Rarely, in my ‘Classical Beat’ previews, have I written about three such amazing concerts as you’ll find listed below - all on the boards Saturday and Sunday. The programs are all stunning, and they each luxuriate in works that will "bowl you over" with the power and majesty of the repertoire performed. If you’re a music lover and chamber music is your "thing," than this is the week to make at least two: You’ll have to choose, though, between the offerings at Tannery Pond and Music & More.
Music & More
Saturday, Sept. 22, at 4:30 p.m. Music & More presents the stellar duo of violinist Daniel Stepner and pianist Robert Levin in a program featuring the complete violin sonatas of Brahms, and selected piano solo works of Mendelssohn.
Why go? Brahms’ three sonatas for violin and piano are among the greatest works in the genre, and to hear all three is to survey the late 19th century master’s chamber works at the height of his compositional powers. The sonatas were composed in 1878, 1886, and 1887 respectively. The First and Second Sonatas are relatively charming and placid, but Brahms enters a darker world with his Third Sonata, in D Minor, which, in its four movements, marks a pathway between initial turbulence to ultimate triumph over despair.
Mendelssohn’s "Songs Without Words" are landmark piano "character pieces" - each in a different mood. Find your own words, as you listen, to describe the varied emotions they depict.
The concert will take place at the historic Meeting House on the village green in New Marlborough. There will be a pre-concert lecture by the artists at 3:30 p.m. A post-concert reception will follow in the Meeting House gallery. Tickets are $25/$20; students with ID and children with parents will be admitted without charge. For further information, visit online at newmarlborough.org or call 413-229-2785.
South Mountain Concerts
Sunday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. South Mountain Concerts in Pittsfield presents the third in its series of five Sunday chamber music concerts. This week’s featured artists are the world-famous Emerson String Quartet, and special guests violist Paul Neubauer and cellist ?Colin Carr. Repertoire for this program will be Dvorak: Quartet in F Major, Op. 96?; Bartok: String Quartet No. 3? and Tchaikovsky: String Sextet in D Minor, Op. 70.
Why go? The Dvorak Quartet Op. 96 is dubbed "The American." Composed in 1893, around the same time as his "New World" Symphony No. 9, it was supposedly inspired by native American themes, though no actual American Indian or folk tunes are to be found in it. What is in evidence is the 5-note pentatonic scale, which is found in folk music all over the world, from Dvorak’s native Bohemia to China. This Quartet, along with the "New World" Symphony, is among the composer’s most beloved works. For something completely different, partake of the native Hungarian folk melodies in Bartok’s Third Quartet. This is folk music transmogrified by a 20th century master into boldly transcendent, progressive modernism. Tchaikovsky’s Op. 70 Sextet, subtitled "Souvenir de Florence" is a tremendous work, noted for its brilliant virtuoso string writing. This concert has something for everyone. Don’t miss it!
The South Mountain concert hall is located on Routes 7 and 20 (South Street) in Pittsfield, approximately two miles south of Park Square. Call 413-442-2106 or go online at southmountainconcerts.org.
Tannery Pond Concerts
Saturday, Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. (please note the early time). Tannery Pond Concerts presents the breathtaking cello/piano duo of David Finckel and Wu Han. Repertoire for this program includes Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 5, No. 2; Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 in E Minor; Debussy’s Cello Sonata, composed in 1915, and the Sonata in D Minor, Op. 40 by Dmitry Shostakovich.
Why go? The husband and wife cello/piano duo of Finckel/Han is the greatest ensemble performing music in this genre on today’s concert scene. Everything they perform is meticulously crafted, and imbued with the highest artistic integrity. This program is as full and rich as can be imagined, with the two instruments partnering to create the power and virtuosity of Beethoven and Shostakovich, combined with the passion of Brahms (listen especially to the great concluding fugal movement) and the delicacy of Debussy’s concise, three-movement masterpiece. This is a program full of miraculous chamber music that will be wondrously interpreted by this astonishing duo.
Driving directions: Tannery Pond is located on the grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and Darrow School, New Lebanon, New York, one and a half miles east of the town center on Route 20. Tickets are $25 and 30. Reservations are recommended. Call 888-820-1696 or for more information go online at tannery