Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm For Assistance
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC STRING QUARTET
Frank Huang, violin
Sheryl Staples, violin
Cynthia Phelps, viola
Carter Brey, cello
Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
MENDELSSOHN String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13
SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44
This “marvelous ensemble” (New York Times) is joined by Bravo! Vail’s artistic director for Schumann’s groundbreaking piano quintet, which combined the forces of piano with string quartet for the first time, pioneering a new genre of chamber music "suspended between private and public spheres." Mendelssohn’s early work pays homage to Beethoven’s own groundbreaking late string quartets.
MENDELSSOHN: String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13
String Quartet in A minor, Op. 13 (1827)
FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-47)
In 1827, during a family trip to the south of Germany, the 18-year-old Felix Mendelssohn became romantically smitten. The infatuation passed, but not before he wrote a song to a poem by his friend Johann Gustav Droyson, “Frage” (Questions). The text has to do with young love—“Is it true that you’ll always be waiting for me beneath the arbor?” The lyrics are hopeful, but they require insistent reassurance as the singer repeats the three-syllable, three-note opening phrase “Ist es wahr?” (Is it true?). That motto would also serve as the central musical theme and emotional engine of this string quartet, which Mendelssohn composed shortly thereafter. The phrase is first heard following the slow introduction, and it returns often with great rhetorical effect.
The piece was completed two years before the composer’s String Quartet in E-flat major. The latter was published first, though, which is why it bears the lower opus number of 12. Confusion also extends to the key of this piece. The work as a whole is in A minor, but because the first movement begins with an introduction in A major one often sees the piece identified as being in that key.
The Op. 13 Quartet tends toward the passionate (as befits the idea that generated it), nowhere more than in the second movement, an intense Adagio that even incorporates a serious fugato section, recalling a musical procedure that Beethoven explored in his late quartets. The spirit of late Beethoven also infuses the larger conception of Mendelssohn’s piece, in which thematic material is recalled repeatedly. This is true of the “Ist es wahr?” motif generally, but it is played out with considerable imagination as the whole raison d’être of the finale. The movement opens with a powerful recitative proclamation with dramatic tremolos—an allusion, perhaps, to Beethoven’s Op. 132 Quartet, also in A minor, and to his Ninth Symphony. A certain clueless Abbé Bernardin, seated next to Mendelssohn during an 1832 performance of this quartet in Paris, leaned over at this point of the piece to share an insight: “He has that in one of his symphonies.” “Who?” asked the puzzled Mendelssohn. “Why, Beethoven, the composer of this quartet,” the Abbé responded. (So reported Mendelssohn in a letter to his sister Fanny, allowing that “this was a very dubious compliment.”) Following the recitative, Mendelssohn introduces a wealth of themes, many of which are at least closely related to melodies we have heard before. The movement’s end plunges again into the music of the quartet’s first-movement introduction. This brings Mendelssohn’s musical narrative full circle—a trick he may have learned from Beethoven’s song cycle An die ferne Geliebte or (even more à propos) his Op. 131 String Quartet.
SCHUMANN: Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44
Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44 (1842)
ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810-56)
Robert Schumann began the year 1842 engrossed in the study of counterpoint and fugue. He gave voice to his newly refined skills in a stream of chamber works as the year unrolled. That September he embarked on his Piano Quintet, crafted to spotlight the pianistic strengths of his wife, Clara. Schumann’s is the earliest of the standard-repertoire works for piano plus string quartet. Whereas later composers would seek greater democracy among the five instruments, Schumann seems to have viewed the piano and the string quartet as more or less balancing each another as self-contained entities. The pianist works hard in this piece, scarcely relaxing for a single measure.
The first movement is dominated by the opening theme. Its upward jumps pop out all over the place, though not in the irresistibly tender second theme (first presented by cello and viola). After the ebullient first movement, the second movement comes across as a somber funeral march, a contrast that may or may reflect the composer’s bipolar mood swings.
