Chamber Feast

2nd Annual Chamber Feast

Sun, July 15, 2018, 4:00pm


We invite you to this year’s Chamber Feast, featuring a host of exceptional musicians and Caramoor familiars. Come to the Caramoor grounds by 2:00pm to hear performances by the National Youth Orchestra of the USA and NYO2, two incredible programs built to select and sustain talented and diverse musicians for the future (Free).


Pamela Frank, violin
Alexi Kenney, violin
Jesse Mills, violin
Ayane Kozasa, viola
Vicki Powell, viola
Oliver Herbert, cello
Karen Ouzounian, cello
Moran Katz, clarinet
Roman Rabinovich, piano


Mozart String Quintet in D Major, K. 593
Bartók Contrasts
— Intermission —
Dvořák String Sextet in A Major, Op. 48

2:00pm Musicians from the National Youth Orchestra of the USA and NYO2 perform chamber music around the Caramoor grounds (Free)
Complimentary Garden Listening Tickets for Members at the Family Level and above

Pamela Frank

Pamela Frank, violin

Pamela Frank has established an outstanding international reputation across an unusually varied range of performing activity. As a soloist she has performed with leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Berlin Philharmonic and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Pamela performed regularly with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, recording the complete Mozart Violin Concertos with them and David Zinman and has also recorded a Schubert album and the Beethoven sonata cycle, both with her father Claude Frank. Pamela is a sought-after chamber musician and has performed at many international festivals including Aldeburgh, Verbier, Edinburgh, Salzburg, Tanglewood, Marlboro and Ravinia.

Aside from her devotion to works of the standard repertory, Pamela has performed and recorded a number of contemporary works. Her accomplishments were recognized in 1999 with the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize. Pamela is professor of violin at the Curtis Institute of Music and teaches and coaches annually at the Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Verbier Festivals. Since 2008 she has been the Artistic Director of the Evnin Rising Stars, a mentoring program for young artists at Caramoor Center for the Arts. Her newest venture is the formation of Fit as a Fiddle Inc., a collaboration with physical therapist Howard Nelson in which they use both their expertise for injury prevention and treatment of musicians.


Alexi Kenney

Alexi Kenney, violin

Artist Website Listen Watch

The recipient of a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, violinist Alexi Kenney has been named “a talent to watch” by The New York Times, which also noted his “architect’s eye for structure and space and a tone that ranges from the achingly fragile to full-bodied robustness.” His win at the 2013 Concert Artists Guild Competition at the age of nineteen led to a critically acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut recital at Weill Hall.

Highlights of Alexi’s 2017-18 season include debuts with the Detroit, Columbus, California, and Amarillo symphonies, return engagements with the Santa Fe Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and recitals with pianist Renana Gutman on Carnegie Hall’s ‘Distinctive Debuts’ series, at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., and at Lee University (TN) and the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University (CA). Alexi has appeared as soloist with the Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Portland, Riverside, Santa Fe, and Tulare County symphonies, the Staatstheater Orchestra of Cottbus, Germany, and A Far Cry, and in recital at Caramoor, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Jordan Hall in Boston, and at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. He has been profiled by Strings magazine and The New York Times, written for The Strad, and has been featured on Performance Today, WQXR-NY’s Young Artists Showcase, WFMT-Chicago, and NPR’s From the Top.

Alexi Kenney made his Carnegie Hall debut recital at only age 19 after winning the Concert Artists Guild Competition in 2013.

Chamber music continues to be a main focus of Alexi’s life, touring with Musicians from Marlboro and Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Institute and regularly performing at festivals including ChamberFest Cleveland, Festival Napa Valley, the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, the Marlboro Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Open Chamber Music at Prussia Cove (UK), Ravinia, and Yellow Barn. He has collaborated with artists including Pamela Frank, Miriam Fried, Steven Isserlis, Kim Kashkashian, Gidon Kremer, and Christian Tetzlaff and is a new member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS 2 program beginning in the 2018-19 season.

Born in Palo Alto, California in 1994, Alexi holds a Bachelor of Music and an Artist Diploma from the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he studied with Donald Weilerstein and Miriam Fried. Previous teachers include Wei He, Jenny Rudin, and Natasha Fong.

