St Luke's Chamber Ensemble offers "Baroque and Beyond" at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts


St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble will play a intriguing program based on the theme "Baroque and Beyond" on Sunday, Feb. 1, at 3 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Afternoon tea will be served before the concert from 1 to 2:45 p.m. and a pre-concert Art-to-Heart discussion with Howard Kissel, chief drama critic of the New York Daily News, will begin at 2 p.m.

St. Luke's, New York's preeminent chamber ensemble, will examine the Baroque era and how, during the course of the 18th century, it evolved into the Classical period. The program features pieces by J.S. Bach, Pergolesi, J.C. Bach, C.P.E. Bach and Haydn and will be played in order of composition, offering listeners a chance to see the new styles unfold.

The first piece is J.S. Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major," part of a 1721 manuscript that included six different approaches to the concerto idea that he would present to the Margrave of Brandenburg. The Fourth is one of the sunniest, though it is also richest in thematic detail and contains a vigorous broad fugue in the final movement.

The ensemble will then move to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's "Sinfonia in F Major for Cello and Keyboard." Pergolesi died at the age of 26, leaving a small but extraordinary body of work and this piece, written circa 1734-36, is cast in four parts in the pattern of a Baroque sonata featuring classical harmonic structures.

Haydn's "Symphony No. 6 in D Major" is not the latest work on the program, but it offers the most far-reaching consequences and features a slow introduction that was rare for the time. The stormy secondary theme uses strongly opposed dynamics, a hallmark of Haydn's work.

Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, wrote "Sinfonia Concertante in A Major" in 1774, incorporating musical qualities later associated with Mozart. The soloists play an elegant game of tag and the finale is notably French in character.

The ensemble will finish with two pieces by C.P.E. Bach, "Sinfonia No. 2 in B-flat Major" and "Sinfonia No. 3 in C Major." Both works are expressive, filled with musical surprises, fiery turns and passionate changes that usher in the Classical period.

St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble is the artistic core of the larger Orchestra of St. Luke's. The smaller ensemble includes 21 virtuoso musicians who perform nationally and internationally with a repertoire ranging from the baroque to the contemporary. Musicians performing in the Quick Center program will be: Krista Bennion Feeney, Mayuki Fukuhara, Eriko Sato, Naoko Tanaka and Mitsuru Tsubota, violin; Ronald Carbone and Louise Schulman, viola; Myron Lutke and Daire FitzGerald, cello; John Feeney, bass; Elizabeteh Mann and Sheryl Henze, flute; Richard Dallessio and Melanie Feld, oboe; Cynde Iverson, bassoon; Joseph Anderer and Stewart Rose, horn; and Robert Wolinsky, continuo.

Since its inception in 1974, the ensemble has won praise for tackling the masters and newer composers with equal zeal. Boasting a rigorous performance schedule, the group has made time for Bach and Brahms, as well as André Previn, Zhou Long and Philip Glass.

St. Luke's has produced more than 70 recordings, including three Grammy winners, John Adam's "Nixon in China," Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915," and "Bel Canto" with celebrated soprano Renée Fleming. Recent albums include "Haydn: Morning, Noon and Evening" and a complete set of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos.

"St. Luke's serves up a diverse feast for the ears year-round," according to Chamber Music Magazine.

Tickets to the Quick Center concert are $30. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website, www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 14, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 156