By Michael Johns
On Sunday, March 7, 5:00, the Center for the Arts will once again resound with live, lively, and life affirming music. During this unprecedented concert season, USCB Chamber Music has dealt with its share of upheaval. The one constant is that in each instance lemons have been turned into lemonade. The show has gone on with spectacular results. A similar outcome is assured for this concert as well. It will feature three works ranging from calm introspection to foot-stomping exuberance, all brought to life by four superb performers.
French composer Ernest Chausson’s style was dramatic and richly chromatic but tempered by the reserve of French taste. Initially enamored of Wagner, Chausson became a fervent defender of French music. In Pièce op. 39 for Cello & Piano the initial theme, which piano and cello pass back and forth, is a caressing, gently rising and falling melody. Literal or shadowy iterations of this theme shape much of the music. Chausson was a wonderful composer of songs and a vocal quality is present throughout. Ludwig van Beethoven was 27 and still finding his ‘voice’ when he started writing String Trio in G Major, op. 9, no. 1. It would be a turning-point composition. This is a work of substance in four symphony-style movements filled with rich development, soaring melodies, and technical demands that push performers to their limit. The level of craft and aesthetic maturity in the trio encouraged Beethoven to expand into quartet writing. Once there, he hit his stride and never composed another string trio.
Not unlike Chausson, Antonín Dvořák’s early career was built upon progressive Wagnerian models. During his middle period, when Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 87 was written, he returned to more classical forms and proportions. Dvořák found new inspiration in the music of his homeland and began incorporating Czech folk music into his compositions, a change of direction which brought him professional success and international recognition. The quartet’s four movements are filled with bold phrases, shapely melodies, whiffs of Bohemia, joy, mystery, orchestral depth, and breathless excitement. Writing during a period of great creativity, he reflected on his composition process: “As I expected it came easily and the melodies just surged upon me.”
Beaufort audiences have become accustomed to sparkling, well-played chamber music concerts. No matter who is performing, it can safely be assumed that the listening experience will be rich and invigorating. All the artists on this concert arrive with impressive resumes, only a fraction of which can be mentioned here. Violinist Jennifer Frautschi, a two-time Grammy nominee and Avery Fisher career grant recipient, has garnered worldwide acclaim as an adventurous musician with a remarkably wide-ranging repertoire. She regularly performs as a concerto soloist with major orchestras and appears on chamber music series across the country. Violist Jennifer Reardon is a Grammy nominated violist and Artistic Director of the Portland Chamber Music Festival in Portland, ME. A competition prize winner, Melissa has toured nationally and internationally, including with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. Cellist Edward Arron is always a welcome guest. His return brings with it something of the quality of an adult child coming home for an overnight holiday visit. His accomplishments are scattered across a wide range of activities, including the former Artistic Directorship of this series, a university professorship, and chamber music performances worldwide. Pianist and Artistic Director Andrew Armstrong unexpectedly missed the last concert due to covid quarantining and is fairly bursting at the seams to get back in the chamber music saddle. His brilliant playing, extensive performance experience, incisive interpretations, and informative, refreshing banter will again engage listeners and enliven the experience.
Support the Arts, safely, virtually, and at 50%-off prices. During the pandemic, USCB Chamber Music is offering new ways to enjoy the concert—Live-Stream and On-Demand. All concerts are professionally produced, creating great viewing opportunities. Live-Stream on Sunday, March 7 at 5, and/or access On-Demand, which includes an Artist Interview and is accessible four days after the concert and available to view at your leisure for three weeks. For concert information or to purchase access to the Live-Stream and On-Demand access, go to www.uscbchambermusic.com/buy or call 843-208-8246, Monday through Friday.