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Chamber Music Presents 'Autumn Series'

Mon, 10/09/2023 - 16:05
Marya Martin, at left playing flute, is the founder and artistic director of Bridgehampton Chamber Music as well as a frequent performer, as in this concert in 2021.
Michael Lawrence

Bridgehampton Chamber Music’s "Autumn Series" will offer two concerts, one each in October and November, as well as a holiday concert in December, a feature that was just added to its ever-expanding lineup last year. 

Continuing with the Beethoven theme of the recent summer series, “Heroic Beethoven” will begin the autumn programs on Oct. 21. Two large works that are considered bookends of his “heroic” period, the Second Symphony and the Archduke piano trio, will be performed by Orion Weiss, piano, Sella Chen, violin, and Carter Brey, cello, all veterans of the festival. 

But wait -- a symphony for only three instruments? Marya Martin, founder and artistic director of BCM, said last week, “It was not an unusual thing in that period to arrange these works for small ensembles, because composers wanted to have a longer shelf life for their music, and they realized these symphonies wouldn’t be played often.” That was because of the large number of musicians required. They also realized that a smaller version could be played in the home.

Ms. Martin found this arrangement of the Second Symphony, by Beethoven himself, after last summer’s performance of his Sixth Symphony, arranged for a similar small ensemble by his contemporary Johann Nepomuk Hummel. 

The Piano Trio in B-flat is nicknamed the Archduke trio because it was dedicated to Archduke Rudolph of Austria. Rudolf was an amateur pianist, and a patron, friend, and composition student of Beethoven. The work was premiered with Beethoven at the piano, and it is often considered to be his most beautiful trio. 

For the “Fall Fantasy” program on Nov. 11, for the first time, Ms. Martin has asked someone else to curate an event, namely the oboist James Austin Smith. He has been a frequent B.C.M. artist for a number of years, on the summer, fall, and spring concerts, “so it is like a home away from home for me,” he said last week. Mr. Smith is on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and Stony Brook University. 

There will be some chamber music classics: Brahms’s Intermezzo in E Major from Fantasies, Faure’s Piano Quartet in G Minor, and Britten’s early “Phantasy Quartet.” William Grant Still, the first African-American composer to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra (in 1930) and an opera produced by the New York City Opera, will be represented as well, by his “Incantation and Dance” for oboe and piano. 

“It starts with a slow incantation, then a lively dance,” Mr. Smith said, “and to me, the idea of the incantation fits into the broader fantasy theme of the evening.”

Iva Bittova is a violinist, singer, actor, and writer, originally from what is now the Czech Republic, who lives in the Hudson Valley. She has arranged some of her pieces for oboe and viola, making for an unusual texture and color. Her “Hoboj” (“Oboe”) will be heard, along with “Divna Slecinka” (“Strange Young Lady”).

“We really tried to go for some fall colors in this program,” Mr. Smith said, “and that combination of the beautiful auburn sounds of the Faure, which is just one of my favorite pieces, and some of the newer colors, which are incredibly beautiful, like the Still and Bittova -- and the Britten Phantasy, which we don’t hear so often.” He summed up his desires for the concert by appealing to the senses: “So I hope people will come and allow their ears to sink into fall the way perhaps their eyes and their noses have.”

In addition to Mr. Smith on oboe, the artists for this program will be Jennifer Frautschi, violin; Ayane Kozasa, viola; Nina Lee, cello, and Amy Yang, piano. Ms. Kozasa and Ms. Yang will be appearing on the BCM stage for the first time. 

Aside from the fall program for B.C.M., Mr. Smith is working on an unusual and interesting project that will come to fruition on Oct. 28 at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. He explained that “in the '70s and '80s there was an incredible avant-garde classical music scene in East Germany. Since the fall of the Wall, that scene has largely been forgotten; and at the center of that scene was an oboe player. So I’m going to be doing an evening of story-telling, archival footage, interviews that I have recorded, and performance of some of this music. It’s as much about the music as it is about the story of these remarkable, politically engaged musicians.”

On Dec. 9, the series will have a holiday “Festive Baroque” program, highlighting the Italian school of string playing. The music chosen will offer snapshots from the period around 1720. There will be concertos by Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Marcello, and Schiassi, a trio sonata by Corelli, and Vivaldi’s “La Folia,” meaning folly or madness. 

The seven-piece chamber ensemble will consist of Ms. Martin, flute; Liam Boisset, oboe; Benjamin Baker, violin; William Hagen, violin; Natalie Loughran, viola; Nicholas Canellakis, cello, and Kenneth Weiss, harpsichord, with Mr. Boisset and Ms. Loughran making their B.C.M. debuts. 

All events are on Saturdays at 5 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church. Tickets are $75 or $50, or a three-concert subscription from $120; students $10. More information is at or 212-741-9403. 

The website also has a generous “watch and listen” page with excerpts from previous concerts. 

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