Alexi plays on a violin made in London by Stefan-Peter Greiner in 2009.


Edward Arron & Friends: Jesse Mills

Jesse Mills, violin

Two-time Grammy nominated violinist Jesse Mills enjoys performing music of many genres, from classical to contemporary, as well as composed and improvised music of his own invention.

Since his concerto debut at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Mr. Mills has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has been a soloist with the Phoenix Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony, the Green Bay Symphony, Juilliard Chamber Orchestra, the Denver Philharmonic, the Teatro Argentino Orchestra (in Buenos Aires, Argentina), and the Aspen Music Festival’s Sinfonia Orchestra.

As a chamber musician Jesse Mills has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada, including concerts at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, the Metropolitan Museum, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Boston’s Gardener Museum, Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, and the Marlboro Music Festival. He has also appeared at prestigious venues in Europe, such as the Barbican Centre of London, La Cité de la Musique in Paris, Amsterdam’s Royal Carré Theatre, Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan, and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. Mills is co-founder of Horszowski Trio and Duo Prism, a violin-piano duo with Rieko Aizawa, which earned 1st Prize at the Zinetti International Competition in Italy in 2006. With Ms. Aizawa, Mills became co-artistic director of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Colorado in 2010.

Jesse Mills is a two-time Grammy nominated violinist and has performed solo and in chamber ensembles around the world.

Mills is also known as a pioneer of contemporary works, a renowned improvisational artist, as well as a composer. He earned Grammy nominations for his performances of Arnold Schoenberg’s music, released by NAXOS in 2005 and 2010. He can also be heard on the Koch, Centaur, Tzadik, Max Jazz and Verve labels for various compositions of Webern, Schoenberg, Zorn, Wuorinen, and others. As a member of the FLUX Quartet from 2001-2003, Mills performed music composed during the last 50 years, in addition to frequent world premieres. As a composer and arranger, Mills has been commissioned by venues including Columbia University’s Miller Theater, the Chamber Music Northwest festival in Portland, OR and the Bargemusic in NYC.

Jesse Mills began violin studies at the age of three. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School in 2001. He studied with Dorothy DeLay, Robert Mann and Itzhak Perlman. Mr. Mills lives in New York City, and he is on the faculty at Longy School of Music of Bard College and at New York University. In 2010 the Third Street Music School Settlement in NYC honored him with the ‘Rising Star Award’ for musical achievement.


Ayane Kozasa

Ayane Kozasa, viola

Artist Website Listen Watch

Hailed for her “magnetic, wide-ranging tone” and her “rock solid technique” (Philadelphia Inquirer), violist Ayane Kozasa enjoys a career that spans a broad spectrum of musical personas. A violinist turned violist, she was inspired to dedicate herself to the alto clef when she discovered the beauty of playing the viola part in string quartets during her undergraduate studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Her commitment to pursue a life in viola led to a graduate degree from the Curtis Institute of Music as well as a Further Masters Degree from the esteemed Kronberg Academy Masters School in Germany.

Ayane’s solo career took off when she won the 2011 Primrose International Viola Competition, where she also captured awards for best chamber music and commissioned work performances. Following the competition, she joined the Astral Artists roster, and became a grant recipient from the S&R Foundation, an organization recognizing and supporting young, aspiring artists of all mediums. Her international solo opportunities have been a platform to unearth seldom heard works and commission new pieces, an aspect of viola playing that she loves. Most recently, she commissioned a work by Brooklyn composer Paul Wiancko for viola and piano, which she premiered at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society with pianist Amy Yang.

Violist Ayane Kozasa is a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet, an alumni quartet of Caramoor’s Ernst Stiefel String-Quartet-in-Residence program and currently serving as Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Chamber music has also been a vital part of Ayane’s musical career, and her interests have led her to appearances at numerous festivals including the Marlboro Music Festival, the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival, and the Ravinia Festival. She is a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet, the 2014-16 Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music, and prizewinner of the 2015 London Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. They will also be the 2017-18 Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The quartet has proved to be a multi-faceted group, commissioning and touring works by world-renowned composers such as Caroline Shaw, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Paul Wiancko, and Gabriella Smith.

