A Chamber Feast in Three Courses

A Chamber Feast in Three Courses

Honoring Caramoor's longtime Managing Director Paul Rosenblum

Sun, June 25, 2017, 3:00pm


A message from Paul Rosenblum, Managing Director:

All chamber music gourmands are invited to join us for a “chamber feast” celebrating twenty-five years of music and friendship, inspired by the voracious appetite for chamber music displayed by these artists.

Three courses of tasty delicacies and hearty entrees will be served up by Pamela Frank, Edward Arron, and a host of Caramoor Stars, including horn virtuoso, Stewart Rose.

“Paul’s dedication to Caramoor is an inspiration to us all. His fingerprints can be found throughout the building of Caramoor’s rich legacy and on the transformative projects he has led over the past 25 years. We are grateful for his wisdom, friendship, and unswerving championing of Caramoor.” – Jeffrey Haydon, Caramoor CEO

Stewart Rose, horn
Andrew Armstrong, piano
Jeewon Park, piano
Pamela Frank, violin
Jennifer Frautschi, violin
Laura Frautschi, violin
Alexi Kenney, violin
Jesse Mills, violin
Arnaud Sussmann, violin and viola
Ayane Kozasa, viola
Max Mandel, viola
Edward Arron, cello
Alexis Pia Gerlach, cello
Karen Ouzounian, cello


Wolf  Italian Serenade
Schubert  Piano Trio in E-flat Major, D. 897 “Notturno”
Mozart  Quintet for Horn, Violin, 2 Violas & Cello in E-flat Major, K. 407
– Intermission –Dvořák  Miniatures (Trio for two Violins and Viola, Op. 75a)
Beethoven Piano Trio, Op. 70, No. 1 “Ghost”
– Intermission –Mendelssohn  Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20

Getting to Caramoor

Taking the train? We’ll give you a lift! Free Metro-North Katonah Shuttle beginning at 1:00pm.

Garden Listening  Complimentary Garden Listening tickets for Members at the Family Level and above

Members, to redeem your complimentary tickets, add up to four Garden Listening tickets (per member and per event) to your cart and the complimentary price will be reflected at checkout once you’ve logged in to your account.

Enhance your Caramoor experience.

Pre-Order Picnic Boxes

Let us pack your picnic for you! For heartier options, no lines, and the ease of ordering a picnic in advance this summer, consider choosing from our special picnic boxes offered by our caterer, Great Performances. View the menu and order by noting how many of each option you would like after selecting your seats for A Chamber Feast in Three Courses. Confirm by selecting "Add to Cart."

Already purchased your tickets? You can still pre-order your picnic by ordering online (be sure to select June 25) or by calling the Box Office at 914.232.1252.

Order by Tuesday at 5:00pm for the upcoming week's performance.
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Stewart Rose

Stewart Rose, horn

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Praised by the New Yorker for his “forceful yet elegant virtuosity,” French hornist Stewart Rose is one of the preeminent horn players of his generation. In recent seasons he has performed as guest principal horn with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Saito Kinen Orchestra. He has appeared at the Marlboro, Tanglewood, Mostly Mozart, Spoleto, Edinburgh, Eastern Shore, and Bridgehampton festivals, and is a frequent guest with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

A native New Yorker, he began playing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in 1981 and has been principal horn of Orchestra of St. Luke’s since 1983. He also served as principal horn with the New York City Opera for 25 years. Mr. Rose’s first solo CD, From the Forest—a collection of early classical works for horn and orchestra by Haydn, Telemann, Leopold Mozart, and Christoph Forster with St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble—was released on St. Luke’s Collection to great critical acclaim. Other recent recordings include his appearance as first horn on New York Philharmonic releases including Berlioz’s Harold in Italy with Lorin Maazel, Sebastian Currier’s Time Machine with Anne-Sophie Mutter and Alan Gilbert, and Concerto: One Night in Central Park with Andrea Bocelli; Tchaikovsky: Winter Dreams and The Tempest with Pablo Heras-Casado and Orchestra of St. Luke’s; and Kevin Puts’ Seven Seascapes premiere recording with the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival.

Stewart Rose began playing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in 1981, has been principal horn of Orchestra of St. Luke’s since 1983, and also served as principal horn with the New York City Opera for 25 years.


Andrew Armstrong

Andrew Armstrong, piano

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Praised by critics for his passionate expression and dazzling technique, pianist Andrew Armstrong has delighted audiences across Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and the United States, including performances at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and Warsaw’s National Philharmonic.

Andrew’s orchestral engagements across the globe have seen him perform a sprawling repertoire of more than 50 concertos with orchestra. He has performed with such conductors as Peter Oundjian, Itzhak Perlman, Günther Herbig, Stefan Sanderling, JeanMarie Zeitouni, and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, and has appeared in solo recitals in chamber music concerts with the Elias, Alexander, American, and Manhattan String Quartets, and also as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi, Boston Chamber Music Society, Seattle Chamber Music Society, and the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players.

Andrew Armstrong has performed with the Elias, Alexander, American, and Manhattan String Quartets, is also as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi, Boston Chamber Music Society, Seattle Chamber Music Society, and the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players.

Andrew’s debut solo CD featuring Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition was released to great critical acclaim: “I have heard few pianists play [Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata], recorded or in concert, with such dazzling clarity and confidence” (American Record Guide). He has released several award-winning recordings with his longtime recital partner James Ehnes, including 3 volumes of the music of Béla Bartók, Prokofiev’s Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 &2 and Five Melodies, Tartini’s Devil’s Trill and Leclair’s Tambourin Sonata, a recital disc of works by Franck and Strauss, as well as an upcoming release featuring pieces by Debussy, Elgar, and Respighi (Onyx Classics).

