Marnie Mosiman, actors
Jessie Montgomery: Starburst
Georges Bizet: Symphony No. 1 in C major
Felix Mendelssohn: Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2 Danish String Quartet
Henry Purcell, arr. Benjamin Britten: Chacony in G minor
Folk Music from the British Isles, arr. Danish String Quartet
Schubert: String Quartet No. 15 in G major, D. 887
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Anthony McGill, clarinet
Wang Jie: Flying On the Scaly Backs of Our Mountains (world premiere)
Carl Maria von Weber: Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor
Debussy: Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and orchestra
Stravinsky: Suite from TheFirebird (1919)
6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7: Festival Finale Concerto Peter Oundjian, conductor
Live performances Jan. 9 and 10 in Grusin Hall also available online
By Peter Alexander Jan. 6 at 11:25 a.m.
So far this year, COVID has not stopped the music. The Takács Quartet will begin their spring 2022 series of concerts on the CU campus as planned, with performances Sunday and Monday (Jan. 9 and 10) in Grusin Hall.
They will not, however, play the program that was originally announced. Pianist David Korevaar was scheduled to perform the Schumann Quintet in E-flat major, op. 44, but he is unavailable due to possible exposure to COVID. Korevaar reports that he feels fine, and he will perform the Schumann Quintet with the Takács Quartet later in the semester.
To fill his place on the January program, the quartet turned to members Harumi Rhodes and Richard O’Neill, violin and viola, who will play the Mozart Duo in G major, K423. The full ensemble will finish out the concert with the new String Quartet No. 1 by Stephen Hough, subtitled “Les Six rencontres” (The six encountered), and the String Quartet in F major by Maurice Ravel.
Both the Sunday and Monday performances will be open to an in-person audience, and will also be available for streaming from 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon until 11 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17. In-person and online tickets can be purchased from CU Presents.
At this time, face masks are required in all buildings on the CU campus.
Widely celebrated as a pianist, Hough is also active as a composer of works for a variety of media including chamber music, piano solo and choral works, among others. The Takács Quartet asked him to write a piece for string quartet to fill out a recording of Ravel’s String Quartet and Ainsi le Nuit (Thus the night) for string quartet by Henri Dutilleux, which the Takács played in Grusin last fall.
The title of Hough’s quartet—“Les Six rencontres”—refers to a group of composers known as “Les Six” (The six) who were a prominent part of French musical life between Ravel in the early years of the 20th century, and Dutilleux in the second half of the century. The six composers—Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and Germaine Tailleferre—are not quoted directly in the score but occur “as an echo,” Hough wrote.
The title is also a pun, as the quartet is in six movements. Hough wrote in his program notes that the work “evokes a flavor more than a style. . . . seeing life through a burlesque lens is one recurring ingredient.” The titles of the six movements evoke places in Paris where one might have encountered the composers of “Les Six”—the boulevard, the park, the theater and so forth.
Ravel composed his one string quartet in 1902–03, when he was 28. Largely classical in form, it was inspired by, and in some ways modeled on, the String Quartet of Debussy that had been written a decade before. It remains one of Ravel’s most popular works.
Mozart wrote two duos for violin and viola in 1783 during a visit with his family in Salzburg. They were written as a favor for Michael Haydn, the brother of Joseph Haydn, who was court composer to the Archbishop of Salzburg and a friend of the Mozart family. Haydn was supposed to write six duos for the Archbishop but had fallen ill, and Mozart agreed to finish the set for him.
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Takács Quartet Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes, violin; Richard O’Neill, viola; András Fejér, cello
Mozart: Duo for Violin and Viola, K423 Harumi Rhodes and Richard O’Neill
Hough: String Quartet No. 1, “Les Six rencontres” (The six encountered)
Ravel: String Quartet in F Major
In-person performances: 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9 7:30 p.m. Monday. Jan. 10 Grusin Hall, CU Imig Music Building
They will play in Grusin Hall as guests of CU’s Takacs Quartet
By Peter Alexander Nov. 17 at 5:20 p.m.
The Parker Quartet may be the only string quartet named for a hotel.
Formed when the original members were students at the New England Conservatory, they wanted a name that reflected their connection to Boston. “None of us is from Boston, but we call Boston home,” says Ken Hamao, the quartet’s second violinist. “To have a landmark from the city to name ourselves after was appropriate.”
Today the Parker Quartet members maintain their ties to Boston, as Blodgett Artists-in-residence and faculty at Harvard University’s department of music.
The landmark is the Parker House, which you may recognize from dinner rolls but which was an important gathering place for America’s literary figures in the 19th century, including Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau, and later for politicians including presidents U.S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.
The Parker Quartet will perform at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22, in Grusin Hall. They are appearing in the guest slot on the fall concert series of CU’s Takacs Quartet. Their eclectic program features the Lyric Suite by Alban Berg and the Third String Quartet of Robert Schumann, as well as shorter works by Adolphus Hailstork and György Kurtág.
