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David Visentin - Mozart and Shostakovich

It is a great pleasure to welcome back David Visentin to our festival - his seventh summer of great music making at ArtSpring. We asked him to tell us about the program he and his colleagues are playing on Monday, July 17 2006.

It's always an interesting, and challenging, process when one comes to programming music; especially interesting when one is programming for an audience with whom one feels a relationship and kinship that is both emotional and musical. Our concerts on Salt Spring are always special and satisfying for the fact that we feel we are performing for friends; very knowledgeable friends.

The most immediate idea behind the programme was, of course, a celebration and, in the case of Mozart and Shostakovich, a 300th and 100th birthday theme. At the same time, it is a pretty basic theme concept and the challenge becomes the specific choices that are made. I think that we have chosen, in the two string quartets, two works that are masterpieces of immense scope and contrast.

The choice of the Mozart "Hunt" Quartet K. 458 (1884) was easy, in as much as it exemplifies perfectly the mature balance and brilliance of Mozart's writing. All elements combine in an inspired, sunny, humorous and altogether exquisite four-movement work which could not exist with one more or one less note - a true work of a master's chamber music art.

In stark contrast to this, however, is the String Quartet No. 8 by Shostakovich. A profoundly moving, ironic and stark work the quartet couples parodies of patriotic anthems of the Stalinist age with the most personal and vulnerable encrypted lyrical lines (the note letters of Shostakovich's name) revealing a great artist tortured by life and the conditions of living in the repressive Soviet regime. It is performed in five movements without pause and leaves both the performers and audience completely altered and spent. I have had twelve year old boys come up after a performance and declare it the coolest piece they have ever heard.

The Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 is a rare opportunity to perform the work in the manner in which it was likely premiered, that is, in the company of close friends and in the chamber salon of Chopin's home; the composer its soloist. And Catherine Ordronneau is the perfect interpreter for hearing this work in this setting as I am sure the soaring melodies, ravishing harmonies and her deeply beautiful and expressive musicality will captivate the audience.

It is truly the greatest pleasure to perform with Kai, Catherine, Paula and Hiroko; they are the most sensitive and generous musicians and colleagues with which to work. Over the years, and because of Salt Spring, we have developed an extremely close rapport and intuitive communication, and I feel that this concert, for whatever inexpressible reason, will be one not to miss.

And then there is the encore which will leave us all gasping for air!

David, Hiroko, Paula, Kai and Catherine perform at ArtSpring on Monday July 17 2006 at 8:00pm. Please call the Ticket Centre 250-537-2102 or email to reserve your tickets ($19 adults; $8 students).

Sizzling Summer Nights Festival is sponsored by Pegasus Gallery of Canadian Art. For a special treat, the concession bar features some locally made delicacies from Salt Spring Gelato Delizioso.

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