Chamber music, by its very definition, should be a personal and up-close experience, both for audiences and musicians. With that goal in mind, the University of Tennessee Faculty Chamber Series returns to its new temporary digs, the intimate performance space at the Knoxville Museum of Art, this weekend for the second of three concerts of the season. As in previous concerts, the faculty performers have chosen an eclectic mix of music and musical styles.
One need not fear Hugo Wolf, the Viennese composer of the late 19th century, who is known for a few instrumental works but mostly for an abundance of lieder, or art songs. His Mörike-Lieder from 1888 contains some 53 songs based on the lyric poems of Edward Mörike. The concert will offer four of them, arranged for voice and string quartet: “Auf ein altes Bild,” “Verborgenheit,” “Das verlassene Mägdlein,” and “Mausfallen Sprüchlein.” Lorraine DiSimone, mezzo-soprano, will be joined by a string quartet of Mark Zelmanovich and Miroslav Hristov, violins; Hillary Herndon, viola; and Wesley Baldwin, cello.
Another Austrian, Alfred Uhl (1909-1992), is intriguing not only for clarinet aficionados and students but also for general audiences who admire his fresh and addictive style of playful rhythms and structural complexity. His Kleines Konzert for viola, clarinet, and piano blends tonal sophistication and charming musical wit into a work that is as satisfying to listen to as it must be to perform. The clarinetist will be Gary Sperl, the violist will be Hillary Herndon, and the pianist will be Fay Adams.
Louis Spohr, a younger German contemporary of Beethoven, has been somewhat eclipsed in reputation by other composers who bridged classicism and romanticism. Nevertheless, he had a prolific career as a violinist, a conductor, and as a composer in a variety of genres. In chamber music, he composed for a wide array of instrumental combinations including string trios, quartets, double quartets, and nonets. Spohr also wrote extensively for the clarinet, including four clarinet concertos. On this concert, he is represented by a work for voice, clarinet, and piano: three selections from Six Germanic Songs, op. 103. Mezzo-soprano Lorraine DiSimone will be joined by clarinetist Gary Sperl and pianist Kevin Class.
Alvin Etler (1913-1973) was an American composer known predominantly for his works for various woodwind ensemble combinations. The Etler work on this concert is one for brass quintet, the Quintet for Brass Instruments from 1963. The faculty Brasswind Quintet consists of Cathy Leach and T.J. Perry, trumpets; Calvin Smith, horn; Daniel Cloutier, trombone; and Sande MacMorran, tuba.
When Mark Zelmanovich stepped down as concertmaster of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra at the end last season, after a tenure of 24 years, the orchestra was faced with a process of replacement that is neither simple nor quick. Not only is the concertmaster the all-important principal of the first violin section, he or she becomes both the real and symbolic leader of the orchestral players, a regular soloist, and a conspicuous image for concertgoers.
The KSO’s concertmaster search began this season with national auditions and has now settled on three finalists. Each finalist will perform a solo recital and then appear with the orchestra in a subsequent KSO Masterworks concert performance.
The first of the three finalists is Gabriel Lefkowitz, a 23-year old violinist from Newton, Mass. Lefkowitz recently received his master’s degree in violin performance from the Juilliard School of Music, where he was a concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra. For his solo recital, he will perform two movements from Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 in F Major, Op. 24, “Spring,” Ravel’s Sonata in G Major, and Wieniawski’s Polonaise in D Major. Accompanying Lefkowitz will be pianist Kevin Class of the UT School of Music. (The recital is free, but reservations are required. Call 865-291-3310.) Lefkowitz will appear with the KSO in this month’s concert that features a performance of Richard Strauss’ tone poem Ein Heldenleben.
The two other finalists, Joseph Meyer and Elina Lev, will appear in recital and concert in Knoxville in February and May, respectively. Meyer is currently concertmaster with the Louisiana Symphony Orchestra in New Orleans. Lev is currently the acting associate concertmaster with the Charlotte Symphony.