Maine Mountain Chamber music concert on Sept. 26

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Violinist Joseph Swensen

FARMINGTON – On Sunday, Sept. 26, Maine Mountain Chamber Music will perform a very special concert, featuring works by Bartok, Brahms, and Dohnanyi. The concert will take place in Nordica Auditorium at UMF, starting at 3 p.m.

Laurie Kennedy, co-director of MMCM writes “This program is designed to appeal to an audience of diverse ages and experiences. Newcomers to classical music, instrumental students, and experienced aficionados alike will become engaged in performances by world-class artists who are committed to expressing the full range of emotions of great masterpieces. The three works on the program, all unusually exciting works, “fit together” – each helps us to understand and appreciate the others. They are connected by common threads, yet provide great contrast.”

Once again, Maine Mountain Chamber Music is bringing in performers of the highest caliber. Leading off the cast of musicians is violinist Joseph Swensen, principal conductor of the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and Malmö Opera of Sweden and conductor emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Before devoting his time to conducting, Mr. Swensen enjoyed international success as a violin soloist. He has recorded the concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev, Mendelssohn and Sibelius with the Royal Phil harmonic, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Also new to Farmington will be clarinetist Eric Thomas, who has received critical acclaim from the N.Y. Times, the L.A. Times, the Boston Globe and Downbeat Magazine, and was cited as “the finest clarinetist in the world” by classical music expert Gene Pack. The roster for the fall 2010 program will also include Victoria Eisen on horn (member, Music from Marlborough, Orpheus), cellist Tom Kraines (member, Mistral; also frequent past performer with MMCM), and MMCM co-directors, Laurie Kennedy (viola) and Yuri Funahashi (piano).

The program will open with Bartók’s Rumanian Folk Dances for Violin and Piano, based on folk songs and dances collected by Bartók from peasants and Gypsies. Next on the program is Brahms’ Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, one of his Brahms’ last works (written shortly after he had completed the details of his will). Quoting critic Richard Freed, “For Brahms, the clarinet’s mellow coloring lent itself splendidly to the ruminative and sometimes melancholy nature of his music … the cello an overall darker coloring that is in keeping with the ‘autumnal’ character that one hears even in Brahms’s early music and which deepened over the years.”

The program will close with a work by Hungarian composer Dohnányi. From program notes by John Henken, writing for the LA Philharmonic, “This work, written for the unusual combination of clarinet, horn, string trio, and piano, dates from 1935, a period when Dohnányi was cutting back on his performance career due to a several bouts of serious illness. It is a big piece, 30 minutes of music cast into four very Brahmsian movements. But it is Brahms with idiosyncratic twists – a menacing march rumbles through the Intermezzo, for example, and the Finale is marked “giocoso.” Sly wit and boisterous fun are key parts of this music and much of Dohnányi’s output: ‘To the enjoyment of lovers of humor, and to the annoyance of others,’ is how Dohnányi dedicated his Variations on a Nursery Song, his most popular orchestral piece.”

Also, of the “leaping Finale” of the Sextet, Henken continues, “Here the musical spirit is more like that of a Gershwin who stayed overlong in a Viennese hotel band, complete with a comical waltz interjection that dips into Mahlerian grotesquerie and a sassy kick to close.” Laurie Kennedy adds to this, “Dohnanyi’s Sextet is full of sweeping, expansive harmonies, as well as tongue-in-cheek references to salon music and 1930s jazz.”

Admission charges for this concert, sponsored by the Arts Institute of Western Maine, are as follows: $9 adults / $7 seniors / free for under 16 and UMF students. Please call 645-2157 for more information.

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