When master violinist Giuseppe Tartini went to bed one night in 1713, he didn’t know he’d be listening to the devil play the violin in his dreams.
As soon as he awoke, overwhelmed with the beauty of the music that he had heard in the dream, the Italian composer tried to play the devil’s tune. The resulting sonata will be performed later this week in the intimate setting of Prairie Pines just north of Wichita.
Filled with trills and difficult fingering, the “Devil’s Trill Sonata” moves seamlessly from slow to quick movements in rapid succession.
It will be performed at what will be the last concert of the season for Chamber Music at the Barn, along with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Manuel de Falla and Malcolm Arnold.
The concert will not only demonstrate a variety of instrumental combinations, from a trio of woodwinds to two harpsichords, but a variety of time periods as well.
“I wanted to explore the different centuries,” said Catherine Consiglio, the artistic director of Chamber Music at the Barn.
The concert will remain in the 18th century for Bach’s Concerto for Two Harpsichords. This German Baroque piece will honor the music festival’s late patron George Vollmer; his harpsichord will be played by James Knight. Knight, a professor of piano and harpsichord at Friends University, finds that the Barn’s intimate setting is conducive to Baroque chamber music, and many of these works would have used a harpsichord.
“The harpsichord had its heyday in the Baroque period,” Knight said. “The keys are usually smaller than the piano. It has a lighter touch and no pedals.”
Bach’s beloved concerto is a piece that Knight says is perfect for performing at the Barn.
The wind instruments will appear in Malcolm Arnold’s Trio for Clarinet, Oboe and Flute.
British-born Arnold (1921-2006) composed the piece in 1952.
“It’s buoyant, joyful and lovely,” said oboist Andrea Banke. “If I were to compare it to a menu, I would call it a dessert.”
Also on the program is the Concerto for Harpsichord, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Violin and Cello by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946). This Spanish-born composer was inspired by his native land’s folk tunes.
“It’s very rhythmically active,” Banke, the principal oboist at the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and professor of oboe at Wichita State University, said. “There are a lot of interesting layered rhythmic effects.”
He said the piece is unusual and rarely heard.
“De Falla is just a fantastic contrast and shows a very different side of tonality and the use of the harpsichord in an ensemble,” said Consiglio, who is also the principal violist at the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and associate director of Wichita State’s School of Music.
Before the concert and during intermission, guests can stroll the gardens of Prairie Pines; a cash beer and wine bar and ramped-up acoustics have been new additions this year.
“It’s intimate, it’s friendly, it’s everything that summer should be,” Banke said of The Barn at Prairie Pines. “It’s chamber music with friends, family and food.”