Andrew is devoted to outreach programs and playing for children. In addition to his many concerts, his performances are heard regularly on National Public Radio and WQXR, New York City’s premier classical music station.

Mr. Armstrong lives happily in Massachusetts, with his wife Esty, their two children, two dogs, two guinea pigs, and two fish.


Jeewon Park

Jeewon Park, piano

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Praised for her “deeply reflective playing” (Indianapolis Star) and “infectious exuberance” (The New York Times), Korean-born pianist Jeewon Park has garnered the attention of audiences for her dazzling technique and poetic lyricism. Since making her debut at the age of 12 performing Chopin’s First Concerto with the Korean Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Park has performed in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, 92nd Street Y, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kravis Center, and Seoul Arts Center in Korea.

In recent seasons, Ms. Park continues to perform at major concert halls across the U.S. and Korea. She performed as a soloist with the Hwa Eum Chamber Orchestra in the Inaugural Festival of the IBK Chamber Hall at the Seoul Arts Center, as well as at engagements at the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Vilar Performing Arts Center, and Kumho Art Hall in Seoul among others. In addition, she makes return appearances to the Caramoor Music Festival as an alumna of the Evnin Rising Stars program, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, and the Seattle Chamber Music Festival.

Jeewon Park made her debut at the age of 12 performing Chopin’s First Concerto with the Korean Symphony Orchestra

Ms. Park has been heard in numerous live broadcasts on National Public Radio and New York’s Classical Radio Station, WQXR. Additionally, her performances have been nationally broadcast throughout Korea on KBS television. She came to the U.S. in 2002, after having won all the major competitions in Korea, most notably Joong-Ang and KBS competitions.

Ms. Park is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Yale University, where she was awarded the Dean Horatio Parker Prize. She holds the DMA degree from SUNY Stony Brook. Her teachers include Young-Ho Kim, Herbert Stessin, Claude Frank and Gilbert Kalish.


Pamela Frank

Pamela Frank, violin

American violinist Pamela Frank has established an outstanding international reputation across an unusually varied range of performing activity. In addition to her extensive schedule of engagements with prestigious orchestras throughout the world and her recitals on the leading concert stages, she is regularly sought after as a chamber music partner by today’s most distinguished soloists and ensembles. The breadth of this accomplishment and her consistently high level of musicianship were recognized in 1999 with the Avery Fisher Prize, one of the highest honors given to American instrumentalists.

Ms. Frank has appeared with such orchestras as the Baltimore Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, the Orchestre National de France, the Houston Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Vienna Symphony. She has performed under many esteemed conductors, including Daniel Barenboim, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Bernard Haitink, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Leonard Slatkin and, most regularly, Yuri Temirkanov and David Zinman. She appears often at numerous festivals in Europe and the United States, including Aldeburgh, Berlin, Blossom, Bravo! Vail Valley, Caramoor, the Hollywood Bowl, Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Salzburg, Tanglewood, and Verbier.

Her passion for chamber music continues to find a variety of outlets. Her frequent collaborators, drawn from a large group of chamber music colleagues, include Yo-Yo Ma and Tabea Zimmermann. For many years she took part in the Marlboro Festival in Vermont as well as the subsequent Music from Marlboro tours. Ms. Frank has also participated in several of the Isaac Stern chamber music seminars at Carnegie Hall and the Jerusalem Music Centre as part of a group of performer-colleagues assisting Mr. Stern. Ms. Frank also took part in the Leon Fleisher classes at Carnegie Hall, as well as her own, when they were ongoing.

In the recording studio, Pamela Frank has made two discs for London/Decca: the Dvorak Concerto with the Czech Philharmonic and the Brahms Sonatas with Peter Serkin. She has also recorded the complete Mozart Violin Concertos with David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra (Arte Nova), a Schubert album with Claude Frank (Arte Nova), and the Beethoven sonata cycle, also with Claude Frank (MusicMasters), now available as complete set on three discs. For Sony Classical, she has recorded the Chopin Piano Trio with Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma, the “Trout” Quintet, and is featured on the soundtrack to the film Immortal Beloved.

Pamela Frank currently serves on the faculties of Curtis Institute of Music and the Peabody Conservatory, teaches and coaches annually at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Ravinia, and Verbier Festivals, and is the Artistic Director of Caramoor’s Evnin Rising Stars.

While committed to the standard repertoire, Ms. Frank also has an affinity for contemporary music, often including works by today’s composers on her programs. In March 1998 she gave the world premiere of a new concerto by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich commissioned for her by Carnegie Hall with Hugh Wolff and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. In 1997, as part of her annual visit to Japan, Ms. Frank joined Peter Serkin, Yo-Yo Ma, and Richard Stoltzman at Toru Takemitsu’s Tokyo Opera City, playing works of Takemitsu and others. She has also premiered and recorded two works by Aaron Jay Kernis, a piano quartet (Still Movement with Hymn) and a piece for violin and orchestra (Lament and Prayer). A noted pedagogue, Pamela Frank presents master classes and adjudicates major competitions throughout the world. She is also on the faculties of Curtis Institute of Music and the Peabody Conservatory, and teaches and coaches annually at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Ravinia, and Verbier Festivals as well as at several festivals in Europe. Pamela Frank frequents major festivals throughout North America and Europe, collaborating with artists that include Joshua Bell, Leonidas Kavakos, Christian Tetzlaff, Nobuko Imai, Antoine Tamestit, Stephen Isserlis, and Peter Wiley.