Schumann’s original sketch shows a G-minor Adagio following after that, but he decided to drop this idea. Instead we proceed directly to the whirling scales of the Scherzo, with its two Trios providing respite of different kinds. In the first, Schumann shows off his expertise in counterpoint as first violin and viola spin out a lyrical canon. The second contains bustling, proto-Brahmsian music that contrasts with its surroundings in both mood and meter. It is widely related that this second Trio replaced what Schumann originally wrote for that spot, in response to a suggestion by Felix Mendelssohn that “a certain part” of the piece lacked liveliness. (Mendelssohn knew this composition from its outset, having served as the last-minute substitute for an ailing Clara Schumann at the work’s premiere.) It’s a dubious tale, and even if it contains a kernel of truth, the source from which it is drawn fails to identify which Trio was replaced, or, for that matter, in which of the middle movements the replacement fell. Both movements as we know them adhere closely to the way Schumann planned them in his initial sketches, although the Scherzo’s first Trio did pick up additional piano figuration at some point, perhaps the “liveliness” in question.
The brilliant finale is a strong-boned, imaginative sonata-rondo into which the composer works two fugal passages. The second, arriving after a pregnant pause near the end, is a breathtaking double fugue in three parts that spectacularly incorporates themes from the opening and closing movements, thereby helping unify the whole quintet. Writing in her diary just as the piece was completed, Clara Schumann described this quintet as “magnificent—a work filled with energy and freshness,” which it certainly is.
The New York Philharmonic String Quartet comprises four Principal musicians from the Orchestra: Concertmaster Frank Huang (The Charles E. Culpeper Chair); Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples (The Elizabeth G. Beinecke Chair); Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps (The Mr. and Mrs. Frederick P. Rose Chair); and Principal Cello Carter Brey (The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Chair).
Pianist and Bravo! Vail Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott is a consummate artist who balances a versatile career as a soloist and collaborator. She performs over 100 concerts a year in a combination of solo recitals, concerti, and chamber music.
New York Philharmonic String Quartet comprises four of the orchestra’s principal string players: Concertmaster Frank Huang (The Charles E. Culpeper Chair), Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples (The Elizabeth G. Beinecke Chair), Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps (The Mr. and Mrs. Frederick P. Rose Chair), and Principal Cello Carter Brey (The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Chair). The group formed in January 2017 during the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season. It made its debut as the solo ensemble in John Adams’s Absolute Jest in New York and reprised the work on the Orchestra’s spring tour to Europe.
Photo: Chris Lee
Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott is a consummate artist who balances a versatile career as a soloist and collaborator. She performs over 100 concerts a year in a combination of solo recitals, concerti and chamber music. Her repertoire choices are eclectic, spanning from Bach and Haydn to Prokofiev and Scriabin to Kernis, Hartke, Tower and Wuorinen.
With over 50 concerti in her repertoire, Ms. McDermott has performed with many leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Seattle Symphony, National Symphony, Houston Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Moscow Virtuosi, Hong Kong Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, New Jersey Symphony and Baltimore Symphony among others. Ms. McDermott has toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Moscow Virtuosi.
In the recent seasons, Ms. McDermott performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Huntsville Symphony, Alabama Symphony, San Diego Symphony, the Oregon Mozart Players, and the New Century Chamber Orchestra.
Recital engagements have included the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully Hall, Town Hall, The Schubert Club, Kennedy Center, as well as universities across the country. Anne-Marie McDermott has curated and performed in a number of intense projects including: the Complete Prokofiev Piano Sonatas and Chamber Music, a Three Concert Series of Shostakovich Chamber Music, as well as a recital series of Haydn and Beethoven Piano Sonatas. Most recently, she commissioned works of Charles Wuorinen and Clarice Assad which were premiered in May 2009 at Town Hall, in conjunction with Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
As a soloist, Ms. McDermott has recorded the complete Prokofiev Piano Sonatas, Bach English Suites and Partitas (which was named Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice), and most recently, Gershwin Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra with the Dallas Symphony and Justin Brown.
In addition to her many achievements and association with Bravo! Vail, McDermott is also Artistic Director of two other festivals; The Ocean Reef Chamber Music Festival in the Florida Keys and The Avila Chamber Music Celebration in Curaçao, off the coast of Venezuela.
As a chamber music performer, Anne-Marie McDermott was named an artist member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 1995 and performs and tours extensively with them each season. She also continues a long standing collaboration with the highly acclaimed violinist, Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg. As a duo, they have released a CD titled “Live” on the NSS label and plan to release the Complete Brahms Violin and Piano Sonatas in the future. Ms. McDermott is also a member of the renowned piano quartet, Opus One, with colleagues Ida Kavafian, Steven Tenenbom and Peter Wiley.
