By Michael Johns
On Sunday, March 6, the calendar says winter, but the Lowcountry sings of spring. Celebrate the return of warm sun on cool breezes. Refresh your spirit with expressive music exquisitely performed.
USC Beaufort Chamber Music returns at 5 p.m., with music of nostalgia, brilliance, wit and substance. Three performers, French-hornist Jennifer Montone, violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv, and pianist/Artistic Director Andrew Armstrong will present a blended program of works by Chopin, Prokofiev, Still and Brahms.
The concert begins with Sergei Prokofiev’s four-movement Violin Sonata No 2, Opus 94a. Conceived as a work for flute, the violin-transcription is now the more popular of the two.
Written during World War II, the sonata is organized upon Classical-period formal models, infused with Romantic-era passion and features Prokofiev’s unique brand of humor, energy and elegant lyricism. American composer William Grant Still is represented by three songs arranged for French horn and piano: Song for the Lonely, If You Should Go, and Bayou Home. As the titles indicate, the music is gentle, peaceful and nostalgic with a hint of melancholy, a mood enhanced by Ms. Montone’s rich, full-bloom horn tone.
The concert is celebrating Emily Hart’s generous gift to Chamber Music’s Endowment in honor of William Lortz’s many efforts on behalf of our artists, our concerts, and our community. Andy Armstrong will play one of Bill’s favorite pieces, Fryderyk Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2, Opus 31 for Piano.
A magical work, it requires a pianist with the soul of an artist and the heart of a lion. The scherzo’s stature as summed up by music critic James Huneker: “What masterly writing, and it lies in the very heart of the piano! A hundred generations may not improve on these pages.”
Concluding the concert is Johannes Brahms’ Trio, Opus 40, for Horn, Violin, and Piano, the greatest work in the repertoire for this particular combination. It was the first piece the composer wrote after the death of his mother. In it he recalls youthful melodies and memories (he had played the horn), a love of nature and calls of the hunt.
Pianist Andy Armstrong no longer needs an introduction to Lowcountry audiences. Now in his first full season as Artistic Director, his innovative programming, introduction of new artists, unstinting promotional support, and infectious humor have been recognized by all concert attendees. Andy’s pianism is lauded around the world for masterly interpretations of a wide range of repertoire across historical periods and sheer pianistic brilliance, from the softest whisper to stage-rattling fortissimos.
Joining him is violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv, an artist who enjoys an international career as
soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. Hailed by critics for her “crystal clear and noble sound,” (Culture and Life, Ukraine) she has performed in many of the great halls of Europe, North America, and China and along the way has found time to amass an extensive and highly regarded discography.
A graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Ms. Ivakhiv holds a Doctor Musical Arts from Stony Brook University and is currently Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at the University of Connecticut.
French-hornist Jennifer Montone is a Superstar. A graduate of The Juilliard School, she has been the principal horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2006 and is currently a sought-after teacher at both The Juilliard School and The Curtis Institute. She has won many solo competitions and awards, including an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2006 and a 2013 Grammy Award for her recording of Penderecki’s Horn Concerto.
Montone was formerly principal horn of the Saint Louis Symphony and associate principal of
the Dallas Symphony. In addition, she has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, National Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, signifying a level of sustained excellence that solidifies her position as one of the great classical horn players of this, or any, generation.
There are multiple ways to enjoy the 5 p.m., March 6, concert — In-Person, Livestream and On-Demand. All concert videography is professionally produced. In-person attendance and live-stream is available at 5 p.m. on March 6, and on-demand is accessible four days after the concert to all ticket holders for three weeks.
For concert information or to purchase tickets, either live or virtual, go to www.uscbchambermusic.com or call 843-208-8246, Monday through Friday. Doors will open at 4:15 p.m., on March 6. The audience will be limited to 325 and masks are required.