Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Music from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston


This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.


Five Years of Tuesday Blogs

I joined TalkClassical in May of 2011, and started my Tuesday Blog a few weeks later. The landscape hasn’t changed much – some of the TC lurkers have come and gone, but I have tried to stay the course, though my contributions have been limited to a few per month over the last while. Balancing work, home and my pastimes can be a challenge!

Allow me to take a moment to thank my fellow TC’ers – past and present – for their continued support and readership, as well as for their (too few) comments on my many posts. Looking ahead, I have many playlists on deck, so I plan to be around these parts for a while yet!

An Old Formula Returns… if only for this week

Since last fall, I’ve been posting on TC about twice a week, and my posts have either explored my old vinyl collection (in posts I like to call Vinyl’s Revenge) and old downloads from defunct music web sites (Once Upon the Internet). However, not so long ago, we used to prepare playlists based on “music hyperlinks” around a common theme. We did a lot of those over the years, combining YouTube videos with hot links from open source sites. One of my “go to” sites in preparing those playlists was the Music Library of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, which has a very impressive collection of live chamber performances. For a few summers, we made a point of doing chamber music playlists (remember the Summer of the String Quartet? Or the “In Camara” series?)

This week, allow me to indulge in one of those ”throwback” hyperlink posts, showcasing three performances from the ISGM, which have a common theme: musical democracy in the form of “large” chamber works. By large, I mean something requiring more than four players.
The works I chose present the challenge of democracy in music in two distinct ways – are these works featuring five or six independent performers each having their moment in the Sun so to speak, or are they ensemble pieces, where the individual artists forego their individual play in favour of that of the group as a whole. You decide!

To begin, I chose Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet, performed by the “Musicians from Marlboro”. This ensemble, with a varying lineup, was created as an extension of Vermont’s Marlboro Music Festival, offering valuable touring experience to artists at the beginning of their careers, and for featuring programs of unusual as well as beloved chamber repertoire.

Since their inception, the Musicians from Marlboro have introduced such great talents as Yefim Bronfman, Pamela Frank, Richard Goode, Jaime Laredo, Murray Perahia, Paula Robison, András Schiff, Peter Serkin, Richard Stoltzman, Christian Tetzlaff, Benita Valente and Harold Wright, among others.

Next, I programmed a pair of string sextets performed by “ad-hoc” ensembles featuring well-known interpreters. When you browse the line-up of these sextets, you will see some names that garner marquee appeal, as well as great craftspeople, known for their chamber play. The two works, though merely separated by a few years, span both ends of the late Romantic period – Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence and Schönberg’s still very tonal Transfigured Night.  Despite the fact that the artists featured don’t usually perform as an ensemble – in fact, these are pick-up sextets - you will be pleased to hear how “together” they actually sound!

Happy Listening!

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Kvintet for Flöte, Obo, Klarinet, Horn og Fagot (Wind Quintet) in A Major FS 100 [op. 43]
Musicians from Marlboro

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Souvenir de Florence for string sextet in D Major, TH 118 [op. 70]
Featuring Kyoko Takezawa, Cho-Lang Lin, Paul Neubauer, Scott Lee, Gary Hoffman, and Alisa Weilerstein

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
Verklärte Nacht for String Sextet, op. 4
Featuring Ida Kavafian, Ani Kavafian, Paul Neubauer, Roberto Diaz, Ronald Thomas, and Fred Sherry