Spring, Hope, and Chamber Music

This spring’s lineup promises to deliver the same high caliber of talent, engaging artistry, and excitement that devotees have always experienced with the festival
The Pacifica Quartet will make its first guest appearance at the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival on April 7.

Beginning its fourth season, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival’s spring series will kick off on Saturday. Some of the outstanding musicians who are regulars during the summer version of the festival will grace the stage then and on May 5, and in between, on April 7, the Pacifica Quartet will have a guest performance for the first time with the festival.

As The New Yorker aptly said last year, “This longtime East End festival . . . has flourished by offering concerts both effervescent and distinguished,” and this spring’s lineup promises to deliver the same high caliber of talent, engaging artistry, and excitement that devotees have always experienced with the festival.

The first concert features the flutist Marya Martin, who is the founder and artistic director of the festival, Orion Weiss, a pianist, and Peter Wiley, a cellist. Mr. Weiss recounted last week that he met Ms. Martin some time ago when he was a student at Pianofest in Southampton. 

“I was at Pianofest every year from when I was 14 through maybe 20,” he said. “I think I might have the record for the most summers there altogether. Then I played at the Bridgehampton festival once in my early 20s and again in my later 20s, and it’s been many years in a row since then. So the Hamptons sort of feel like where I grew up. I have so many friends there . . . I feel like it’s coming to my summer home. It’s become a big part of my life, and a consistent part.”

The concert features the music of two Czech composers, Bohuslav Martinu, of the 20th century, and Anton Dvorak, of the 19th century, as well as Mozart. Martinu may not be in the top 10 names of classical composers who come to mind, though his Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano has been played at the festival several times before. 

“Martinu is one of my favorite composers,” Ms. Martin said recently. “It may sound trite to say that, but I go through phases of loving what a composer has a knack for doing. I love his energy, how he pushes chords to tension and release,” and how he plays with rhythm and meter in a similar way. “He pushes the envelope a little bit and it all seems out of kilter, but two bars later it all comes together.”

“It’s absolutely charming, filled with humor,” Mr. Weiss said of the trio. “Martinu always encompasses a wide range of character and emotion. The second movement is very beautiful, and the outer movements are like romps for the three instruments.”

Mozart’s stormy Piano Quartet in G minor follows next on the program, with Erin Keefe on violin and Hsin-Yun Huang on viola, joining Mr. Wiley and Mr. Weiss. While the piano trio was standard in the 18th century, the piano quartet was a novelty when Mozart composed this one, and it is regarded as the piece that turned the piano quartet into a viable and lasting form. Dvorak’s substantial and magnificent Piano Quartet in E flat crowns the performance. 

Mr. Weiss characterized the quartet as “an absolute masterwork. It’s like a symphony for the four instruments. It’s like being in a miniature orchestra . . . it’s a way to connect with every musician’s ideas and personality, and you can learn in a direct way from their education and instincts.”

The Pacifica Quartet has existed for almost a quarter of a century and achieved international recognition as one of the finest ensembles today. It was named the quartet in residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2012, and was previously the quartet in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The quartet was appointed to lead the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival and School in 2017. In addition, Pacifica has received a Grammy Award for best chamber music performance.

Ms. Martin contrasted a concert by a quartet and one of the usual programs, which bring together a number of musicians to form an ensemble for one work or one evening and have their own kind of exciting dynamic and “electricity.” But it’s a different experience to present a quartet such as the Pacifica that is so very used to playing together, she said, as “they are so in sync with each other, and it’s a different sort of a discipline. It’s a mind-blowing thing to watch and hear them.”

On April 7 the Pacifica Quartet will offer string quartets of three of the towering giants of that genre: Haydn’s Quartet in G (Op. 76), No. 1, Shostakovich’s F Major (Op. 73), and Beethoven’s C Major (Op. 59), No. 3. The four players in the ensemble are Simin Ganatra, violin, Austin Hartman, violin, Guy Ben-Ziony, viola, and Brandon Vamos, cello.

Finally, on May 5, well into spring, the festival will offer a warm program of “Spring Winds,” with a colorful palette of wind instrument timbres. First is Beethoven’s youthful Trio for Flute, Bassoon, and Piano, followed by two 20th-century French works by Francis Poulenc: Sextet for Piano and Winds, and Trio for Oboe, Bassoon, and Piano. Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds will close the season.

While most of the players in the spring and summer editions of the festival are veterans, Eric Reed, a horn player, and Roman Rabinovich, a pianist, will be making their first appearances with the festival at this concert. Joining them will be Ms. Martin, John Snow on oboe, Romie de Guise-Langlois on clarinet, and Peter Kolkay on bassoon.

The three events will take place in the elegant and historic Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church, the festival’s main venue, noted for its fine acoustics. All are on Saturdays at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40 or $60, $10 for students, and discounts are offered for subscriptions. More information is at bcmf.org or 212-741-9403.

Following more than three decades of Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival success, gradually adding programming innovations along the way, the spring series began in 2015 with two concerts; it has since expanded to three. 

“As the world continues to be strained by so many issues,” Ms. Martin said in a release, “we are looking forward — to this spring, to our 35th summer, and to many more seasons to come — with optimism and joy, knowing that we are touching the hearts of so many.” 

Details of the summer events will be announced in May.