Chamber Players

Williams Chamber Players

The Williams College Department of Music presents the Williams Chamber Players in concert on Friday, February 10 at 8 p.m. in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the Williams College campus. In addition, at 7:15 p.m. there is a pre-concert lecture by Prof. Claude Baker sponsored by the Class of 1960 Scholars Fund. Both of these free events are open to the public.

To lead off the evening, Artist Associates Susan Martula, clarinet; Victor Sungarian, horn; and bassoonist Stephen Walt play the Concert-Trio for Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon by Bernhard Henrik Crusell. This Finnish-Swedish composer and clarinetist whose life straddled the 18th and 19th centuries is not as well known as some of his contemporaries. He left behind a delightful repertoire including this trio.

Work of another Scandinavian composer and romantic Edvard Grieg shares the program. Violinist Joanna Kurkowicz joins together with pianist Doris Stevenson to perform the Sonata for Violin and Piano in C Minor, op. 45.

The second half begins with a piece by guest lecturer Prof. Claude Baker titled Three Phantasy Pieces for Viola and Percussion (2003; revised, 2005). The piece was commissioned by the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa for Christine Rutledge and Daniel Moore. Each movement draws its inspiration in turn from three well-known compositions for viola. The first piece in the set makes oblique reference to the second movement of the Sonata op. 120, No. 1 for viola and piano by Johannes Brahms.  The next uses as its structural (and motivic) basis the second Märchenbild of Robert Schumann and provides a light-hearted foil for the more somber outer movements. The final movement is a parody of the “Procession of the Pilgrims” from Hector Berlioz’s Harold in Italy and is, in essence, a chaconne (a musical form based on the continuous variation of a series of chords). The gradual unfolding and intensification of the chaconne pattern in both the viola and vibraphone is interrupted at the movement’s climax with a modified quotation of the “Canto Religioso” from Berlioz’s work.

Cellist Nathaniel Parke, violinist Joanna Kurkowicz and pianist Doris Stevenson close the concert with a favorite work by Johannes Brahms, Trio in C Minor op. 101.

Prior to the concert, at 7:15 p.m. in Bernhard Music Center Room 30 Professor Claude Baker gives a lecture sponsored by the Class of 1960 Scholars Fund. His remarks include insights into his composition Three Phantasy Pieces for Viola and Percussion.

Claude Baker (b. 1948) attained his doctoral degree from the Eastman School of Music, where his principal composition teachers were Samuel Adler and Warren Benson. As a composer, Prof. Baker has received a number of professional honors. He is currently Class of 1956 Chancellor’s Professor of Composition in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington. At the beginning of the 1991-92 concert season, he was appointed Composer-in-Residence of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for eight years. In recognition of his contributions to the St. Louis community during that period Prof. Baker was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1999.