NEC's most popular chamber music series, curated by cellist Laurence Lesser, President Emeritus and Walter W. Naumburg Chair in Music, features faculty, alumni, students and friends.
This year's season spotlights some significant composer birthdays plus music inspired by national, folk or vernacular idioms. Performers whose names are followed by an asterisk are NEC alumni.
Calling Jordan Hall "Larry Lesser's living room," NEC President Tony Woodcock has pulled up a chair and sat down with Lesser to talk about these programs, as in the video on this page.
Heitor Villa-Lobos was a prolific, largely self-taught composer who absorbed the many indigenous musical forms and styles of his native Brazil, while also taking in western classical idioms, notably the music of Bach, Debussy, Milhaud, Satie, and even Stravinsky. His Sextuor Mistique, a colorful seven-minute piece, was first composed in 1917, then lost, then reconstructed in 1955.
Claude Debussy wrote his sole string quartet in 1893, just before his breakthrough work, the Prelude à l'après midi d'un Faune. It finds him adopting some of the colors and harmonies of gamelan music, which had so fascinated him when he heard it at the International Paris Exposition in 1889. And he is also experimenting with form, using a cyclic structure possibly influenced by Cesar Franck's music. The decision to program this work came as the result of cellist Paul Katz asking to revisit a work he remembered fondly from his days playing in the Cleveland Quartet; he is surrounded by three outstanding recent alumni.
Two years ago this same assemblage of extraordinary players performed Johannes Brahms's second Sextet and had such a good time, they asked to come together again to play the first one. The audience will be the beneficiary of this musical reunion.
Villa-Lobos Sextuor mystique
Ona Jonaityte, flute
Ben Fox*, oboe
Kenneth Radnofsky, saxophone
Aaron Larget-Caplan*, guitar
Franziska Huhn*, harp
Damien Francoeur-Krzyzek, celeste
Debussy Quartet in G Minor, Op. 10
Angelo Xiang Yu*, Robyn Bollinger*, violins
Wenting Kang*, viola
Paul Katz, cello
Brahms Sextet in B-flat Major, Op. 18
Masuko Ushioda, Glen Cherry*, violin
Dimitri Murrath*, Julianne Lee*, viola
Paul Katz, Blaise Dejardin*, cello