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Category: Chamber Music

DID BEETHOVEN MEET DEBUSSY IN A TIME WARP??

DID BEETHOVEN MEET DEBUSSY IN A TIME WARP??

Those fire-eaters from Southern Cal known as the Calder Quartet played some bristling contemporary works, plus one of Beethoven’s most whimsical efforts. The four mid-career men—identically dressed in dark suits, with matching ties—show an uncanny rhythmic bent able to decipher and render the most complex metric signatures that only modern composers like Thomas  Adès and Boulez dare to call for and to dabble in. Seven beats to the measure, 11, 13, even 25 (or almost any prime number you might…

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THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!

Chamber Works Focused 1850-1945  By Paul Hertelendy  artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area music and dance  Week of July 20-27, 2016 Vol. 18, No. 78 ATHERTON, CA—During the summer doldrums, count on Music@Menlo to liven up the scene with prime chamber music. Admittedly, it’s a challenge, given this year’s Russian theme. Serious Russian music didn’t stir noticeably  till Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert were gone. But in the opening week, Music@Menlo offered a package of early works by…

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AN EXEMPLARY PROGRAM BY ENGLISH VIOLINIST-LEADER DANIEL HOPE

AN EXEMPLARY PROGRAM BY ENGLISH VIOLINIST-LEADER DANIEL HOPE

PALO ALTO—The visiting English violinist Daniel Hope is not only a stylish leader, but he brings along a palpable magnetic personality and a stimulating program spanning three centuries that puts competing groups to shame. His week as guest leader of the New Century Chamber Orchestra brought on four moderns, offset against the usual Bach-Vivaldi standards. And at the midpoint, he played that OTHER Mendelssohn Violin Concerto you haven’t heard, and he made a very strong case for it. In sum,…

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CHAMBER MUSIC’S ORNITHOLOGICAL CORNUCOPIA

CHAMBER MUSIC’S ORNITHOLOGICAL CORNUCOPIA

Farallon Quintet with a New Cannon Aviary The unusual Farallon Quintet reminds us there are more than 600 compositions for clarinet and string quartet—precisely Farallon’s personnel. Not too caught up in the past, the SF-based Faralloners like to feast on new music. And to launch the new year in style, while musicians elsewhere seemed to be left gnawing on turkey leftovers ad infinitum, letting halls go dark, these players tightened their belts carried off two world premieres at the Old…

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THAT FORMIDABLE MOZART CLARINET QUINTET

THAT FORMIDABLE MOZART CLARINET QUINTET

Dali Quartet Linked with Virtuoso Ricardo Morales SAN JOSE—Most orchestras have a No. Two conductor/consultant. Chamber groups have no such luck. The orchestra can send the #2 around during rehearsals, hear from the audience side, and judge whether all the balances between sections are good. The Dalí String Quartet from Philadelphia could use a similar sonic consultant to get optimum outcomes. They played a novel program here Oct. 25, pairing up with a stellar clarinetist, Ricardo Morales, principal in the…

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GRAND AND CHAMBER: OPPOSING CONCEPTS

GRAND AND CHAMBER: OPPOSING CONCEPTS

Overwhelming Voice at the NCCO Opener BERKELEY—-The grand operatic approach can be heavenly with a diva like soprano Ailyn Pérez, who is just back from a starring role at LaScala. But in an intimate church setting as soloist with a small string orchestra, it can misfire. She tackled an ambitious almost-all-Russian program opening the New Century Chamber Orchestra season Sept. 17. The rest of the program of snippets and transcriptions was much more promising, though given the huge repertoire for…

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BEETHOVEN, THIS TIME A MITE SHEEPISH

BEETHOVEN, THIS TIME A MITE SHEEPISH

Late Quartets, & ‘Transplant,’ in Intimate Berkeley Hall BERKELEY—The perfect trifecta to report: an unfamiliar ensemble, a new hall, and Beethoven music that was (once considered) very modern. To fill the August vacuum in classical music, the New Esterházy (String) Quartet tackled the formidable last five quartets, Op. 127-135, written by Beethoven in his last couple of years, when he was in failing health and pain. These works were so far ahead of their time, they raised hackles among critics,…

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WAS IT THE FAULT’S FAULT?

WAS IT THE FAULT’S FAULT?

MacMillan Thwarts the Jinxes at Cabrillo MISSION SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, CA—I was sure that San Andreas, whose great earthquake fault lay just 50 yards away, had jinxed the grand-finale concert at the Mission. But lo, a rousing James MacMillan trumpet concerto called “Epiclesis,” powerful enough to wake the dead and maybe nudge open the Pearly Gates, saved the day. Quoting ageless Gregorian chants calling to God, the veteran Scottish composer helped the cause of concert salvation Aug. 16. The fitting…

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SANTA CRUZ SPRINGS TO LIFE

SANTA CRUZ SPRINGS TO LIFE

With Cabrillo’s Contemporary Orchestral Sounds SANTA CRUZ, CA—The final weekend of the Cabrillo Festival is inevitably invigorating, with one new orchestral piece almost atop the other, sometimes with the ink barely dry. This is Music Director Marin Alsop’s baby, now in her 24th season on the summer podium here. Here she and the devotees can feast on contem porary sounds, created by figures either well-known (like Philip Glass) or otherwise. The esprit de corps in her festival orchestra is remarkable,…

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EMERGING YOUNG CHAMBER-MUSIC COMPOSERS

EMERGING YOUNG CHAMBER-MUSIC COMPOSERS

Trial by Fire in Santa Fe SANTA FE, NM—On your high shelf labeled “significant ensembles I’ve never heard of,” save a good spot for the Flux Quartet, which has introduced more than 100 new works to our string-quartet repertory. They played the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, a humming summer-long enterprise with dozens of concerts, each with its own character, manned by diverse quality players from all over. Your yen for contemporary sounds would have drawn you Aug. 7 to…

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