The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s very popular Concertmaster Series of chamber music concerts get underway this Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Knoxville Museum of Art, 1050 World’s Fair Park Drive.
The series, created by previous KSO concertmaster Gabriel Lefkowitz, is continued this season with new concertmaster William Shaub.
“I wanted to continue the tradition of this series celebrating the sound of the violin and its wonderful repertoire,” Shaub said.
Joining Shaub for his inaugural concert will be three of the musicians of the KSO Principal Quartet, violinist Edward Pulgar, violist Kathryn Gawne and cellist Andy Bryenton, as well as pianist Kevin Class.
Sarasate’s “Romanza Anduluza,” from the “Spanish Dances,” for piano and violin, opens the concert. “Sarasate’s “Spanish Dances highlight the virtuosic possibilities of the violin as they dance with the sounds and rhythms of Spain,” Shaub said about his first solo performance as concertmaster.
Cesar Franck”s “Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano,” M 8, which follows, was written in 1886 for the wedding of the great violinist Eugene Ysaye. So, it’s inherently virtuosic.
“Franck’s ‘Violin Sonata’ is full of romantic expression and memorable moments. If you’ve just always loved the sound of the violin, this piece is a beautiful reminder why that is the case,” Shaub said.
The concert will end with Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 4 in C Minor,” Op. 18.
As was the custom of the day, Beethoven’s first quartets were written in a set of six. Despite its number in the set, No. 4 was the last one to be written. Just as all of the composers who followed Beethoven were intimidated by his achievement in in string quartets, which many still consider unrivaled, Beethoven was daunted by the earlier quartets written by Mozart and Haydn, who had invented the string quartet form.
“The early Beethoven string quartets are revered for being magnificent and quintessentially Beethoven,” Shaub said. “In fact, the one I chose is in his favorite key of C minor.”
“This exciting and unquestionably virtuosic string quartet also allows me to collaborate with our Principal Quartet. Our chemisty and commitment to chamber music is on full display in this classic work, and for that reason, I chose it to conclude the first concert of this year’s series,” Shaub said.
Subscriptions for the 3-concert Concertmaster Series are available for $50. The second pair of concerts will be Jan. 10 and 11, 2018, and the third pair on March 21 and 22. The single tickets can be purchased for $25 per concert, in advance, by calling the Knoxville Symphony ticket office at 291-3310.
The Concertmaster is very popular. Performances usually sell out. So there is often no tickets available at the door. Concert goers should take special note of the early starting time.