Chamber Music at the Barn has ‘a romantic sandwich’ of a concert

Top-notch string players will perform the works of three great turn-of-the-century European composers this week at Prairie Pines. Johannes Brahms, Zoltan Kodaly and Antonin Dvorak’s music will come to life in the intimate setting of Chamber Music at the Barn.

“The concert is a little bit of a romantic sandwich,” said Catherine Consiglio, the artistic director of Chamber Music at the Barn. “It’s kind of like a little horseradish with roast beef and portabella mushrooms.”

The spicy horseradish referred to by Consiglio is the “Serenade for Two Violins and Viola” by Kodaly. This unusual musical arrangement was composed from 1919 to 1920 and contains traits of Hungarian folk music. Kodaly earned a doctorate in Hungarian folksong from the Budapest Academy.

The composer, who was born in Hungary, played the violin, viola and cello. He was inspired by his country’s folk songs, traveling throughout Slovakia and Hungary in search of tunes.

The bookends to the Kodaly piece are Brahms’ Cello Sonata and Dvorak’s Piano Quintet. Brahms, a German who made Austria his home, was also inspired by folk songs, as was Bohemian-born Dvorak.

The concert begins with Brahms. Emmanuel Lopez, a member of the Harrington String Quartet, will perform one of Brahms’ most popular compositions.

“This sonata has one of the most glorious slow movements ever written,” said Lopez, a graduate of Yale who also earned a certificate of performance from the Juilliard School. “It’s just a delight.”

Brahms wrote the sonata in the summer of 1886 and introduced it in Vienna with the composer at the piano.

“It shows Brahms as a composer in a perfect balance between cello and piano,” Lopez said. “It’s quite heroic in nature.”

Dvorak’s Piano Quintet, composed for piano and strings, also will show off Lopez’ virtuosity. Lopez came to the United States from Chile to study cello.

“It’s a very sunny and happy piece,” Lopez said. “It’s just a wonderful composition.”

Lopez said that Dvorak was able to balance all the instruments. “They come in and they explode,” he said.

Dvorak and Brahms were friends and respected each other’s talents.

“They influenced each other,” Lopez said. “Brahms and Dvorak were two titans of the Romantic era.”

Along with performing cello, Lopez teaches cello and chamber music at West Texas A & M University. He also is principal cellist in the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra and the Harrington Quartet.

Violinist Keith Redpath also will perform. Redpath, a former member of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and a graduate of the master’s program at Wichita State University, also teaches at West Texas A & M University and performs with the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra and the Harrington Quartet. Redpath and Lopez are eager to reunite with Consiglio, who serves as principal violist for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and is professor of viola at WSU.

“It’s fun to be reuniting,” Consiglio said. “It’s going to bring real passion and energy to the performances.”

Consiglio designs each concert and secures the performers. Lopez said he is thrilled to be performing both these iconic composers’ works at the Barn, which sits on several acres in Maize. Before the concert and during intermission, guests are invited to meander along manicured paths that overlook a pond and flower gardens.

“The Barn is one of the most wonderful settings for chamber music,” Lopez said. “It is the perfect environment for chamber music.”