Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society (MVCMS) is continuing to present enticing performances this fall. They began at the end of October with the Cape Cod Chamber Quartet, and are presenting two additional opportunities in November.
MVCMS board president Kim Baumhofer spoke to me about both of their upcoming concerts, starting with the one on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 4 pm at the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury.
“This came about because we have a friend, cellist Eunghee Cho, who is now a professor at the University of Houston, but occasionally comes back to Boston, where he did his Ph.D.,” says Baumhofer. Cho has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras around the country. He held the Joyce & Donald Steele Chair as principal cello of the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, and frequently performs as principal cello with the Boston Festival Orchestra, Cape Symphony, Unitas Ensemble, and Symphony by the Sea.
“Eunghee has played for us at least half a dozen times with different groups, and he’s such an amazing musician. And the pianist, Jung-A Bang, has also played here several times with Eunghee. It just made sense if we could book them to get them here,” Baumhofer says.
Jung-A Bang’s bio states that she is praised for her “charming and uncompromised virtuosic playing” by the Calgary Herald, and has performed in iconic venues, including Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall; Merkin Hall in New York City; Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center; Jordan Hall in Boston; Chicago’s Cultural Center (live-streamed by WFMT); and IBK Hall at Korea Arts Center and Ewon Arts Center, both in Seoul, Korea.
In planning the program, Cho told Baumhofer that since it’s Rachmaninoff’s 150th birthday, he would like to play the “Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano,” which Cho claims is one of the best cellist sonatas ever written, and would be a lovely tribute. Baumhofer says, “This was the composer’s last chamber work, and is often cited for its ‘demanding’ (some say startlingly so) piano part.”
The sonata is dedicated to Rachmaninoff’s friend, the eminent Russian cellist Anatoliy Brandukov, who performed its premiere with Rachmaninov playing the piano part, which demanded the composer’s own extraordinary level of proficiency. Most of the themes of the sonata are introduced by the piano and then repeated and embellished by the cello.
Prior to the Rachmaninof will be Lera Auerbach’s “Prelude No. 12” from “24 Preludes for Cello and Piano, Op. 47”; Alfred Schnittke’s “Musica Nostalgic,” Edith Piaf and Marguerite Monnot’s “Hymne à l’Amour,” and Frédéric Chopin’s “Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, Op. 3.” The website explains that the music combination is meant to both please and surprise.
The MVCMS’ fall season concludes with an annual Thanksgiving week offering: “We had already been talking for over a year with Trio Gaia, who will be playing for free on Sunday, Nov. 19, at 4 pm at the Edgartown library.”
The musicians in Trio Gaia — Yi-Mei Templeton on cello, Andrew Barnwell playing piano, and Grant Houston on violin — provide dynamic, personally relevant performances, and serve as New England Conservatory’s graduate piano trio in residence. Recently, they won first prize at the WDAV Young Chamber Musicians Competition, and top prizes in the 2021 Chamber Music Yellow Springs and 2019 Plowman National Chamber Music Competitions.
Trio Gaia says on the website about their program that in Gabriela Lena Frank’s “Four Folk Songs,” you’ll experience her love for her mother’s homeland of Peru, as she paints folk-infused soundscapes of the country’s pre-Incan and postcolonial societies. Next will be two works that delve into desire, heartbreak, tenderness, hope, and triumph, with Clara Schumann’s “G minor Trio” and Johannes Brahms’ “C Major Trio.” Trio Gaia tells us that the close professional and personal relationship between Clara and Johannes has been the subject of intrigue and speculation for decades, and offers a necessary lens through which to appreciate these two gems of their repertoire.
“We are working really hard to do more year-round programming, so these three concerts are our leap into that,” Baumhofer says. “We would like to offer more that are free, because we know that when people come out for free programming, we have a full house, and that’s really what we’re aiming for … more people to hear beautiful music.”
Visit mvcms.org for more information and tickets.