From 2012 to 2016, Ayane served as the principal violist of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. She is also a member of the IRIS Orchestra, and has played with notable ensembles such as the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, The Philadelphia Orchestra, East Coast Chamber Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Ayane is deeply grateful for the mentorship she received from her past teachers, Nobuko Imai, Kirsten Docter, Roberto Diaz, Misha Amory, Michael Tree, and William Preucil. Outside of music, she loves to bake pastries, create fonts, run long distances, and be surrounded by mountains or the ocean — all interests that fuel her musical creativity.


Vicki Powell, viola

Artist Website  Watch

Praised by The New York Times for her “probing introspection,” and by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “a star” with “a voluptuous tone,” violist Vicki Powell has appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and has been a featured artist at the Verbier, Ravinia, Caramoor, Moritzburg, and Marlboro Music Festivals.

Ms. Powell is the recipient of a Gold Award in Music from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. Other awards include Third Prize and the Sonata Prize at the 2011 Primrose International Viola Competition, as well as First Prizes of the Philadelphia Orchestra Greenfield Competition, the Johansen International Competition, and the Aspen Low Strings Competition.

Vicki Powell is an alumna of Caramoor’s Evnin Rising Stars mentoring program and currently performs as a member of the Boccherini String Trio as well as serving as Director of the Verbier Festival Academy’s “Reaching Out” program.

An avid chamber musician, Ms. Powell performs throughout Europe with the Boccherini String Trio ( She has toured with Musicians from Marlboro, Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Institute, and Curtis on Tour, and performs with the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players in New York City. Recent highlights include performances at the Rheingau Music Festival, Zurich Tonhalle, and Konzerthaus Berlin as well as with Christian Tetzlaff and Steven Isserlis at Kronberg Academy’s Chamber Music Connects the World. She has also previously collaborated with such reknowned artists as Mitsuko Uchida, Nobuko Imai, Arnold Steinhardt, Pamela Frank, Ida Kavafian, and Peter Wiley.

As an orchestral musician Ms. Powell has appeared as Guest Principal of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and the Munich Chamber Orchestra, and performs frequently with the New York Philharmonic, IRIS Orchestra, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

In addition to her pursuits as a violist, Ms. Powell is passionate about using music to engage communities from diverse backgrounds in order to strengthen social ties, as well as to raise awareness for humanitarian efforts across the world. As Director of the Verbier Festival Academy’s “Reaching Out” program, she helped enable musicians to harness and broaden their outreach, business, networking, and leadership skills in order to be innovative and active participants within their own communities. Ms. Powell has also collaborated with the Medair organization (, which helps people who are suffering in remote and devastated communities around the world survive crisis, recover with dignity, and develop skills to build a better future.

Ms. Powell began her musical studies in Madison, Wisconsin with Eugene Purdue and Sally Chisholm. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with Misha Amory and Roberto Diaz, and is currently pursuing studies with Máté Szűcs, Principal Violist of the Berlin Philharmonic, at the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” in Berlin. She plays on a copy of the Primrose Guarneri by Samuel Zygmuntowicz.


Oliver Herbert

Oliver Herbert, cello

Artist Website  Watch

Oliver Herbert is a cellist from San Francisco, California. His recent solo and recital engagements include debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Santa Cruz Symphony, Las Vegas Philharmonic, and the Dame Myra Hess Recital Series in Chicago. With a great interest in cello repertoire, Oliver strives to create innovative programs and to reach diverse audiences. He believes that music from all eras is relevant, and continues to search for connections between the past and the present through playing the cello.

As a chamber musician, Oliver frequently participates in numerous music festivals including the Verbier Festival Academy, Krzyzowa Music, Ravinia Steans Music Institute, IMS Prussia Cove, ChamberFest Cleveland, Music in the Vineyards, and the Caramoor Festival. In addition to being a fellow at the Ravinia Festival Steans Music Institute, Oliver was also invited to perform on a tour with renowned violinist Miriam Fried, the program’s director. At the 2017 Verbier Festival, Oliver was awarded the Prix Jean-Nicolas Firmenich.

