ARTISTIC DIRECTOR's MESSAGE - OUR 2014-2015 SEASON
It is my great pleasure to present to you another season of glorious music, expressed, as always, with the discipline, skill, and refinement by performers chosen from a rich global chamber music scene. Aside from the aesthetic and structural appeal of fine music, isn't it fascinating how this most abstract art form manages to be so emotionally affecting? Just listen to the Talich Quartet on October 26th, as they play their countryman Bedřich Smetana's autobiographical First Quartet..
Smetana wrote his “From my Life” in 1876. This "program music" sets out to tell a particular story. As listeners, we sense a range of emotions from foreboding to nostalgia, a visceral depiction of failing health, and finally a regretful descent to the inevitable. You could call it a musical novella, and, as with any good novella, we are provided with a rich cultural backdrop, the composer's musical reflection of his home country of Bohemia (the Czech Republic). It is a national sound he was heralded for creating, and in turn made him a national hero. The Talich Quartet will also bring us the sound of another famous countryman, Antonín Dvořák. They will open the program with Mozart who enjoyed bringing his music to Prague.
The Ying Quartet, which plays for us on January 11th, happens to have a connection to Dvořák. Twenty years ago, they lived and practiced for a full year in the Czech community of Spillville, Iowa, where Dvořák sojourned in 1893. This literal family of quartet members has been a force in the commissioning of over 200 new works and will bring us three of the popular originals from one of their Grammy award winning CDs called Dim Sum. I am also pleased they agreed to prepare the Prokofiev Second Quartet for us -- a favorite of mine.
In the third concert, we are honoured to have the venerable American String Quartet back with us. They will present music from the thirty-year-old Beethoven and the twenty-year-old Mendelssohn. Early Mendelssohn has a special open-hearted purity and enthusiasm; a youthful sense of adventure that I find thoroughly beguiling. The Opus 12 quartet is, without question, a mature and very fine creation. Mendelssohn was, along with Mozart, the most precocious composer the world has seen. To finish the program, I will join the quartet on viola for the grand and sweeping late-career Brahms Viola Quintet, Opus 111.
On March 1st, we present our annual Chamber Music Hamilton Special Feature concert that allows us to showcase a larger ensemble of concert artists, largely from Ontario. This year, we are calling it Collegium Musicum 9; a group that can present special gems of the Baroque, a time before the string quartet, as such, had been invented. We have the full range of strings with double bass and the very rare piccolo cello, as well as harpsichord and even a countertenor who toured with John Eliot Gardiner's Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra. We are thus able to present great arias from such as Handel's Agrippina, exquisite Bach arias from the St. John Passion, the Magnificat, and from Cantatas 54 and 170. We will play the much-loved Bach Brandenburg Concerto No.6 and the powerful rediscovered Bach D minor Violin Concerto, from which the great D minor Keyboard Concerto was adapted.
The final concert offering of the season is by the always popular Lafayette Quartet. These four women have played together for the past 28 years. They have the same sense of fun about rehearsing that they did when starting their careers. Being Canadian, who better than they to bring us the Second String Quartet (1945) by west coast fellow, Jean Coulthard. I will join for the rarely heard Michael Haydn Viola Quintet in C, and the quartet will finish the concert and the season with Beethoven's late Opus 132 masterpiece.