Born in New York City, Pamela Frank is the daughter of noted pianists Claude Frank and Lilian Kallir. She began her violin studies at age 5 and after 11 years as a pupil of Shirley Givens continued her musical education with Szymon Goldberg and Jaime Laredo. In 1985 she formally launched her career with the first of her four appearances with Alexander Schneider and the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. A recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1988, she graduated the following year from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Pamela Frank is married to Howard Nelson, a physical therapist, and they make their home in the New York area.


Jennifer Frautschi

Jennifer Frautschi, violin

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Two-time GRAMMY nominee and Avery Fisher career grant recipient Jennifer Frautschi has garnered worldwide acclaim as an adventurous musician with a remarkably wide-ranging repertoire. This season she appears as soloist with multiple orchestras across the United States and as chamber musician at Boston Chamber Music Society, Caramoor, Chamber Music Charleston, Middlebury Performing Arts Series, and Seattle Chamber Music Festival. Her 2015-16 season featured performances with the Boston Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, Norwalk and Valdosta Symphonies; re-engagements with the Austin, Boise, Pasadena, Pensacola, and Toledo Symphonies; and chamber music appearances at the Library of Congress, Duke University, Chamber Music Northwest (Portland, OR), Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival (Burlington, VT).

Jennifer Frautschi is an Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient and participated in Caramoor’s Evnin Rising Stars program along with her sister, Laura during the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

Her extensive discography includes several discs for Naxos: the Stravinsky Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, conducted by the legendary Robert Craft, and two GRAMMY-nominated recordings with the Fred Sherry Quartet, of Schoenberg’s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra [nominated for ‘Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (with Orchestra)’ in 2006] and the Schoenberg Third String Quartet [nominated for ‘Best Chamber Music Performance’ in 2011]. Her most recent releases are with pianist John Blacklow on Albany Records: the first devoted to the three sonatas of Robert Schumann, including the rarely performed posthumous sonata (released in 2014); the second, American Duos, an exploration of recent additions to the violin and piano repertoire by contemporary American composers Barbara White, Steven Mackey, Elena Ruehr, Dan Coleman, and Stephen Hartke (released in 2015). She also recorded three widely-praised CDs for Artek: an orchestral recording of the Prokofiev concerti with Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony; the violin music of Ravel and Stravinsky; and 20th century works for solo violin. Other recent recordings include a disc of Romantic Horn Trios, with hornist Eric Ruske and pianist Stephen Prutsman, and the Stravinsky Duo Concertant with pianist Jeremy Denk.

Born in Pasadena, California, Ms. Frautschi was a student of Robert Lipsett at the Colburn School. She also attended Harvard, NEC, and Juilliard, where she studied with Robert Mann. She currently teaches in the graduate program at Stony Brook University in New York. She performs on a 1722 Antonio Stradivarius violin known as the “ex-Cadiz,” on generous loan from a private American foundation.


Laura Frautschi, violin

Violinist Laura Frautschi has established a reputation as a versatile musician with a strong commitment to contemporary as well as classical repertoire. She regularly performs as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Asia, and collaborates frequently with living composers. She has given world premieres of violin concerti by leading American composers Lee Hyla and Augusta Read Thomas.

Her recent chamber music activities include appearances at the Caramoor International Festival, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wellseley Composer Conference, Moab and St. Bart’s Music Festivals. In addition, she is a concertmaster of the New York City Opera Orchestra, and has toured internationally as a concertmaster of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

Laura Frautschi serves as the concertmaster of both the New York City Opera Orchestra and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Aside from her music studies at The Juilliard School, she also studied applied mathematics at Harvard College.

Ms. Frautschi has also recorded numerous CDs and DVDs, and tours frequently with her piano trio Intersection. Her extensive discography ranges from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Festival Strings Lucerne and Lee Hyla ’ s Violin Concerto with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, to twentieth-century chamber works by Bernard Rands, Chen Yi, and Margaret Brouwer.

Laura Frautschi studied applied mathematics at Harvard College, and violin performance with Robert Mann at The Juilliard School.


Alexi Kenney

Alexi Kenney, violin

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The recipient of a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, violinist Alexi Kenney has been praised by the New York Times for “…immediately drawing listeners in with his beautifully phrased and delicate playing.” His win at the 2013 Concert Artists Guild Competition at the age of nineteen led to his critically acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut recital at Weill Hall.

Alexi’s 2016-17 season begins this summer with unaccompanied recitals at New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival at David Geffen Hall, and at Festival Napa Valley (formerly Festival del Sole). Concerto highlights that season include his third annual performance with the Santa Fe Symphony (Brahms) as well as debut performances with the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (Sibelius), the Orchestra of the Staatstheater Cottbus, Germany (Barber), NYC’s Riverside Symphony (Piazzolla’s Four Seasons), and California’s Tulare Symphony (Edgar Meyer Violin Concerto). He also appears with violinist Stefan Jakiw in a special duo concerto appearance with the chamber orchestra, A Far Cry, at Boston’s Jordan Hall.

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

He has given recitals at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Jordan Hall and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Napa’s Festival del Sole, Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess series, and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, and he has been featured on Performance Today, WQXR-NY’s Young Artists Showcase, WFMT-Chicago, and NPR’s From the Top. Recent concerto engagements include the Santa Fe Symphony, Las Vegas Philharmonic and Roswell Symphony in New Mexico, the Hofheim Academy Orchestra in Bad Soden, Germany, and the NEC Philharmonia at Symphony Hall in Boston.