Oliver’s most recent competition awards include the first prize and Pablo Casals prize in the 2015 Irving M. Klein International String Competition, and the second prize in the 2015 Stulberg International String Competition.

Oliver’s most recent competition awards include the first prize and Pablo Casals prize in the 2015 Irving M. Klein International String Competition, and the second prize in the 2015 Stulberg International String Competition. Furthermore, he has captured the top prize in numerous competitions including the Spotlight Competition, the National YoungArts Foundation, Colburn Academy Concerto Competition, the Nova Vista Symphony Concerto Competition and the Felix Khuner Young Artist Competition.

As an orchestral cellist, Oliver currently serves as the Associate Principal cellist of Symphony In C in addition to performing regularly with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Oliver has held principal positions with the Eastern Sierra Symphony, National Youth Orchestra of the United States, San Francisco Youth Orchestra, and the Colburn Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra.

Oliver currently is under the tutelage of Peter Wiley and Carter Brey at the Curtis Institute of Music. Before starting his studies at Curtis, Oliver was a student of Clive Greensmith at the Colburn School. He currently plays on a 1769 Guadagnini cello that belonged to famous Italian cellist Antonio Janigro, on generous loan from the Janigro family.


Karen Ouzounian

Karen Ouzounian, cello

Artist Website

Described as “radiant” and “expressive” (The New York Times) and “nothing less than gorgeous” (Memphis Commercial Appeal), cellist Karen Ouzounian approaches music-making with a deeply communicative and passionate spirit. Winner of the S&R Foundation’s 2016 Washington Award and at home in diverse musical settings, she has become increasingly drawn towards unusual collaborations and eclectic contemporary repertoire.

Karen is a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet, which was awarded First Prize at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan and is the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its 2017-18 season. The Quartet was a prizewinner in the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London and has held residencies at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Curtis Institute of Music, and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The Quartet has commissioned works by such composers as Caroline Shaw, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Paul Wiancko and Gabriella Smith, and will be featured in the 2017 premiere of the 65-minute chamber opera Sophia’s Forest by composer Lembit Beecher, along with soprano Kiera Duffy and custom-built, electronically-controlled sound sculptures.

Cellist Karen Ouzounian is a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet and her commitment to adventurous repertoire has led her to work with ensembles including A Far Cry, The Knights, Silk Road Enssemble, and counter(induction.

In addition to her work with the Aizuri Quartet, Karen’s commitment to adventurous repertoire and the collaborative process has led to her membership in the Grammy-nominated, self-conducted chamber orchestra A Far Cry and the critically-acclaimed new music collective counter)induction, along with regular appearances with the Silk Road Ensemble and The Knights. Highlights of Karen’s recent and upcoming seasons include performances of the Elgar Concerto in Chile with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago, a touring collaboration between the Silk Road Ensemble and the Mark Morris Dance Group, a tour of Japan with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and tours with Musicians from Marlboro and Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute. Additionally she has performed as guest principal of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, IRIS Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

Born to Armenian parents in Toronto, Karen was a prizewinner at the 2012 Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank Competition. She holds Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees from The Juilliard School, where she was a student of Timothy Eddy. She resides in New York City with her husband, composer Lembit Beecher.


Moran Katz

Moran Katz, clarinet

Artist Website

First Prize winner of the 2013 Ima Hogg Competition, Clarinetist Moran Katz also received the Audience Choice Prize as well as the Artistic Encouragement Prize voted on by the Houston Symphony musicians. In the year of 2009 alone, Ms. Katz won the First Prize at the Freiburg International Clarinet Competition in Germany, the Second Prize at the Beijing International Music Competition for Clarinet in China and the First Prize, and Overall Prize at the Midland/Odessa “National Young Artist Competition” in Texas.

