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Newsletter, Summer 2015

A word from John Montanari.............................................

John Montanari
Artistic Director

As Music In Deerfield's Artistic Director, or as I prefer, “Music Picker-Outer,” my job gets both easier and harder each season. Easier because there are so many great groups to choose from. More difficult because – there are so many great groups to choose from. Here's who's coming up in our 2015-16 season; I hope I picked good ones!

Do you like your music intense, mature, and “as sleek and elegant as an Armani suit?” That's how The Strad described Quartetto di Cremona , who lead off the season on Saturday, October 10, at 8:00 p.m. From the city that gave us the immortal violins of Stradivarius and Guarnerius, the Cremona will perform works from arguably the home town of the string quartet, Vienna: Mozart's “Dissonance” Quartet, Schubert's “Death and the Maiden” Quartet, and two spectral works by Anton Webern.

America produces some pretty great string quartets, also. The Parker Quartet , Grammy winners now in residence at Harvard, has been lavishly praised by the critics. On Sunday, November 8, at 4:00 p.m., they'll play the brand new (2014!) “Helix Spirals” composed for them by much-honored American composer Augusta Read Thomas, as well as Beethoven's “Serioso” Quartet (Op. 95), and Romantic master Robert Schumann's Quartet No. 1.

Especially if you've enjoyed the wild, edgy, and up-to-the-minute music of ensembles such as A Far Cry and Brooklyn Rider, you'll want to join us at 4:00 on Sunday, December 20, for Sybarite5. This eclectic, energetic string quintet will perform Piazzolla tangos, Radiohead songs, and their six-composer “Look Back/Move Forward” Suite. “(T)hat impassioned playing, those hard-driving rhythms, the blissed-out faces of the mostly young audience…Genuine, spontaneous…excitement.” ( Washington Post )

Tradition will be restored on Sunday, February 7, at 4:00 p.m., when three works from the bull's-eye of the string quartet repertoire, Beethoven's “Razumovsky” Quartets, will come to vibrant, resonant life under the hands of the Miró Quartet , a standard-bearer of their generation of American classical ensembles.

A piano trio that calls itself Latitude 41 (the latitude of the venue of their Rhode Island debut) impressed our audience with their first Music In Deerfield performance, with a focused, sonorous, elegant, and intense sound. They'll be back in our latitude on Sunday, March 21, at 4:00 p.m., to perform trios by Beethoven (Op. 1, No. 1), Shostakovich (No. 1), and Saint-Sa ëns.


Not enough Beethoven for you yet? Not to worry. On Saturday, May 7, at 8:00 p.m., three of Beethoven's Sonatas for Piano and Violin will be on the program by the duo of Jonathan Biss & Miriam Fried . He's emerging as one of America's pre-eminent Beethoven pianists. She's a much-admired soloist, chamber musician and educator. And she's his mother, so probably doesn't mind that his name comes first.


And as for all the great groups we didn't get to in 2015-16, well, there are many more years to come!


Newsletter, Summer 2014

A word from John Montanari.............................................

John Montanari
Artistic Director

Two stunning young string quartets in their area debuts. An American violin diva. Old Russian friends playing great Russian music. Eight performers from one of the world's foremost chamber festivals. A pair of chamber music legends. A quartet on the cutting edge.


The cast of a new TV reality show? No! It's the lineup for the 36 th season of Music In Deerfield, six concerts that, from October foliage to May flowers, will complement the New England landscape with a colorful and diverse selection of old and new masterworks. In response to audience requests, we've scheduled three of the concerts for Sunday afternoons at 4:00; the others will take place Saturday evenings at 8:00. And each concert will be preceded one hour earlier by Concert Conversations, my (and your) discussion of the programs with the artists.


The season starts on Saturday evening, October 11, with one of the youngest ensembles ever presented by MID. But don't let the Ariel Quartet's youth fool you. With already ten years of experience, mentoring from such chamber music greats as Paul Katz, Donald Weilerstein (both of the Cleveland Quartet) and Kim Kashkashian, graduates of the New England Conservatory's prestigious Professional String Quartet Training Program, and a position as quartet-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, these four talented Israelis are set to become a defining chamber ensemble for their generation. For us, the Ariel will play Haydn (Op. 76, No. 4), Schumann (Op. 41, No. 2) and Schubert (D. 887).


