by Daniel Hathaway

CCMS-Logo-64The lineup for the sixty-fourth season of the Cleveland Chamber Music Society has its board members buzzing with enthusiasm. “Yes, there are world famous string quartets,” said Melvin Arnoff, “but also three pianists, a guitarist, a soprano, clarinets, flutes and percussion. And the composers range from Bartók, Beethoven and Britten to Dean, Dessner and Parry. This promises to be a “WOW” season.”

Anthony Addison agrees and mentions his favorites. “All six Bartók quartets and a return of eighth blackbird are the high spots of the season, as far as I am concerned. Cuarteto Casals with Manuel Barrueco on guitar, and Pavel Haas playing Janáček, Britten and Beethoven are a very close second. It’s a fascinating season.”

CCMS’s season begins at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights on Tuesday, October 15 at 7:30 with a program of salon music from the British Isles, Russia, France, Germany and Italy performed by soprano Susanna Phillips, pianist Anne Marie McDermott and violist Paul Neubauer.

Barbara Green is especially enthusiastic about the first concert in the series. “I first heard Susanna Phillips when she was still a student at Juilliard and a participant in the Art Song Festival. She had a lovely voice, a fine command of the texts, and that certain quality which I can only describe as ‘presence’. I have followed her career for many years and was delighted to read the review of her performance [at the Metropolitan Opera] in today’s New York Times. How exciting it will be to hear her again!” Commentator Richard Rodda will give a 6:30 pre-concert lecture.

Continuing its joint sponsorship policy, CCMS will collaborate with the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society to bring Spanish guitarist Manuel Barrueco together with Cuarteto Casals on October 29 at 7:30 for a program featuring Eduard Toldrà’s Vistes al mar (Sea Views), Debussy’s Quartet in g, Boccherini’s Quintet in D, “Fandango,” and a new work, Fantasia for guitar and string quartet by Puerto Rican-born composer Roberto Sierra, who studied with György Ligeti in Hamburg and is currently professor of composition at Cornell. David Rothenberg will talk about the program at 6:30.

Another collaboration, this time with the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Chamber Music Festival, brings the Daedalus Quartet to town for a CCMS performance at Plymouth Church on December 3 at 7:30 pm. The Daedalus will celebrate Benjamin Britten’s centenary with his Quartet No. 1 in D, filling out their program with another first quartet — Mendelssohn’s opus 12 — and Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff’s Five Pieces. Rabbi Roger Klein will introduce the music at 6:30.

Flipping the calendar to 2014, CCMS welcomes the Albers Trio together with one of Cleveland’s favorite pianists, Orion Weiss, on February 4 at 7:30 pm for Beethoven’s Trio in G, Op. 9, No. 1, Martinů’s Trio No. 2 and Dvořák’s Piano Quartet in E-flat, Op. 87. Eric Kisch will preside over a 6:30 interview.

Longtime CCMS favorite, the Takács Quartet, will spend two March evenings exploring Béla Bartók’s six string quartets on Monday, March 17 and Tuesday, March 18, both at 7:30 pm, with the odd-numbered works the first night and nos. 2, 4 and 6 the second. Hungarian-born commentator Peter Laki will speak about the pieces each evening at 6:30.

More Britten is in store for CCMS audiences on April 8 at 7:30 pm when the Pavel Haas Quartet returns to play his Quartet No. 2 in C, op. 36, together with Janáček’s Quartet No. 1 “Kreutzer Sonata” and Beethoven’s Quartet in e, op. 59, no. 2. Costa Petridis is in charge of the 6:30 pre-concert talk.

The celebrated new music sextet eighth blackbird will close the formal season of the society with a concert in Cleveland State University’s Waetjen Auditorium on April 29 at 7:30 pm. Formed at the Oberlin Conservatory (they return there for a concert with the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble on October 4), the ensemble will offer a program of music most listeners probably have never heard before: Bryce Dessner’s Murder Ballade Suite, Tom Johnson/Györgi Ligeti’s Counting Duets/Etudes, Richard Reed Parry’s Duet for Heart and Breath, Brett Dean’s Sextet (Old Kings in Exile) & Steven Mackey’s Suite: Slide. At 6:30, Daniel Hathaway will moderate a chat with someone close to the group.

Finally, the Cleveland Chamber Music Society will present a free showcase concert by its Young Artists of the year at First Unitarian Church in Shaker Heights on Sunday, May 4 at 7:00 pm. These young players will have been busy all year presenting performances and workshops in elementary schools under the mentorship of Annie Fullard of the Cavani Quartet. Watch ClevelandClassical for forthcoming coverage of this outreach program of the society.

Board member David Richardson has the last word about the CCMS season. “For my own part, I’m happy to say that Chamber Music at Plymouth Rocks!”

Published on October 1, 2013

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