(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Close Encounters With Music (CEWM) opens its 20th anniversary season with the renowned Chamber Orchestra Kremlin in a program of music by Dvorak, Elgar, Shostakovich, and Bach, on Sunday, October 30, 2011, at 2 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. The critically acclaimed chamber music series featuring astute commentary by artistic director and cellist Yehuda Hanani will mark two decades of events with perfomrances by Liszt interpreter Jeffrey Swann; and Chinese pipa and guzheng player Liu Fang in a program of East Meets West; the youthful Daedalus Quartet in an all-Viennese program. The anniversary season concludes with a salute to the cabaret music of the 1920s with songs by Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin, featuring Jennifer Rivera, mezzo-soprano, and Will Ferguson, tenor.
The season opens at the Mahaiwe on Sunday, October 30, at 2 with the return of the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin in a program of Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings Op. 22 and Elgar’s Serenade in E minor; Shostakovich’s tragic Chamber Symphony Op. 110; and Bach’s radical Contrapunctus I from The Art of the Fugue; and Luigi Boccherini’s Cello Concerto, featuring Yehuda Hanani as soloist.
On Sunday, December 4 at 2, at the Mahaiwe, CEWM explores the cult of celebrity that had its roots with Franz Liszt, sex symbol and showman extraordinaire. A keyboard innovator and a powerful genius whose compositions blazed the way for impressionism, Romanticism, and atonality, he is widely regarded as the greatest pianist of all time, mesmerizing audiences at his thousands of concert appearances. The program includes Liszt’s pictorial piano solo works; Saint-Saëns’ Rondo Capriccioso and Mendelssohn’s C minor Trio. Listeners will be rewarded with four recently published works for cello and piano, transcribed by Liszt himself, with acclaimed interpreter Jeffrey Swann, accompanied by Yehonatan Berick, violin; and Yehuda Hanani, cello.
The complex relationships between Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and the immortal Clara Schumann are examined through Grand Piano Quartets on Saturday, March 24, 2012, at 6 at the Mahaiwe. The Piano Quartets in E flat Major, Opus 44 (Schumann) and G minor, Opus 25 (Brahms) both were premiered by Clara Schumann, and the music evokes an auditory remembrance of things past, glimpses into a lost world of nobility and higher ideals. The concert features Lydia Artymiw, piano; Arnaud Sussman, violin; Toby Appel, viola; and Yehuda Hanani, cello.
A musical dialogue between East and West is featured in Trade Winds—From China with Love, at the Mahaiwe on Saturday, April 21, 2012, at 6. China’s “Empress of Pipa,” soloist Liu Fang, performs traditional selections on the Chinese counterparts to the lute and zither, and is joined by Yehuda Hanani for a premiere by Pulitzer Prize winner Zhou Long. Bulgarian pianist Emma Tahmizian plays Mother Goose and Leo Ornstein’s A la Chinoise, and Israeli violinist Hagai Shaham offers Debussy’s pentatonic-inflected Sonata and Fritz Kreisler’s Tambourin Chinois. Joining Fang and Shaham are Emma Tahmizian, piano; and Yehuda Hanani, cello.
On Saturday, May 7 at 6, the youthful Daedalus Quartet performs an all-Viennese program featuring music by Schubert (Quartettsatz), Berg, and Beethoven. Alban Berg’s groundbreaking Lyric Suite plays with cryptic messages and themes depicting the tragic love of Tristan and Isolde while it is in fact about his “unrequited passion for a friend’s wife,” a mystery revealed 20 years ago when the composer’s letter were released. Beethoven’s Opus 59 No. 1 in F Major, the majestic “Razumovsky,” round out the program. The Daedalus Quartet is Min-Young Kim, violin; Ara Gregorian, violin; Jessica Thompson, viola; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello.
The season finale, The Roaring Twenties: Berlin, Paris, New York, celebrates the golden age of jazz and cabaret and a period exemplified by experimentalism and decadence, on Saturday, June 2, at 6 at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall in Lenox. Enduring songs by Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, Cole Porter and George Gershwin will rub up against Erwin Shulhoff’s Jazz Suite and works by Entartete composers whose “degenerate” music was banned just a few years later by the Nazis. The program features Jennifer Rivera, mezzo-soprano; Will Ferguson, tenor; James Tocco, piano; and Yehuda Hanani, cello.
An exclusive event for season subscribers on Saturday, February 25, at 6 at Searle’s Castle in Great Barrington features the rising young piano trio, TROIKA.
Close Encounters With Music continues its listen and talk series, Conversations with…, intimate and stimulating afternoons of music, literature and exchanges of ideas with notable performers, critics, authors, and cultural personages. On Saturday, November 12, at 4, Close Encounters With Music and The Mount present “Picnic With Poets,” featuring Massachusetts poet Charles Coe and regional Berkshire poets reading their works at Edith Wharton’s majestic estate in Lenox. Coe, winner of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Poetry Fellowship and author of the collection Picnic on the Moon, combines subjects as diverse as African-American history, myth, jazz and family. On Sunday, May 13, at 4 at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield, Mass., Close Encounters With Music hosts Young Berkshires Composers, introducing emerging Berkshire composers. Audience members will be among the first to hear their compositions and take part in the conversation on the how and why of their compositional process.
Returning to the Frick Collection in New York City by popular demand, Close Encounters With Music offers Fall and Spring concerts. On Tuesday, October 4 at 7:30, “Romanticism and Enlightenment: Mendelssohn and Eduard Franck” features the American premiere of the Eduard Franck Sonata for Cello and Piano. James Tocco, piano; Shmuel Ashkenasi and Nurit Pacht, violins; and Yehuda Hanani, cello, in rediscovered works of Eduard Franck, one of Mendelssohn’s only students, as well as pieces by Mendelssohn and Eduard Franck’s student, Mortiz Moszkowski. On Tuesday, March 27, at 7:30, Eliot Fisk, guitar, and Yehuda Hanani, cello, will blend the sonorities of plucked and bowed strings in music by Schubert, Boccherini, Bach, Albeniz, Villa-Lobos and more.
Close Encounters On the Radio/Podcast
Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and audiences are encouraged to tune into the new weekly broadcasts of Classical Music According to Yehuda on WAMC Northeast Radio.
Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and artistic director Yehuda Hanani puts composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience.
Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time: Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Kenji Bunch, John Musto, among others to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD.
A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Toby Appel; harpsichordist Lionel Party; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Mnahattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk.
Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.
Tickets, $38 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $28 (Balcony), are available at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100. Subscriptions are $175 ($150 for seniors) for a series of 6 concerts. Visit Close Encounters With Music.