West Stockbridge — Saturday, Sept. 12, will be your last chance to hear the West Stockbridge Chamber Players in live, open-air performance. After that, it could be a good while before you get another chance to hear members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform in the Berkshires or anywhere else. The group’s founder, Catherine Hudgins, clarinet; Sheila Fiekowsky, violin; Lisa Ji Eun, violin; Daniel Getz, viola; and Oliver Aldort, cello, will perform Rezsö Kókai‘s “Quartettino for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, and Cello,” two movements from Olivier Messiaen‘s “Quartet for the End of Time,” and Mozart’s String Quartet No. 20 in D major, K. 499, “Hoffmeister.” The group will give two performances of this program, one at 2:30 p.m. and one at 5 p.m. (Yes, these musicians are willing to double their workload to keep their listeners safely distanced, and this is no trifling matter if they happen to be performing works that really test their stamina.)
Catherine Hudgins invariably puts together novel and thought-provoking programs for this ensemble, and on this outing, they present works from familiar and not-so-familiar composers that will both please and challenge.
Rezsö Kókai was a Hungarian composer and musicologist seemingly of Béla Bartók‘s ilk but 25 years younger and thus subject to influences and pressures Bartók hardly knew, especially those of the film music world. His music is as playful as Prokofiev’s but perhaps less mischievous and edgy in terms of its modes and harmonies.
Messiaen, on the other hand, is less accommodating to conventional tastes, his jagged, angular modes and off-kilter rhythmic figures contrasting with Kókai’s more conventional themes and harmonies. “Quartet for the End of Time” is one of the group’s staples, and Ms. Hudgins will explain why.
“Hoffmeister” is Mozart at his most charming — also at his most advanced, up to that point in his career, in terms of his polyphonic writing. It gets your attention.
Saturday’s open-air performances will be held at a private residence. Seating is limited — face masks required, social distancing, bring your own chair.
Tickets are $100 at the Berkshire Edge calendar.
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All proceeds from these performances go to match the West Stockbridge Historical Society’s Massachusetts Cultural Council $80,000 grant for the Campaign to Restore the Old Town Hall.