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AM: Upcoming Chamber Concert Is Cultural, Emotional Experience

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  • AM: Upcoming Chamber Concert Is Cultural, Emotional Experience

    Jay Karr

    Hilton Head Island Packet
    Jan 31 2008

    Chamber Music Hilton Head will present its next concert Monday,
    at All Saints Episcopal Church. Two pieces make up the program, the
    first is an exotic trio for mixed instruments, and the second is a
    famous string quartet called, "Death and the Maiden."

    Aram Khachaturian is best known for writing ballet music, particularly
    "Sabre Dance." But his trio is an earlier piece that captures the
    flavor of Khachaturian's native Armenia.

    Sitting squarely on the "Silk Road" trading routes, Armenian folk
    music is a blend of Eastern and Western styles, nuanced and complex.

    For instance, instead of major and minor keys, there are dozens of
    tonalities, and rhythms are so unique they cannot be notated

    but must be passed down by oral tradition.

    "Trio for Clarinet, Violin and Piano" is scored for modern instruments,
    but the listener can hear a bit of snake charmer in the clarinet
    part; a piano more akin to the Persian zither; and, in the violin,
    the voice of Scheherazade. Violinist Asako Kremer and clarinetist
    Russell Floyd are members of the Charleston and Hilton Head Symphony
    Orchestras, respectively. Pianist Jean Shamo and her husband, Bob,
    are founders and artistic co-directors of the ensemble.

    Of Franz Schubert's many string quartets, "Death and the Maiden"
    generally is regarded as the most inspired. The title pertains to
    the second

    movement, which is based on a song by that name Schubert had written
    a few years earlier. (One wouldn't think so, but the theme of death --
    imagine a skeleton -- seducing a

    virgin was quite popular in the early 1800s, with depictions by many
    artists and poets.) Schubert's song is, indeed, dreadfully beautiful,
    made even more so by five variations the composer wrote to characterize
    the conversation between the Devil and the Maiden.

    While the second movement is the emotional core of the quartet,
    the other movements present comparable dialogues between life and
    death, good and evil, choice and inevitability. The opening allegro
    is terrifyingly decisive on the one hand, limpid and feminine on
    the other.

    The scherzo is a grotesque dance of death, with a gruff sort of
    allure. And the finale is all coiled tension and bundled energy,
    accelerating to a breathless conclusion. "Death and the Maiden"
    will be performed by violinists Melissa Barrett and Tristan Lehnert,
    violist Yvonne Johnson, and cellist Angela Maleh.

    From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress