QUARTETTINO for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello (1952)
VALS VENEZOLANO and CONTRADANZA for Clarinet and Piano (1990, 1991)
Arranged by Marco Rizo
QUARTET in A Major for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, Op. 26
This concert features recent work by Chicago composer Marc Mellits, transcriptions of works by Cuban-born jazz legend Paquito D’Rivera, Reszö Kókai’s folk-inspired Quartettino and Johannes Brahms’ epic second piano quartet.
Orion violinist Florentina Ramniceanu, cellist Judy Stone and guest violinist/violist Stephen Boe perform Mellits’ “Tapas” for string trio from 2007. During the last 30 years, Mellits has composed extensively for many instrument combinations. His compositions are played all over the world and continue to achieve great success with audiences and musicians alike. His style has been likened to the minimalism of Steve Reich, albeit far further developed, and some hear the influence of Third Stream classical jazz. “Tapas” offers original engaging music, ranging from melodious introspective textures to extroverted foot-tapping rhythmic excitement.
Orion clarinetist Kathryn Pirtle joins Ramniceanu, Stone and Boe to interpret Kókai’s Quartettino from 1952. Although clearly influenced by the folk music of his native Hungary, Kókai combines traditional elements with musical innovations from the early 20th century, reminiscent of particularly Kodaly’s and some of Bartók’s music, though far less edgy than the latter. As such, the Quartettino offers melodic writing, fresh-sounding harmonies and playful, agile rhythm.
Pirtle and Orion pianist Diana Schmück collaborate on Cuban-born jazz and classical legend Paquito D’Rivera’s “Vals Venezolano” and “Contradanza” from the early ’90s in an arrangement by Cuban master arranger and composer Marco Rizo. D’Rivera found fame as a performer and composer of music that spans styles ranging from Latin to bebop to classical and everything in between. More than any artist in recent history, he has shown that transcending the limitations of genre leads to musical innovation that moves and engages audiences. D’Rivera is the only artist to win Grammy Awards in classical and Latin categories.
Ramniceanu, Stone, Boe and Schmück interpret Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 2 in A Major from 1861, his longest work of chamber music (at 50 minutes). Brahms conceived the work after intensive study of Schubert’s music; he not only explores all facets of Schubert’s music (including references to popular song) but also shows the influence of Bach. He then combines these influences with his typical genius for grand-scale architecture, achieving a supreme sonorous balance of the ensemble with imaginative, melodic, rhythmic and harmonic composition.