Seattle Chamber Music Society’s biannual festival returns to the Nordstrom Recital Hall this Friday, January 22. Including six full-length programs, each with a free pre-concert recital, the Winter Festival is the perfect event for those who appreciate the devastating universal intimacy of a Beethoven string quartet or the raucousness behind Ravel’s orchestral La Valse, reduced to two pianos.
SCMS Artistic Director James Ehnes, aside from being an amazingly expressive and renowned violinist, is a keen programmer. His combinations of classic pieces (such as Haydn’s “Gypsy” trio and plenty of Mozart) and lesser-performed works (Borodin string quintet, anyone?) bring the traditionalists to the auditorium while also intriguing those who want to hear something newer.
I am particularly excited for the performance on Saturday the 23, which includes Copland, Beethoven, Barber and Debussy. The pre-concert recital includes pieces by living composers Reza Vali and Aaron Jay Kernis, paired with–why not?–the extraordinarily florid French Baroque composer François Couperin.
The piano will unofficially take center stage in this year’s festival, despite the strings-focused preconception of the term “chamber music.” Every evening will include a piano trio, and the festival will be a little more 20th-century oriented than past line-ups. During the course of the week, SCMS will also hold several open rehearsals, a family event (Mozart – Boy Genius! Check it out if you have little ones), and a lecture series, Classical Conversation, in which several SCMS performers chat with KING-FM host Dave Beck.
Single tickets are $50; if you’re a student or under 30, you can snag tickets for $16. Subscription packages are also available. If you’re still on the fence, check out my review of one of their heart-wrenching performances last July… then hop over to the SCMS website to get your tickets.
Seattle Chamber Music Society 2016 Winter Festival
When: Friday, January 22 – Sunday, January 31. Performance times vary, see schedule for details.
Where: Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall (200 University St.)