• News/Talk
  • Music
  • Entertainment
Saint Paul Sunday home page

Mixed Company®

Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

« Not quite camera shy | Main | Butterflies »

August 26, 2005

Ad Hoc

A long and happy tradition here is to keep the studio door open for artists and ensembles who embody chamber music in its original and perhaps truest sense—who carve themselves out of a larger pool into groups of three, six, nine, or whatever the music at hand calls for. It keeps alive the familial bonhomie small music had before it entered the concert hall, when it was performed on command in homes (albeit aristocratic homes) or as the spirit moved. It’s one of my own favorite kinds of performance, sparking the chemistry festivals like Marlboro and Menlo are beloved for.

Concertante radiates that same chemistry, and its approach shines in the performances of the two works it brings this week—especially Johannes Brahms’s B-flat Major sextet, a work shot through with anguish outlived and serenity reclaimed. Brahms apparently composed it at a remote castle in the northern Teutoburger forest. Sure enough (nature lover that I am), its opening movement never fails to calm me into something like a mystical state. Concertante doesn’t over-complicate the direct simplicity of its leading melody yet remains responsive at every point to the deep wells of world-wisdom Brahms draws from throughout.

Let us know what you think of his work, or of Concertante's take on it, or of your own ad hoc music making...

Posted by Vaughn Ormseth at August 26, 2005 1:18 PM



On today's program. Bill mentioned "Masterplay."
This is a CD of artists and compositions featured on the "Saint Paul Sunday" show. Please send me some information about it; I can't find it on the SPS Website. How come?
Thanks - dthieme

By Darius Thieme at August 28, 2005 7:46 AM


It surprised me just how big a sound a sextette has. Concertante sounded almost orchestral in the Tchaikovsky piece--and this is simply a standard quartet with an addtional viola and cello. An increase of 50% which sounded like 12 instruments. It's sad that this orchestration is largely ignored.

On another note: I heard Orli and Gil Shaham play together last week in New York as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival. They played four of Mozart's violin sonatas. I've never heard Orli before, but she played wonderfully: great technique, nicely modulated, and she never under-or overplayed.

It'd be nice to hear them together in your studio.

John Niesyn

By John Niesyn at August 28, 2005 11:02 PM


Darius: Thanks so much for listening. If you go to the main Saint Paul Sunday home page (www.saintpaulsunday.org) and continue to scroll down, you'll find an image of the CD cover for "Master Play"; it falls under the heading "Purchase CDs from the Show." Just click on the image and you'll be linked to a place where you can buy it.

By Vaughn Ormseth at August 29, 2005 9:21 AM


John: Thanks again for your insightful responses. We have had Orli and Gil on -- they gave us a wonderful all-Dvorák program, which was last broadcast in June of 1999 (before we had program audio available on the web, alas). No doubt it's long past time to have them back on!

By Vaughn Ormseth at August 29, 2005 9:25 AM