The Viennese have always taken special pride in celebrating the music of Franz Schubert. During the 19th century, the musical cognoscenti would often gather in a fashionable salon to hear works by the great Viennese master.
Moritz von Schwind and Julius Schmid captured these intimate musical gatherings — which were known as Schubertiades — in their well-known paintings. Today, chamber music concerts have largely migrated to public spaces but the idea of re-creating a Schubertiade remains popular.
The Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble will bring its 10th anniversary season to a close with a series of similar concerts, titled “Schubert and Friends.” The four-concert series will feature a piano sonata, the “Octet in F Major,” The “Arpeggione Sonata in A Minor,” both “Piano Trios,” the “Rondo Brilliant in B Minor” and a selection of Shubert lieder.
The “friends” aspect of this mini festival will spotlight Carl Maria von Weber's “Grand Duo Concertante” for clarinet and piano, Bernard Henrik Crusell's “Quartet for Clarinet and Strings” and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's “Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581.”
“Schubert's music has always resonated with me and you certainly can't go wrong with his chamber music,” said Chad Burrow, co-artistic director of Brightmusic. “They're sort of like monuments of the repertoire.”
Last season, the Brightmusic ensemble ended its season with concerts that showcased the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Johannes Brahms. The success of that mini festival prompted Burrow and his wife, Amy Cheng, to offer a similar in-depth series focusing on another composer.
“With other concert series focusing on the string quartet repertoire, we decided to program repertoire that is less frequently played,” Burrow said. “Trying to figure out what to play was a little like being a kid in a candy store. There were so many goodies to choose from.
“I wanted to play the ‘Octet' and we felt we should also program the bedrock of the piano trio repertoire. And we couldn't have a Schubert festival without doing some songs. For me, the only criteria was finding enough variety and contrast. The result is sort of a Reader's Digest version of Schubert's vast musical output.”
The “Octet,” which dates from 1824, was commissioned by clarinetist Ferdinand Troyer. Schubert scored the six-movement, hourlong work for clarinet, bassoon, horn, two violins, viola, cello and double bass.