Parlance Chamber Concerts’ Gala Opener to Feature Dazzling Concertos

Friday, September 21 Ridgewood News Article

Parlance Chamber Concerts’s first event of the 2018 – 2019 season will take place this Sunday afternoon, September 23 at 3 PM, at Ridgewood’s West Side Presbyterian Church.

Seven dazzling artists will blend solo panache and salon intimacy in virtuoso concertos in chamber settings. PCC’s 12th season will begin with the pristine classicism of Mozart’s 14th Piano Concerto, followed by the warm lyricism of Schubert’s Rondo in A for violin and string quartet. The afternoon will culminate in the passionate romanticism of Ernest Chausson’s Concerto in D for solo violin, piano, and string quartet.

The Performers

The three featured soloists, pianist Michael Brown and violinists Arnaud Sussmann and Sean Lee, are all recent winners of the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant. Michael Brown has been described by the New York Times as a “young piano visionary.” Equally at home as a performer and a composer, his virtuosity will be on full display in glittering concertos by Mozart and Chausson.

Arnaud Sussmann, a fast-rising star of the violin, is often praised for his old-world romanticism and unassailable technical command. Minnesota’s Pioneer Press wrote, “Sussmann has an old-school sound reminiscent of Jasha Heifetz or Fritz Kreisler, a rare combination of sweet and smooth that can hypnotize a listener.”

Violinist Sean Lee’s 2016 debut album on EMI Classics rocketed to the top of iTune’s 20 classical bestsellers list. A protégé of Itzhak Perlman, Sean’s playing is distinguished by lyrical warmth and musical assuredness, qualities that will be richly evident in Schubert’s exquisite Rondo in A for solo violin and string quartet.

Other members of Sunday afternoon’s star-studded ensemble will include violinist Emily Daggett Smith, violist Matthew Lipman, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and bassist David S. Grossman. Each of these extraordinary young artists is an acclaimed soloist and chamber musician, appearing frequently with such major musical organizations as the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society and the New York Philharmonic.

Mozart’s Concerto No. 14 in E flat for Piano and String Quintet

Mozart’s 14th piano concerto in E-flat major has been called, paradoxically, “a quietly revolutionary piece.” The 28-year-old Mozart wrote the concerto as a vehicle for his own legendary pianism. Although he scored the piece for unusually intimate instrumental forces, the work is musically adventurous and often referred to as his first “great” piano concerto. In it’s newfound emotional and expressive maturity, the piece represents a leap forward from his earlier concertos, and Mozart himself seems to been particularly pleased with the enthusiastic response it elicited at its premiere performance in February of 1784 before an audience of Viennese luminaries. The following morning, he wrote home to his father in a state of excitement: “The hall was full to overflowing, and the new concerto I played won extraordinary praise.”

Schubert’s Rondo in A for Violin and String Quartet

Schubert, like his idol Mozart, created an astonishing number of masterpieces during a tragically short life. But these two great Viennese masters were, at heart, very different kinds of men. Mozart was, by nature, an extrovert who loved living his life in the limelight. He composed his 27 piano concertos and 5 violin concertos to showcase his own astounding instrumental virtuosity before large, admiring audiences.

Schubert, on the other hand, was shy and not given to self-promotion. Although a proficient pianist and violinist, he was not a dazzling soloist and, perhaps for that reason, wrote no concertos at all. He preferred to live a quietly creative life within the confines of an intimate circle of artistic friends and supporters.

The closest Schubert came to writing an actual concerto is the jewel-like Rondo in A for solo violin and string quartet that will follow Mozart’s E-flat major piano concerto on Sunday afternoon’s program. Although it echoes Mozart’s meticulous craftsmanship, Schubert’s Rondo bears his trademark stamps of unpretentious charm and eloquent lyricism.

Chausson’s Concerto in D for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet

The music of the 19th-century French composer Ernest Chausson may be less generally familiar than that of Mozart and Schubert, but his masterpiece, the Concerto for violin, piano, and string quartet, will delight our listeners. Although Chausson published only 39 works during his short life, his music is of the highest quality, forming a bridge from the rich romanticism of César Franck to the pastel impressionism of Claude Debussy.

There is no other piece quite like Chausson’s Concerto in D. His ingenious treatment of the unusual instrumental forces vacillates between concerto virtuosity, sonata intimacy, and chamber collegiality. The piece traverses a vast emotional panorama, ranging from dramatic revery to haunting archaism, from brooding lamentation to euphoric exuberance.

The normally modest Chausson was uncharacteristically proud of his Concerto in D. After its premiere, he wrote to a friend to say, “Never have I had such a success! I can’t get over it — everyone seems to love the Concerto.” On Sunday afternoon, our listeners will find out why!

The performance will take place on Sunday, September 23, from 3:00 PM to approximately 5:00 PM.

The event will take place at West Side Presbyterian Church, 6 South Monroe Street, Ridgewood. Free parking and childcare for children 3 to 6. Tickets at the door: Adults $40; Seniors (65+): $30; Young Adults (21 – 39): $20; Students (under 21): $10