A passionate chamber musician, Alexi has performed at Caramoor, “Chamber Music Connects the World” at the Kronberg Academy, ChamberFest Cleveland, the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, Marlboro, [email protected], Ravinia, Yellow Barn, and on tour with Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Institute, collaborating with artists including Pamela Frank, Miriam Fried, Gary Graffman, Steven Isserlis, Kim Kashkashian, Gidon Kremer, and Christian Tetzlaff. He has an upcoming tour with Musicians from Marlboro in 2017.

He is the recipient of top prizes at the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition (2012), the Mondavi Center Competition (2010), and the 2013 Kronberg Academy master classes. He was praised by Strings magazine for his “beautiful, aching tone” for a performance of the Sibelius Concerto with the China Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing during the Menuhin Competition.

Born in Palo Alto, California in 1994, Alexi Kenney received his Bachelor’s of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he is currently the only violinist in its selective Artist Diploma program. At NEC he studies with Donald Weilerstein and Miriam Fried on the Charlotte F. Rabb Presidential Scholarship. Former teachers include Wei He, Jenny Rudin, and Natasha Fong.

Alexi plays on the “Joachim-Ma” Stradivari of 1714, the violin used by Joseph Joachim for the premiere performance of the Brahms Concerto, through the generosity of the New England Conservatory.


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.


Arnaud Sussmann

Arnaud Sussmann, violin and viola

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Winner of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Arnaud Sussmann has distinguished himself with his unique sound, bravura and profound musicianship. Minnesota’s Pioneer Press writes, “Sussmann has an old-school sound reminiscent of what you’ll hear on vintage recordings by Jascha Heifetz or Fritz Kreisler, a rare combination of sweet and smooth that can hypnotize a listener. His clear tone is a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, his phrasing spellbinding.”

Arnaud Sussmann makes debuts in the 2016-17 season with the Vancouver Symphony on Brahms Concerto with Cristian Macelaru, Pacific Symphony on Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 with Carl St. Clair, and Alabama Symphony on Brahms Concerto with Carlos Izcaray, amongst other orchestras. He performs Chausson Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and a Czech-themed recital program with pianist Michael Brown at Columbia University’s Italian Academy Teatro in New York.

“[Arnaud Sussman’s] clear tone is a thing of awe-inspiring beauty, his phrasing spellbinding.”

Sussmann has performed with many of today’s leading artists including Itzhak Perlman, Menahem Pressler, Gary Hoffman, Shmuel Ashkenazi, Wu Han, David Finckel, Jan Vogler and members of the Emerson String Quartet. A dedicated chamber musician, he has been a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2006 and has appeared with them in New York and concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall, Korea’s LG Arts Center, Shanghai’s Oriental Center, and the Beijing Modern Music Festival.

Born in Strasbourg, France and based now in New York City, Arnaud Sussmann trained at the Conservatoire de Paris and the Juilliard School with Boris Garlitsky and Itzhak Perlman and was named a Starling Fellow in 2006, an honor which allowed him to be Mr. Perlman’s teaching assistant for two years. In September 2015, Sussmann returned to his native France to work closely with violinist Kolja Blacher and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris for intensive training on the play-direct technique, where he then won First prize of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris’s Paris Play/Direct Academy.

Arnaud Sussmann is represented for worldwide general management with Charlotte Lee at Primo Artists.


Ayane Kozasa

Ayane Kozasa, viola

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Hailed by for The Philadelphia Inquirer for her “magnetic, wideranging tone” and her “rock solid technique,” violist Ayane Kozasa’s career spans a broad spectrum of musical personas. A violinist turned violist, she was inspired to dedicate herself to the alto clef while playing the viola part in string quartets during undergraduate studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

A winner of Astral’s 2012 National Auditions, Ms. Kozasa won the 2011 Primrose International Viola Competition, where she also captured awards for the best chamber music and commissioned work performances. She is also the 2015 winner of the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia Career Advancement Award and the recipient of a grant from the S&R Foundation, for a commissioned work by composer Paul Wiancko for viola and cello, which she premiered at S&R in Washington, D.C.

From 2012-2016, Ms. Kozasa served as principal violist of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, is a member of the IRIS Orchestra, and has played with the Jupiter Chamber Players, The Philadelphia Orchestra, A Far Cry, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

An avid chamber musician, Ms. Kozasa has appeared at numerous festivals, including the Marlboro Music Festival, the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival, the Kingston Music Festival, and the Ravinia Festival. She is a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet, the 2014-2016 Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music and prizewinner at the 2015 London Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. The Quartet has commissioned and toured works by such composers as Caroline Shaw, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Paul Wiancko, and Gabriella Smith.

From 2012-2016, Ms. Kozasa served as principal violist of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. She is also a member of the IRIS Orchestra, and has played with such notable ensembles such as the Jupiter Chamber Players, The Philadelphia Orchestra, A Far Cry, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Kozasa holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, as well as a Further Masters degree from the Kronberg Academy in Germany. She has studied with Nobuko Imai, Kirsten Docter, Roberto Díaz, Misha Amory, and William Preucil.


Max Mandel

Max Mandel, viola

Violist Max Mandel enjoys a varied and acclaimed career as a chamber musician, soloist, orchestral musician and speaker. He is the Co-Principal Viola of The Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment. He is also a member of the trailblazing ensembles The FLUX quartet and The Knights. He has appeared as guest Principal with The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and the Handel & Haydn Society amongst others.

