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Beauty, simplicity, passion and exotic rhythms headline Pacific Symphony’s 2013-14 Café Ludwig Chamber Series Opening Concert: “Mozart, Schubert and More”

November 08, 2013

Orli ShahamHost and virtuoso pianist Orli Shaham is joined by orchestra’s principal musicians

Two works by masters of chamber music instrumentation—Mozart and Schubert—surround the latest contemporary piece by Israeli composer Avner Dorman for the first concert of Pacific Symphony’s 2013-14 Café Ludwig series, “Mozart, Schubert and More.” Piano sensation and host Orli Shaham returns for the sixth season to lead principal Symphony musicians including Concertmaster Raymond Kobler on violin, Timothy Landauer on cello, Jessica Pearlman on oboe, Benjamin Lulich on clarinet, Rose Corrigan on bassoon and Keith Popejoy on horn. The program takes place in the charming Samueli Theater, where coffee, tea and desserts are enjoyed along with the intimate array of chamber works on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $60 and $75. Three-concert chamber music subscriptions are available for $156 or $198. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.

The Sunday afternoon performance opens with Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 18 in G Major, a solemn but lyrical piece. Then, Dorman’s “Jerusalem Mix” offers an innovative blend of Eastern and Western musical themesand utilizes a unique ensemble (winds, horn and piano) to mirror the diversity of its namesake city. The concert concludes with Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2. Written in his final year, the piece offers a complex musical architecture. The Andante movement is built around a lovely Swedish folk song. With affirmative melodies, the finale completes the rich musical landscape of the first performance in the Café Ludwig series.

Raymond Kobler“Our first Cafe Ludwig program of the season is all about textures in chamber music,” says Shaham. “The Mozartsonata, which begins the program, is transparent as can be—the violin and piano weaving in and out of each other’s sounds. Schubert’s E-flat trio continues this tradition and extends it, with textures both transparent and dense running through it. It’s a massive work, and painfully beautiful. The theme from the slow movement, apparently inspired by a Swedish folk song, has been used in many films and television shows as a symbol of simplicity masking passion. There’s always an undercurrent in Schubert!”

Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano is a prime example of the composer’s prowess on both instruments. He was indeed a virtuoso on piano, violin and viola. Mozart wrote this sonata at the time of his move from Austria to the cultural capital of Vienna. Rather than expressing the excitement of starting anew, the sonata hints of the composer’s guarded outlook and offers moving expressions of inward sadness.

Pulsing with spontaneity, “Jerusalem Mix” incorporates Arab-flavored scales to achieve a rare combination of rigorous sounds balanced with the sense of spontaneity usually found in jazz or rock music. Dorman is the youngestcomposer to win Israel’s prestigious Prime Minister’s Award; his creative approach to rhythm and timbre has attracted some of the world’s leading conductors, including Zubin Mehta, Asher Fisch and Michael Stern to bring his music to audiences internationally.

“Dorman’s incredible “Jerusalem Mix” is a wonderful example of where chamber music can go,” says Shaham. “The piece, for piano and winds, is filled with passionate, burning rhythms, infusing the music with the tastes and smells of today’s Jerusalem without anyone needing to show a passport. You’ll hear some unusual techniques on all the instruments, making full use of their abilities, and resulting in a mix of sounds which come together to make a stunning whole.”

It is understood among musicians that Schubert wrote some of the greatest chamber pieces and piano sonatas ever composed. His Piano Trio No. 2 exemplifies this monumental quality, and has an overall sound that pairs youthful enthusiasm with patient maturity. The Trio in E-flat was the principal work on the only public concert Schubertever presented that consisted entirely of his own works.

Shaham, the concert’s host and pianist, has established an impressive international reputation as one of today’s most gifted pianists. The Guardian hailed her playing as “perfection” during her recent Proms debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Applauded by critics, Shaham has performed with illustrious orchestras and is a frequent guest at summer festivals. The gifted musician has given recitals at renowned concert halls, including Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center, and has worked with many eminent conductors. Shaham received her first scholarship at the age of 5 from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. At 7, Shaham traveled to New York City to study with Nancy Stessin, and at 8, she became a scholarship student of Herbert Stessin at The Juilliard School. Shaham was also the recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Gilmore Young Artist Award, two highly coveted prizes awarded to enhance her musical abilities. Shaham holds a degree in history from Columbia University.