Ms. Katz performs extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. She has appeared as soloist with such orchestras as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, China Philharmonic, New Juilliard Ensemble, Haifa Symphony Orchestra, and the Tel Aviv Soloists Ensemble. Chamber Music appearances at the United Nations Hall (Switzerland), France’s “Les Musicales” Festival in Colmar, Les Invalides in Paris and Palais des Fetes in Strasburg, Marlboro Music Festival, the Two Days and Two Nights Festival, New York’s Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and Jazz at Lincoln Center, among others. She has collaborated with the Ariel, Carmel, Contemporary, Tesla, Aeolus, Dover, Benaim, and Vogler String Quartets, as well as with artists such as Zubin Mehta, David Robertson, Sylvain Cambreling, Richard Goode, Vera Beths, and Arnold Steinhardt.

Clarinetist Moran Katz is the recipient of numerous instrumental competition prizes and has performed alongside orchestras, in recital, and as a chamber musician around the world.

A clarinetist for the internationally acclaimed new music ensemble “Continuum,” a member of Carnegie Hall’s Affiliate Ensemble “Decoda” and a co-founder of the innovative “SHUFFLE Concert,” Ms. Katz recorded for Albany Records, Naxos, Tzadik, and Innova labels and premiered music by Mario Davidovsky, Roberto Sierra, Huang Ruo, Avner Dorman, Richard Wilson, Virko Baley, Joseph Bardanashvili, and Jonathan Keren. She often plays with the Copland House Ensemble and NOVUS NY.

Ms. Katz also received the Third Prize at the 2008 Eastern Connecticut Symphony Instrumental Competition; the 2006 Francois Schapira First Prize for Woodwinds at the prestigious Aviv Competitions (Israel); First Prize at the 2004 Lions Clarinet Competition (Israel) and Second Prize in the Lions European Musical Prize 2004 for Clarinet (Italy), among others. She was the recipient of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation grants with distinction in the years 1999-2008, as well as of the Ronen Foundation and a 2010 Salon de Virtuosi Career Grant.

Ms. Katz received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in 2006 and 2008 and an Artist Diploma in 2010 as a student of Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima at The Juilliard School, New York, where she was admitted with presidential distinction and a full scholarship.

From 2010 to 2012, Ms. Katz was a member of Ensemble ACJW and a fellow of The Academy, a collaboration of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the NYC Department of Education, performing chamber music at Carnegie Hall and bringing classical music to students in the NYC public schools. She is an adjunct faculty at Vassar College.


Roman Rabinovich

Roman Rabinovich, piano

Artist Website Watch

The eloquent pianist Roman Rabinovich, a top prizewinner at the 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in 2008, has since been highly lauded by The New York Times, BBC Music Magazine, the San Francisco Classical Voice, and others. He has performed throughout Europe and the United States in venues such as Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, the Cité de la Musique in Paris, and the Millennium Stage of Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Rabinovich has participated in such festivals as Marlboro, Lucerne, Davos, Prague Spring, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. An avid chamber musician, he is also a regular guest at ChamberFest Cleveland.

The 2017-18 sees Rabinovich’s debuts with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Sir Roger Norrington, as well as with the NFM Leopoldinum, Szczecin Philharmonic and Radom Chamber Orchestras in Poland, and The Sinfonia Boca Raton under James Judd. He also returns to the Wigmore Hall twice, both for a solo recital and with violinist Liza Ferschtman, and makes his recital debuts for Washington Performing Arts and the Janáček May International Music Festival. Chamber music partnerships in 2017-18 include Liza Ferschtman, Tessa Lark, and the Ying Quartet; Rabinovich will also take part in the Chamber Music Festival of the Liszt Academy, playing with Miklós Perényi, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, and Radovan Vlatković.

In 2015, distinguished pianist Sir András Schiff chose Rabinovich for the inaugural “Building Bridges” series, created to highlight young pianists of unusual promise.

In 2015, distinguished pianist Sir András Schiff chose Rabinovich for the inaugural “Building Bridges” series, created to highlight young pianists of unusual promise. Under this aegis Roman Rabinovich’s New York recital at SubCulture received high praise from senior music critic Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times. As artist in Residence at the Lammermuir Festival in Scotland in September 2016, he presented a “Haydn Marathon” performing 25 Haydn sonatas in 5 days, part of an ongoing exploration of Haydn’s piano music, including performances of all Haydn’s sonatas over two years in Tel Aviv. A gifted visual artist, he often illustrates his programmes with his own artwork.

