Willy Sucre and Friends play string quartets by Joaquin Turina and Ludwig van Beethoven at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in Placitas. it is the opening concert of the 32nd  season of the Placitas Artists Series. For tickets in advance visit www.placitasartistsseries.org, at The Merc Grocery Store, Homestead Village Shopping Center, Placitas and Under Charlie’s Covers in Bernalillo or at the door. Single tickets and season and half-season subscriptions are available.

All PAS concerts are at a 3 p.m.

By David Steinberg

Joaquin Turina’s dramatic “La Oración del Torero” – “The Toreador’s Prayer” – opens the first concert of the Placitas Artists Series’ 2018-19 season.

Violist Willy Sucre said he chose the Turina and Beethoven’s String Quartet Opus 59 No. 1 because they reflect the intense dedication of the two composers.

“Turina,” Sucre said, “translates a beautiful story into musical notes about the toreador before he goes out to fight the bull.”

The toreador has 15 minutes by himself praying, thinking about facing death when he comes out to meet the bull.

“It’s a tremendously spiritual (few minutes). Turina captures that sentiment perfectly. It’s very short, but extremely intense and well-written,” Sucre said.

He said it was originally composed for four lutes. But it’s become so popular that it has been transcribed for various instrumental configurations and it shows incredibly tasteful writing, Sucre added.

The same comment about composition canbe  said about the Beethoven work, one of the “Razumovsky” quartets from the composer’s middle period.

“What is wonderful about this piece is the fact that you begin to see a Beethoven with new ideas, the technical improvement in his writing,” Sucre said. “It is a very challenging piece for any group to play. All four parts have important roles.”

It’s about 40 minutes, long for a chamber work of that period, but it has more depth, and new dynamics that are well-expressed, he said.

Performing the two pieces on the program with Sucre are violinists Kevin Connolly and Justin Pollack and cellist James Holland.

Connolly thinks of Beethoven as a special composer who had said that music “is always going on in the atmosphere and it just happens to become audible when you write it down. I always thought that was pretty neat.”

The Beethoven string quartet the ensemble is playing, Connolly noted, “really shows a mature yet young and vivacious man who hasn’t yet faced some of the hardships of his life, like deafness and disappointment with his mistress.”

The other four Willy Sucre and Friends concerts on the season are Nov. 25 (piano quintets by Dohnanyi and Dvorak); Jan. 27 (horn quintets); March 17 Sucre with La Catrina String Quartet (music of Heitor Villa-Lobos and Beethoven); and May 19 (string quartets by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky and Bela Bartok.)

PAS has announced that the 2018-19 season is the last one for Willy Sucre and Friends in the Placitas Artists Series.

PAS president Alan Firestone said the board wanted to increase the non-Willy Sucre and Friends concerts from four to five and that would mean reducing Willy Sucre and Friends concerts by one from five to four.

“It gave Willy a chance to look at other opportunities,” Firestone said. “We’re looking at it as a time to explore new stuff next season, a chance to maybe broaden the music a little bit. …But our basic goal, our primary focus is on chamber music.”

Sucre said that he agrees with PAS wanting to “perhaps try something new. That was fine with me.”

However, Sucre said, the PAS decision to reduce the Willy Sucre and Friends concerts was made without consulting him. “I understand why they’re doing it but I don’t agree with the way they did it,” he said.

That prompted him to turn in a letter of resignation to PAS effective the end of the 2018-18 season.

The other four concerts in the season are Oct. 2 with violinist Eunice Kim, who has performed at Music From Angel Fire, Music@Menlo and the Marlboro Music festivals; Dec. 16 with classical guitarist Irina Kulikova (music of Bach, Barrios, Gallardo del Rey and Vassiliev); Feb. 17 with pianist Antonio Chen Guang, winner of the first Olga Kern International Piano Competition; and April 14 The Anderson Trio (reeds and guitar (classical jazz and new works).

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