Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center plays 20th century French composers at Fairfield University October 4

Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts presents The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in an evening of music by 20th century French composers on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. There will be a pre-concert Art to Heart discussion from 7-7:40 p.m. with journalist Robert Sherman.

The Chamber Music Society's Co-Artistic Director Wu Han joins a stellar ensemble of musicians including fellow-pianist Gilbert Kalish, violinists, Lily Francis, who returns to Conn. where she made her professional debut with the Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Hope and Yoon Kwon, violist Richard O'Neill, cellist Paul Watkins and clarinetist David Shifrin in a program that spotlights works by Darius Milhaud, Maurice Ravel, Francis Poulenc and Olivier Messiaen.

Milhaud's "Suite de Concert from La Création du Monde for Piano Quintet, Op. 81b" was arranged in 1923 for a piano and string quartet and was based on his music for the ballet of the creation of the world. Milhaud had returned to Europe from America, much influenced by jazz and was waiting for "the opportunity," as he described it, " use those elements of jazz to which I had devoted so much study." The piano is in the capable hands of Wu Han; Francis and Kwon play violin with violist O'Neill and cellist Watkins.

Poulenc's "Sonata for Piano, Four Hands" was composed in 1918 and revised in 1939. It is one of his earliest keyboard pieces and reveals a Hellenic austerity reminiscent of Eric Satie, shows the neo-Classic influences of Stravinsky, Ravel's harmonic suavity and Chabrier's boisterous joie-de-vivre in the Final.

Intoxicated by the rich Gypsy melodies he heard played by a Hungarian violinist, Ravel was determined to compose a new work in the spirit of this music. "Tzigane, Rapsodie de Concert for Violin and Piano" follows in the tradition of Gypsy-inspired compositions of Liszt and Enesco. In "Tzigane," each section is a virtual miniature dance movement that reaches its own climax before making way for the next section. Wu Han and Hope move through each section until the last section goes from faster to fastest and "Tzigane" ends with the bedazzling whirl of the soloist.

Messiaen wrote "Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time) for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano" in a German prison camp during World War II. He was encouraged to compose by one of the German officers, a music-loving lawyer fluent in French, and the trio he composed for his fellow prisoners served as the seed for one of the most remarkable pieces in the chamber repertory. The premiere was held in the camp in 1941, one month prior to Messiaen's release. He later remarked on the heterogeneity of his audience, many of whom he thought may have been hearing chamber music for the first time, "The most diverse classes were mingled: farmers, factory workers, intellectuals, professional servicemen, doctors and priests ... Never was I listened to with such rapt attention and comprehension." This quartet is made up of clarinetist Shifrin, violinist Hope, cellist Watkins and pianist Kalish.

Tickets are $35 and are available online at or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. For further information, visit

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950,

Posted on September 23, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 65

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