Ives Quartet: Photo courtesy of MVCMS
Ives Quartet. Photo courtesy of MVCMS

Highlights brighten chamber concert season

Posted July 6, 2006

The Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society opens its 36th annual summer concert season with programs Monday and Tuesday, July 10 and 11, featuring clarinetist Dimitri Ashkenazy and the Ives String Quartet.

The concerts are presented at 8 pm - Monday at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown and Tuesday at the Chilmark Community Center. Tickets are $25 at the door, and students are always admitted free.

Dimitri Ashkenazy
Dimitri Ashkenazy.

This opening program in the five-week concert season ending August 15 will feature Mozart's Piano Quartet in g minor, K478, Leonard Bernstein's Clarinet Sonata, and the Clarinet Quintet in b minor, Opus 115, by Johannes Brahms.

The Brahms quintet, composed in 1891, has been praised for its warm textures and highly expressive harmonies. Critic Ted Libbey writes of the quintet's "extraordinary play of color, with the clarinet at first soaring over the strings and later sounding a mellow foundation beneath them." It is a centerpiece of Romantic chamber music literature.

The Mozart Piano Quartet, here a vehicle for chamber society artistic director Delores Stevens, is a challenging piece for all concerned; Mozart's publisher was reportedly concerned upon receiving it that the composition was too difficult for amateur musicians to enjoy.

The Bernstein sonata, the first published piece by the famous American composer, has been described as "the work of a budding genius." The sonata, written in 1942, is full of surprises; critics have found in it influences of Hindemith, Aaron Copland, and Broadway musicals.

Dimitri Ashkenazy, a native of New York, has toured the world as a clarinet soloist and has recorded for the Pan Classics, Decca, and Ondine labels. He has performed in venues from Sydney to Tokyo, London, and Berlin.

The Ives String Quartet is familiar to Island chamber music audiences as a favorite group featured in previous seasons of the chamber music society. The quartet was in residence at Stanford University as the Stanford String Quartet from 1983 to 1998, before leaving the university to seek greater artistic independence. As a touring and recording ensemble, the Ives now presents a home concert season in California and appears in noted chamber music series and festivals nationwide.

At the opening concerts of the chamber music society season this week, season tickets will be for sale which admit the holder to all five programs in the summer series for the price of four.

Among the highlights of the season ahead:

Two string virtuosi, violinist Frank Almond and cellist William DeRosa, will perform on July 17 and 18, presenting music by Mozart, Brahms and Joaquin Turina.

The society will present a musical tribute to Chilmark on July 24 and 25, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Chilmark Community Center. The program will include the first performances since 1994 of "Chilmark," a composition for soprano, narrator, and ensemble by Maria Newman.

On August 7 and 8, the worlds of jazz and the classics will collide when the Bill Mays trio is joined by flutist Sheridon Stokes for a program that will range from J.S. Bach to Cole Porter and Benny Carter.

Finally on August 14 and 15, the great oboist Humbert Lucarelli will appear with the Biava String Quartet, a crowd favorite in last summer's concert series, for a program featuring music by Mozart, Schumann, Paul Moravec, Joaquin Turina and Giacomo Puccini.

For more information, call 508-696-8055 or visit