This Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, the 9th annual North Shore Chamber Music Festival will place in Northbrook with a wide ranging program of classical music standards and a contemporary work commissioned for this year’s festival. Headed by festival co-founder, music director, and violinist Vadim Gluzman, the festival features the Escher String Quartet and several other visiting performers at the Village Presbyterian Church in Northbrook. It is presented by The Music Makers, an organization devoted to bringing classical music to Chicago’s northern suburbs.
The festival’s first concert on Wednesday, The Glory of Vienna, suitably opens with two Viennese classics, Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet no. 11 in f-minor, op. 95, Serioso, and Franz Schubert’s Octet, in F-major, D. 803. Being scored for string quartet, a prevalent ensemble type, the Beethoven gets performed fairly regularly. By contrast, the Schubert score, in addition to a string quartet, includes clarinet, horn, bassoon and, most unusually, a string double bass. Outside of a larger orchestra, these particular instruments rarely appear together onstage, making a performance of Schubert’s Octet a real treat.
The Escher Quartet will perform the Beethoven. Eight prominent musicians from around the country will perform the Schubert: violinists Gluzman and Lisa Shihoten, violist Atar Arad, cellist Mark Kosower, string bassist Kurt Muroki, clarinetist Ilya Shterenberg, bassoonist Catherine Chen, and French horn player Eric Reed.
Friday’s concert is strangely titled Mozart in Prague, as only one work by Mozart is on the program—an unusual one at that: Divertimento in D-major, K.136. Known as Salzburg Symphony #1, this work is scored for string quintet. For Mozart, the Escher Quartet will be joined by string bassist Muroki. Also on the program is the world premiere of a new work commissioned for the festival, From Here to There, a string trio by Israeli violist Atar Arad. Joining Arad for this performance is Gluzman and Kosower.
Another trio will conclude Friday’s concert, the Dumky Trio by Czech composer Antonin Dvořák, in e-minor, op. 90. One of the greatest piano trios ever written, the Dumky Trio is comprised of six movements in the Bohemian Dumka form, which juxtaposes lengthy sections of slower/softer passages with faster/louder material. This performance features the young Indonesian pianist, Janice Carissa, who is the most recent recipient of the Music Makers’ Arkady Formin Scholarship Fund. Gluzman and Kosower will perform here as well.
The quartets that appeared on the opening day’s program will join forces for Saturday’s concert, Grand Finale: Virtuoso Parade, which closes the festival. The masterpiece on offer is another octet, this one for strings by Felix Mendelssohn, in E-flat-major, op 20. One of several brilliant works Mendelssohn composed as a teenager, the Octet offers a wonderful mixture of intense passion and light-hearted fun. It shows a youthful Mendelssohn marvelously adept at finding distinct roles and interplay combinations for eight players performing all at once. The concert and festival ends with the festival performers offering a fun array of exceptional pieces.
The North Shore Chamber Music Festival takes place at the Village Presbyterian Church in Northbrook, this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, June 12, 14-15, 2019, 7:30 pm. Tickets range from $30-$50; senior discount 20%. $15 students. Friday’s ticket includes a preconcert performance of young Chicago musicians from the Betty Haag Academy of Music, 6:00 pm. For more information and tickets, click here.