Other group affiliations include The Smithsonian Chamber Players, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and The Silk Road Ensemble. His most recent record with FLUX Quartet features the work of Morton Feldman on Mode Records. Mr. Mandel’s newest venture is his lecture series Chamber Talk.

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada he divides his time between New York and London. He plays a 1973 Giovanni Batista Morassi generously loaned to him by Lesley Robertson of the St. Lawrence Quartet.

Max Mandel is a founding member of The Knights as well as being affiliated with The Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, The Smithsonian Chamber Players, and more.


Edward Arron & Friends: Edward Arron

Edward Arron, cello

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Cellist Edward Arron has garnered recognition worldwide for his elegant musicianship, impassioned performances, and creative programming. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Arron made his New York recital debut in 2000 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since that time, he has appeared in recital, as a soloist with major orchestras, and as a chamber musician throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

In 2013, Mr. Arron completed a ten-year residency as the artistic director of the critically acclaimed Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert, a chamber music series created in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Museum’s prestigious Concerts and Lectures series. Currently, he is the artistic director, host, and resident performer of the Musical Masterworks concert series in Old Lyme, Connecticut, as well as the Festival Series in Beaufort, South Carolina and Chamber Music on Main at the Columbia Museum in Columbia, SC. Additionally, Mr. Arron curates a series, “Edward Arron and Friends,” at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and is the co-artistic director along with his wife, pianist Jeewon Park, of the new Performing Artists in Residence series at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Edward Arron is currently an artistic leader of the Musical MasterworksChamber Music on Main at the Columbia Museum, our own “Edward Arron and Friends,” and the Performing Artists in Residence series at the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts.

Mr. Arron has performed numerous times at Carnegie’s Weill and Zankel Halls, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully and Avery Fisher Halls, New York’s Town Hall, and the 92nd Street Y, and is a frequent performer at Bargemusic. Festival appearances include Ravinia, Salzburg, Mostly Mozart, Bravo! Vail, Tanglewood, Bridgehampton, Spoleto USA, Santa Fe, Seattle Chamber Music, Kuhmo (Finland), PyeongChang, Charlottesville, Telluride Musicfest, Seoul Spring, Lake Champlain Chamber Music, Chesapeake Chamber Music, and Bard Music Festival. He has participated in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project as well as Isaac Stern’s Jerusalem Chamber Music Encounters.

Edward Arron began playing the cello at age seven in Cincinnati and continued his studies in New York with Peter Wiley. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where he was a student of Harvey Shapiro. Mr. Arron joined the faculty at University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2016, and has served on the faculty of New York University since 2009.


Alexis Pia Gerlach, cello

Cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach has been lauded by the press for the “gripping emotion” and “powerful artistry” of her interpretations; qualities which have led to a career striking for its wide range of artistic collaborations. She has appeared extensively in recitals and as a soloist with orchestras across the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America, with such conductors as Mstislav Rostropovich, James DePreist, and Peter Oundjian. Her recording with pianist Fabio Bidini of the Franck and Rachmaninoff Sonatas is released on the Encore Performance label.

As a sought-after chamber musician she performs at major festivals including Marlboro, Aspen, Bridgehampton, La Musica di Asolo and Caramoor, where she is a Texaco Rising Star, and as a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She has played extensively with Musicians from Marlboro, on both national and international tours. As a founding member of Concertante, a string sextet based in New York City, Gerlach performs on major concert series throughout North America, and has toured Asia and the Middle East. Concertante’s recordings of the string sextet repertoire have been met with critical acclaim.

Alexis Pia Gerlach is a frequent chamber music collaborator and is a founding member of both the string sextet Concertante and trio Solisti as well as a performer with Music from Copland House.

A frequent collaborator with dancers, Gerlach has performed as on-stage solo cellist with the Paul Taylor Dance Company on tour in India and at New York’s City Center, and as a duo with New York City Ballet principal dancer, Damian Woetzel.

She is active in commissioning and premiering new chamber works from many preeminent composers, such as Kevin Puts, Lowell Liebermann, Shulamit Ran, Richard Danielpour, Tigran Mansurian, and Paul Moravec, and has worked with many others including Philip Glass, Thomas Adès, Osvaldo Golijov, and Bright Sheng.

Gerlach was born in New York City where she first studied cello at The Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division. She graduated from The Yale School of Music and The Juilliard School where she was a student of Aldo Parisot. She worked additionally with Pierre Fournier, William Pleeth, and Janos Starker.


Karen Ouzounian

Karen Ouzounian, cello

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. At home in diverse musical settings, she has become increasingly drawn towards unusual collaborations and eclectic contemporary repertoire. She is a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet, 2015-2016 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts and 2014-2016, String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

In addition to her work with the Aizuri Quartet, Karen‘s commitment to adventurous programming 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. Highlights of Karen’s recent and upcoming seasons include performances of the Elgar Concerto in Chile with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago, tours with the Silk Road Ensemble and Mark Morris Dance Group, recitals at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts with pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, 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 with The Knights, Trio Cavatina, and as guest principal of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, IRIS Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

Karen Ouzounian is a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet, 2015-2016 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at Caramoor and 2014-2016, String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music in 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.

Program at a Glance

The works on this program were composed over the span of a century from the early 1780s to the late 1880s and offer pieces for traditional ensembles like the string quartet (Wolf ) or piano trio (Beethoven and Schubert), as well as reductions from the standard (Dvořák’s trio that is a quartet minus cello) or an addition (Mozart’s horn quintet) or even the doubling of the standard chamber ensemble (Mendelssohn). Most of these works were composed in the high tide of their composer’s careers, though one (Mendelssohn) is one of the greatest examples of early-rising genius in the history of music.