She continues to perform each season with her sisters, Maureen McDermott and Kerry McDermott in the McDermott Trio. Ms. McDermott has also released an all Schumann CD with violist, Paul Neubauer, as well as the Complete Chamber Music of Debussy with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Ms. McDermott studied at the Manhattan School of Music with Dalmo Carra, Constance Keene and John Browning. She was a winner of the Young Concert Artists auditions and was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant.
In addition to her duties at Bravo! Vail, Anne-Marie McDermott regularly performs at Festivals across the United States including Spoleto, Mainly Mozart, Sante Fe, La Jolla Summerfest, Mostly Mozart, Newport, Caramoor, Chamber Music Northwest, Aspen, Music from Angelfire, and the Festival Casals in Puerto Rico, among others.
Photo: Zach Mahone
Tonight’s spotlight is on the “chamber” part of chamber orchestra, with a program that marries powerful music with small-scale intimacy. Schubert’s trio is monumental in length, breadth, and wealth of thematic ideas, and the darkly gorgeous Piano Quintet by Brahms is widely considered his crowning achievement in chamber music.
This three-evening journey opens with the odd-numbered quartets, which introduce Bartók’s signature explosive energy, incandescent chromaticism, and rollicking Bohemian brio.
Where are the Chamber Music Series performances held?
For 2021, the Bravo! Vail Chamber Music Series concerts at held at Vilar Performing Arts Center, located at 68 Avondale Ln, Beaver Creek, CO 81620
What time do performances begin?
Concerts start promptly at 7:00PM. 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 appropriate intervals.
Where do I park for Chamber Music Series performances?
Free Parking in Beaver Creek Village
Free parking is available in both the Villa Montane and Ford Hall parking lots for each VPAC winter performance. Parking is subject to availability and free with Bravo! Vail concert ticket and valid parking stub. Parking is available to ticket holders 2 hours before show time and up to 30 minutes post show. To receive free parking simply take a standard parking ticket at Villa Montane or Ford Hall parking structures upon arrival then when leaving, show your Bravo! Vail ticket stub + valid parking ticket to the attendant.
$20 Valet Service
Valet parking will be available for $20 on the parking island next to the buses near the VPAC front door.
For more information, click here for VPAC parking details.
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last 90 minutes to 2 hours. No intermissions for Chamber Concerts this year.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
1. Online: 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 9:00AM to 4:00PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700. Tickets are also sold at VPAC one hour prior to concert.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up one hour prior to the concert in the Box Office area.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Due to limited audience capacity this summer, we are not offering discounts for groups.
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 can I expect in terms of health and safety protocols?
As permitted by current State of Colorado and Eagle County guidelines, the Bravo! Vail Music Festival is operating at up to 100 percent capacity, without any social distancing or mask requirements. If you are not comfortable with this approach, although we will miss your presence, we ask that you consider not attending at this time.
Face coverings at the Vilar Performing Arts Center will be optional. All individuals, whether they choose to wear a face covering or not, will be welcomed and respected.
Capacity at performance venues will be at or near 100 percent with no social distancing requirements.
You may also click here for VPAC policies too.
Will I be required to complete a waiver to attend concerts and events this summer?
All ticket reservations are subject to our 2021 Ticket Purchase Terms, available HERE. These terms include important waivers, releases, and limitations on liability. By reserving a ticket, you agree to the Ticket Purchase Terms.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3:00PM 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?
Seating for Chamber Series concerts at VPAC is reserved and assigned, not general admission.
What food and beverages are available at the concert?
Food and beverages including beer and wine are available for purchase at VPAC prior to the concert. More information can be found from the VPAC website.
What is the Chamber Music Series child policy?
Bravo! Vail’s small ensemble concerts are very intimate. We strongly recommend parents bring children aged six or older who are able to sit quietly through the entire performance.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts.
What are some general rules of Chamber Music Series concert etiquette?
Please allow ample time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to avoid disrupting musicians and other patrons. Please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the performance. We recommend eating prior to the concert. Parental supervision is required for all children attending Bravo! Vail concerts.
Any forms of audio or video recording (mobile phone, camera, video camera, iPad) are prohibited at these events.
Photographing performances (with no flash) is permitted during concerts, only if there is no disruption/distraction to fellow audience members or performers.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Call the Bravo! Vail Box Office at 970.827.5700 or the VPAC box office at 970.845.8497.
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