Yellow Barn's diverse musical offerings


Putney >> Yellow Barn continues its 47th anniversary season this week with three concerts and two masterclasses, plus the annual Open House and Children's Concert.

On Thursday, Yellow Barn honors the Friends of Yellow Barn with a program that includes a panoply of rhythmic explorations. The first half is a jazz set sparked by the Ravel violin sonata and its significant blues movement, which Peter Frankl will perform with Magdalena Filipcak. (The classic blues band of W.C. Handy brought St. Louis blues to Ravel's Paris from 1923 to 1927.) Also on the first half is Jörg Widmann's "180 beats per minute", based on techno rhythms of the composer's youth and described by him as "the sheer enjoyment of rhythm", and Louis Andriessen's "Facing Death", which quotes literally several Charlie Parker improvisations: "This high tempo is really high, because the playing is based upon the chord structure of existing melodies, which sometimes are played two or three times as fast as normal. Parker needed speed to express what he musically felt: little time was left for him."

Thursday's program continues after intermission with Mozart's glorious Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, and Charles Wuorinen's "Spinoff" from 1983, which one writer described as "a violinist and a bass player rehearsing chamber music in a non-air-conditioned West End Avenue apartment with the windows open, their music being gently, charmingly, insistently invaded by sounds emanating from the works of Riverside Park."

On Friday, Yellow Barn offers Bach's Cantata "Ich geh und suche Verlangen" (BWV49), the festival's first full Cantata since 2008, with soprano Kristina Bachrach and faculty member William Sharp, baritone. The ensemble also includes faculty members Mark Hill, oboe d'amore, and Roger Tapping, viola. Also on the program is beloved Beethoven Piano Trio Op. 70 No.2, with Donald Weilerstein, Jonathan Dormand, and Peter Frankl, a Korngold piano quintet from the early 1920s, with faculty members Katherine Murdock, viola, and Natasha Brofsky, cello, and a beautiful little piece for cello and piano titled "Dolce Far Niente" (Sweetness of Doing Nothing).

Saturday brings a stunning, meditative program with Japanese influences, including the hour-long journey of Hans Abrahamsan's "Schnee" (Snow). Each summer there are a few pieces that create a stur among the musical and listening communities alike, and presently "Schnee" is at the top of the list. The composer explains: "In the beginning of the 90s, I arranged some of J.S. Bach's canons for ensemble – in total seven single standing works from his entire life span. I became totally absorbed into this music and arranged them with the intention of the music being repeated many, many times, as a kind of minimal music. Obviously, I didn't know which durations Bach had in mind, but by listening to his canons in this way, a profound new moving world of circular time was opened to me." Audiences can learn more about "Schnee" at a pre-concert discussion at 7pm at the Putney Public Library with members of the ensemble, which includes winds, strings, two pianos, and percussion.

Also on Saturday is Oliver Knussen's "Prayer Bell Sketch" for Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, and Toshio Hosokawa's "Three Angel Songs". ""Angels exist between this world and a world beyond this world that cannot be seen. In recent years, I have become interested in shamanism and have composed music where the musicians assume the role of shamans who let us see the world beyond this world through the use of sound." Audiences also will experience the equally transporting Brahms viola sonata in E-flat Major (Peter Frankl, piano and Meredith Kufchak, viola).

Two masterclasses take place in the coming week, including Donald Weilerstein's violin masterclass on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (with the Schumann G minor Piano Trio, 2nd movement of the Sibelius Concerto, and Brahms A Minor String Quartet) and Kim Kashkashian's viola masterclass on Monday.

Finally, Yellow Barn invites the public to its campus at the Greenwood School for free events for adults and children. First is the annual Open House on Saturday the 16th, which includes an open coaching of Beethoven's string quartet Op.59, No.1 with Roger Tapping, violist of the Juillard String Quartet, and an open session with Feldenkrais trainer Aliza Stewart. On Wednesday the 20th, Yellow Barn welcomes families and children of all ages to campus for its annual Children's Concert from 5 to 6 p.m. Reservations for these free events are not required.

This week's schedule:

Thursday, July 14

Yellow Barn Concert, 8 p.m. in the Big Barn, Widmann, Andriessen, Ravel, Mozart, and Wuorinen

Friday, July 15

Yellow Barn Concert, 8 p.m. in the Big Barn, Beethoven, Bach, Raskatov, and Korngold

Saturday, July 16

Masterclass: Donald Weilerstein, 10:30 a.m. in the Big Barn; Lunch before open house, 12:30 p.m. at The Greenwood School, Putney; Pre-concert discussion, 7 p.m. in the Putney Public Library; Yellow Barn Concert, 8 p.m. in the Big Barn, Knussen, Hosokawa, Brahms, Abrahamsen

Monday, July 18

Masterclass: Kim Kashkashian, 8 p.m. in the Big Barn,

Wednesday, July 20

Children's Concert; 5 p.m. in The Greenwood School, Putney

All concerts and masterclasses take place in the Big Barn. For tickets and more information, visit, or call 802-387-6637.


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