Beethoven Festival offers Autumn Classics lineup
The joy of organizing the concerts for the Park City Beethoven Festival is finding the artists to perform, according to artistic director Leslie Harlow.
“We design all of the concerts for audiences who love classical music, but also for audiences that haven’t really gone to many chamber music concerts before,” Leslie told The Park Record. “These are the kind of concerts we want to go to.”
The next two concerts in the Autumn Classics Festival will be held at Park City Community Church, 4501 S.R. 224. The first will be on Friday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. and the second will be Sunday, Oct. 9, at 3 p.m.
The Friday concert will be comprised of Mozart Sonata in A, K. 52 for Violin and Piano, Brahms Piano Trio No. 2, op. 87 and Bartok’s “Contrasts” for Clarinet, Violin and Piano.
Saturday’s performance will be Brahms Piano Quartet in C Minor, Haydn String Quartet op. 20, No. 5, Ginastera’s Danzas Argentinas for Solo Piano and Busoni’s “Elegy” for Clarinet and Piano.
“We like to mix it up a little, as far as the music goes, because there is so much great music,” said Harlow’s husband Russell, the festival’s archivist and resident clarinetist. “We’ve got classical, romantic and contemporary for the first concert.”
That performance will feature Steinway artist and pianist John Novacek, violinists Airi Hoshioka and Monte Belknap, cellist Cheung Chau, with Russell and Leslie playing clarinet and viola, respectively.
“A lot of Mozart music grabs you because it’s very human and fun and intriguing at the same time,” Leslie explained. “Brahms music is also always full of gorgeous sounds and melodies. His music is very loving, and more of his music was waltzes and lullabies. I’m so excited for all the music that we’re playing.
Russell is looking forward to performing “Contrasts.”
“It’s a contemporary piece written in 1939 for Benny Goodman and the violinist Joseph Szigeti,” he said. “There is a recording of Szigeti and Goodman, with Bartok at the piano.”
Bartok went around his home country of Hungary to collect folk tunes, Leslie added.
“These are great and lively peasant music pieces that are very engaging and very rhythmic,” she said. “Bartok incorporated that into his music. So, ‘Contrast’ is wild and wonderful and anyone who attends the concert will love this piece.”
Leslie said Novacek was the ideal person to play the piece with her husband.
“This piece has such great sounds and it’s incredible on the piano,” she said.
Like Friday’s, Sunday’s concert has a similar contrast of pieces.
“We will perform Brahms and Haydn, once again the romantic and classical, but then we will perform pieces by Ginastera and Busoni,” Russell said.
“Brahms wrote the Piano Quartet for composer Clara Schumann, wife of composer Robert Schumann,” Leslie explained. “He loved the Schumanns, but this piece pours out his love for Clara and has the most gorgeous cello solo at the beginning of the slow movement. It’s my favorite Brahms piece, and I’m thrilled we’re going to perform it.”
From the romantic piece, the concert taps into a little humor with Haydn.
“Whenever you listen to Haydn, you will hear his elegance, but then he makes all of these little turns,” she said. “You don’t get bored when you listen to him because you will think the music will go one way and then it goes in a totally different direction.”
The Ginastera solo piano composition turns the concert in another different direction, according to Russell.
“Ginastera wrote a lot of South American-rhythmic works, and this piece is more contemporary,” he said.
Pianist John Novacek performed the work earlier with the Harlows at Bargemusic, New York City’s floating concert hall.
“John is the perfect person because he’s a wonderful player, when he played at the Barge, he brought the house down, or should I say sunk the boat,” Leslie said with a laugh. “People loved it and I couldn’t resist asking him to play it here.”
“Elegy,” written by Bosini during the late 1800s, will wrap up the concert series.
“Bosini was a great pianist and writer for piano music,” Russell said. “However, his father was also a clarinetist and Bosoni, who started writing music when he was nine years old, wrote a lot of pieces for his father.”
“Elegy” features accessible music with gorgeous harmonies, Russell said. “It’s a short piece for clarinet and piano and it also features unusual harmonies.”
Sunday’s concert will feature a majority of the same musicians, but will feature a different violinist instead of Belknap — Blanka Bednars.
“Blanka is from Poland and is a phenomenal player,” Leslie Harlow said. “She’s coming in from Pennsylvania, where she teaches. She’s a professor of violin.”
Cellis Cheung lives in Utah.
“He teaches at Utah Valley University, but doesn’t promote himself a lot,” Leslie said. “He recently gave us a recording of the music he did for a children’s opera ballet based on ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ I would love to bring that here sometime.”
Violinist Airi Yoshioka, who is married to Novacek, has performed with the Harlows before.
“She’s fantastic with all styles of music, but spends most of her time promoting contemporary music that is very intricate and difficult to play,” Leslie said.
Then of course, there is Monte Belknap.
“He is one of our standard players in Utah,” Russell said. “He’s a marvelous violinist who teaches at Brigham Young University. We’re lucky to have him here.”
“He’s the concert master a lot of the time for recording sessions all over Utah,” Leslie added.
“We’re lucky to have all of these wonderful performers her with us,” Russell said. “These concerts are a great combination with fantastic players and fantastic music.”
The Park City Beethoven Festival will present its Autumn Classics Concerts at Park City Community Church, 4501 S.R, 224, on Friday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 9, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $22 for general admission. $17 for senior citizens and $15 for students. For more information and tickets, visit http://www.pcfestival.com. Tickets will also be available at the door.
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