Close Encounters with Music Opens 2013-2014 Season with “Anatomy of a Melody” – Beethoven, Brahms and World Premiere of Paul Schoenfield “Shaatnez” Popular Tune Migrates from Operetta to Concert Stage, Plus Brahms Symphonic-Scale Piano Quartet

Photograph of Miriam Fried

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — In a musical conversation stretching across three centuries, a tune from Viennese operetta surfaces in a Beethoven piano trio and yet again in a newly penned piece by American composer Paul Schoenfield. Both will be heard at the opening concert of Close Encounters With Music, the Berkshire’s preeminent chamber music series, on Saturday, October 19, 6 PM at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

Beethoven’s Trio in B-Flat Major (nicknamed “Gassenhauer Trio”) spins out variations on a theme from Joseph Weigl’s popular 1797 “L’amor marinaro,” and sets the stage for the newly commissioned piece by Schoenfield, Shaatnez, which incorporates the same theme. Ending the program, the heavenly Brahms Piano Quartet Opus 26 is as close to symphonic scale as you get in chamber music. With its drama and gypsy vigor, it delivers an enthralling range of emotions. Featuring violinist Miriam Fried, violist Paul Biss, pianist Renana Gutman, and cellist Yehuda Hanani, the evening provides enduring classics with a contemporary twist.

Paul Schoenfield, whose music is widely performed and who moves with what has been described as “wizardly ease” from jazz to vaudeville and klezmer to ragtime and Broadway—sometimes in a single composition—combines exuberance and seriousness, familiarity and originality, lightness and depth. His work is inspired by the whole range of musical experience, popular styles both American and foreign, vernacular and folk traditions, as exemplified in Café Music, his runaway classical hit. The new Shaatnez (which translates most readily from the Hebrew or Coptic—the origins of the term are obscure—as “linsey-woolsey”) weaves together not only the bawdy Viennese melody adopted by Beethoven, but also the famous Russian song, “Dark Eyes,” to astonishing effect.

“These two melodies co-exist like a marriage made in heaven,” says Close Encounters With Music artistic director Yehuda Hanani, who has known Schoenfield since student days at the Marlboro Festival. “Paul is a little bit like Ravel. He combines mathematical precision with passionate folkloric elements. It’s on the edge and has the acerbic frenzy of music of modernity, but with wit, intelligence, and deep understanding of past traditions and techniques. Shaatnez is framed on the program with two masterpieces, to which it stands up brilliantly.”

Schoenfield has received commissions, grants and awards from Chamber Music America, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Fund, the America Composers Forum and many other organizations; his compositions can be heard on Angel, Decca/London’s Argo label, Vanguard, EMI, Koch, BMG and New World. Shaatnez is the second work Paul Schoenfield has written for Close Encounters With Music. Refractions for clarinet, piano and cello, which was commissioned for bicentennial of Mozart death, was premiered in 1996, performed in New York, Detroit, Phoenix, and other U.S. cities, and recorded on an acclaimed all-Schoenfield CD for Naxos by Hanani, pianist James Tocco and clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein. Cultural critic Seth Rogovoy wrote of the world premiere: “Schoenfield’s dazzling work ingested the basic Mozartean vocabulary and transformed it into something astonishingly new and, even more remarkably, incredibly universal and personal at the same time.”

One idea of the biblical notion of shaatnez is that mixing wool and linen upsets the environmental and/or metaphysical fabric of the universe. In combining popular, classical, high and low, it could be said that much of Schoenfield’s signature style is “shaatnez,” that is a weaving and mixing, pastiche and superimposition spun into something classical music has rarely seen before him—that reinvigorates old forms.

Since the inception of the Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, and Robert Beaser—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon. A new work by Paul Schoenfield is cause for classical music aficionados to rejoice.