Is there a more winning classical musician in America than Rachel Barton Pine? By now universally recognized as one of our finest violinists, Rachel will be joined on Sunday afternoon, November 9 by her frequent partner Matthew Hagle. Their program will consist of sonatas by Schubert (Op. 162, D.574), Prokofiev (Sonata No. 1, Op. 80), and Franck (A Major), as well as selections from her acclaimed album of “Violin Lullabies.” With perhaps the sweetest violin sound going, Rachel will surely warm up a chilly fall afternoon, and your heart, with her November program.


It's been too long since the St. Petersburg String Quartet has played in the Valley. Now in their 29 th (!) year, our Russian friends will be back with us on Sunday afternoon, December 14, to do what they do best: play great Russian music. The program will be bracketed by two lyric and intense quartets: Shostakovich No. 4 and Tchaikovsky No. 3. In-between, they will play an arrangement by their violist, Boris Vayner, of the epic Chaconne in D Minor for solo violin by J. S. Bach. Join us for some pre-Yule fire!


Each season, the Marlboro Music Festival, one of the world's greatest summer music get-togethers, assembles some of its best programs for national tours during the chillier months. Well, on Saturday evening, February 8, 2015, we'll enjoy a concert by one of the biggest Musicians From Marlboro groups yet: eight musicians, including four singers, two pianists, a violinist and a cellist, all accomplished or emerging stars in their field. Highlighting the program are the Neue Liebeslieder (“New Lovesong”) Waltzes by Brahms – that's where the four singers and two pianists come in – and Beethoven's “Ghost” Piano Trio, alongside works by Schubert and modern Hungarian master György Kurtág.


Put together a pair of prize-winning violin soloists, the principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and what do you get? The Johannes Quartet, that's what, and that's who's playing music by celebrated composer-conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen (“Homunculus,” composed for the Johannes) and Mendelssohn (Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80) on Sunday afternoon, March 22, 2015. But that's just the first half. On the second, the Johannes will be joined by two members of the legendary Guarneri Quartet, violist John Dalley and cellist Peter Wiley, for one of Brahms's most sumptuous works, the Sextet No. 2 in G Major. Mmmmm!


OK, after five programs drawn mostly from the core of the chamber repertoire, it will be time on Saturday evening, May 2, 2015, to take you out to the edge. And who better to guide us through today's new classical sounds than Brooklyn Rider, the string quartet “with a difference” that wowed MID audiences two seasons ago? This time, the adventurous foursome will combine standard rep by Haydn (“Rider” Quartet) and Janácek (“Kreutzer Sonata” Quartet) with music by acclaimed jazz pianist-composer Vijay Iyer and selections from their own collection of musical impressions, the “Brooklyn Rider Almanac.” And so, we'll end Music In Deerfield's 36 th season with a look and listen toward the future – including MID's 37 th ! Please join us.

Newsletter, Summer 2013

A word from John Montanari.............................................

John Montanari
Artistic Director

Old friends, new discoveries, chamber masterworks, dazzling pianism and, for the first time, a chamber orchestra – Music In Deerfield's 35 th season has something for every music lover, and six concerts to satisfy discriminating listeners with a large and adventurous appetite.


One of the “new discoveries” will open the season on Columbus Day, Saturday, October 12.  Hailed by The New Yorker as “destined for great things” when they performed together for the first time in 2011, the Horszowski Trio take their name from legendary pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski (1892-1993), a celebrated teacher whose last pupil at the Curtis Institute was the Trio's pianist, Rieko Azawa.  Their program will include Haydn's C major Trio, Hob XV: 27, John Harbison's Trio No. 2, "Short Stories," and Dvorák's Trio in F minor, Op. 65.


Another exciting Music In Deerfield debut will be on Saturday, November 2, with the appearance of one of the world's most acclaimed chamber ensembles, Spain's Cuarteto Casals.  Described in The Strad as “a quartet for the new millennium,” the Casals just marked its fifteenth season with a series of Franz Schubert's fifteen quartets in Madrid, Florence, London, Lisbon and Schwarzenberg.  The quartet has compiled a substantial discography with the Harmonia Mundi label, including to date nine CD's, with repertoire ranging from lesser known Spanish composers to Viennese classical masters to 20th Century greats.  And some of each will be on the November 2 program of Haydn (Op. 33, No. 3, “The Bird”), Shostakovich (No. 7), Joaquín Turina (“La oración del torero”) and Eduard Toldrà (“Vistes al mar” Quartet).


