Music season of diversity

Preview: The Candlelight Concerts series will offer an eclectic mix, including Brazilian guitars, Renaissance love songs and Bach.

August 16, 2001|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It's not every concert series that can deliver Brazilian guitar music, Renaissance love songs, an all-female string quartet from Russia and a musical evening straight from the home of Johann Sebastian Bach all in the same season.

But then, Candlelight Concerts isn't just any concert series. And the slate of 2001-2002 events the Columbia-based performing arts organization has just announced is diverse, even by Candlelight's lofty standard for variety.

Only one concert pianist graces Candlelight's marquee this season, and he is Joseph Kalichstein, best known for his many collaborations with violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson in the piano trio repertoire.

But Kalichstein is a fine soloist, and his recital Oct. 13 at Smith Theatre will include Franz Schubert's G major Piano Sonata and a sampling of the deep, muscular sonorities Johannes Brahms infused into his music for the keyboard.

Over the years, Candlelight has acquainted audiences with the finest string quartets, and the new season will prove no exception.

The best known is the Takacs Quartet, a Czech ensemble that has taken the music world by storm since its founding in 1975.

In January, the quartet will play a pair of the Opus 18 quartets (Nos. 4 and 6) crafted in the 1790s by a youthful Ludwig van Beethoven, then on a mission (a successful one, it turned out) to set Vienna's musical hierarchy on its ear. The sad, intense Death and the Maiden quartet by Schubert will round out the Takacs program.

Preceding the Eastern Europeans on the Smith Theatre stage will be the New York-based Mendelssohn Quartet, which will play Mozart's D major Quartet, K. 575, Henri Dutilleux's Ainsi la nuit and Beethoven's Op. 59, No. 3 in November, and the Moscow Quartet, an all-female group in residence at the University of Colorado. The four women, all graduates of Moscow Conservatory, will play quartets by Schumann, Schubert and Shostakovich at their December concert.

Candlelight has scheduled two variations on the quartet theme.

In October, the series has the Anonymous 4, the four sopranos who have reached the top of Billboard's classical sales charts with their spiritually charged blend of musical, literary and historical scholarship. Their releases, such as "The Lily and the Lamb," chant and polyphony from medieval England, and "11,000 Virgins," a tribute to Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th-century German composer, abbess, poet, healer and mystic, are showcases for the evocative singing that has made the Anonymous 4 so popular with music lovers and New Age spiritualists.

The 4's October concert, "The Second Circle," will feature love songs by Francesco Landini, the 14th-century Italian composer who was one of the most popular tunesmiths of his day.

In February, four-part music representing a different time, place and idiom will be heard courtesy of the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, made up of three South American virtuosos plus Paul Galbraith, the guitarist who recently made such an impact with his transcriptions of Bach's music set for the guitar.

Larger ensembles also will be heard.

In January, the American Chamber Players come to Columbia for a program highlighted by Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, a work for piano, clarinet, violin and cello written and first performed while the French composer was in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II.

In February, Candlelight Concerts will present a complement of players from Marlboro, the Vermont chamber festival that has nurtured and spawned so many of our greatest musicians.

The Guarneri String Quartet was born at Marlboro in the summer of 1964, which makes it appropriate that David Soyer, the original cellist who retired from the group last spring, comes to Columbia as one of the Marlboro musicians assigned to Debussy's G minor Quartet and the Schubert Octet for woodwinds and strings.

Two other eight-part works will be on the agenda when Concertante, a small, select chamber orchestra of East Coast players, appears at the Smith Theatre in March for the octets of Enseco and Mendelssohn.

Lovers of baroque music will be pleased to eavesdrop on "An Evening in the Home of J.S. Bach," to be presented in April by the Aulos Ensemble of San Francisco, a period performance group. The program will include works by Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian's German contemporary Georg Philipp Telemann, Bach's sons Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian, and, of course, J.S. himself.

Candlelight's season concludes in May with a recital by cellist Clancy Newman, the 2001 winner of the Naumburg Competition that has boosted the careers of artists such as soprano Dawn Upshaw, violinist Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg and the Emerson Quartet.

Candlelight 2001-2002 season

Oct. 13: Joseph Kalichstein, piano

Oct. 27: Anonymous 4

Nov. 10: Mendelssohn String Quartet

Dec. 1: Moscow String Quartet

Jan. 6: American Chamber Players

Jan. 26: Takacs String Quartet

Feb. 9: Brazilian Guitar Quartet

Feb. 23: Musicians from Marlboro

March 2: Concertante

April 6: Aulos Ensemble

May 4: Clancy Newman, cello

All concerts will be held in the Smith Theatre on the campus of Howard Community College. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Subscription information: 410-715-0034 or 301-596-6203.

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