Musical surprises at Northbrook’s Chamber Festival
Village Presbyterian Church, 1300 Shermer Road, Northbrook
Friday, June 8
“The Next Generation”: Pre-concert showcase, 6 p.m. June 8 features young musicians and the Magical Strings of Youth of the Betty Haag Academy. Free with main concert ticket
“From Darkness to Light,” 7:30 p.m. June 8: Schubert, The Shepherd on the Rock; Shostakovich, String Quartet No. 8, Op. 110; Schnittke, Moz-Art, for 2 Violins (after Mozart KV416); Brahms, Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major
Saturday, June 9
Pre-concert program, 6 p.m. Geoffrey Fushi, Chairman of the Stradivari Society of Chicago in conversation with festival artists. Free with main concert ticket
Grand Finale: “Musical Kaleidoscope,” 7:30 p.m.: Stravinsky, L’histoire du Soldat (The Soldier’s Tale); Golijov, “Tenebrae” for Soprano, Clarinet and String Quartet; Piazzolla, Adios Nonino; Fuga & Misterio; Franck, Piano Quintet in F Minor, M. 7
For details, visit www.nscmf.org or call (847) 370-3984
Updated: June 5, 2012 5:16PM
There are plenty of household names on the concert schedule for the June 8 and 9 North Shore Chamber Music Festival in Northbrook. Schubert, Shostakovich, Brahms, Stravinsky and Franck, people know of. But there are also some intriguing surprises: A piece by German/Russian composer Alfred Schnittke, for example, and works by two Argentine composers Osvaldo Golijov and Astor Piazzolla, the latter known for his marvelous tangos.
Schnittke’s Moz-Art for two violins is based on a soprano aria by Mozart with the number KV 416. It will be played by Friday night by Vadim Gluzman and Sibbi Bernhardsson.
Gluzman and his wife pianist Angela Yoffe founded the festival in 2011 and Bernhardsson is a member of the Pacifica Quartet, which is taking part in the festival. In addition to Bernhardsson, quartet members are Simin Ganatra, violin; Masumi Per Rostad, viola, and Brandon Vamos, cello. The quartet, which has roots on the North Shore, is ensemble-in-residence at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
“Vadim and our quartet share the same European concert manager,” said Bernhardsson. “I only recently met Angela in person, but they have a fabulous reputation and I know some of Vadim’s recordings, which I like very much.”
Schnittke (1934-1998) was a prolific composer who wrote symphonies, operas, chamber music and solo works. He was born in Germany and began his musical studies in Vienna. After his family moved to Moscow in 1948, he studied at the Moscow Conservatory and made his living writing numerous film scores. His serious music, however, displeased Soviet musical authorities, though his lively and quixotic “Moz-Art” from 1977 could hardly have drawn much attention or wrath. He fled Russia in 1990 for Germany.
Bernhardsson will play in Franck’s Piano Quintet in F Minor on Saturday. The Pacifica will play the Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8 on Friday night and play in Golijov’s “Tenebrae” on Saturday.
Golijov is known to Ravinia Festival audiences, where his operas “St. Mark’s Passion” and “Ainadamar” were presented in 2002 and 2006 respectively. The composer, who was born in 1960 also lived and studied music in Israel. He is now Loyola Professor of Music at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., where he has taught since 1991.
His piece”Tenebrae” for soprano, clarinet and string quartet will be presented by soprano Hyunah Yu, soprano, clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein, and the Pacifica Quartet on Saturday night.
The composer wrote “Tenebrae” in 2000 after witnessing firsthand a new wave of violence in Israel and then a week later visiting the Hayden Planetarium in New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, where he and his young son viewed the Earth as a “beautiful blue dot in space.”
He was interested in capturing the challenge of these contrasting images in one piece of music. “If one chooses to listen to it ‘from afar,’ the music would probably offer a ‘beautiful’ surface,” he declared, “but, from a metaphorically closer distance, one could hear that, beneath that surface, the music is full of pain.”
Also on Saturday Piazzolla’s “Adios Nonino; Fuga & Misterio” will be performed. The composer, who lived from1921 to 1992, wrote lush, seductive tangos. He has been championed by no less than conductor Daniel Barenboim, who was born in Argentina.
Seattle-based pianist Adam Neiman will play in Brahms’ Piano Trio No. 1 Friday and Franck’s Piano Quintet in F Minor the following night. “Vadim and Angela chose the repertoire,” he declared. “I’ve known them first from the days when we were all affiliated with the Juilliard School.
“Over the years, Vadim and I have played chamber music sporadically with the Jupiter Symphony Chamber players in New York,” he added. He had been invited to last year’s festival, but there was a conflict in dates.
Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein will play in Schubert’s beloved “The Shepherd on the Rock” Friday evening with soprano Hyuanh Yu and pianist Angela Yoffe. Saturday he and Yu will join the Pacifica in the Golijov.
He has appeared with orchestras throughout the United States, Europe, China, South America, Israel and Japan, and is an avid chamber musician, and was a member of the Chamber Music Society II of Lincoln Center and still plays with the ensemble each season.
Though he attended the Juilliard School at the same time as Gluzman and Yoffe, he really connected with the couple six years ago when he and Gluzman played chamber music together in the Berkshires. “We’ve been friends ever since,” he said.
Like Neiman, he was invited to play in last year’s festival. “But I had to cancel because my daughter was about to be born that same week,” Fiterstein explained. “I’m really glad they invited me again.”