Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm For Assistance
Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
Harvey de Souza, violin
Martin Burgess, violin
Robert Smissen, viola
Fiona Bonds, viola
Caroline Dale, cello
SCHUBERT String Trio in B-flat major, D. 471
MOZART Quintet for Two Violins, Two Violas and Cello in G minor, K. 516
MENDELSSOHN Quintet for Two Violins, Two Violas and Cello No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 87
An exquisite evening featuring three brilliant jewels of chamber music for strings, performed by an ensemble drawn from the Academy’s principal players. Explore subtle gradations between dark anguish and calm respite, balanced with Mozart’s trademark humor, then delight in Mendelssohn’s shimmering, seamless craftsmanship and triumphant flourishes.
SCHUBERT: String Trio in B-flat major, D. 471
String Trio No. 1 in B-flat major, D.471
FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
From 1814 to 1816, young Schubert earned his living working as an assistant teacher in his father’s elementary school. He seems to have hated almost every minute of it, and in September 1816, when he wrote this trio at the age of 19, he left his job, moved out of his family’s home and in with a friend, and started living the life of an artist.
This work remains a fragment—a single completed movement (Allegro) plus 39 measures of a second-movement (Andante sostenuto, rarely included in performances). Alfred Einstein, in his biography of the composer, posits that Schubert gave up on the piece “because he was not clear in his mind about the form.” That seems to grasp at straws since what he did complete is perfectly clear in its sonata-form plan, and hardly points toward groundbreaking formal adventures. Themes are presented in crystalline clarity, and the contrast that separates the charmed lyricism of the exposition and recapitulation sections from the more serious drama of the development boosts this unassuming movement to memorable status. On the whole, this Allegro is charming and rather retrograde in spirit, somewhat recalling the rococo flavor of Haydn’s baryton trios and even more strongly Mozart’s light chamber works. What is unusual is not Schubert’s formal explorations but rather that he should have landed on the string trio as a medium in the first place. He had already composed in the more visited genre of the string quartet, but a string trio offered different challenges—specifically, figuring out how to achieve a satisfying texture when complete four-part harmony is not possible without double-stopping. He would develop this skill further in his String Trio No. 2, which followed a year later, but the single movement performed here suggests that he had mastered it from the outset.
MOZART: Quintet for Two Violins, Two Violas and Cello in G minor, K. 516
String Quintet in G minor, K.516 (1787)
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-91)
Mozart entered this quintet into the catalogue of his works on May 16, 1787, the second of two string quintets written in quick succession immediately before he embarked on his opera Don Giovanni. If the first, in C major, is an altogether amiable and optimistic work, the G-minor displays both anguish and affection. It is one of the chamber works in which Mozart most readily reveals the fluctuating depths of his soul.
The string quintet was not one of the standard chamber formulations of the 18th century. Its principal exponent had been Luigi Boccherini—an Italian transplanted to Spain—who wrote about a hundred of them, always for two violins, one viola, and two cellos. Austrian composers preferred an ensemble of two violins, two violas, and one cello, which is Mozart’s grouping. His attraction to a quintet texture with two violas is consistent with what we know of his personal preference as a performer. Although he was a brilliant pianist and an accomplished violinist, he grew to prefer playing the viola when he gathered with friends for chamber music parties. He doubtless played one of the viola parts when this was on the music stands.
Proto-Romantic tendencies come to the fore from the first measures, which rustle with nervous tension. The first movement unrolls with taut seriousness, its minor-key lugubriousness intensified when Mozart stays in G minor for his second subject (where he might more likely have moved to the major key for harmonic contrast). The second movement is a minuet, but it is only ostensibly a dance, its angular music seeming angry, its offbeat accents tortured. The hushed slow movement (played with mutes) does nothing to dispel the troubled sensation, and the finale begins with a long, despondent introduction before yielding to an ending that seems unconvincing in its cheerfulness.
MENDELSSOHN: Quintet for Two Violins, Two Violas and Cello No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 87
String Quintet in B-flat major, Op. 87 (1845)
FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-47)
Felix Mendelssohn composed his String Quintet in B-flat major in 1845, but, ever zealous about effecting revisions in his music, he failed to bring it to what he considered a completed state. It was published posthumously as his Op. 87. In 1845, his career as a composer and conductor was flourishing, he was considering competing job offers from two crowned heads (the Kings of Prussia and of Saxony), he was deriving satisfaction from his pet project of elevating the Leipzig Conservatory into a world-class institution, and he enjoyed great happiness on the home front, the more so when he and his wife greeted the arrival of their fifth child. The 36-year-old composer could not have imagined that the B-flat-major Quintet would be among his last works, but the sad fact is that he had only two more years to live.
