November 23, 5:00 pm
In a single decade, with works such as The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, Igor Stravinsky showed possibilities for musical extremism never before imagined. With bracing harmonies, infectious rhythms, and brilliant orchestration, everything that Stravinsky created in this fertile period stole the musical show of the era, and this trio arrangement of The Soldier’s Tale (Stravinsky’s own) introduced his wildly controversial music to the chamber music stage. Innovations abound in this program: Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio (the first of its kind), Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words (his own invention), and Smetana’s Piano Trio, the first major chamber work from the Bohemian region.
January 25, 5:00 pm
Experience the grace, wit, and charm of French music. The program begins and ends with early works by Saint-Saëns and Fauré that recreate the elegant atmosphere of 19-century Parisian salons. In between, the Ravel sonata, written soon after World War I, uses just two string instruments to produce a composition of unique, austere beauty. These three inimitable works capture the essence of pure melody in its most delightfully fundamental form.
March 14, 5:00 pm
A feast for the eyes and ears, Bartók’s ingenious creation stands alone in the chamber music literature, an astonishing synthesis of percussion and keyboard. Also featured on the program are two more milestones: Dohnányi’s delectable Serenade, the 20th century’s first string trio, and Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet ne plus ultra, “Souvenir de Florence.”
April 25, 5:00 pm
Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet holds a rightful place in the line of great piano quintets going back to Schumann’s of 1842. Combining the rigor of Bach with the powerful energy and extreme irony of Soviet era music, the work is a milestone not only of chamber music but also of Shostakovich’s career: it won him the coveted Stalin Prize. This essential quintet is accompanied by a youthful Beethoven sonata and Mendelssohn’s appropriately tempestuous First Piano Trio.