Yellow Barn wraps up summer season

PUTNEY — Yellow Barn's 54th summer festival comes to a celebratory conclusion with nightly concerts, plus a Saturday matinee.

On Thursday, Aug. 3, at 8 p.m. Yellow Barn enters the final weekend of its annual festival with a program of literary influences: James Joyce's Chamber Music set by Luciano Berio for mezzo-soprano, clarinet, cello, and harp; Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata novella, set by Leoš Janáček for string quartet; and Frederico García Lorca's poetry, set by George Crumb for his seminal "Madrigals" for voice, flute, double bass, harp, and percussion.

About Lorca's work, Crumb writes, "I feel that the essential meaning of the poetry is concerned with the most primary things: life, death, love, the smell of the earth, the sounds of the wind and the sea." The program also includes a performance of Georges Aperghis's 1979 "Les sept crimes de l'amour" (with percussionist Eduardo Leandro), and Benjamin Britten's "Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente," the composer's only German song-cycle.

Thursday night concerts at Yellow Barn are free and open to the public, thanks to the support of a group of Putney residents in memory of Eva Mondon.

On Friday, Aug. 4, at 8 p.m., Yellow Barn opens with Bach's "Contrapunctus XIV" from The Art of Fugue and closes with Beethoven's String Quartet in F major, Op.135 (with cellist John Myerscough), each performed alongside shorter pieces by Baroque English composer Henry Purcell.

Artistic Director Seth Knopp has programmed these works with three newer pieces: John Taverner's Akhmatova Songs for soprano and string quartet, Gérard Pesson's Le Gel, par jeu (The Frost, at Its Play), and György Kurtág's Six Moments Musicaux.

Pesson has described Le Gel, par jeu as a "macabre dance" inspired by an Emily Dickinson poem, while Six Moments Musicaux includes references to playwright Samuel Beckett and Czech composer Janáček. "Janáček was fascinated by the rhythms of human speech, and Kurtág pays homage to his commitment to recapturing those rhythms by giving his own work a speech-like cadence," explains the news release.

On Saturday, Yellow Barn offers both a matinee performance at 12:30 p.m. and the season finale at 8 p.m.

The matinee begins with Mozart's Trio in E-flat major, "Kegelstatt," followed by Edward Elgar's Piano Quintet in A minor. According to music critic Jonathan Blumhofer, Elgar's "dark psychological state" following the end of World War I is reflected in this "brilliant flowering of creative work."

After intermission, audiences will hear Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov's "Epitaphium (L. B.)," a piece written in honor of Silvestrov's late wife, followed by Ana Sokolović's dawn always begins in the bones. Friday evening ends with Robert Schumann's "Mondnacht" (Moonlit Night) from his Liederkreis song cycle.

The text of "Mondnacht" comes from a poem of the same name by the German Romantic writer Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff, which writer Oskar Seidlin described as "one of the few perfect lyrical marvels in the German language."

Yellow Barn's final concert of the 2023 Summer Festival will start with Anton Webern's "Rondo" for string quartet. The program continues with Brett Dean's 2021 "Imaginary Ballet" (with cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau), inspired in part by Dean's experience of the COVID-19 lockdown.

During that difficult time, Dean has said that he was drawn to "music of energy, directness, and verve in an effort to counteract consciously the at times almost overwhelming sense of global tragedy."

The first half of the program will conclude with two pieces for two pianos: Maurice Ravel's (1)"Ma mère l'oye" (Mother Goose) and György Ligeti's "Három lakodalmi tánc" (Three Wedding Dances).

After intermission, audiences are treated to a set of celebratory dances: Mauricio Kagel's "Dressur" for three percussionists (featuring Eduardo Leandro), Fred Lerdahl's Waltzes, and Pesson's "En valse tyrolienne" from Transformations du Menuet K.355 de Mozart.

"No trace of irreverence in this customization workshop," Pesson has written, "but quite the opposite, a deep fondness for this music that is so intertwined with the fabric of our lives. It is also a well-known fact that Mozart often surprised those who were close to him with his sense of humour and playful temperament."

Concerts are generally 2 1/2 hours in length, including intermission. All events take place in the Big Barn on Main Street in Putney. Tickets can be reserved and purchased online at, or by calling Yellow Barn at 802-387-6637.

This The Arts item was submitted to The Commons.

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