“The idea comes to me from outside of me – and is like a gift. I then take the idea and make it my own – that is where the skill lies.”
This August the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival returns for its 38th season, presenting 12 concerts from Wellfleet to Cotuit.
When asked about the highlights of this summer’s offerings, Jon Manasse, artistic director and clarinetist, replied, “the entire season!”
“Brahms in the Café” kicks off the series on Aug. 1 at Cotuit Center for the Arts (all concerts start at 7:30 p.m.). Julian Schwarz and his Mile-End Trio perform piano trios by Beethoven, Schoenfeld and Brahms.
On Aug. 2, the festival welcomes the debut of the Lydian String Quartet at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans. This “Virtuosic Quartet” in residence at Brandeis University brings verve, power, and feeling to works by Haydn, Bartok and Mendelssohn. Praising the quartet, Elaine Lipton, the festival’s executive director, said, “They are very exciting and great fun to listen to. The American Record Guide lauded their music as having ‘volcanic energy’ and ‘great tenderness.’”
“The Power of Wind” on Friday, Aug. 4, in Wellfleet features the Chamber Festival’s artistic directors, Jon Manasse and Jon Nakamatsu, in a woodwind quartet. Manasse said he will “share the stage with other rising stars, including my son who also plays clarinet and is a student at Juilliard.” The evening’s performance will include music by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Beethoven.
On Aug. 7, “Beethoven the Master” features the return of the popular Emerson String Quartet, playing Beethoven’s String Quartet in C-sharp Minor and his String Quartet in B-flat Major.
On Aug. 8 in Cotuit there will be a special piano quartet program titled “The Teacher and the Student.” Included are Anton Dvorak’s Three Slavic Dances and his well-known “Dumky” Trio in E Minor. A dumka is a melancholy Ukrainian folk ballad. This trio is divided into six parts, each containing a dumka alternating from slow and solemn to joyful and quick.
Performers include Adam Barnett-Hart on violin, a member of the Escher String Quartet; Rebecca Young, assistant principal viola of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra; cellist Daniel McDonough from the Jupiter String Quartet; and pianists Susan Grace and Nakamatsu. In addition, they will play the A Minor Piano Quartet written by Josef Suk. Suk, at age 17, met Dvorak, making a huge impression upon his future teacher and later son-in-law when he presented him with his piano quartet.
On Aug. 10 the “Strauss Piano Quartet” with Jon Nakamatsu and three “stella guests” perform the only piano quartet composed by Richard Strauss, as a student inspired by Johannes Brahms. Music by Brahms and Enescu completes the program, to be held in Chatham at the First Congregational Church.
The Borromeo String Quartet returns on Aug. 15 with flutist Jelle Atema. Atema is a student of Jean-Pierre Rampal and professor of biology at Boston University. Fascinated by the early origins of instruments, he constructed replicas of ancient bone flutes discovered at Paleolithic and Neolithic digs. “Borromeo and the Ancient Flute” is at Cotuit Center for the Arts on Aug. 15 and at the Dennis Union Church on Aug. 16. Featured works include the world premiere of Julian Lampert’s “Quintet for Flute and String Quartet” and Cesar Franck’s “String Quartet in D Major.”
A “Mass at the Opera” by Rossini, conducted by Joe Marchio is featured at Wellfleet Congregational Church on Aug. 18. The operative performance features the Chatham Chorale Chamber Singers; soprano Ilana Davidson; Lara Nie, alto; William Ferguson, tenor; and Tyler Duncan baritone; Donald Enos on organ and Nakamatsu on piano. Davidson’s recording of William Bolcom’s “Songs of Innocence and of Experience,” with Leonard Slatkin conducting, garnered four Grammy Awards.
The final concerts, titled “Ying Residency,” welcomes the renowned Ying Quartet to the festival. On Aug. 21, at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Orleans, they will perform Beethoven’s “C Major String Quartet” along with his “D Major Quartet” and Janacek’s “Kreutzer Sonata.” On Aug. 23, the quartet will present “The Art of Song” with Manasse, Nakamatsu and soprano Davidson, performing music by Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn.
The closing concert is in Wellfleet on August 25 with the Clarinet Quintet and the Piano Quintet of Johannes Brahms. Manasse and Nakamatsu will join the Ying Quartet. Manasse described the contrasting styles of the early and late Brahms: “The early Clarinet Quintet is buoyant, with a youthful hue. Later in life, [Brahms] grew inspired by the clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld and came out of retirement to write this piece. It has an autumnal feeling, so visceral and emotional; a last love letter to Clara Schumann.” On hearing the piece, she wrote, “It is a really marvelous work, the wailing clarinet takes hold of one; it is most moving. And what interesting music, deep and full of meaning!”
Come out to the festival! Tickets are going fast.