The Chameleon Arts Ensemble presents Chameleon Up Close featuring violinist Robyn Bollinger and pianist Elizabeth Schumann, on Sunday, February 4, 2018, 4 PM, at Mary Norton Hall at Old South Church, 645 Boylston Street, Boston. The program of “rule breakers and statement makers” includes Arvo Pärt’s Fratres; Beethoven’s Sonata No. 7 in c minor, Op. 30, No. 2; Erik Satie’s Choses vues à droite et à gauche (sans lunettes); and Shostakovich’s austere and muscular Sonata, Op. 134. The Boston Musical Intelligencer noted Ms. Bollinger’s “outgoing play electrified the air.” The Washington Post described Ms. Schumann as “deft, relentless, and devastatingly good.”
Chameleon is currently in the midst of its 20th anniversary season. Our popular recital series gives audiences members the opportunity to see and hear Chameleon’s superb artists in an informal and “up close” way. The Boston Musical Intelligencer praised “the artfully chosen works,” hailed “the two stars treated us to a thrilling performance,” and noted “one felt charmed even before a sound was produced.” This year’s series will take place at Mary Norton Hall on the second floor of Old South Church, transformed into an intimate cabaret setting with table seating. The programs are hosted by Artistic Director Deborah Boldin and feature our hallmark mix of classic, neglected and contemporary works.
Singular voices who pushed the boundaries of counterpoint, harmony, and form provide the unifying thread for this program, with two jewels of the violin and piano repertoire and two miniatures of significant impact.
Over the course of his ten sonatas, Beethoven redefined the violin/piano genre by pushing the expressive boundaries of the duo and placing the instruments on equal footing. The Sonata No. 7 in c minor, Op. 30, No. 2 dates from 1802, the same year of his famous Heiligenstadt Testament and an incredibly transformative period in Beethoven’s creative life. One of the grandest sonatas in the violinist’s repertoire, the c minor is a taut, tempestuous work of near-symphonic scope that stands at the threshold of the Romantic era.
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Violin Sonata, Op. 134 was completed in the autumn of 1968 for the 60th birthday of his friend, the acclaimed violinist David Oistrakh. It is an austere and muscular work of enormous scope and impact. Shostakovich commented “there may be only a few notes, but there is a lot of music.” Indeed, these “few” notes traverse an intense range of moods – from a sardonic march and fantastical, grotesque dance, to ethereal night-music and a Bach-inspired passacaglia – resulting in one of the finest works from Shostakovich’s last creative period.
There are few living composers who are as admired as Estonian Arvo Pärt, and fewer still whose popularity extend beyond the classical music world. Fratres (1977) is an early example of his self-titled “Tintinnabuli-style” of composition. Tintinnabuli comes from the Latin word meaning bell. It is heavily influenced by Gregorian chant, evokes an atmosphere of meditation, and sounds at once modern and ancient. Fratres exists in numerous instrumentations from duos to string and saxophone quartets to cello octet and wind band. The version for violin and piano was premiered by violinist Gidon Kremer in 1980 at the Salzburg Festival.
Rounding out the program is the only published violin and piano work by composer, provocateur, and musical maverick Erik Satie. Satie was aligned with the Dada and Surrealist movements in art, and his music – typically filled with irreverence and parody – represented a break with French Romanticism and stood in purposeful opposition to Debussy. Choses vues à droite et à gauche (sans lunettes) or “Things seen left to right (without glasses)” was composed in 1914. It is a satirical miniature Baroque suite complete with droll titles – “Choral hypocrite” – and sarcastic directions for the players – “with the hand on the conscience.”
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary season, Chameleon Arts Ensemble has distinguished itself as Boston’s finest, most versatile chamber ensemble. Artistic Director Deborah Boldin has earned unqualified praise for integrating old and new repertoire into unexpected chamber music programs that are themselves works of art. The Boston Globe noted “Its concerts are the slow food of local chamber music, events where sounds and sensibilities, rhapsody and reverie, old music and new, are balanced with care and a sense of individual voice.”
Violinist Robyn Bollinger has received top prizes at many international competitions, among them the International Fritz Kreisler Competition, the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition, and the Louis Spohr International Competition. She is a recipient of a prestigious 2016 Grant from the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for her multimedia performance project entitled CIACCONA: The Bass of Time. Her many festival appearances include Marlboro Music, Grand Tetons and Aspen Music Festivals, and the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival.
Elizabeth Schumann has won more than 25 prizes in national and international piano competitions including the Bösendorfer, Cleveland, and Hilton Head International Piano Competitions. She was also the recipient of the prestigious Gilmore Young Artists Award and was highlighted in a PBS Television documentary on the Gilmore Festival. Her many solo and chamber music appearances include Australia’s Huntington Festival, the Kennedy Center, and Ravinia’s Rising Stars Series.