Chamber festival to include masterpieces, new compositions

The Saratoga Chamber Music Festival will present a mix of the old with the new when it opens on July

The Saratoga Chamber Music Festival will present a mix of the old with the new when it opens on July 29 for a series of six concerts at the Spa Little Theatre.

“I want to present what people want to hear,” said Andre-Michel Schub, the festival’s artistic director. “There will be the core works and the lesser-known and wonderful.”

This is the second year for Schub, a prize-winning pianist who during the year keeps a performance schedule of recitals and chamber music concerts balanced with his teaching at the Manhattan School of Music. He took over when violinist Chantal Juillet, the festival’s founder, left after a 19-year run.

“I’m getting a better idea of the incredible level of players there is to work with and to feel how loyal the audience is,” Schub said.

To be sure this season would be fresh for the audiences, he checked over past seasons as to what had been presented and who the performers were. One of the things that struck him immediately was that David Kim, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s concertmaster, had never been featured.

Saratoga Chamber Music Festival

WHERE: Spa Little Theatre, Saratoga Spa State Park

WHEN: July 29, 31, Aug. 5, 7, 12, 14

HOW MUCH: $45, $40

MORE INFO: 584-9330,

“The orchestra is right here and he’s such a great player,” Schub said.

Kim agreed to play and, after some discussion, they settled on a program. With Schub at the keyboard, Kim will play Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Major and Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E-flat with two members of the orchestra. That took care of the core masterpieces. For the lesser-known, Kim chose Rossini’s String Sonata No. 2 in A Major. Concert: 2:15 p.m. Aug. 12.

Choosing an opener

But what to open the season with?

For 20 years, Schub has worked with the Miami String Quartet, a much-award group that is currently quartet-in-residence at Kent State University.

“I play with them regularly and at the Virginia Arts Festival [a six-week event where Schub is artistic director],” he said. “I was happy they could come.”

He’ll play Brahms’ Piano Quintet with them. The Miami will perform Beethoven’s Quartet in C minor, Op. 18 No. 4 and Joan Tower’s “Incandescence.” The Tower piece was chosen because it’s new and Tower is the most important living composer, Schub said. Concert: 2:15 p.m. July 29.

The Miami will also give a Mozart celebration. It will do his “Spring” Quartet and perform two works with Schub: the Piano Quartet in G minor and a rarity — the Piano Concerto in E-flat Major. Mozart wrote 27 piano concertos and three of them can be done in smaller versions. This is one of those three, Schub said. As for choosing an all-Mozart program, Schub said you can never get enough Mozart.

“His music is perfection beyond anything on earth,” he said. (Concert: 8 p.m. July 31)

One of the new artists debuting this season with the orchestra and at SPAC is German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser. Schub wanted him to do a solo concert but Moser offered another possibility. He will do a solo Bach Suite in G Major and two 20th century works for solo cello: Britten’s “Sacher Theme” (1976) and Lutoslowski’s “Sacher Variations” (1975), which were both written as tributes to Swiss conductor Paul Sacher on his 70th birthday. Then, with four members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Moser will play Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major. Concert: 2:15 p.m. Aug. 5.

Schub wanted to spotlight orchestra principal cellist Hai-Ye Ni and he wanted to perform Dohnanyi’s Piano Quintet in C Major, Op. 1.

“I’d not done it much and the Wister Quartet was game to do it,” Schub said. “It’s rich, energetic and romantic.”

The Wister will also play Boccherini’s String Quintet in E major and Debussy’s Quartet in G minor. Concert: 8 p.m. Aug. 7.

Ebene quartet

Two seasons ago, the Ebene Quartet of France debuted on the series. The audience really liked them, Schub said, and he was even more intrigued when he saw the quartet’s repertoire list.

“They offered terrific standards and jazz. I was really fascinated and thought that different,” he said.

The Ebene will perform Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major and Tchaikovsky’s Quartet in D Major on the first half and jazz on the second half. Concert: 8 p.m. Aug. 14.

What’s even newer than the programming is that for the first time on the series, Schub will host pre-talks with the artists at 7 p.m. before each of the three Tuesday concerts, followed by question-and-answer sessions. The talks are free for ticket holders.

“It’s a big experiment,” Schub said. “But I wanted the audience to get to know the performers as people, and for them to talk about their lives and the programs anecdotally.”

Categories: Life and Arts

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