Heights Arts announces 11th Close Encounters chamber music series

The audience listens entranced at a 2015 Close Encounters concert in a downtown Cleveland loft.

Auditioning for and winning a job with an ensemble like the Cleveland Orchestra is a dream come true for a classical musician. Anyone who has attended a few concerts at Severance Hall can attest why: The combination of awesome power and incredible refinement is astonishing. But symphonic music is rarely the only reason a virtuosic performer loves to play. For many, the intimacy and expressive intensity of chamber music—just a few instruments playing together in a small space without a conductor—is the utmost expression of their personal connection to music.

For 11 years, the Heights Arts Close Encounters series has provided audiences the opportunity to hear music that is never performed in symphony halls, and is played with passionate intensity in intimate settings where the instruments are as close as a person sitting across the dinner table.

Tickets are on sale now, with full-series subscriptions available for $200 to the general public, and $160 for Heights Arts members. Individual concert tickets are $15 for students, $45 for Heights Arts members, and $55 for the general public. Venues will be revealed as the season progresses.

Here are this year’s programs, as described by artistic director Isabel Trautwein:

Friday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m.: Mozart's Clarinet Quintet in A-Major and Schubert’s Cello Quintet in C-Major, performed by Isabel Trautwein and Yun-Ting Lee, violins; YuJin, viola; Tanya Ell and Paul Kushious, cellos; and Robert Woolfrey, clarinet. Mozart's Clarinet Quintet, written for his dear friend Stadlmayr, explores an instrument that had recently been invented and must have spoken deeply to Mozart, based on the utter perfection of this composition. Schubert's epic Cello Quintet, which, among musicians, is possibly the most popular of all his works, is the lone Romantic example of a string quartet, with the added depth of a second cello. It is a monumental work of transcendent beauty.

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at 3 p.m.: This program features contemporary and 19th-century works, including Martinu’s Madrigals, Widman’s Etude for Solo Violin, and the delightful, but rarely played Dvorak Viola Quintet, wih JinJoo Cho, Peter Otto and Isabel Trautwein, violins; YuJin and Kirsten Docter, violas; and Tanya Ell, cello. What is better than one viola? Two! This is why Dvorak wrote one of his finest works for viola quintet—though it's rarely heard. A unique and incredibly difficult new composition for a playing (and sometimes-singing) violinist will be performed by Peter Otto. Martinu's Madrigals for violin and viola round out an afternoon of 80 percent Slavic and 100 percent fantastic music.

Sunday, April 30, at 3 p.m.: French horn players Hans Clebsch, Alan DeMattia, Richard King and Jesse McCormick, who have been playing together in the Cleveland Orchestra's phenomenal horn section for more than 10 years, let their hair down with an entertaining and beautiful program of original works and arrangements for four horns, ranging from Baroque to contemporary.

Sunday, May 21, at 3 p.m.: Isabel Trautwein, violin, Joanna Patterson, viola, Tanya Ell, cello, and Patti Wolf, piano, offer the Debussy Cello Sonata, Ysaye’s Sonata for Violin Solo #2, and Fauré's Piano Quartet in C-Minor. French language and music often have an almost-liquid elegance, and both Debussy's late cello sonata and his teacher Fauré's exciting piano quartet are masterful examples of French Impressionism. Composer and violinist Ysayë added to Bach's a set of six (demonically difficult) sonatas for solo violin.

Greg Donley

Greg Donley is president of the Heights Arts board of trustees.

Read More on A & E News
Volume 9, Issue 10, Posted 2:31 PM, 09.30.2016