On Sunday afternoon, November 17, the Chiara Quartet, MID favorites last heard playing Beethoven's complete quartets will be back at Sweeney Concert Hall. Since then, the Chiara were nominated for a Grammy for their recording of Jefferson Friedman's String Quartet No. 3, and won the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming for the 2010-2011 season.   Lauded in the Boston Globe for its "highly virtuosic, edge-of-the-seat playing," the Chiara celebrate fourteen seasons of playing together in 2013-14. They are currently Harvard University's Blodgett Artists-in-Residence.


How many ways are there to describe the pianist making his Music In Deerfield debut on Friday, January 24, 2014?  Here are a few: Technical wizard. Complete musician.  Throwback to the heyday of the virtuoso pianist-composer. Quintessentially curious and engaging 21 st century musician. Familiar presence, due to his vast and growing discography of both masterworks and challenging rarities, old and new. Legend in the making.  Better to simply describe him as Marc-André Hamelin,  and to suggest you get your tickets early to his recital of his own “Barcarolle,” the “Night Wind” Sonata by Russian romantic Nikolai Medtner, and Schubert's Four Impromptus, Op. 142.


Old and new, tradition and exploration, also come together in the young, 18-member chamber orchestra A Far Cry, who will perform on Friday, February 7. Standing at the forefront of an exciting new generation in classical music, A Far Cry was founded in 2007 by a tightly-knit collective of professional musicians – the Criers – and since the beginning has fostered those personalities, developing an innovative structure of rotating leadership both on stage and behind the scenes.  By expanding the boundaries of orchestral repertoire and experimenting with the ways music is prepared, performed, and experienced, A Far Cry has been embraced throughout the world with more than three hundred performances coast to coast and across the globe, five albums, and a powerful presence on the internet.  The Criers are proud to call Boston home, and maintain strong roots in the city, rehearsing at their storefront music center in Jamaica Plain and fulfilling the role of Chamber Orchestra in Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.


Few ensembles were better received upon their first MID concerts than the Jupiter Quartet, who will return to Sweeney on Sunday afternoon, March 9 for a program featuring two quartets by Beethoven (Op. 18, No. 2 and Op. 59, No. 2) surrounding one by Bartók (No. 6).  Now on the faculty of the University of Illinois as String Quartet-in-Residence, the Jupiter also holds visiting faculty residencies at Oberlin Conservatory and Adelphi University, and have engaged in a multi-year residency at Atlanta's beautiful Spivey Hall.  Performing with an awesome combination of tonal beauty, ensemble perfection and musical depth, the Jupiter, together with the other artists on Music In Deerfield's 35th season, demonstrate that the golden age of chamber music is…now.   Don't let it pass you by.

Newsletter, Summer 2012

A word from John Montanari.............................................

John Montanari
Artistic Director

On six occasions over the next 10 months, Music In Deerfield and Smith College will present classical music concerts as fine as any taking place, anywhere.

That’s a bold statement, to be sure. But as they used to say in the old movie westerns, “it ain’t braggin’, if you can back it up.”  We invite you to see for yourself whether it’s brag or fact, and to come on by for the 2012-13 season.

Starting with the first occasion, on Saturday, September 29, when one of the world’s most eminent and eloquent pianists, a master of the great works by the great composers, will engage with possibly the most profound music ever composed for the keyboard. Richard Goode will return to Music In Deerfield to play Beethoven’s last three Sonatas (Nos. 30-32), and will throw in a set of
Beethoven Bagatelles (“Trifles”) for good measure

So, we start with tradition. How about we next blend tradition with innovation, and hear what those crazy classical kids are up to? The “kids” in question – actually seasoned young pros – are the four virtuosi who make up the string quartet known as Brooklyn Rider. Here’s an ensemble dedicated to shaking up the quartet, one as likely to play music composed for them by indie rockers as
they are to play Beethoven. And they’ll do both on Sunday afternoon, November 11, in a program that includes Beethoven’s ultrasublime
Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131.