For more information about Close Encounters with Music and its 2013–2014 concert schedule, visit

Miriam Fried has been recognized for many years as one of the world’s preeminent violinists. She has played as guest soloist with virtually every major orchestra in the United States and Europe, including the principal orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh, as well as with the Berlin Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, Japan Philharmonic and the Vienna Symphony. Since 1993 she has been Artistic Director of the Ravinia Institute, one of the country’s leading summer programs for young musicians. Additionally, was until recently the first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet and collaborates regularly with her son, pianist Jonathan Biss. She plays a particularly noteworthy violin, a 1718 Stradivarius that is said to have been the favorite of its 18th-century owner, the composer-conductor Louis Spohr.

Yehuda Hanani is internationally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Irish National Symphony and many others. He has been a guest at Aspen, Chautauqua, Yale at Norfolk, Round Top (TX), Blue Hill, Bowdoin, Great Lakes, and Grand Canyon festivals, among many others, and has collaborated with fellow musicians including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Itzhak Perlman, Dawn Upshaw, Eliot Fisk and the Tokyo, Muir, and Manhattan quartets. In New York City, Yehuda Hanani has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, The Frick Collection, and the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rodger Auditorium. His recording of the Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination.

Violist Paul Biss has conducted in Mexico, Finland, Brazil, Korea, and Israel and over 125 orchestral performances at the University of Indiana at Bloomington where he was professor of music. He has collaborated with the Mendelssohn Quartet, Fine Arts Quartet, and Alexander Quartet and has appeared in concert with Christoph Eschenbach, Menahem Pressler, Gidon Kremer, Pinchas Zukerman, Miriam Fried, Michael Tree, and Janos Starker, among other eminent performers. He is a faculty member at the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival, and at New England Conservatory.

Praised by the New York Sun for playing “with great vigor and aplomb” and for the “true poetry in her phrasing,” pianistRenana Gutman was a top prize winner at the Los Angeles Liszt competition and International Keyboard Festival in New York and has performed with orchestras including the Jerusalem Symphony and Belgian “I Fiamminghi.” One of four young pianists selected by Leon Fleisher to participate in his workshop on Beethoven piano sonatas hosted by Carnegie Hall where she presented performances of Hammerklavier and Appassionata to critical acclaim, she spent three summers at the Marlboro Music Festival where she collaborated with Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida, and members of the Guarneri string quartet. She has performed with soprano Susan Naruki and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford. Her piano trio Terzetto has won critical acclaim and was featured at the Banff Center, Canada.

Close Encounters With Music (CEWM) stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Kenji Bunch, and John Musto, among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Toby Appel; harpsichordist Lionel Party; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.

Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” are broadcast on WAMC Northeast Radio and at

Ticket Information for “Anatomy of a Melody—Beethoven, Brahms and Schoenfield”
Tickets, $45 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $25 (Balcony), are available at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100; through Close Encounters With Music at 800-843-0778; or by emailing [email protected]. Subscriptions are $225 ($195 for seniors) for a series of 6 concerts, and include a free subscribers-only exclusive event. Performances are supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

For more information about Close Encounters with Music and its 2013–2014 concert schedule, visit


Anatomy of a Melody—Beethoven, Brahms and Schoenfield, Saturday, October 19, 6PM

The Miraculous Violin: An Evening with Vadim Gluzman & Angela Yoffe, Saturday, December 21, 6PM

Linden String Quartet, Saturday, March 22, 6PM

Magyar! Sunday, April 27, 3PM

Beethoven and the Dawn of Romanticism, Saturday, May 17, 6PM

These five performances are at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA.
A reception with light refreshments follows each concert.

Conversations With…
“Footlights at the Met—A Peek Behind the Curtain” at the Mount is on Sunday, November 10. $15 per person includes light refreshments.

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Verdi,” at the Lenox Club is at the Lenox Club on Sunday, April 6 at 3 PM. $15 per person includes light refreshments.

Antonin Dvořák —A Bohemian Idyll concert takes place Saturday, June 14, 6PM, at Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Lenox, MA. Tickets: $50 Orchestra and $40 Balconies.