Previously undiscovered masterpieces by Beethoven? Well, not exactly, but the first concert this season by Chamber Music Hilton Head will present two of that composer’s most delightful and least-familiar works. The program will be performed Monday evening, October 13, at All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island.
    Beethoven never submitted Allegretto for Piano Trio for publication, perhaps because it was too casual in nature. He wrote it for his 10 year old piano student, Maxe Bentano, and affixed a note, “for my little friend to encourage her in piano playing. LvB.” It is a sunny, single-movement piece in pristine classical style, and one can imagine the girl’s delight at such a gift from Vienna’s most illustrious composer and pianist.
     Following the Trio, the musicians will be joined by soprano Laura Sutton Floyd in a performance of four Scottish Songs.  With such descriptive titles as “The Lovely Lass of Iverness” and “The Sweetest Lad was Jamie,” they are among the dozens of Scottish, Irish, and Welsh folk songs Beethoven arranged for one and two voices with piano trio accompaniment.         Like the trio, the songs are straight-forward but charming. They offer a view of the day-in-day-out composer whose works, when not monumental, were always genuine.  
    Occasionally, the ensemble reaches back to the Baroque period for a very early example of chamber music. Such is the case with Sonata in D Major for Viola & Piano by J.S. Bach. Written in the late 17th century, a sonata like this would probably have been played on a viola da gamba (like a small cello, held between the knees) and harpsichord (strings plucked by quills instead of hammered). An authentic performance nowadays might use either antique or modern instruments, but it should remain faithful to the original spare and transparent texture.
    To conclude the concert, the ensemble has selected a famous piece by the Soviet composer, Dmitri Shostakovich. String Quartet No. 8 is an epic work of 5 movements, played without interruption. Dedicated “To the memory of the Victims of Fascism,” the moods presented are mercurial, with the slow sections haunting and intensely poignant, the quick movements biting and impulsive. Local audiences may remember that the piece received a fine performance last season by the visiting Attacca Quartet.
    Chamber Music Hilton Head is a repertory ensemble whose members can be heard in four programs this season. Performing in this concert are Melissa Barrett and Tristan Lehnert, violins; Yvonne Johnson, viola; Angela Maleh, cello; Jean Shamo, piano; and Laura Sutton Floyd, soprano.