Saturday, March 1, 2014

Two of the Three B's

I am crossing paths with two old friends these days, Mssrs. Bach and Brahms. An all-Baroque Chamber Classics concert this coming Sunday boasts two of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti (# 4 & 5), and next Wednesday and Thursday’s Gabe Lefkowitz and Friends concert will close with Brahms’ Op. 18 String Sextet. In the realm of “big chamber music,” here are some real treasures.

When you play Bach’s music, you live it. The tunes, the rhythms, the logic, the fingerings... I first encountered the Brandenburg Concerti as a freshman at Newington (CT) High School. We worked up these SAME TWO concertos and traveled to Washington for a competition. I believe we actually performed one of them in the Senate Rotunda as well. A cellist from back in the day eventually become principal cellist of the Charleston (SC) Symphony, and a violist AND an oboist would later play with the Chicago Symphony. My best friend John Eckhardt played the concertato (solo) violin parts, and there were in fact three or four flutists who could really do a nice job with the solo flute parts. John would later become friends in Chicago with KSO Resident Conductor James Fellenbaum, who will be conducting Sunday’s concert...

That’s whack enough, but beyond that spectacle of coincidence, I’d have to say that Bach’s miraculous alloying of beauty and structure are never so vividly on display as in these two Brandenburgs. It is fitting that we will be playing them on this month’s Masterworks concerts because they are undisputed masterpieces. Here is a chance to hear harpsichordist Michael Unger putting John Brock’s harpsichord through its paces, and Gabe Lefkowitz  taking on what is considered “the tail of the dragon” for violinists. All of the harpsichord and violin solos are riveting outbursts which will leave you wondering what hit you. You’ll also hear our flutists Ebonee Thomas and Jill Bartine  team up in #4 for some of the most beautiful duet writing. Ever.

As is that wasn’t enough, we will perform a Handel Concerto Grosso, Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor, and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins op. 3, no. 11, featuring Gabe and principal second violinist Edward Pulgar as soloists. Sunday, March 2 at 2:30 at the Bijou Theatre. Gotta go practice. I promise I’ll get to the Brahms later...

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