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Three Into Two

Violinist Bella Hristova

Two venues host three chamber music concerts next week

The early January doldrums of the local classical music scene officially ended last weekend with a pair of outstandingly programmed concerts in which Buffalo Philharmonic musicians figured prominently. The birthday anniversary of Mozart was memorably celebrated by the BPO on the main stage at Kleinhans Music Hall, while the Friends of Vienna series focused on the clarinet artistry of BPO principal John Fullam, warming the audience on a very blustery winter Sunday.

The focus shifts this week to touring musicians, in two concerts in the Mary Seaton Room at Kleinhans, and UB-based musicians at the Pausa Art House.

Mary Seaton Room

Now in its 16th season, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society’s free “Gift to the Community” series has become an indispensible asset of the Buffalo classical music scene, giving local audiences the increasingly rare opportunity to hear some of the rising new stars in the classical musical firmament. The Society’s executive director, retired BPO violinist Clem Fleshler, enjoys an admirable record of seeking out and engaging young artists who have gone on to high-profile careers. The second recital of this season’s series takes place this Sunday, January 26 at 3pm, when the young Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova will be joined by pianist Amy Yang in works by Beethoven, Messiaen, and Lutosławski.

The 2013 winner of a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, Hristova began violin studies at the age of six in Pleven, Bulgaria, later participating in master classes with Ruggiero Ricci at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. She graduated in 2003 from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Ida Kavafian, and earned her artist diploma at Indiana University under the tutelage of Jaime Laredo. Hristova plays a 1655 Nicolo Amati violin, once owned by the violinist Louis Krasner, the legendary Ukrainian-born, American violinist who commissioned both the Alban Berg and Arnold Schonberg violin concertos.

Hristova is not afraid of a challenge, as her program includes both the Sonata No. 5, “Spring” and the mighty Sonata No. 9, “Kreutzer” by Beethoven. Hristova will also perform the final, implacably powerful “Praise to the immortality of Jesus” movement for solo violin from Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, a work improbably premiered by the composer and other French prisoners in a bitterly cold German stalag in January 1941. Witold Lutosławski, the greatest 20th century Polish composer, wrote some memorable works for the violin late in life after meeting the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Hristova will perform the area premiere of Subito, his last completed composition, finished two years before his 1994 death.

On Tuesday January 28 at 8pm, the highly regarded Polish Szymanowski Quartet, which has been touring internationally since it was formed in Warsaw in 1995, will present a concert of works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and their namesake, Karol Szymanowski.

The program continues the celebration of the January 27 birthday of Mozart with a performance of his String Quartet in D minor, K.421, the only quartet in his set dedicated to Haydn written in a minor key. Mendelssohn composed his String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80, which bears the title “Requiem for Fanny,” to the memory of his beloved sister Fanny, who died in May 1847. The work was first performed privately in October of that year, a month before the composer’s own sadly premature death. Szymanowski is widely regarded as the greatest Polish orchestral composer of the first half of the 20th century, but his two string quartets have only recently started to enter the standard repertoire in America. The Tokyo Quartet offered the premiere of his first quartet on this venerable series as recently as 2011, while this performance of his 1927 String Quartet No.2, Op. 56 will also be a series premiere.

Tickets are $20, $10 for students: $10. Visit www.bflochambermusic.org.

Pausa Art House

The Pausa Art House on Wadsworth at the foot of Allen Street debuted last year as the newest area venue to hear classical music. Pausa owner Jon Nelson is professor of trumpet at UB, and for his next contemporary classical music event at 8pm on Thursday, January 30, he has commissioned new works for trumpet and piano by his UB colleagues, which he will himself perform along with UB professor of piano Eric Huebner. Works by professor of composition Jeffrey Stadelman and professor of cello and composition Jonathan Golove are on the program, while Huebner will perform a set of new etudes for solo piano by the Pulitzer-winning composer Roger Reynolds. A new work by Tom Pierson, an American conductor, composer, musical director, film director, arranger, orchestrator, producer, and music lecturer, currently living in Tokyo, who arranged music for Woody Allen’s Manhattan and composed music for Robert Altman’s Quintet, will also be premiered.

Tickets are $7, $5 for students. Visit www.pausaarthouse.com.

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