The Breckenridge Music Festival will present a BMF Tuesday Series concert titled “Quartet-Quintet-Nonet” on Tuesday, July 15. The evening’s performance will highlight works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Bohislav Martinu and Johannes Brahms. Featuring composers from Brazil, Czech Republic and Germany, the night is sure to have something for every type of classical music lover.
This program includes Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos’ Quintet for Flute, Violin, Viola, Cello and Harp. Villa-Lobos is among the most prolific composers of the 20th century, although precious few works have become mainstays of the concert repertoire. The main reason for this is that so much of his music is set for unusual chamber ensembles or scored for a cast of thousands.
He once risked his life in the mysterious jungle of Matto Grosso in Brazil, just for the purpose of collecting sound samples from the indigenous wild.
Celebrated musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky tells the story of how Villa-Lobos “always took his instrument along on his jungle sojourns. One day, he drifted too deeply into the wild and stumbled upon a tribe of cannibals. Unable to persuade them of his friendly intentions, the composer was taken captive and held for sacrifice — in other words, for dinner. At the last moment, Villa-Lobos somehow managed to grab his cello and began to play what he surely believed was his farewell to life. Upon hearing this, the natives thought the composer had been sent by the gods and set him free.”
In 1957, Villa-Lobos composed his Quintet, which reflects the lush timbres we might imagine in the rainforest. All three movements of the piece suggest evocative tonal images — a rich verdure, with random sunlight, soft breezes and birdcalls. The second movement includes a flute, adding stardust sparkle to the mood. In the finale, Villa-Lobos provides a dance-like, high-energy tableau.
BRAHMS’ PIANO QUARTET
Also to be performed in this concert is German composer Brahms’ work Piano Quartet in G minor, op. 25. Brahms was barely past his teen years when he was introduced to the household of Robert and Clara Schumann. After Robert’s premature demise in an asylum, Brahms responded with every measure of kindness and support for Clara and her seven children. Their friendship endured their entire lives. Clara was one of the finest pianists in Europe, which led her to the keyboard for the premiere performance of Brahms’ Opus 25, completed in 1860.
Brahms himself was also a phenomenal pianist. When he looked down at the ivory and ebony keys, he never saw a piano keyboard but, rather, an entire orchestra eager to follow the cues of its peerless maestro. And so here in the G minor quartet, Brahms displays this art. This is what likely inspired Arnold Schonberg to transcribe this work for full orchestra in 1937. The beginning of the second movement is characterized by repeated notes in the cello and a lilting duo in the violin and viola, after which the piano takes up the enchantment on the wing. The third movement, with its charming Hungarian march through the center, and the Finale, with its gypsy manner, are sure to offer a tender souvenir to the audience.
Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 students and $7 juniors and can be purchased by calling (970) 547-3100 or visiting www.breckenridgemusicfestival.com.