Both in-person and digital tickets can be purchased from CU Presents. Masks are required in all indoor spaces in the CU campus, regardless of vaccination status.
The central work on the program is Berg’s Lyric Suite, an emotionally and musically challenging work in six intense movements. It has always been seen as a dramatic and passionate piece of music, but more than 50 years after it was written in 1926, a secret “program” was found embedded in the score that explained the intensity of the music.
A combination of musical initials standing for the composer and his lover, multiple other musical symbols, the inclusion of Wagner’s Tristan chord and other musical references, all reflect Berg’s passionate and illicit affair with a married woman, Hanna Fuchs-Robettin. Even the movement titles suggest the subject: amoroso (lovingly), appassionato (passionately) and estatico (ecstatic).
But you don’t need to know the story to appreciate the music, Hamao says. “For us as performers, it helps us to get into the composer’s mindset, but on its own it’s just a very dynamic work, hugely expressive,” he says.
“We’ve been talking about performing it for many years, and after so many years you want to tell each other, ‘Let’s just go for it’. It’s really exciting (because) it has that drama, the very, very highs and the very, very lows of the affair. It did make sense (with) the Schumann as a companion piece. The Lyric Suite is as passionate as it also is desolate, while the Schumann is more uplifting.”
Hamao describes the Schumann Third Quartet as representing a different kind of romantic love, that of the composer for his wife, Clara Schumann. “It’s just a love letter to his wife,” he says. “From the very first two notes that you hear, this Clara motive, he’s yearning for his wife. From the first page it’s a declaration of love.”
Hailstork’s Adagio is a piece that the quartet discovered more recently. “It was a piece that we fell in love with immediately and wanted to program it as soon as we can,” Hamao says. “In a program that can be as intense as the Lyric Suite can be, having this beautiful Adagio made a lot of sense to us.
“I think of it as an incredibly beautiful piece that kind of discovers itself throughout the whole piece. It’s definitely tonal but has what you might call notes that don’t quite belong to the scale. For a beautiful piece there’s a lot of surprises, but at the end of the day it’s a really gorgeous movement.”
Kurtág’s Aus der Ferne (From the distance) V is one of a group of pieces for different media. Two of are for string quartet—Aus der Ferne III and V. The Parker Quartet has worked directly with the composer in the past, and recently released a CD recording of his quartets, including those two miniatures.
“Kurtág has an incredible ability to tap into the idea of drama,” Hamao says. “There is a sense of narrative. I don’t think there is an explicit one, but an abstract narrative. He’s able to pack a story into two minutes of music. [He has] this incredible ability to create a lot of expression through quite minimal means.”
Whatever narrative you discover will have to be “in each listener’s imagination,” Hamao says, but that is part of the reward for both performer and listener.
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Adolphus Hailstork: Adagio from String Quartet No. 1
György Kurtág: Aus der Ferne V (From the distance)
Alban Berg: Lyric Suite
Schumann: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 41 No. 3
4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22 Grusin Recital Hall, CU Imig Music Building
In-person and Sunday live stream tickets available from CU Presents
Boulder Phil presents “The Art of Jazz” Saturday at Mountain View Methodist
The Boulder Philharmonic will perform the second of their two short concerts scheduled for the month of October at 4 p.m Saturday, Oct. 30, in the Mountain View United Methodist church in Boulder.
Tickets are available through the Boulder Phil Web page. Audience members will be required to present proof of vaccination and wear masks throughout the concert. The short program will be presented without intermission, to reduce interaction among audience members. You may read the orchestra’s full, up-to-date COVID protocols here.
The program features three pieces for small orchestra that were influenced by American jazz: the Jazz Suite No. 1 by Shostakovich, Darius Milhaud’s Creation of the World, and Little Threepenny Music, an orchestral suite arranged from the music for Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera. Michael Butterman will conduct. You may read more about this performance in an earlier post on this blog.
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Takacs Quartet performs music by Mozart, Henri Dutilleux and Smatana
The Takacs Quartet will present the second of their 2021-22 campus concerts at 4 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, in Grusin Music Hall of the CU Imig Music Building.
Masks must be worn inside all buildings on the CU campus. Please note that online streaming tickets for Sunday’s performance are also available, and the stream will remain available for a full week following the Monday performance. Tickets for both in-person attendance at the streamed performance are available through CU Presents.
The quartet will play three works on the concert. One is a familiar part of the standard string quartet repertoire: Mozart’s String Quartet in D minor, K421/417b. The others are less familiar: Ainsi la suit by the French composer Henri Dutilleux, and the String Quartet No. 1 in E minor, “From my Life,” by Smetana. You may read more about this performance in an earlier post on this blog.