The St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble offers "A Schubert Sandwich" at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts


Two Franz Schubert works flank a composition by Joseph Haydn for "A Schubert Sandwich," the last of three performances of the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble this season at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The performance begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 11.

St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, New York's preeminent chamber ensemble, is the artistic core of the larger Orchestra of St. Luke's. The smaller group includes 21 virtuoso musicians who perform nationally and internationally with a repertoire ranging from the baroque to the contemporary.

The Quick Center concert begins with Schubert's "String Trio in B-flat, D. 471," an unfinished piece that was almost entirely unknown until after the young composer's untimely death in 1828 and went unpublished until 1890. Lyrical throughout, it covers a remarkably wide range of emotions. Though only one movement long, it shows the young genius, not yet out of his teens, aiming for lofty Beethovenian heights.

The second piece of the evening will be Haydn's "Divertimento in C major, Hob. II: C5." A relatively recent find from the prolific composer, this work had its first modern premiere in Vienna in 1975. Found in the library of a Benedictine monastery in Seitenstetten, Austria, the well-worn manuscript showed it to be quite a popular piece among the monks. Like all divertimentos, it is intended to delight and amuse. Written in a rollicking dance rhythm, it includes two violins, cello and double bass, an ensemble that's unusual for the period.

The Ensemble will finish the evening with Schubert's most beloved chamber composition, "Quintet in A major, D. 667, for piano, violin, viola, cello and bass," otherwise known as "The Trout." During the summer of 1819, Schubert took a vacation trip to Upper Austria, discovering the sights and sounds of this beautiful country. The piece takes its nickname from the fourth movement, which is based on one of Schubert's popular songs of the time, "Die Forelle (The Trout)."

Including a non-traditional fifth movement, the piece begins with a bubbling Allegro, which moves into a slower Andante based in sonata form. The propulsive Scherzo relaxes into its trio. The fourth movement uses the folk song style to take listeners on a musical fishing expedition for a wily trout and the piece ends with the lively triplets of the closing movement.

Members of St. Luke's who will play in this Quick Center performance are: Krista Bennion Feeney and Naoko Tanaka, violin; Maureen Gallagher, viola; Myron Lutzke, cello; and John Feeney, bass. St. Luke's Principal Conductor Donald Runnicles will be the guest pianist.

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

The ensemble's more than 70 recordings include three Grammy winners, John Adam's "Nixon in China" and Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" and "Bel Canto" with soprano Renée Fleming. Recent recordings include "Haydn: Morning, Noon and Evening," and a soon-to-be-released CD of Mozart's Symphonies 39 and 41.

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

Tickets to the Quick Center performance 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 March 12, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 229