Italian Serenade

About the Composer

The year 1887 was crucial for Hugo Wolf; he was just on the verge of discovering that his true gift was for the composition of songs. That gift was to blossom unforgettably in the ensuing three years with the composition of songs to texts of Mörike, Eichendorff, and Goethe, and to translations from the Spanish by Geibel and Heyse—well over 150 songs, many of them extraordinarily original, and composed sometimes two or three in a single day. Wolf’s earlier years had brought frequent frustration as he sought to write elaborate instrumental compositions, including a lengthy string quartet, several symphonies, and a grandiose tone poem entitled Penthesilea. The symphonies remain fragmentary, but the string quartet and tone poem contain much of interest without being completely satisfying as a musical experience. Wolf was an ardent Wagnerian who seemed determined to create on the large scale of his hero. On one occasion, in early 1879, he met Brahms, whose advice—no doubt kindly intended, though perhaps gruffly stated—that he extend his musical horizons, particularly through further study of counterpoint, had a violently negative effect on the young composer, who remained ever after an outspoken anti-Brahmsian.

About the Work

In the midst of writing the several Eichendorff songs of early 1887, Wolf paused long enough—just three days—to compose a charming rondo for string quartet, characterized by an amused ironic tone. He called this at first simply Serenade in G, but he later gave it the title Italian Serenade and contemplated making it part of a four-movement work. He recast the string quartet movement for small orchestra in 1892 and sketched the beginning of three other movements, a final Tarantella being sketched in 1897 (when the onset of his mental derangement had caused him to be housed in an asylum). But even the largest of these sketches never went beyond a few dozen measures. Still, the opening serenade stands on its own as one of Wolf’s most satisfying purely instrumental pieces.

Given the fact that he had been reading the work of Eichendorff constantly to choose new song texts, scholar Eric Sams suggests that the piece was inspired by Eichendorff’s lyrical and romantic novella Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (From the Life of a Good-for-Nothing), in whose central character Wolf could easily have recognized himself. The hero, who tells his story in the first person, is a young violinist who pulls out his instrument at the drop of a hat and accompanies himself in song (Wolf set some of the lyrics from the book as songs). He falls in love with a lady in a castle who seems to be socially far above him. The reaction of others to the “good-for- nothing” is either delight at his gifts or irritation at his low status (Wolf had experienced plenty of both reactions by 1887!) An Italian serenade performed by a small orchestra plays an important role in the plot.

A Deeper Listen

That the Italian Serenade may have a hidden literary program is suggested by the evident ironic detachment in this sinuous music. The movement takes the form of a rondo with several repetitions of its jocular theme, with contrasting material suggesting avowals of love—including some passionate outbursts—which, as they become more hyperbolic, are received with mockery. The coda suggests the plucking of guitars as the serenade comes to its end.



Piano Trio in E-flat Major D. 897 “Notturno”

About the Composer

Schubert is known particularly for his songs, some 600 of them, which created the main model of works for voice and piano in German for the romantic era. He was also a very effective composer of chamber music from childhood, for he grew up in a home where his schoolteacher father and his siblings regularly played not only the works of Haydn and Mozart, but also those of young Franz himself.

Despite his short life he completed some 15 string quartets and other chamber works, including two late piano trios. The first, in B‑flat, has always been a mystery. We know almost nothing about its composition. The manuscript (which might have been dated or provided other evidence from the paper or handwriting) is lost, and the only clue we have to its creation is an Adagio movement that Schubert apparently composed for the trio and then replaced, leaving the discarded movement as a separate work called “Notturno.”

About the Work

The “Notturno” contains an extended middle section based on an unusual rhythm involving silence on the second beat of a 3/4 bar after a strong downbeat. There is a legend that Schubert got this idea from listening to a work song sung by a group of pile‑drivers while he was on vacation in Gastein in the summer of 1825; the rhythmic silence in each bar presumably marks the unison fall of the sledgehammers. It is a charming story, one that has been used to date the B‑flat trio that Schubert apparently was working on at that time.

Alas for such inventive myths! Recent studies of the paper on which Schubert’s music was written have begun to clarify questions of chronology. Schubert wrote the “Notturno” on paper of a type that he used between October 1827 and April 1828, more than two years after his Gastein vacation. Since it is not likely that Schubert would have treasured a musical brainstorm for so long before working it into a finished composition, it is far more probable that pile‑drivers had nothing whatsoever to do with this orphaned chamber piece, which remains as another example of Schubert’s prolific lyricism.

Since it is very likely that the movement was composed as the middle movement of the B-flat trio, D. 898, then discarded, some commentators tend to take a supercilious view to the piece, describing it as “clearly inferior” to the movement that Schubert finally used in the trio. Still, “inferior” on the scale of a Schubertian masterpiece does not imply a work of no consequence. And there are many who find this single movement to be utterly sublime.

A Deeper Listen

This Adagio contains ideas that Schubert transmuted into one of the greatest passages in his entire output, the slow movement of the Quintet in C major, which lifts one to another world. The Andante is not quite so transcendental, but still the violin and cello sustain together a slow-moving, long-phrased middle of the texture, while the piano provides the outer parts, sustaining bass and slightly decorative melody. This same texture, and its sense of time held in abeyance, appears to a much stronger degree in the string quintet. Yet the intensity in the trio movement is palpable, and it seems quite possible that Schubert let it stand alone because it might have overwhelmed the other movements of his B-flat trio, superb as they are. We can never be sure why Schubert removed the movement from the B-flat trio, but we can certainly be grateful that he did not simply discard it!



