On Friday, July 1st at 7: 30 pm, the Ascent International Chamber Music Festival – brainchild of the husband/wife team of cellists Alan Rafferty and Sarah Kim – continued with Ode to Friendship, a lovingly played program that featured music by Clara Schumann, Gabriel Fauré, and Jessie Montgomery.

Jessie Montgomery’s Duo for Violin and Cello, described by its creator as “an ode to friendship with movements characterizing laughter, compassion, adventure, and sometimes silliness…” was written for the composer’s friend, cellist Adrienne Taylor. Energetic and intelligently constructed, the piece’s short movements bear the titles Antics, In Confidence, and Serious Fun. Yoo Jin Jang, violin, and Alan Rafferty, cello were the peerlessly spirited performers.


In the same spirit that gives the program its title – Ode to Friendship – the 1846 Piano Trio in G minor, opus 17 of Clara Schumann was offered by violinist Yoojin Jang, cellist Sarah Kim and pianist Sandra Rivers. Clara Schumann’s only work for the piano-cello-violin combination, is a composition enhanced by seemingly peaceful music that quite often reveals the emotions its composer must have felt at a time when her husband Robert was experiencing some of the symptoms of ill health that took the family to a summer sanatorium later that summer. Yoojin Jang, Sarah Kim, and Sandra Rivers played triumphantly, extracting every possible nuance from this absorbing work.


After a brief break, Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1, in C minor, Op. 15 was played by violinist Judith Ingolfsson, cellist Melissa Kraut, violist Scott Lee, and pianist Sandra Rivers.

The composition, an exceptionally beautiful work of the French Romantic composer, and only one of two he created for the traditional piano, violin, viola, and cello ensemble, represents the culmination of a musical tradition that dates back over a century before him, linking his chromatic, melodically sweeping music to the modern compositions of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Francis Poulenc. After his fiancée Marianne Viardot had broken off their short-lived engagement, Fauré traversed some challenging moments. But ever determined, the composer forged ahead with this rhapsodic work that earned him the coveted Prix Chartier, given by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1885, five years after its premiere.


In a letter to Théodore Dubois, the director of the Paris Conservatoire, Fauré wrote: “…the only kind of music that moves me is that which is clear, concise, precise, and brief!” The music of this quartet is indeed “clear, concise, and precise” and, brief or not, it brought tonight’s concert to a glorious conclusion thanks to the extraordinary music-making of Judith Ingolfsson, Melissa Kraut, Scott Lee, and Sandra Rivers.

Rafael de Acha ©2022

Next, on July 5th at 7:30 pm, the Ascent International Chamber Music Festival, the brainchild of the husband/wife team of cellists Alan Rafferty and Sarah Kim, presents Inspired Recollections, a program featuring Rebecca Barnes, viola; Michael Chertock, piano; Judith Ingolfsson, violin; Grigory Kalinovsky, violin; Melissa Kraut, cello; Ming Li Liu, piano; Stefani Matsuo, violin; Vladimir Stoupel, piano, and Festival co-founders, cellists Alan Rafferty and Sarah Kim, in music by Popper, Shostakovich, and Dvořák.

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