RiverArts Presents Stravinsky, Brahms, and Commissioned Chamber Version of Strauss’ Four Last Songs

On March 6 at 4:00 PM, RiverArts® will present a compelling program for its next Chamber Music concert, including Igor Stravinsky’s playful Chamber Suite from A Solder’s Tale, Brahms’ lyrically soaring Clarinet Trio, and the world premiere of a specially commissioned chamber version of Strauss’ monumental Four Last Songs. The concert, at St Barnabas Church in Ardsley, brings together principal members of The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and NYC Opera, including Anton Rist, Sylvia Volpe, Allison Charney, Sarah Adams, Joseph Bongiorno, along with award winning actor Edoardo Ballerini, Chamber Music Artistic Director Peter Seidenberg, pianist Craig Ketter, and violinist April Johnson.

Esteemed New York City composer Paul Brantley adapted Strauss’ Four Last Songs, originally scored for soprano and full orchestra, for a chamber octet. More than a reduction or adaptation, it is analogous to a translation into a new language while at the same time being note for note faithful to the original. According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music, “These autumnal, luminescent late songs… are among Strauss’s finest works in any genre.”

In addition to his own compositions, Mr. Brantley has made a specialty of these kinds of adaptations. “I relish the opportunity to have a creative encounter with such a great work — and with the extraordinary poetry of Hermann Hesse which Strauss sets. My modus operandi is not so much to (re-)arrange the work but to adapt it as faithfully and idiomatically as possible.”

A Soldier’s Tale, originally scored for chamber septet, three actors, and one dancer, was written in 1917 during World War I. Stravinsky was living in Switzerland and wanted to compose a theater piece of modest scale that could be performed in smaller Swiss towns. The original did not have too many performances, so he rescored five of the pieces into a suite for clarinet, violin, and piano. This is the version that will be performed at this concert. Award winning actor/audio book narrator Edoardo Ballerini will thread the story together through the five pieces of the suite.

Brahms, towards the end of his life, made the acquaintance of an outstanding clarinetist, Richard Mühlfeld. With this clarinetist in mind, he wrote several exceptional chamber compositions: two sonatas for clarinet and piano, the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, and this Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano. All exploit the beauty and versatility of the clarinet within a chamber setting.

More information about this remarkable concert can be found at RiverArts website:

https://riverarts.org/event/strauss-four-last-songs-new-arrangement-premiere/

Tickets can be purchased at: https://riverarts.org/chamber-music-ticket/

Audience members must provide proof of vaccination at the door and wear masks during the concert.

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