Eine Kleine Summer Music
When/where: June 3, 10, 17, 24, 2:30 p.m. First Unitarian Church of Victoria (5575 West Saanich Rd.); June 5, 26, 7:30 p.m., Muse Winery (11195 Chalet Rd., North Saanich)
Tickets: Afternoon concerts: Adults $25, seniors and students $20; subscriptions $85/$70. Evening concerts: $27. Call 250-413-3134
This year marks the 25th season for Eine Kleine Summer Music, the concert series offering chamber music in the country throughout the month of June.
As usual, the series will include four Sunday afternoon concerts featuring top local performers as well as special guests.
This year, the Borealis String Quartet makes its EKSM debut. But to honour its silver anniversary, EKSM will also offer repeat performances of two programs and will release its first CD.
The repeat performances are certainly welcome. It has been obvious for years that EKSM has outgrown its venue, the hall of the First Unitarian Church of Victoria, which seats 250; demand for tickets is so strong that some concerts sell out weeks in advance.
This is all the more impressive when one remembers that only about 40 people attended the first EKSM concert in 1987.
The performers, naturally, are heartened by the conspicuous success the series now enjoys, though cellist Laura Backstrom, who with her husband, oboist Pierre Cayer, has been its artistic director since 1999, says EKSM does not relish turning away potential ticket buyers, and there has been talk over the years about how to improve the situation.
Finding a larger venue is one option, though of course in an enormous space, the inherent intimacy of chamber music would be compromised.
Fortunately, a more attractive option making programs available to more people through encore performances was chosen this year, and so the opening and closing Sunday afternoon programs will be repeated the following Tuesday evenings at Muse Winery in North Saanich.
Muse, whose owners encourage artistic activity there, rents out a large room that seats about 100 and offers scenic views and good acoustics. (It has no piano, but that is not a deal-breaker.)
EKSM first offered an extra performance at Muse during its 20th anniversary season, and it would like to see all future concerts repeated there; its audience is certainly large enough to justify it, and the musicians would surely welcome additional performances, given all the work involved in preparing a program.
The new CD, produced by violist Kenji Fuse under EKSMs auspices, at the request of its board, conveys the flavour of a typical EKSM program.
It includes a movement from Mozarts Oboe Quartet, K. 370, Beethovens Spring Sonata for violin and piano, and Brahmss G-minor piano quartet, performed by violinist Terence Tam, pianist Lorraine Min, Fuse, Backstrom and Cayer, all EKSM regulars who will return this season, joined by several local colleagues. (Many of the performers work in the Victoria Symphony.)
This seasons programming, as is typical for EKSM, includes chamber music featuring both strings and winds, with and without piano.
The opening program (June 3 and 5) will be given over to two magnificent monuments of the string literature: Brahmss Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major, and Schuberts last work of chamber music, the Quintet in C Major (in which a string quartet is enriched by a second cello).
The dynamic, much-admired Borealis String Quartet, founded in Vancouver in 2000, will appear on June 10, in a program culminating in Beethovens late, idiosyncratic Op. 130 quartet, in B-flat major, along with that works original finale, the Grosse Fuge, Op. 133.
The Borealis will also perform a Haydn quartet and a set of folk songs from Taiwan, where they have toured extensively with much success.
The June 17 program will include Brahmss C-minor piano quartet, Mozarts Oboe Quartet and a string trio by Max Reger, while the closing program of the series (June 24 and 26) will feature both strings and winds in Beethovens Septet, Op. 20 an early work whose popularity came to annoy its composer and will close with Mendelssohns last string quartet, in F minor, composed (like Schuberts quintet) shortly before his untimely death.
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