Chamber music at the Caramoor Festival

Have you been to a concert somewhere in the world recently? Share your thoughts with us about the performance, the more details the better!

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Chamber music at the Caramoor Festival

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:50 pm

In college in the early 70s I remember receiving a letter over the summer from the guy who had agreed to be my roommate (after the disastrous random pairing of freshman year), who remains an all-time friend to this day. He noted our common interest in music (he is an opera buff from Philadelphia) and said that he was on his way to Katonah for the Caramoor Festival. It sure sounded to provincial me as though he had made up those names, even though I lived closer to the place than he did. Last weekend, 42 years later, finding myself relatively in the neighborhood, I more or less spontaneously attended my first ever Caramoor performance.

It was a pick-up group of very fine musicians working under the name of Edward Aaron & Friends. I have little to say about the quality of the performance. I have always maintained and it is usually borne out that anyone who takes on the chamber repertory in the first place has to be good enough to pull it off at a very high artistic level. So with extremely minor and momentary problems of ensemble and one episode of a violinist losing tension in a string and bringing the music to a halt, these were excellent performances. I will limit myself to a couple of brief remarks.

The program began with Hummel's Piano Quintet in E-flat Op. 87. I will just say that at the end of every movement I was left thinking "Is that all? Is it over already?" It all seemed much too short for the richness of the material, and perhaps it is this (among other things) that separates a Hummel from a Beethoven. The first half of the program concluded with an impeccable performance of Strauss's Metamorphosen in the six-string version. After the intermission the group performed the Beethoven Third Symphony in the arrangement for piano quartet by Beethoven's protégé Ferdinand Ries. Though such arrangements were common, useful, and often done with the approval of the composer, I couldn't help think about what was missing without a full orchestra. To my ear, Erwin Stein's arrangement of Mahler's Fourth for chamber ensemble preserves more of essential Mahler than Ries's arrangement does of essential Beethoven.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Chamber music at the Caramoor Festival

Post by John F » Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:28 am

I believe the Ries arrangement was not intended for concert performance but for home music-making at a time when orchestral concerts were few. Perhaps the Caramoor players shouldn't have resurrected this obsolete arrangement and instead should have programmed music originally conceived for piano quartet.
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Re: Chamber music at the Caramoor Festival

Post by Lance » Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:11 pm

Been there. Loved the place. CMG's founder, the late WARD BOTSFORD and his wife lived not far from there.
Lance G. Hill

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]


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