Over the past few seasons, Music In Deerfield has hosted several members of the current crop of American string quartets – the finest this country has ever produced. Again, not braggin’, but fact. And this season will be no exception, as you can hear on Saturday, December 15, when the Escher Quartet comes to Music In Deerfield. Just formed in 2005, the Escher has already been
recognized by Lincoln Center, the BBC and other very picky presenters for their compelling sound and commanding artistry. Want to hear what they’ve got? Come hear their program of Mozart (Quartet in E-flat, K. 428), Benjamin Britten (his haunting third quartet, marking his centennial year) and, yes, Beethoven (Op. 132, including the “Holy Song of Thanks”).

On Saturday, March 2, 2013, The Talich Quartet, our friends from the Czech Republic, will make their third Music In Deerfield appearance. Anyone who’s heard either of the first two concerts will not have forgotten the sweetness and unanimity of their sound, or their unassuming but probing musicianship. Nice program, too: Spanish composer Joaquín Turina’s poetic “La oración del torero” (The Bullfighter’s Prayer), Ravel’s dazzling Quartet in F major, and the dramatic Quartet in G Minor by Norwegian master Edvard Grieg. Quartetting at its best.

In barely a century at the center of the concert scene, the cello has grown in stature and repertoire to become one of the most welcome voices in classical music. And among current American cellists, no one is more welcome to our stage than Zuill Bailey – especially after his amazing evening of Bach Cello Suites a few years back. At this writing, I can’t tell you what Zuill will play on
March 30, 2013 or with whom. But I think we can trust him to deliver the goods, and then some. Check for updates.

It was Robert Schumann who praised the music of Franz Schubert for its “heavenly length.” I also once heard the late Smith College violist Ernst Wallfisch quote his mentor Georges Enesco, saying “Schubert’s works are so long because his melodies are so beautiful, he couldn’t bear to let them go.” Ardent Schubertian that I am, however, I have to admit that there’s one major
Schubert work that has often tried even my patience: The Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat Major. So, what is the Trio doing on Music In Deerfield's final concert? It’s being played by a newly-formed ensemble whose recent CD of the same work made me finally see the light. The Rhode Island-based Trio Latitude 41, each of whose members is a distinguished soloist, will also play the elegant Trio No. 1 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns on their season-ending concert on Saturday, May 11.

Of course, you could attend other classical concerts on these six dates. But I don’t think you could attend better ones.

Newsletter, Summer 2011

A word from John Montanari.............................................

John Montanari
Artistic Director

Attention music lovers! Could you use a bit more allegro in your moderato ? Are you suffering from acute Beethoven withdrawal? Do viola jokes make you cry? Then step right up and try Music In Deerfield's magical elixir: a program of six concerts over six months, guaranteed to restore your sonic vigor and cure the chamber music blues.

The season opens on October 1 with an evening to satisfy even the hungriest Beethoven fans: all five of his Sonatas for Cello and Piano in one fabulous concert. On hand will be Pieter Wispelwey, the Dutch cellist whose combination of fire and sensitivity have earned him fans all over the world and here in the Pioneer Valley through his previous MID performances. His collaborator will be Lois Shapiro, the Boston-area pianist who matches Wispelwey's interpretive skills note for note.

She's been called "the pianists' pianist for Generation X" and a throwback to such high priestesses of Bach as Wanda Landowska and Myra Hess. She's been interviewed by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and even the Howard Stern Show. Her new album “Bach: A Strange Beauty” even cracked the Billboard Top 200. And on October 29, young American pianist Simone Dinnerstein plays just for you—or it will seem that way during her program of Bach and Schumann.

Over a six-week period every summer, top musicians from many generations gather in southern Vermont to explore great works of the chamber literature, only performing them when they feel they have gotten the maximum from the music. Then, select repertoire from each summer is featured on nationwide tours, one of which comes to MID on November 11. That's when Musicians from Marlboro will perform gorgeous String Quintets by Mozart and Mendelssohn, and the Quartet No. 1 of 1906 by the English composer Frank Bridge.

