August 14, 2023 By Jim Berkenstock, Artistic Director.
It’s hard to believe, but in just over a week, our Midsummer’s Music season rekindles with a powerfully romantic program of French piano quintets featuring Jeannie Yu. (I wrote about these works last week—please check it out.) But, these works will quickly give way to a very colorful program titled “Splendid Stories,” which will feature strings (including double bass), horn, flute, and clarinet. Each of these works has a unique story behind it—some touching, some thrilling, some humorous, but all exhilarating.
And of particular note, one of these concerts will mark our return to a beautiful Door County home as a venue. Long a staple of Midsummer’s Music, intimate home concerts have been curtailed by Covid concerns. Next year, we hope to include several home sites in our schedule. (If you would like to consider hosting one, please let us know.) As you may know, the very word “chamber” music refers to a domestic site. Historically, those might have been in the homes of the nobility or royalty and been amazingly grand, but from the late 18th century, and throughout the 19th, more modest settings also were common, sometimes just involving family and friends making music for each other.
Sherry and Keith Mutchler’s Sturgeon Bay home – our one home site on this year’s calendar – is both intimate and grand and among Door County’s more beautiful and intriguing homes. It is a perfect place for a Midsummer’s Music event, and we a very grateful to them for opening their gorgeous home to us. For such a splendid site, we are offering “Splendid Stories,” which features Dvořák’s String Quintet, Opus 77, for String Quartet and Double Bass. It represents an important point in Dvořák’s development, when he turned away from his preoccupation with Wagner, Liszt, and German models and decided to make Bohemian elements an important part of his musical language. He realized he might be pigeonholing himself as a “local” Czech composer rather than an international one, but he couldn’t avoid the music that ran in his blood. It is no coincidence, therefore, that he wrote a dedication on the title page that says, “To My Nation.” As it turns out, the heartfelt Czech idiom he developed in this work and used going forth was what made him appealing to other nations, near and far, including America, and guaranteed his fame. The double bass adds an orchestral richness to this work that will be especially appealing in the Mutchler’s spacious “Concert Salle.”
The program begins with two even more specific story tellers. En Saga, by Sibelius, eventually became one of his great orchestral tone poems, recalling the vast expanse of Sibelius’ Finish homeland. It is very colorful and evocative. I can even hear the troika (a Russian or Finish style carriage drawn by three horses) cantering across the frozen winter landscape. The program begins with a delightful work for Flute and Horn that has four short movements, each somewhat comically depicting various outdated “contraptions.” Hence its title—Four, Two-Bit, Contraptions. Jan Bach, the composer (and distant relative of J.S. Bach), has an amazing knack for using the instruments very creatively. My favorite is No. 3, “Gramophone.” Picture the old RCA Victrola with the little dog in front of it listening with his head cocked. Its jazzy, and full of fun and foibles.
The Mutchler’s concert will definitely be sold out, so please contact our office immediately if you want to take part (by the way, a welcoming reception precedes the concert at 6:00pm). Otherwise, you can hear the same program in four other locations:
- Sunday, August 27, 5:00pm, Woodwalk Gallery, Egg Harbor
- Tuesday, August 29, 7:00pm, Björklunden, Baileys Harbor
- Thursday, August 31, 7:00pm, Donald and Carol Kress Pavilion, Egg Harbor
- Sunday, September 3, 3:00pm, The Clearing Folk School, Ellison Bay
Only three programs remain in this Labor Day period, and they will go by quickly. Get your tickets right away, and don’t forget our special Labor Day Gala at Björklunden. It is such a special way to celebrate the end of the season, and tickets for that are selling quickly as well, so act soon. And while you’re at it, don’t forget the big Eric Lewis/Griffon String Quartet concert event and reception celebrating the release of their new album. Beneath the Waves, on September 9th in the Gould Theater at Northern Sky Theater. It will be a hoot and a great way to ease into the Fall.
Call 920-854-7088 or visit www.midsummersmusic.com for tickets or more details. The summer’s not over (yet) so let’s make the most of it. See you soon!