The exuberance of his early style persists in its outer movements. The opening Allegro vivace is dashing, athletic, and not very democratic, with the first violin assuming the starring role. The inner movements reveal more of the technical and emotive growth Mendelssohn had developed through years. He is acknowledged as one of the all-time masters of the scherzo, but here he offers a curious one, an Andante scherzando—a “relaxed scherzo” that may come across as either charming or eerily melancholy. The third movement testifies to the shadow cast by Beethoven on the generation that followed him. The tense, rhapsodic expression of this Adagio e lento has a good deal in common with passages in Beethoven’s quartets, achieving dramatic expressiveness of nearly operatic proportions. This leads attaca—that is, without a break—into the brief finale, which, like the opening movement, is mostly an exercise in bustling vibrancy, though with a beautiful theme for two violas thrown in for contrast.
“An ensemble of first-rate musicians, technically superb, generously expressive, and obviously enjoying themselves.” - Dallas Morning News
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, created in 1967, draws from the principal players of London’s Academy of St Martin in the Fields, one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras. Led by violinist Tomo Keller, the Ensemble performs in various shapes and sizes from string quintets to octets and other configurations featuring winds. Its extensive tours include regular appearances in Europe and North America. The Ensemble has released more than thirty CDs on the Philips Classics, Hyperion, and Chandos labels, including the Brahms String Sextets and music of Percy Grainger.
Where are the chamber music series performances held?
Bravo! Vail Chamber Music Series concerts at held at Donovan Pavilion, located at 1600 S Frontage Rd W, Vail, CO 81657.
What time do performances begin?
Concerts start promptly at 6:00PM. Doors open 30 minutes prior. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get to the venue. Latecomers will be escorted to seats by ushers at an appropriate interval.
Where do I park for Chamber Music Series performances?
Free parking is available at Donovan Pavilion.
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last 90 minutes to 2 hours including a scheduled intermission.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets, passes, and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
1. Online at bravovail.org
2. By phone 877.812.5700
3. In person: Bravo! Vail 2271 N Frontage Rd W Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
Bravo! Vail accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. There is a $2 fee per ticket. Tickets are delivered by mail or email, or may be picked up at Will Call.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9AM to 4PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700. Tickets are also sold at the Donovan Pavilion one hour prior to concert.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up one hour prior to the concert at the Box Office table located to the right of the entrance of Donovan Pavilion.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Discounts for groups of 15 or more are available for select concerts. Please call 970.827.4316 for more information.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
While our standard policy is that tickets are non-refundable, we understand the necessity to be flexible in these unprecedented times. Should you need to change your plans to attend a concert this summer, we ask that you consider donating the value of your tickets to help support Bravo! Vail's ongoing mission of enriching people’s lives through the power of music. If you prefer a refund rather than donating the value of your tickets, please contact the box office.
If we are forced to cancel an event in its entirety, you will have the option to donate the value of your tickets to help support Bravo's mission, place the value of your tickets on account for future use, or receive a refund.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3PM on the day of the performance or allow extra time to request new tickets from the Box Office at the venue.
What is the seating plan?
Front-and-center premium seating section at Donovan Pavilion available. Space is limited. Contact the box office for details. All other seating for Chamber Music Series concerts is general admission. All sections are ADA (American Disability Act) accessible.
What food and beverages are available at the concert?
Food and beverages including beer and wine are available for purchase on the back patio prior to the concert and at intermission.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts.
What are some general rules of Chamber Series concert etiquette?
Please allow time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to not disrupt musicians and other patrons. Please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the performance. We recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission. Parental supervision is required for all children attending Bravo! Vail concerts.
What is the Donovan Pavilion Child Policy?
Chamber Music Series concerts are very intimate. We strongly recommend that parents bring children aged six or older who are able to sit quietly through the entire performance.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Call the Bravo! Vail Box Office 970.827.5700 or the Donovan Pavilion 970.477.3699.
What if I still have questions?
Please contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9AM–4PM (and Sat–Sun 10AM-4PM during the Festival).
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