Roman Rabinovich made his Israel Philharmonic debut under the baton of Zubin Mehta at age 10 and appeared again as soloist with the same forces in 1999 and 2003. He has been heard as soloist with all the Israeli orchestras, the Polish Radio Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Prague Symphony, Dohnányi Orchestra, and many others.

Born in Tashkent, Rabinovich immigrated to Israel with his family in 1994, beginning his studies there with Irena Vishnevitsky and Arie Vardi; he went on to graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of Seymour Lipkin, and earned his Master’s Degree at The Juilliard School where he studied with Robert McDonald.

About the Music.


String Quintet in D Major, K. 593

About the Composer

Mozart was not the first composer to write string quintets, but the form was still a new one without established conventions when he turned to it in 1787 for two masterpieces in C major and in G minor (K. 515 and 516), both works of extraordinary scope and expressive power. After having thus firmly established the medium of the string quartet with an extra viola, Mozart abandoned it again until the last year of his life, when he wrote two more quintets at the earnest entreaty of a music-lover presumed to be the wealthy Moravian merchant Johann Tost, for whom Haydn had written a dozen string quartets in the preceding year or so. It may even have been Haydn who turned this wealthy patron’s attention to his brilliant young friend; perhaps that is why both quintets contain hints of Haydn’s style, in grateful homage.

About the Work

The addition of a second viola to the well-established medium of string quartet gives new opportunity for richness of sound in the middle of the texture, since violas can serve simultaneously as melody and accompaniment instruments. Moreover, with a viola in its lowest register, the cello can be freed of total responsibility to provide the bass line. The first violin and first viola become almost a “concertino,” presenting material in opposition to the other three instruments. Sometimes the textures seem to consist of two trios echoing back and forth, an effect created by having the middle voice (first viola) play with both groups — with the two violins for a bright trio, and with second viola and cello for a darker one.

Though Mozart uses all these effects in K. 593, he also gives each of the parts free rein in intricate contrapuntal interplay. The opening Larghetto pits the cello against the four upper parts in an introduction that soon begins to emphasize the minor mode before landing on the dominant to launch the statement of the first Allegro theme. The exposition is Haydnesque in that a somewhat enlarged version of the first theme returns to establish the secondary key as well (a rare procedure for Mozart, who preferred to invent contrasting themes). The development, following sonorous echoes tossed between high and low groups of instruments, takes off on a polyphonic chase that soon leads around to the recapitulation. Here the first theme moves quickly to a new extension in the minor (recalling thus the opening Larghetto) before a restatement of the secondary material, which also has inflections to the tonic minor.

None of this prepares us for the surprise recapitulation of the opening Larghetto, which is not simply a literal repetition to frame the movement, but rather truly a recapitulation, with its own requisite harmonic adjustment. A final statement of the opening Allegro theme, wittily conceived to serve equally well as beginning or end, brings matters to an abrupt halt.

A Deeper Listen

The Adagio is one of the most richly elaborated of Mozart’s slow movements, filled with those expressive chromatic gestures that are so characteristic of him. The harmonic range of this slow-movement sonata form reinforces the decorative chromatic melodic lines, which reappear still more ornately at the recapitulation. The minuet presents a theme constructed of falling thirds which suddenly becomes a two-part canon at one beat in the restatement— surely a device intended to recall a favorite Haydn practice.

The finale has been published and played for years in a version that passed as a late revision by the composer. The main theme — a descending chromatic scale — was rewritten into zigzag shape, and even the eagle eye and penetrating perceptions of the great Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein considered the revision to be the composer’s own. We now know, however, that the revision was made after Mozart’s death, probably at the hands of the publisher, who converted the original shape of the tune into something more Haydnesque, which had the added advantage of being easier to play. But the original form of the theme could only have been written by Mozart, and it is that authentic version that will be performed here.



