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Inspired by Brahms

Kimberly Nicoletti

SILVERTHORNE – The Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival celebrates the fire and inspiration of Johannes Brahms with its two largest concerts of the season this week.

Brahms was one of the foremost romantic composers of instrumental music in the 19th century.

Robert Schumann recognized Brahms’ genius and helped him make a name for himself, introducing him to society members involved in the German music culture. Brahms lived with Schumann and his wife, Clara, and ultimately fell in love with her. She inspired some of his most passionate writing.

The first half of Thursday’s concert features pieces Brahms wrote later in life, in his 50s. Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Cello and the String Quintet in G show his maturity with their dense, complicated composition. The first piece has a distinct, sentimental quality. The second half of the concert shows the simpler melodies and warmer tones Brahms’ wrote in his 30s.

“Sometimes it’s very heart-on-sleeves,” Alpenglow co-artistic director Steven Copes said about Brahms’ pieces. “It’s romantic music. When Brahms lets the music go, I think everybody can relate to that kind of expression, but at the same time, it’s very structured. He was very conscious of emulating Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.”

Friday’s concert features composers Richard Strauss, Alexander Zemlinsky and Arnold Schoenberg, who all lived in Vienna in the same time period but took a more progressive approach to their music. Instead of focusing on emulating Brahms, they used his inspiration to find new ways to express themselves musically. All of the pieces at Friday’s concert are lush, rather than conservative.

The concert opens with Strauss’ String Sextet from the opera “Capriccio.” Written late in his life, in 1943, the piece revolves around the theme of six people playing at a dinner party.

Zemlinsky frequented the same circle of composers as Schoenberg. His Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Cello reflects the lush tone of the evening.

Schoenberg wrote “Verklaerte Nacht for String Sextet” in 1899, when he was 25. Richard Dehmel’s poem “Transfigured Night,” about a woman who falls in love with another man, inspired the composition.

“It’s an amazing piece,” Copes said. “It has a lot of different textures and colors and a lot of things going on at the same time.”

The Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival draws several internationally acclaimed solo and chamber music players together to perform masterworks of chamber music and introduce classical music to a wider audience.

Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Silverthorne Pavilion.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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