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Tokyo Farewell

Tokyo String Quartet

The legendary Tokyo String Quartet’s farewell tour comes to UB

Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on the UB Amherst campus will be the venue for a pair of very different but equally anticipated concerts next week.

On Monday, September 24 at 7:30pm, guest conductor Robert Treviño will lead the Slee Sinfonietta in a program of modernist works by Adams, Berg, and Ligeti, while on Friday, September 28 at 7:30pm, the Tokyo String Quartet will make its final Buffalo appearance as part of the group’s farewell tour.

A Buffalo audience favorite, the legendary Tokyo String Quartet has been heard throughout the history of UB’s Slee/Beethoven String Quartet Cycle since 1976, and the group has also appeared numerous times in the Buffalo Chamber Music Society series. Martin Beaver, the quartet’s first violinist, explains the quartet’s decision to disband at the end of this season: “It is a difficult prospect to replace one long-standing quartet member. To replace two of them simultaneously is a Herculean task. With the retirement of our colleagues Kikuei Ikeda and Kazuhide Isomura in our minds, we increasingly felt that the most fitting way we could honor and celebrate our quartet’s long and illustrious career was to bring it to a graceful close.”

Formed in 1969 at the Juilliard School of Music, the members of the quartet have served on the faculty of the Yale School of Music as quartet-in-residence since 1976.The ensemble performs on the “Paganini Quartet,” a group of renowned Stradivarius instruments named for legendary virtuoso Niccolò Paganini, who acquired and played them during the 19th century.

In a bow to the father of the string quartet format, their program will begin with Haydn’s Quartet No. 59 in G minor (“Rider”), Op. 74, No. 3, and include the String Quartet No. 6, the final quartet of the 20th century’s most accomplished composer in the genre, Béla Bartók, concluding with Mendelssohn’s romantic Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2.

The concert should be a sell-out, so pre-purchase of tickets ($15-$30) is recommended to avoid disappointment. Call 645-2921 or visit

Slee Sinfonietta

The young conductor Robert Treviño, now in his second season as associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony, has conducted major orchestras across North America, Europe, and Asia, and his acclaimed debut with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow Russia conducting Puccini’s Tosca this past February led to his being immediately invited back to lead a production of Verdi’s Macbeth.

Violinist Yuki Numata and pianist Daniel Pesca will be featured in Alban Berg’s Chamber Concerto, for piano, violin, and 13 wind instruments, composed in 1925, a few years after the successful premiere of his opera Wozzeck. Written as a 50th birthday tribute to his mentor Arnold Schoenberg, it bears a motto combining the musical letters in the names of Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg himself, and the reflection that “all good things come in threes.” The structure of the work is derived from a series of complex mathematical relationships, with rigorous attention to minute details, and while no less an authority than Pierre Boulez describes it in in his preface to the published score as “probably the strictest work that he (Berg) ever wrote,” there is also warmth, lyricism, and even humor in the waltz episodes.

As a prelude to the Chamber Concerto, clarinetist Jean Kopperud and pianist Eric Huebner will perform Berg’s early Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5. In an interesting coincidence, BPO principal clarinetist John Fullam and pianist Nancy Townsend gave a well received performance of this seldom programmed work at their Friends of Vienna recital just last weekend.

Hungarian composer György Ligeti’s reputation has only continued to grow since his death in 2006, and the UB department of music has enabled classical music lovers to experience numerous live performances of his works in recent years. That trend continues with a rare performance of the composer’s abstract Melodien, a 1971 work featuring the use of melodic fragments arising out of micro-polyphonic layers, with celesta, bells, and crotales used to produce a sound reminiscent of iridescent silver light.

According to American composer John Adams, his virtuosic Chamber Symphony “bears a suspicious resemblance to its eponymous predecessor, the Opus 9 of Arnold Schoenberg.” While studying the Schoenberg score, Adams notes, he “became aware that my seven-year-old son Sam was in the adjacent room watching cartoons. The hyperactive, insistently aggressive and acrobatic scores for the cartoons mixed in my head with the Schoenberg music, itself hyperactive, acrobatic and not a little aggressive, and I realized suddenly how much these two traditions had in common”.

Advance tickets are $5-$12; at the door tickets are $8-$15.

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