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And Fingers Straying Upon an Instrument...

The American Chamber Players open the Buffalo Chamber Music Society season

The Buffalo Chamber Music Society opens its 89th season on Tuesday, October 2 at 8pm in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall, with a performance by the American Chamber Players.

Violist Miles Hoffman, artistic director of the American Chamber Players, founded the group in 1985 from a core group of artists of the Library of Congress Summer Chamber Festival. The American Chamber Players are artists in residence at the Society of the Four Arts, in Palm Beach, and the resident ensemble of the June Chamber Festival at the Kreeger Museum, in Washington, DC.

Hoffman made his New York recital debut in 1979 at the 92nd Street Y and has since appeared frequently around the country as chamber musician and as soloist with many orchestras. In 1982 he founded the Library of Congress Summer Chamber Festival, which he directed for nine years. As music commentator for National Public Radio’s flagship news program, Morning Edition, he is regularly heard by a national audience of nearly 14 million people, and at 7:15pm on Tuesday he will host a “Chat with the Artists” preceding the concert. Hoffman will be joined for this performance by violinist Joanna Maurer, cellist Stephen Balderston, flutist Sara Stern, and pianist Anna Stoycheva.

While Mozart has long been credited with having an antipathy to the sound of the flute, based on a remark in a letter, he somehow still managed to compose two delightful concertos for the instrument, the second of which BPO audiences heard last week performed by James Galway at the season opening gala concert. Mozart also composed three charming quartets for flute, violin, viola, and cello for the amateur flutist Ferdinand De Jean, and the first one, the Flute Quartet No. 1 in D major, K. 285 was probably written between 1777 and 1778. Looking over the deep musical archives of the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, it came as something of a surprise to discover that none of Mozart’s flute quartets have ever made an appearance in this series.

Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu barely escaped from Paris during the German invasion of 1940, a genuinely life-saving flight, as he had been blacklisted by the Nazis for his connections to the Czech resistance, finally arriving in New York in March, 1941. Deeply moved by a retaliatory Nazi extermination in 1942 of all of the several hundred inhabitants of a small town outside of Prague, Martinu composed his somber Memorial to Lidice in 1943, and he then composed his dirge-like Symphony No. 3, a work full of the composer’s despair during the early months of 1944, while living in a cottage a friend had lent him in Ridgefield, Connecticut. During the summer of that same year Martinu composed a very different kind of work, the Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano, H.300, a work once described by the composer-critic Virgil Thomson as “a gem of bright sound and cheerful sentiment that does not sound like any other music,” but which does reflect the composer’s familiarity with French music of the 1920s, including that of his longtime teacher Albert Roussel. This performance of the trio will also be a first for the series, but avid chamber music concert goers may recall the memorable interpretation of this work this past April by flutist Carol Wincenc, cellist Jonathan Golove, and pianist Claudia Hoca at A Musical Feast concert.

When Brahms made his first attempt at composing a quartet for piano and strings in 1855, the only precedents in the genre were the two piano quartets by Mozart and the one quartet by Schumann. The intensely lyrical first movement of his Piano Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 26 is followed by the very romantic adagio movement, inspired perhaps by the recent death of Brahms’ mentor Robert Schumann, while the amiable scherzo is followed by the vigorous gypsy finale. Brahms dedicated his quartet to Frau Elisabeth Rössing, his hospitable landlady at the time of its composition.

For tickets and more information, visit

Music and Architecture

Conductor Christopher Weber leads the Camerata di Sant’Antonio Chamber Orchestra in the second of its Architecture and Music concert series this Sunday, September 30. The pre-concert architectural tour of St. Joseph’s University Church, 3269 Main Street, by church historian Martin Ederer is at 3pm. At 4pm a performance of Mozart’s Divertimento no. 1 in D major will be followed by Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass featuring the Vocalis Chamber Singers and soloists, who gave a very well-received performance of the Haydn with the Camerata at Holy Trinity Lutheran this past June.

Admission is by free will offering, with plenty of free off-street parking available. For more information, call 833-0298 or visit

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