Mitsuko Uchida plays Brahms on second weekend of Marlboro Music

MARLBORO — For decades, musicians and audiences have been trying to figure out what makes the concerts at Vermont's Marlboro Music Festival so special.

Is it the isolation, the beauty of nature, the sense of family, the rare opportunity of unlimited rehearsal time, or the chance for exceptional young professionals to play side-by-side with some of music's most distinguished artists?

A look at Marlboro Music's second weekend of concerts on Saturday, July 21, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 22, at 2:30 p.m., offers some clues.

According to a news release, 23 starry-eyed young artists will be sharing the discoveries they have made during the past three or four weeks together with icons such as Artistic Director Mitsuko Uchida and members of such noted ensembles as the Guarneri, Juilliard, and Johannes Quartets, the New York Woodwind Quintet, and the Chicago Symphony.

Uchida, who will be heard in the Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34 at Saturday's concert, first came to Marlboro as a young pianist in 1974 and has had a leadership role for more than twenty years, becoming sole artistic director in 2013 after having shared those responsibilities with Richard Goode from 1999 until 2013.

Also on the program is the Haydn Piano Trio in E flat Major, with cellist Judith Serkin being joined by pianist Evren Ozel and violinist Stephen Tavani, and the Bartók String Quartet No. 1, Op. 7 with violinists Stephen Waarts and Inmo Yang and violist Tanner Menees gaining new insights from Johannes Quartet cellist Peter Stumpf.

Elliott Carter's A Mirror on Which to Dwell, for soprano and chamber orchestra, which will be heard on Sunday afternoon with the Beethoven Quintet in E-flat, Op. 16 for piano and woodwinds and the Brahms String Sextet in G, Op. 36, is a cycle of songs based on poems of Elizabeth Bishop.

It will be performed by soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and an instrumental ensemble led by clarinetist Charles Neidich, who is closely associated with the music of Carter.

In the news release, the composer says, “The poems of Elizabeth Bishop impressed me because they have a clear verbal coherence as well as an imaginative use of syllabic sounds that suggest the singing voice ... The order of the songs is entirely mine, alternating as they do between considerations about nature, love, and isolation.”

The Beethoven Quintet finds Neidich playing clarinet with Keith Buncke, principal bassoon of the Chicago Symphony; Emily Beare, oboe; Trevor Nuckøls, french horn; and pianist Xiaohui Yang.

The Brahms Sextet is anchored by Nick Eanet, who was concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and first violinist of the Juilliard and Mendelssohn String Quartets, and Peter Wiley, cellist of the Guarneri Quartet and Beaux Arts Trio, whose young colleagues will be violinist Yoojin Jang, violists Cong Wu and Zhanbo Zheng, and cellist Tony Rymer.

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