Known for their electrifying programming, the Boston-based Borromeo Quartet will literally plug in for their concert of January 21, in order to perform one of the most compelling artistic statements of the last generation. In his “Different Trains”, Steve Reich superimposes segments of interviews conducted with people recalling train travel in the U.S. before World War II, as well as Holocaust survivors describing life and trains during and after the War. The combination of speech, sound effects and Reich's motoric but flexible music results in a work of rare and visceral impact. And the intensity will not lessen when the Borromeo performs Schubert's “Death and the Maiden” Quartet on the second half.

Also based in Boston, the Jupiter String Quartet came to prominence as resident ensemble with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In their tenth season, the Jupiter recently took the major step that all quartets must in their careers, by performing Beethoven's complete quartets in concerts in New England and at the Aspen Festival. They'll show us what they've got on February 4 with works by three of the greatest quartet composers: Haydn (Op. 77, No. 2), Beethoven (“Harp”) and Bartók (No. 6).

You know what Music In Deerfield hasn't done in a long time? Present the premiere of a major new chamber work. So, on March 31, our season-concluding concert will feature the latest String Quartet by Donald Wheelock, who recently retired after a long and productive career on the faculty of Smith College, and whose works form a worthy and distinguished contribution to the musical traditions created and continued by the other composers on our series. Performing will be the Ciompi Quartet, resident ensemble at Duke University and frequent performers in New England, joined by flutist Laura Gilbert, artistic director of New Hampshire's Monadnock Music Festival.

So, let's see…an evening of Beethoven, a stellar pianist, a world premiere and three of New England's best ensembles. That ought to keep you satisfied for while!

Newsletter, Summer 2010

A word from John Montanari.............................................

John Montanari
Artistic Director

OK, it's still early summer. Tanglewood has barely begun, and the sweet corn is still weeks away.  But before you know it, the days will shorten, the leaves will reveal their inner brilliance, and the time will come to put our summer music away and settle in for the hearty sounds of fall and winter. When that time comes, Music In Deerfield will be ready with a 32nd season filled with superb artists and rich repertoire, beckoning you to join us and your fellow music lovers for six concerts in the comfortable confines of Smith College, Sweeny Concert Hall.


A couple of seasons ago, after playing one of the late quartets in their first Music In Deerfield appearance, I knew that the Chiara Quartet was the right group to play the next complete Beethoven cycle for us. Now half-way through their series, I join you in eager anticipation of their three all-Beethoven concerts this season. One interesting feature will be the Quartet in B-flat Major, Opus 130, done “both” ways—with the alternate finale (Beethoven's last music) on October 30, 2009, and with the original finale, the amazing Grosse Fuge, on March 5, 2011.


Imagine this: a two-CD set of J. S. Bach's complete Suites for Solo Cello making it to #1 on the Billboard Classical chart, and remaining there for several weeks. Now, imagine the artist featured in the set coming to Northampton to play all six Bach Suites in one evening. That's what will happen on November 20, 2009, when American cellist Zuill Bailey occupies the Sweeney stage all by himself for a special concert starting at 7:00 p.m. This should be a hot ticket, so get yours early. Then, enter Zuill's name in the search window at to listen back to an interesting conversation.


Experienced record collectors (I won't say how experienced) may recall a series of chamber music recordings on the Harmonia Mundi France label featuring a flexible group known as “Les Musiciens.” On February 18, 2011, three mainstays of the group (pianist Jean-Claude Pennetier, violinist Régis Pasquier and cellist Roland Pidoux) will feature trios by two of the most French of composers, Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Ravel, along with a masterful trio by Robert Schumann.


Speaking of Fauré, perhaps the greatest French composer of chamber music: The second of his two sensuous Piano Quartets (i.e., quartets for piano and strings) will highlight the March 26, 2011, concert by the Los Angeles Piano Quartet. In its 34th season, the LAPQ is the standard-bearing American ensemble specializing in this combination of instruments. But not content to stick exclusively to the classic works in the genre, they'll also play a 2010 work by Kamran Ince, an intriguing Turkish-American composer.


So…Beethoven Quartets, Bach's Cello Suites, two French masters and something new and different. That ought to keep us going until next summer! Won't you please join us?


While I have you, allow me to urge that you come around an hour before the music starts for "Concert Conversations."  Starting at 7:00 p.m. in Earle Recital Hall, the musicians and I have an informal and educational discussion about the night's programming.  And you're invited to join in the conversation too!






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