Quintet in E-flat Major for Horn, Violin, 2 Violas, and Cello, K. 407

About the Composer

When Mozart befriended a fine instrumentalist, the friendship almost always resulted in an outpouring of music for that instrument, to the benefit of all who play it for decades or centuries to come. All of his major works for solo horn—the four concertos and the present quintet—as well as many horn parts in his other works were composed for Ignaz Leutgeb (1732‑1811), a friend from Salzburg who had astonished Paris in 1770 with his advanced horn technique and his ability “to sing an adagio [on his instrument] as perfectly as the most mellow, interesting, and accurate voice.”

Leutgeb had been a member of the Prince- Archbishop’s chapel in Salzburg and was thus one of Wolfgang’s oldest and most constant associates, having also traveled to Italy at the same time as the visit there of Papa Leopold and Wolfgang Mozart in February 1773, where they moved in the same musical circles. In 1777 Leutgeb moved to Vienna and opened (or perhaps inherited) a cheesemonger’s shop. He was, evidently, a simple man and a loyal friend of Mozart’s, who frequently wrote jocular comments addressed to the player in the solo parts of his horn works.

About the Work

The horn quintet was composed in Vienna, probably toward the end of 1782. The accompanying strings are four in number, but they are not a typical string quartet. Instead of having two violins, Mozart chose to use two violas, a striking and unusual combination, one that emphasizes the mellow, romantic sonority of the horn. The work he wrote for this combination is a lovely miniature concerto, blending jovial cheerfulness and intimate feeling throughout its three movements.

A Deeper Listen

The horn, as the most unusual member of the ensemble leads the discourse virtually throughout the first movement, occasionally alternating with the violin. Owing to the harmonic limitations of the horn in Mozart’s day, the development had to be very brief and offered very little in the way of harmonic adventure, but it did provide a chance for the horn to intertwine scales in sixteenths with the strings, which far more frequently play that kind of material.

The Andante offers the performer a chance to play with the lyrical sound for which Leutgeb was renowned, and also to show off his ability to play runs, trills, and chromatic notes (which on those valveless horns required special techniques with the hand in the bell and the lips on the mouthpiece to get in tune); in some ways it is the most virtuosic passage in the work.

The closing Rondo offers the player the kind of folk-music-based tune that has long been associated with the horn, almost a peasant dance in its character, and rather Haydnesque in its rhythmic trickery (without looking at the score, it is impossible to tell that the players are beginning on the upbeat, not the downbeat, and this has consequences throughout). The virtuosity is carried off with high good humor.



Miniatures (Trio for 2 Violins and Viola, Op. 75a)

About the Composer

As a violist himself, Dvořák was certainly at home playing chamber music, and his genial personality made gave him the impetus to write a large collection of chamber works of different kinds, especially for various combinations of stringed instruments.

In January 1887, Dvořák happened to hear two violinists playing duets. The performers were a young chemistry student, Josef Kruis, who lodged with Dvořák’s mother-in-law, and his teacher, Jan Pelikán. Thinking to surprise them with a work in which he could join them, the composer quickly turned out a trio for two violins and viola (Dvořák’s own instrument). But when he presented the Terzetto, Op. 74, to the pair, it turned out that he had misjudged the young musician’s ability; the work was too difficult for him to play. So he immediately began sketches for some simple Bagatelles for two violins and viola that would make easier demands on the youth.

About the Work

While sketching the Bagatelles, he wrote to his publisher Simrock with the surprising news: “I am writing small ‘bagatelles’ for two violins and viola. I enjoy the work as much as when I write a big ‘Symphony’— but what do you say to this? They are intended mainly for amateurs, but didn’t Beethoven and Schumann sometimes express themselves with quite modest means, and how?”

But even before polishing the sketches of this friendly gift, he recast them for solo violin and piano as the Four Romantic Pieces. That version is performed far more often, surely only because the ensemble of two violins and viola is infrequently encountered (string quartet cellists don’t want to be left out if Dvořák is in the offing!), but the original version “for amateurs” is a delightful reminder of Dvořák’s generous-spirited humanity.

Little need be said about the four pieces, which are as open and loveable as Dvořák himself, brimming with melody, hinting sometimes at Czech dance, too.



Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1, “Ghost”

About the Composer

The piano trio, consisting of piano, violin, and cello) grew out of a popular mode of domestic music-making in the classical era—in fact, the same “accompanied sonata” from which the violin sonata grew. The keyboard part was the heart of the work, but if a violin or cello were available, they could play along ad libitum, doubling the melody or the bass lines. This cozy arrangement suited the musicmad dilettantes who played at home for their own and their family’s pleasure. And thus the piano trio was long regarded as a less significant musical genre than, say, the string quartet. Beethoven changed all that with his Opus 1 by adding a fourth movement (the minuet) to the previously standard three and completely freeing the string instruments from their earlier dependence on the keyboard. And the presence of four movements suggested that he considered the piano trio could be rated more highly than it had been to date—even comparable to the significance of the symphony.