Contrasts, BB 116 (1938)

About the Composer

With one exception, all of Bartók’s chamber music is for stringed instruments, with or without the addition of a piano. Only once did he turn to a wind instrument, and that was occasioned by a commission from Benny Goodman and Joseph Szigeti. At the time Goodman was known only as a very popular jazz musician, not as a performer who also would commission and perform classical works. Bartók wrote Contrasts in Budapest in 1938 after having heard some records of the Benny Goodman band that Szigeti sent him. Far from trying to blend the three very different types of instruments into a single complex sonority, Bartók exploits the difference in sound production as much as possible (as the very title of the work suggests).

He had long since become a past master of violin effects — multiple stops, bowed and pizzicato notes played simultaneously, glissandi, and so on; now he investigates the possibilities of the clarinet as well, while keeping the piano part (conceived for himself) modestly in the background.

Though the outer movements of the work were premiered in New York in 1939 by Goodman and Szigeti with pianist Endre Petri, the first complete performance took place in a recording studio the following year, with Bartók, newly arrived in the United States, at the piano. That recording has long been a historical treasure, documenting the encounter musicians whose commission brought Contrasts into being.

About the Work

The original plan, according to Goodman’s wish, was to have a two-movement work that would fit on a single twelve-inch 78rpm record, but Bartók found that he needed greater scope for the working out of his material, and the planned two movements became three with the addition of the slow middle movement. The music is strongly nationalistic, possibly Bartók’s musical response to the unchecked advance of Nazism.

The Verbunkos, or recruiting dance, was a musical genre employed to encourage enlistments in the Hungarian army in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; thereafter it remained as a characteristically Hungarian musical genre featuring sharply dotted rhythms in a slow march tempo with ornamental turns, runs, and arpeggios decorating the melodic lines. In its fully developed historical form, the Verbunkos began with a slow section (lassu) followed by or alternating with a wild fast one (friss), and, indeed, the original two-movement plan of Contrasts was designed to reflectthis format.

The Verbunkos ends with a clarinet cadenza that leads on to the languid slow movement, in which piano and clarinet begin by mirroring one another, while the piano contributes soft percussive tremolos inspired by Balinese gamelan music.

The fast dance, Sebes, begins with a short passage on a scordatura violin (with the E string tuned to E flat and the G string to G sharp), following which the violin is directed to return to a second, normally tuned instrument. This is the only example of scordatura in Bartók’s entire output. The outer sections of the dance are in a lively 2/4 meter, but the extended middle section uses what is often called “Bulgarian rhythm,” which Bartók learned in his folk music studies: (8+5)/8, or more properly (3+2+3+2+3)/8. When the original 2/4 returns, the dance gets wilder and wilder (with just a few momentarily tranquil passages and a cadenza for the violin) before reaching its brilliant conclusion.



String Sextet in A Major, Op. 48 (1878)

About the Composer

Dvořák began composing the Sextet on May 14, 1878, only two months after he had begun writing the first set of Slavonic Dances (published as Op. 46), which were to make him famous — and his publisher rich. The act of composition took him only two weeks. At this time, he was still virtually unknown outside of Bohemia, but the Sextet proved to be his first chamber music to be performed abroad. In fact, it received its first performance in a soirée at the Berlin home of Joseph Joachim, whose string quartet (augmented by two players) introduced the work to the musical great — while the very shy 37-year-old composer from Bohemia was astonished at being fêted by the leaders of the musical world.

About the Work

The Sextet has been called a brightly colored travel poster advertising Czechoslovakia. Its popularity certainly helped spread Dvořák’s fame to other countries. The first movement is richly lyrical. Dvořák evidently enjoyed writing for this ensemble and spreading the riches of his imagination among six instruments. (As a violist himself, he knew how important it was to the performers not to give all the good tunes to the violinist)! The second movement is a Dumka, a characteristic Czech genre, in polka rhythm with a striking theme five measures long. Dvořák called the third movement a Furiant, but he did not use the three-against-two cross rhythm that characterizes that Czech dance; the movement is really a Scherzo—and a lively one. The finale is a set of five variations and a stretta on a theme that avoids the home key until its very end. Again, conscious of the need to pass the tunes around, he introduces the theme in the violas and cellos, and other color contrasts appear as the variations run their course. The conclusion is unbuttoned and boisterous.

— Steven Ledbetter