The Chamber Music of Secrets!
“Chamber Music— a conversation between friends.” –Catherine Drinker Bowen
One of the advantages to being a professional violinist is its variety! We frequently have the opportunity to learn new material, explore multiple genres, and uncover old gems from centuries past. We also have the chance to play in a variety of capacities, whether as soloists, orchestral players, or members of small ensembles.
This month I am enjoying immersing myself in the latter by delving into the world of chamber music. It is such a fun medium, as it provides an intimate setting in which performers can engage in “musical conversations.” This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to perform a chamber concert featuring several violin and cello duets, including Beethoven’s Duet in C Major, as well as several pieces by lesser-known Russian composer Reinhold Glière (1874-1956). In his work Huit Morceaux pour violon et violoncelle, Op. 39, the first movement certainly reflects the provocative harmonies of the turn of the twentieth century in which the violin plays an accompanimental role while the cello plays the doleful melody. However, the second movement stands in sharp contrast to the first, as this “Gavotte” sounds much more Baroque in style. The third movement, “Berceuse” is a sweet lullaby, evoking a soft quality by the instrumentalists’ use of mutes. The “Canzonetta” picks up the tempo, with the violin carrying the melody over the cellist’s broken arpeggios.
On March 25th, I look forward to performing more Beethoven, whose genius is by no means lost in his string quartets, as well as a portion of Shubert’s famous quartet Death and the Maiden (1824). Sadly, Schubert was a sickly composer who died at the young age of 31. This work reflects his preoccupation with death, depicting the maiden’s struggle and eventual embrace of death. In spite of the composer’s early demise, his quartet’s appeal has lived on for nearly two centuries.
I asked other members of Uptown Violins what were some of their favorite chamber works, and they mentioned Brahm’s Horn Trio in Eb Major, Op. 40 (1865), a fun work for violin, piano, and natural horn, as well as Shostakovich’s famous String Quartet No. 8 (1960), which secretly depicted his struggle against the Communist Party. We also really enjoy performing Baroque violin duets, including Bach’s Double Violin Concerto, as well as Tartini’s Sonata in D Major for Two Violins and Piano. We have a lot of fun performing together (as well as collaborating with our talented colleagues), and look forward to many more upcoming performances. If you are interested in having special music at your event, please consider adding a bit of charm by adding our live chamber music!