Orion Ensemble to Kick Off 21st Season with CELEBRATING BRAHMS in September

Orion Ensemble to Kick Off 21st Season with CELEBRATING BRAHMS in September

Johannes Brahms is the focus of the 2013-14 season opener of The Orion Ensemble, winner of the prestigious Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. These performances include debuts at two venues-September 8 at First Baptist Church of Geneva and September 11 at PianoForte Studios in Chicago-as well as a return to Music Institute of Chicago's Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston September 22.

Joining Orion is guest horn Gregory Flint, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and member of the award-winning Asbury Brass Quintet, Tower Brass of Chicago and Fulcrum Point Brass Quintet.

"Celebrating Brahms" features two contrasting trios by the early 19th century German composer, written more than 25 years apart. Both reveal the composer's emotional depth and intensity, as well as his superb musical craftsmanship and understanding of the varied instruments he used in combination.

In the Trio in E-Flat Major for Horn, Violin and Piano, Op. 40, Brahms honors his mother, who passed away shortly before he composed this work, as well as his father, with the use of his instrument, the horn. Other than the hauntingly beautiful Elegie, the movements have a youthful energy; the high sounds of the violin and horn, the characteristic folk and hunting-call motives associated with the horn and the rhythmic play between the instruments contribute to that aesthetic.

Brahms wrote the Trio in A Minor for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 114, after he had retired from composing. However, he was so moved after hearing clarinetist Richard Mühfeld he began to work on this trio. He juxtaposes themes in ways that sound inevitable, as are the imaginative combinations of sounds from the three instruments.

Also on the program is the edgy Café Music for Violin, Cello and Piano (1986) by Paul Schoenfield. The music of this Jewish American composer and pianist clearly shows his keen interest in jazz and the folk music of many cultures, particularly his Jewish roots. About Café Music he said, "My intention was to write a kind of high-class dinner music-music that could be played at a restaurant, but might also (just barely) find its way into a concert hall. Early 20th century American, Viennese, light classical, Gypsy and Broadway styles are all represented," as well as a Hasidic melody.