Monday, September 8, 2014

The Season at a Glance (or Two)

Now that summer is “officially” over, students are back to school and everybody's back from vacation (if not the vacation mind-set, just yet), it's time to be looking ahead to the New Season which gets underway soon enough. Even if the weather may be a bit confusing, there's the awareness that dates on the calendar are still closer than they appear: just walk into any store and see what's on display.

Market Square Concerts' 2014-2015 Season will begin at the end of September with the appearance of the most recent winner of Chamber Music America's “Cleveland Quartet Award,” the Ariel Quartet who'll be performing works by Beethoven, Ravel and Ernő Dohnányi with pianist Orion Weiss at Market Square Church on Saturday, September 27th at 8pm. Dick Strawser offers a pre-concert talk at 7:15, marking the centenary of the start of World War I. Dohnányi's Piano Quintet No. 2, written in 1914, in its own way encapsulates the history and music of the time, before anyone knew what would become a World War became “The War to End All Wars” but wouldn't...
Orion Weiss

One of Beethoven's early quartets – Op. 18, No. 2 – was first heard in 1800 when Europe was on the verge of decades of continent-wide warfare during the Napoleonic Age. With Ravel's Quartet, premiered in 1904, this concert brings into play some musical changes going on around times of great historical turmoil.

Members of the quartet talk about their early involvement with the Jerusalem Music Center where they began their career as an ensemble

and here, from January 2014, they perform the conclusion of Beethoven's “Serioso” Quartet.

Orion Weiss, named the Classical Recording Foundation’s Young Artist of the Year in 2010, has performed with major American orchestras (including a last-minute sub for Leon Fleisher with the Boston Symphony) and has a busy schedule of solo recitals and chamber music programs. Here's an excerpt from Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto recorded live this past July.

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Avalon Quartet
In November, the Avalon String Quartet brings Schumann and Tchaikovsky to Market Square Church on Saturday, the 15th, at 8pm.

Cellist Cheng-Hou Lee will be returning to Harrisburg for this program, following July's “Summermusic” festival when he joined Peter Sirotin, Ya-Ting Chang and members of the ensemble to play works by Mozart and Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann. You can hear some of those performances at the MSC YouTube Channel, here

One of the clips I found on-line features the slow movement from Ernő Dohnányi Piano Quintet No. 1 (written about two decades before the 2nd Quintet you can hear on the September concert).

Here, they perform the scherzo from Bedrich Smetana's E Minor String Quartet (“From My Life”)

Their Market Square concert will include the last of Robert Schumann's three quartets and the first of Tchaikovsky's three quartets, best know for its Andante cantabile which has taken on a life of its own.

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Kristóf Baráti
For the first concert of the new year, we move uptown to the Temple Ohev Sholom for a program of music for solo violin with Kristóf Baráti. He'll be playing sonatas by Eugene Ysaÿe and Bela Bartók and Bach's monumental D Minor Partita on Tuesday, January 20th at 8pm, the night before his Carnegie Hall debut ("practice, practice, practice").

Barati offers the first movement, “Obsession,” from Ysaÿe's 2nd Sonata, here, as an encore, 

but he'll play the whole sonata for us - actually, two whole sonatas by Ysaÿe - the 2nd and 3rd. While Bach's Solo Sonatas and Partitas are familiar to most concert-goers – especially the “Chaconne” from the partita Barati performs on this program – Bartók's sonata, one of his late works, is not that well-known. Quite frankly, just looking at this program makes it clear Barati likes a good challenge. At least, with a pianist, he'd have a chance to catch his breath once in a while...

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Trio Solisti - Jon Manasse
The following month, Market Square Concerts will help the Rose Lehrman Arts Center at Harrisburg Area Community College celebrate its 40th Anniversary with the return of Trio Solisti joined by clarinetist Jon Manasse on Saturday, February 28th at 8pm for works by Turina, Poulenc and Milhaud, as well as Piazzolla and Gershwin.

Trio Solisti has been a regular visitor with Market Square Concerts over the years and, as happens often enough in many longer-lived ensembles, there will be personnel changes. Adam Neimann recently joined the ensemble as pianist. 

Here's the driven “scherzo” from Dmitri Shostakovich's 2nd Piano Trio with the latest download of Trio Solisti.

In Harrisburg, they'll play Joaquin Turina's B Minor Piano Trio and Piazzolla's “Four Seasons.”

In this audio clip, clarinetist Jon Manasse plays Weber's Concertino in E-flat.

He'll join members of the Trio for the Poulenc Clarinet Sonata, Milhaud's “Suite” for Violin, Clarinet and Piano, and to wrap up the program, some Gershwin songs.

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Donald Sinta Quartet
Something a little different comes along with the Donald Sinta Quartet at Whitaker Center on Saturday, March 28th at 8pm when this saxophone quartet plays great string quartets by Dvořák, Shostakovich, Barber plus Grieg's Holberg Suite, a program they call “No Strings Attached.”

Named for their mentor, the legendary saxophonist and teacher, they formed in 2010 and have quickly made a name for themselves in this country and abroad (for instance, a 2011 tour of China).

Here, they perform the opening movement of one of the staples of any saxophone quartet's repertoire, the quartet Alexander Glazunov composed in 1931.

But like many ensembles with relatively limited programming options – considering the great composers of the 19th Century didn't have saxophone quartets to compose for – they often covet other people's repertoire. And so they'll borrow Dvořák's “American” Quartet and Shostakovich's Cold War era 8th String Quartet as well as the Adagio (for Strings) originally from Samuel Barber's Op. 11 Quartet and Grieg's nostalgic look back in the history of Scandinavian art with his “Suite from Holberg's Time.”

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Amernet Quartet
The Amernet String Quartet offers the final concert of the main subscription series on Saturday, April 25th at 8pm at Temple Ohev Sholom with a powerful program of quartets by Mendelssohn, Schulhof, Shostakovich and Weinberg. Dr. Truman Bullard offers a pre-concert talk at 7:15 about a program that observes the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II.

In 1941, Erwin Schulhoff was deported to the concentration camp at Wurzberg where he died the following year. Mieczysław Weinberg, born in Warsaw and fleeing to the Soviet Union following the Nazi invasion (he lost most of his family in the Holocaust), became a protege of Shostakovich's. While Shostakovich's 4th Quartet on this program was composed in 1949 in the on-going aftermath of the war and of Stalin's repressive regime, Weinberg's 5th Quartet was composed in 1945 at the end of the war.

Mendelssohn's music, technically, was also a victim of World War II, banned by the Nazis because of the composer's Jewish birth. In this clip, after introducing the quartet's instruments, the Amernet perform a movement from Mendelssohn's Quartet Op. 44 No. 2 (they'll play the third quartet of the set at Temple Ohev Sholom).

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Season subscriptions are available at $190 for the full season (seniors $170) or a "Take 3" Pass at $100.

Single tickets are $35, seniors $30, students $5 for all concerts.

Free Admission for students K-12 and $5 for one accompanying parent, sibling or teacher. Group rates are available for groups larger than 10 people.

Tickets may be purchased on-line at Market Square Concerts' website, at THE BOX in person, by phone at 717 221-9599 and 717 214-ARTS or online at or email Remaining tickets will be available at the door.

And then, before you know it, it will be time to get ready for Summermusic 2015 - but we'll tell you about that later in the season.

- Dick Strawser

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