Shostakovich himself said that his String Quartet No 4 was "written for the drawer," a poetic way of saying that it was not for public consumption, especially since works similar in style and mood had already been banned in the Soviet Union. Completed in 1949 the first performance of the quartet did not take place until after Stalin's death. The work is haunting in its use of Jewish themes and motives. In this week's Regional Spotlight is a January performance from Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church with the Artaria String Quartet, part of their series of presenting the complete set of Shostakovich quartets this season and next.
The only difference between a major professional orchestra and the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (gtcys) is experience. Music Director, Amir Kats and his colleagues coax and draw out wonderful, full-bodied and colorful performances from their young classical players. In the Regional Spotlight this week is a performance of Three Dances from "Gayaneh" by Aram Khachaturian from this past March 4th. The hoops and cheers from the audience say it all. GTCYS is hot!
Psalm 42 speaks of the desire for peace and rest in the midst of sorrow and want. The image of a deer seeking a cool drink from a running stream is the starting point for poetic language that itself calls for musical treatment. Two composers' settings of Psalm 42 are featured in this week's Regional Spotlight. From just this last weekend the Augsburg Masterworks Chorale and Orchestra with soloist Katherine Skovira led by Peter Hendrickson perform Sicut Cervus by Palestrina and also Mendelssohn's powerful setting of "As the Deer Cries Out for Running Streams."
The Chamber Music Society of St Cloud is to be commended for bringing the European group known as La Morra to the region for a performance at St Mary's Cathedral on March 9. The program, titled "Tears of a Lion," featured this small but sassy ensemble in a mix of instrumentals from early Renaissance Spain. With the kind of music that might have entertained Columbus, their performance was both inviting and lively. La Morra is in this week's Regional Spotlight.
Who knew that Haydn could be so hot? The Frederic Chopin Society presented pianist Imogen Cooper earlier this month in a recital that began with Haydn. His Sonata in Eb is typical of his music with plenty of playfulness and wit and wide-eyed humor. Cooper's proud performance from Sundin Music Hall in St Paul was all about the joy of music making. Her March 4th (2012) performance is in this week's Regional Spotlight.
Father-son team Jay and Loren Fishmann perform the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor, this weekend with the Minnesota Sinfonia. Both joined Steve Staruch in the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio earlier this week to talk about their collaboration. The concerts are listed on the events calendar at classicalmpr.org
The St Olaf Choir celebrated its 100 anniversary with a mid-winter tour. The highlights of which are in this week's Regional Spotlight. Anton Armstrong leads the choir and orchestra of St Olaf College students in the Bach motet: Sing to the Lord a New Song, and the world premiere of a work written especially for the centennial celebration of the St Olaf Choir by St Olaf alumnus, Minnesota composer, Ralph M. Johnson: On Horizon's Brim.
Exultate performs Handel: Messiah this weekend. Steve Staruch spoke with music director, Thomas Rossin.
Extremely sensitive to the color (timbre) of their own sound, the Ysaye Quartet performs with flair and great attention to musical nuance. The ensemble, which has been together for almost 30 years, brought all their gifts to a monumental work in the string quartet literature in a Schubert Club/Music in the Park Series concert. The Ysaye Quartet's performance of the Brahms String Quartet Op 51, No. 2 flows like liquid gold. That concert from just last month is this week's Regional Spotlight.
The Bakken Trio continues its current season with a program of lyrical American works this Sunday, March 4 at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis. The performance includes the world premiere of a piece titled, A Screened Porch in the Country, by 29 year old composer, Dan Visconti. Members of the Bakken Trio and the composer spoke with Steve Staruch in the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio.
Johannes Brahms, like all composers, had a "day job." Brahms was the music director of several singing societies in Vienna. Pouring all of his melodic gifts into numerous works for choir, the choral pieces from his late fifties are especially filled with a kind of nostalgic golden glow. The South Dakota Chorale led by Charles Bruffy brings a slow-burning, mature passion to a performance of Brahms Four Quartets Op 92. Their performance from January 14 at Dordt College is in this week's Regional Spotlight.
Paul Boehnke, the music director of the Bach Society of Minnesota, has an adventurous palate. "Take a sweet piece of fruit on one hand and it's sweet. Take a pungent cheese on the other and it's pungent. If you put the two together you get something brand new!" The Bach Society was joined by a team of well-known jazz musicians from the twin cities in a session at the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio to reprise a program titled: Bach and Jazz. Their sweet/pungent performances are in this week's Regional Spotlight.
Embarking on a two year project to perform all the string quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich, the Artaria Quartet is well on there way to mastering these highly respected and deeply emotional pieces. From a performance this past January at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, the Artaria plays the Shostakovich Quartet No. 1 with raw power and wide-eyed enthusiasm.
Luther Warren is a most serious violinist. At 16 he was the recent winner of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies Solo Competition. He will perform the opening movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto this Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Orchestra Hall. Warren spoke with Steve Staruch in the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio to talk about his performing experiences and play the piece. He was joined by accompanist Tom Bartsch.
The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra features a Young Artist Solo Competition. This years finalists were all wonderful high-school aged musicians from the area. Their performances from the final round of the competition, recorded at Concordia College in Moorhead on January 8, are in this week's Regional Spotlight.