The Albuquerque Chamber Soloists’ 2018-19 season concludes with a concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 7 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1100 Indian School NE. Music of Sergei Prokofiev, Samuel Barber, Johannes Brahms and Jean-Baptiste Barriere. Tickets are $15 general public, $12 seniors, $5 students. Advance tickets are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com, at http://www.abqcs.com, and at PianoWerkes, 4640 Menaul NE, or at the door. Cash or check only.
A pre-concert reception and chat are at 2:15 p.m.
By David Steinberg
Johannes Brahms String Sextet No. 2 concludes the Albuquerque Chamber Soloists’ April 7 concert and it also closes out the ACS’ 2018-19 season.
“The sextet is the big piece on the program. It’s about 30 minutes long and it’s the biggest in terms of the number of personnel,” said ACS president James Holland.
“Brahms is my desert-island composer. The piece itself is symphonic in scope. …What I love about Brahms is how well he writes for strings — such a richness to the sound.”
Holland said that all six players are equal partners, whether playing the primary themes or propelling the piece forward.
The six players are Holland and Lisa Donald on cello, Jason Sah on viola and Cármelo de los Santos, Gabriel Gordon and Megan Holland on violin.
A theme in the first movement is a musical anagram. Brahms, James Holland said, had been briefly engaged to a German singer named Agathe. The theme has the letters of her name that correspond to successive notes.
“So he literally spelled her name with the notes,” Holland said. “He composed the piece when he was in his early 30s, several years after he had broken off the engagement. He may have been in a nostalgic frame of mind and thinking about her.”
The concert opens with Jean-Baptiste Barriere’s Sonata for Two Cellos. Barriere, a Frenchman, lived in the late Baroque period. He became a well-known cellist as well as a composer of works mostly for the cello. In recent years, his music is being performed more frequently, Holland said.
Megan Holland said the defining character of Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins in C major is that the two parts are entwined.
“There’s a lot of back-and-forth rhythms in all of the movement. The two violin parts are very dependent on one another to create unified themes,” she said. “There are some really driving rhythms in the second and fourth movements. They are fiery. …And the harmonies are pretty Russian.”
Holland said she has played the work many times and is excited to be performing it with Cármelo de los Santos in the April 7 concert.
Also on the program is Samuel Barber’s “Dover Beach,” a work for baritone and string quartet.
Paul Bower, who is singing the baritone part, said the work has a lot of nature imagery. “Barber’s music is great to sing. The range is very comfortable. It has a good melody with rewarding lines and phrases,” he said.
The text is a setting of a mid-19th century poem by Englishman Matthew Arnold.
“Barber composed it at age 21 while still a student at the Curtis Institute of Music,” said Megan Holland. “It was one of the few pieces from his youth that he felt good about his entire life. The poem is multi-layered and fairly dark… (the text is about) looking over the English Channel from the beaches of Dover on a moonlit night.”
But, she noted, the poem is a metaphor for humanity losing its moorings, its faith.