, Salem, MA


March 27, 2014

From present to past

Ensemble takes audience from 21st century to 19th


For Saturday’s performance, the fifth and last this season, Miller has selected works from three composers.

“It can be an effective concert to have pieces that are like time traveling,” he said.

This program begins in the present with “In Memoriam Pauline Mara,” a recent work by Hungarian composer Gyorgy Kurtag.

“For me, Kurtag is perhaps the greatest living composer,” Miller said. “The piece comes from a collection of short pieces, ‘Signs, Games and Messages.’ This piece belongs to a class he wrote for people who’ve died — consolations. They’re very short. It’s slow and dignified and searching, and beautiful.”

Moving into the past, the program offers “Clarinet Trio in A Minor” by Johannes Brahms, a work from the 19th century.

“The Brahms trio is the last thing he wrote,” Miller said. “A clarinetist said, ‘One more piece.’ It couldn’t be deeper than it is, and it goes with the Kurtag.”

This will be followed by another composition from the 1800s, “Quintet in A Major” by Antonin Dvorak.

“The Dvorak is one of the greatest piano quintets ever written,” Miller said. “It’s one of his dumka movements, a Ukrainian folk idiom, a melancholy tune interspersed with fast music, which goes back to melancholy.

“It’s rich music with folk melodies. It’s a great way to end the season.”

Along with choosing his music with care, Miller selects from a group of 14 musicians for the lineup of each concert.

“In this program, one violinist — David Coucheron — is the concertmaster now for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,” Miller said. “And Julianne Lee is acting assistant concertmaster for the Boston Symphony.”

The ensemble has often featured musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where other current members play.

“Tom Martin is a great clarinetist in the Boston Symphony,” said Miller, a cellist, who also plays for the BSO.

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