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The Intermezzo Chamber Music Series opens its 16th summer season on Monday, June 26. As concertgoers have come to expect, the programming is a mix of familiar chamber masterworks and less-familiar pieces that music director Vedrana Subotic hopes will shed a different light on some listener favorites.
"If I can create a different perspective, that's really my goal," said Subotic, who will be featured as a pianist on two of the five concerts.
Composers such as Beethoven, Ravel and Mendelssohn are well-represented, as are composers who aren't quite household names, such as Szymanowski and Ysaÿe. There's a premiere from Utah composer Steve Roens, as well as at least one well-known work presented in a way most audience members won't have heard it before.
An unexpected arc struck Subotic when she stepped back and looked at the season she had planned. Pieces featured early in the season have a "more intuitive, improvisatory style" influenced heavily by folk music. That vibe evolves over the six-week schedule "to a more highly learned style, if you will."
The June 26 opener includes music by Béla Bartók and Astor Piazzolla, two composers whose names are virtually synonymous with the sounds of their homelands (Hungary and Argentina, respectively). Subotic will team with violinist Lun Jiang in Bartók's first sonata for violin and piano. "It requires extraordinary agility from both players," she said. "I'm excited to play with Lun." Cellist Pegsoon Whang will join Jiang and Subotic in a piano-trio arrangement of Piazzolla's "Estaciones porteños" (loosely, "The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires"), originally written for string quartet. Whang, Subotic and clarinetist Lee Livengood will open the concert with Beethoven's "Gassenhauer" Trio, based on a popular aria of the composer's day.
Erwin Stein's stripped-down arrangement of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 is the centerpiece of the second concert. Though Mahler is known for building expansive musical worlds, the Fourth is his shortest and most intimate symphony and closes with a song of childlike wonder. Rei Hotoda, recently hired as music director of the Fresno Philharmonic after two seasons as associate conductor of the Utah Symphony, will lead a 12-member ensemble that includes soprano Aubrey McMillan. "It's a sophisticated version," Subotic said. "I'm excited that Rei is conducting it as her farewell to Utah." The concert also features Utah Symphony principal cellist Rainer Eudeikis, playing solo in Eugène Ysaÿe's Cello Sonata and teaming with pianist Frank Weinstock in a sonata by Zoltán Kodály.
Concert 3 is an evening of string quartets, "which is unusual for Intermezzo," Subotic said. Utah Symphony players Jiang, Whang, violinist Lynnette Stewart and violist Whittney Thomas will perform works of Maurice Ravel, Anton Webern and Karol Szymanowski.
Subotic will get a workout on the season's fourth concert. She'll join longtime friend and colleague Karlyn Bond in a two-piano arrangement of Ravel's "La Valse." She also will be featured with Utah Symphony concertmaster Madeline Adkins and associate principal cellist Matthew Johnson in trios by Beethoven and Mendelssohn.
To close the season, pianist Paulina Zamora will fly in from Chile to play all 12 of Claude Debussy's notoriously difficult piano etudes. Harpist Elizabeth White-Clark, a Salt Lake City native who recently graduated from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, will perform Ravel's Introduction and Allegro. And tenor Robert Breault, making his series debut, will join pianist Jeffrey Price in the world premiere of Roens' "Three Existential Songs."
The Intermezzo Chamber Music Series presents its 2017 summer season.
Where • All concerts are in Vieve Gore Hall in Westminster College's Jewett Center, 1250 E. 1700 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $20; free for students with ID; season tickets $80 or $72 for senior citizens; intermezzoconcerts.org
When • Concerts are most Mondays (taking time off for Independence Day and Pioneer Day) at 7:30 p.m.
June 26 • Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Trio Op. 11 ("Gassenhauer"); Béla Bartók, Piano Sonata No. 1; Astor Piazzolla, "Estaciones primaveras" arranged for piano trio
July 10 • Eugène Ysaÿe, Cello Sonata; Zoltán Kodály, Cello and Piano Sonata, Op. 1; Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 4 , arranged for chamber orchestra by Erwin Stein
July 17 • Maurice Ravel, String Quartet; Anton Webern, Langsamer Satz; Karol Szymanowski, String Quartet No. 2
July 31 • Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Trio Op. 70 No. 2 ("Ghost"); Maurice Ravel, "La Valse," arranged for two pianos; Felix Mendelssohn, Piano Trio No. 1
Aug. 7 • Steve Roens, "Existential Songs" (world premiere); Claude Debussy, Piano Etudes, books 1 and 2; Maurice Ravel, Introduction and Allegro