About the Work

The two piano trios published as Opus 70 come from Beethoven’s middle period and were composed in the fruitful year that also saw the creation of the Fifth and Sixth symphonies and the Opus 69 cello sonata. During the last months of 1808 and the beginning of 1809 the composer was living in the house of the pretty and refined Countess Anna‑Marie Erdödy, who had been a friend and supporter of his since their meeting in 1803. In this house Beethoven composed the Opus 70 trios (apparently noting down the first sketches for the second one first, while still completing the Sixth Symphony), and it was there that both trios were performed on Christmas of 1808, with Beethoven himself playing the piano. The musical writer J. F. Reichardt, who was visiting at the time, wrote very enthusiastically about the new works, at the same time praising the congenial artistic atmosphere of the gatherings there: “lucky artist who can rely on such listeners.”

A Deeper Listen

The two piano trios are very different, though both are splendid compositions. The first of the pair, in D major, reverts to the older three-movement layout for chamber music, but the movements themselves are tauter than the expansive, slightly self-indulgent works of Opus 1. The first movement is characterized by pregnant contrasts between a vigorous rhythmic theme working upward in octaves and a graceful, soaring melody immediately following. The radical disjunction of neighboring musical ideas was a favorite technique of Beethoven’s at this period, and the opening of the present trio ranks with that of the Opus 95 string quartet in F minor for violence of contrast.

It was the slow movement that earned the trio the nickname Ghost (which was not given by Beethoven himself ), since the nearly constant tremolos generate an uncanny atmosphere far removed from the conflict of the first movement or the high energy of the closing Presto.



Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20

About the Composer

Was there ever so precocious a musical composition as the Mendelssohn Octet? Certainly, Mozart was younger when he started composing, and Schubert was no slouch either, but as brilliantly talented as they were, neither of them had by his sixteenth year achieved anything as fresh and original as this Octet, composed in 1825. Already at the age of twelve, Mendelssohn was writing the first of a series of “string symphonies,” which gave him plenty of experience in using the massed strings for original musical effects. And he learned from all his early composition because his wealthy banker father hired leading local musicians in Berlin to come by on Sunday afternoons to play what Felix had just composed. Nothing aids a young composer in developing his art than the opportunity to hear his work as soon as it is completed, so as to judge its effectiveness.

About the Work

Ludwig Spohr had already written four estimable and well-known works for the same instrumentation, but they usually treated the collection of instruments as two antiphonal string quartets, echoing and re-echoing to the point of stultification. Mendelssohn virtually created a new medium by fusing the two quartets into a single large ensemble that combined the instruments in every possible permutation, thereby producing a vibrancy of color hitherto unknown and rarely matched since.

At times the Octet seems about to turn into a small symphony for string orchestra, but then it breaks up into smaller motives treated contrapuntally and retains the character of pure chamber music. Mendelssohn addressed the symphonic quality of much of the score quite frankly in his instructions to performers:

This Octet must be played by all the instruments in the symphonic orchestral style. Pianos and fortes must be strictly observed and more strongly emphasized than is usual with pieces of this character.

These remarks probably alludes to an important change in the character and locale of chamber music performances that was beginning to take place in the 1820s. No longer was chamber music written and performed solely for the private entertainment of the performers or at best a small audience within the family circle. Rather, composers like Beethoven had written works of such technical difficulty that few amateur musicians could do them justice, and they began to be performed before an audience as a public event. If the difficulty of the music in part motivated this trend, the change of venue in performance affected later chamber works by inviting the grand gesture, the overtly dramatic quality, and (as Mendelssohn specified in his instructions), the playing up of the dynamics of a piece as one means of projecting it to a larger audience than might have been expected a few decades earlier.

A Deeper Listen

A “public” gesture opens the Octet: the first violin soars above a curtain of symphonic tremolos and syncopated chords, rather like the start of the Violin Concerto written nearly twenty years later. This violin part was, no doubt, intended for the dedicatee, Eduard Rietz. Compositions by young artists tend toward the prolix, but one of the marvels of the Octet is its remarkable taut cohesiveness. In the first movement, a sonata form, the violinist’s opening idea links phrases almost throughout; the lively staccato sixteenth-note figure arrives soon after, sounding like a brief transitional device, but it recurs frequently and grows in importance; the lyrical secondary theme grows naturally out of a rhythmic motive that first appeared as foil to the sixteenth-note figure; and so it goes. Mendelssohn delights us constantly with new treatments of familiar ideas.

The slow movement, a far-reaching harmonic adventure, begins with a short phrase in the lower strings in C minor, answered immediately in D-flat by the four violins. This precipitates an extended passage around the home key with a chromaticism that was advanced for its time, though it never becomes an end in itself.

The scherzo has always been the most popular movement of the Octet—to such an extent that Mendelssohn later arranged it for orchestra (with added wind parts) and used it as a substitute third movement for his First Symphony when he conducted it in London in 1829; at that performance the scherzo was immediately encored. The headlong rush of pianissimo activities makes it hard to concentrate on details, but we have the statement by the composer’s sister Fanny that the movement was inspired by some lines from Goethe’s Walpurgis Night episode in Faust, a scene of transient visions compounded of clouds and mist, insubstantial and evanescent, appearing and vanishing in an instant.

The finale is a jovial and thoroughly unacademic fugue formed of brilliant contrapuntal technique and musical humor. The light touch with which different thematic ideas are combined and reworked arouses awe along with delight, as even the heavy tread of the fortissimo unison march that follows the opening fugato is lightened later to a textural jest, with each of its individual repeated notes assigned to a different one of the four violins. Throughout his score, the boy Mendelssohn demonstrated his complete mastery of both chamber and symphonic writing for strings, his familiarity with the great masters of the preceding generation, and his own burgeoning originality.

– Steven Ledbetter