Vic­to­ria-born vi­o­lin­ist comes home to play

Times Colonist - - Go - KEVIN BAZZANA Clas­si­cal Mu­sic Kev­in­baz­zana@shaw.ca

What: Eine Kleine Sum­mer Mu­sic

When/where: June 17 and 24, July 1, 2:30 p.m., First Uni­tar­ian Church (5575 West Saanich Rd.); June 18 and 25, July 2, 7 p.m., Church & State Wines (1445 Ben­venuto Ave., Brent­wood Bay)

Tick­ets: First Uni­tar­ian $30, se­niors and stu­dents $25; Church & State, $35. Call 250-413-3134; on­line at eventbrite.ca; in per­son at Rain­coast Busi­ness Cen­tre (1027 Pan­dora Ave.).

De­tails: eksm.ca

The 31st sea­son of Eine Kleine Sum­mer Mu­sic, the an­nual se­ries of in­ti­mate and re­laxed cham­ber-mu­sic con­certs, be­gan on June 10 with the lo­cal de­but of the Ariel String Quar­tet, an Is­raeli en­sem­ble.

That con­cert had al­ready sold out in May, but for­tu­nately the three re­main­ing pro­grams are all be­ing of­fered twice, first on Sun­day af­ter­noons at First Uni­tar­ian Church, the se­ries’ main venue in the Saanich coun­try­side, then the fol­low­ing evening at Church & State Wines.

EKSM be­gan out­grow­ing First Uni­tar­ian long ago, and the re­peat per­for­mances that have been given at Penin­sula winer­ies in re­cent sea­sons have taken some of the pres­sure off in terms of ticket sales. Nev­er­the­less, the se­ries re­mains pop­u­lar enough that one more of this sea­son’s con­certs (June 18) has al­ready sold out and few tick­ets re­main for the oth­ers.

The forth­com­ing con­certs will fea­ture, as usual, a mix­ture of standard and off-the-beaten-track reper­toire, per­formed by some of the best lo­cal mu­si­cians and dis­tin­guished visi­tors.

The core per­form­ers re­main those of the Muse En­sem­ble, which com­prises EKSM’s artis­tic di­rec­tors, cel­list Laura Back­strom and pi­anist Lorraine Min, plus two mem­bers of the Vic­to­ria Sym­phony: its con­cert­mas­ter, Ter­ence Tam, and its prin­ci­pal vi­o­list, Kenji Fuse.

On June 17 and 18, EKSM will wel­come back a favourite guest, vi­o­lin­ist Nikki Chooi, who was born here, but has de­vel­oped a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion over the past decade. “It’s been five years since we had Nikki Chooi on the pro­gram, and I can hardly wait,” Back­strom says. “He’s a pow­er­house — amaz­ing to play with.”

In the first half of the pro­gram, Chooi and Min will per­form César Franck’s Vi­olin

Sonata (1886) and one of the six sonatas for un­ac­com­pa­nied vi­olin com­posed in 1924 by the great Bel­gian vi­o­lin­ist Eugène Ysaÿe.

The sec­ond half, at Chooi’s sug­ges­tion, will be de­voted to Tchaikovsky’s Sou­venir de Florence (1890), a big, lush string sex­tet that was his last work of cham­ber mu­sic. Chooi, Fuse and Back­strom will be joined by vi­o­lin­ist Si­mon Mac­Don­ald, vi­o­list Jes­sica Pick­ers­gill and cel­list Joyce Ell­wood.

On June 24 and 25, the Muse En­sem­ble will col­lab­o­rate with bassist Bruce Meikle in an in­trigu­ing rar­ity: the Pi­ano Quin­tet in A Mi­nor, Op. 30, by French com­poser Louise Far­renc (180475).

Far­renc com­posed a sig­nif­i­cant body of cham­ber mu­sic, many pi­ano pieces, two over­tures and three sym­phonies. She was also an in­flu­en­tial pro­fes­sor at the Paris Con­ser­va­toire for more than 30 years and was a scholar who did pi­o­neer­ing work in early key­board mu­sic.

Her Op. 30 is an am­bi­tious, ar­dently Ro­man­tic work in four move­ments, run­ning about half an hour. Pub­lished in 1842, it was the first of two quin­tets she wrote for the same com­bi­na­tion of in­stru­ments (ob­vi­ously in­spired by Schu­bert's “Trout” Quin­tet), and it was these works that es­tab­lished her rep­u­ta­tion.

The Muse En­sem­ble’s pro­gram also in­cludes Brahms’s Vi­olin Sonata No. 2 in A Ma­jor and Beethoven's pi­ano-quar­tet arrangement of his Op. 16, a quin­tet for pi­ano and wind in­stru­ments from 1796.

(EKSM has brought to light many in­ter­est­ing spec­i­mens of the pi­ano-quar­tet and pi­anoquin­tet lit­er­a­tures over the years.)

Fi­nally, on July 1 and 2, EKSM will spon­sor the lo­cal de­but of an eclec­tic young Amer­i­can en­sem­ble, the JCT Trio, com­pris­ing vi­o­lin­ist Ste­fan Jackiw, cel­list Jay Camp­bell and pi­anist Con­rad Tao, who is also a com­poser. (“JCT” stands for “Junc­tion.”) The trio is stop­ping here on its way to the ven­er­a­ble Aspen Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in Colorado.

Its pro­gram is mostly given over to ma­jor pi­ano trios by Ravel and Charles Ives, the former Clas­si­cal in pro­file, the lat­ter wil­fully idio­syn­cratic and os­ten­ta­tiously mod­ernistic (though it pre­dates the First World War).

The outer move­ments of the Ives trio are ele­giac, the mid­dle move­ment dense, busy and wild, stuffed with (some­times grotesquely dis­torted) quo­ta­tions from folk songs, pop­u­lar tunes and col­lege songs from his days at Yale. Ives la­belled this move­ment “Tsiaj,” mean­ing “This scherzo is a joke.” (You can watch the JCT Trio per­form it on YouTube.)

This pro­gram also in­cludes Pass­ing Through, Stay­ing Put (2011), a short pi­ano trio by Christo­pher Tra­pani, an ad­ven­tur­ous, award-win­ning com­poser from New Or­leans whose mu­sic syn­the­sizes a huge range of dis­parate mu­si­cal and lit­er­ary in­flu­ences.

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