Candlelight series offers star ensembles, soloists Concerts: Centennial High graduate is one of the performers in the opening show featuring a quartet from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

November 05, 1998|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Not only has the Candlelight Concert Society assembled a distinguished roster of star ensembles and soloists to appear during its 26th season, but it has also managed to inject some local flavor into its cast of performers.

When the Orfeo Chamber Players take the Smith Theatre stage at Howard Community College at 8 p.m. Saturday, one of the performers playing the music of Britten, Handel, Faure, Debussy, Bartok, Khachaturian and Dohnanyi will be violist Anna Marie Ahn Petersen.

Petersen, a former resident of Owen Brown and graduate of Centennial High School, was hired by the prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra shortly after graduating from that city's Curtis Institute. The daughter of Yong Ku Ahn, one of the Baltimore area's most sought-after violin teachers, she has appeared as a soloist with orchestras in Korea and South America. She also performs chamber music frequently with such stellar collaborators as pianist Yefim Bronfman, guitarist Christopher Parkening and her boss, Wolfgang Sawallisch, who performs at the keyboard when not presiding over his orchestra in Philadelphia's Academy of Music.

The Orfeos also include three of Petersen's colleagues from the Philadelphia Orchestra: violinist Michael Ludwig, the orchestra's associate concertmaster; cellist John Koen; and harpist Elizabeth Hainen DePeters.

A viola and harp arrangement of Gabriel Faure's sumptuous song, "Apres un Reve," Bela Bartok's earthy Romanian Folk Dances arranged for cello and harp, and Ernst von Dohnanyi's Serenade for Violin, Viola and Cello highlight the program.

The Orfeo is just one of the first-class chamber ensembles to be performing in the Candlelight series this season. Given the quality and quantity of who is coming to Columbia, it is fair to place these concerts at the apex of Maryland's chamber music scene, alongside the Shriver Hall series at the Johns Hopkins University. Factor in some style points for adventurous programming.

Devotees of the string quartet will think they've died and gone to heaven.

In March 1999, the Emerson Quartet comes to the Jim Rouse Theatre for Performing Arts. Admired especially for their bristling zTC accounts of the Beethoven and Bartok quartet cycles on the Deutsche Grammophon recording label, the Emersons are on nearly everyone's short list of the world's finest string quartets.

On Nov. 21, Mexico's Cuarteto Latinoamericano takes the Smith Theatre stage. Equally at home in music from Europe or from Latin composers such as Argentina's Alberto Ginastera and Heitor Villa- Lobos of Brazil, this group may be the only major string quartet that includes three brothers: violinists Saul and Aron and cellist Alvaro Bitran.

Next month, the American String Quartet celebrates its 25th season by performing with one of America's most distinguished French horn players, David Jolley.

The Alexander Quartet, praised by violinist Yehudi Menuhin as producing superior results in the quartets of Beethoven, comes to Columbia in January. The concert format allows the Smith Theatre audience to select which three of Beethoven's 16 quartets will be performed on the program.

In February 1999, the Lark String Quartet will appear with composer Peter Schickele of P.D.Q. Bach fame, and in April the Vellinger String Quartet, one of Europe's youngest and most intriguing chamber ensembles, comes for a program of Haydn, Brahms and Britten.

Complementing all these quartets will be the highly pedigreed trio of Jaime Laredo; Sharon Robinson; and Joseph Kalichstein, who will perform Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn in February.

In solo recitals, Candlelight presents violinist Axel Strauss, a 24-year-old German who this year won the Naumburg Competition in New York City, on Jan. 9 and the Slovenian pianist Dubravka Tomsic on April 11. After years of being labeled a "pianist's pianist" on the periphery of world fame, Tomsic is getting the recognition she deserves.

As an Annapolitan, I confess I look at these concerts with equal parts envy and lust. Thanks to Candlelight, Howard countians have the opportunity to hear more live chamber music than anyone in Maryland this year without leaving their own back yard.

Candlelight Concerts

26th season concert calendar: Saturday: Orfeo Chamber Players

Nov. 21: Cuarteto Latinoamericano

Dec. 5: American String Quartet with David Jolley, French horn

Jan. 9: Axel Strauss, violin

Jan. 23: Alexander String Quartet

Feb. 6: Lark String Quartet with Peter Schickele

Feb. 20: Kalichstein-Laredo- Robinson Trio

March 28: 3 p.m.: Emerson String Quartet (at the Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts)

April 11: 3 p.m.: Dubravka Tomsic, piano

April 24: Vellinger String Quartet

Except where noted, all concerts begin at 8 p.m. and are held at Smith Theatre, Howard Community College. To order tickets: 410-715-0034.

Pub Date: 11/05/98

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