Town & Country—Mendelssohn and Dvorak

Performed Live at Saint James Place in Great Barrington, MA

Close Encounters’ Winter-Spring 2023 concerts sizzle and sparkle with a wide swath of genres, styles, composers, instruments—and of course, the great musicians who share their brilliant artistry.  “Town & Country,” presented on Saturday, February 18, juxtaposes two of the most beloved of classical composers—Felix Mendelssohn and Antonin Dvorak—in two of their most winsome works.  Mendelssohn’s precocious brilliance, polish and flair (Schumann famously described him as “the Mozart of the 19th century”) and Dvorak’s down-home lyricism are present in good measure in the works being performed. 

Glittering cosmopolitan Berlin and the village of Nelahozeves, Bohemia (now Czech Republic, population 2,200) are the respective places of origin of Felix Mendelssohn and Antonin Dvorak. Mendelssohn’s Trio in C minor offers some of his most exquisitely crafted music, with a magical scherzo right out of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The spirit of Slavic folk music is at the heart of the “Dumky” Trio, opus 90—showcasing Dvorak’s gifts of melody and inventiveness. The suave salon vs. fireside village dance; city lights and rural utopia if you will.

Performers are pianist Renana Gutman, a top prize winner in numerous competitions; Xiao-Dong Wang, one of the most brilliant violinists to come out of China; and internationally acclaimed cellist and artistic director Yehuda Hanani.

For the first time since the start of Covid in 2020, audience members are invited to a post-concert reception.  All ticket holders are welcome!

Tickets, $52 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $28 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available through Close Encounters With Music. Pro-rated subscriptions for the upcoming five concerts $175, a 35% savings! Virtual subscriptions and individual tickets are also available.

Complete Information on the season’s seven concerts can be found here

Saturday, February 18, 2023 6 PM, Saint James Place

Town & Country—Mendelssohn and Dvorak

Close Encounters With Music:

“Innovative and captivating…a smart blend of classical, contemporary, and cutting-edge.”

“CEWM patrons have learned that sooner or later they’ll be blindsided by a performance so sublime it will defy explanation.”  —  The Berkshire Edge


Praised by the New York Times for her “passionate and insightful” playing, Renana Gutman has performed across four continents as an orchestral soloist, recitalist and collaborative artist. She has appeared at The Louvre and Grenoble Museum (France); Carnegie Recital Hall, People’s Symphony Concerts, Merkin Hall (New York); St. Petersburg’s Philharmonia (Russia), Stresa Music Festival (Italy), Ravinia Rising Stars (Chicago), Jordan Hall and Gardner Museum (Boston); Herbst Theatre (San Francisco), Menuhin Hall (UK), UNISA (South Africa), and National Gallery, Phillips Collection, and Freer Gallery (Washington DC). Her performances are heard frequently on WQXR’s “Young Artists Showcase,” WFMT “Dame Myra Hess,” Chicago, and American Public Media’s “Performances Today.” Her recording of Chopin Etudes op.25 is soon to be released by “The Chopin Project.” A top prize winner at the Los Angeles Liszt competition, International Keyboard Festival in New York, and Tel-Hai International Master Classes in Israel, she has been the soloist with the Jerusalem Symphony, Haifa Symphony, Belgian “I Fiamminghi,” and Mannes College Orchestra. Her festival appearances include Marlboro and Ravinia. 

Named “one of the most polished performers of the post-Starker generation and a consistently expressive artist.” by The New York Times, Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and reengagements across the globe. He has won wide international recognition as soloist, chamber musician and inspiring pedagogue. His concerto appearances have been with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, San Antonio, New Orleans, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Irish National Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Taipei and Seoul symphonies among many other orchestras, and he has toured with I Solisti de Zagreb, conducting from the cello. A frequent guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Yale at Norfolk, Great Lakes, Casals Prades, Finland Festival, Ottawa, Oslo, Round Top Institute, Manchester, and the Australia Chamber Music festivals, he has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Itzhak Perlman, Vadim Repin, Julian Rachlin, Dawn Upshaw, Yefim Bronfman, Eliot Fisk, the Tokyo, Vermeer, Muir, Escher, Ariel, Colorado, and Manhattan quartets. His recording of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and on CD and in live performances, he has given premières of works of Nikolai Miaskovsky, Lukas Foss, Leo Ornstein, Paul Schoenfield, Thea Musgrave, Joan Tower, Eduard Franck, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Tamar Muskal, Virgil Thomson, William Perry and Pulitzer Prize winners Bernard Rands and Zhou Long. In New York City, he has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, and the Metropolitan Museum. Among the early designers and proponents of thematic programming, his engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Detroit, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant, Mr. Hanani’s studies were with Leonard Rose at Juilliard and with Pablo Casals. He has inspired scores of cellists as Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and previously served on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. Artistic director of Berkshire High Peaks Festival, he presents master classes internationally at conservatories and for orchestras, including the Juilliard School, University of Indiana at Bloomington, New England Conservatory, McGill University, Paris Conservatoire, Berlin Hochschule für Music, Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School in London, Tokyo National University, Jerusalem Academy of Music, the Central Conservatories in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, and the New World Symphony in Miami. In recognition of his distinguished teaching, he was given the title of honorary professor of the Tianjin Conservatory, China. His objective is to instill a sense of wonder and adventure in young musicians, to lead them to technical mastery and bridge tradition with innovation. He now is a member of the faculty of the Mannes College of Music in New York City.

Xiao-Dong Wang has been called the most talented violinist to emerge from China. He began his studies at age 3 with his father, concertmaster of the Shanghai Symphony; he then studied with the renowned teacher Zhao Ji-Yang at the Shanghai Conservatory. As first prize winner in the Menuhin International Violin Competition and the Wieniawski-Lipinski International Violin Competition at the ages of 13 and 15, he was brought to the attention of violin pedagogue Dorothy DeLay who arranged a four-year scholarship at Juilliard. Mr. Wang has performed as soloist with orchestras around the world, including the London Royal Philharmonic, the London Mozart Players, Adelaide, Perth, Queensland symphony orchestras and Sydney Opera Orchestra. His recording credits include the Bartok Concerto No. 2 and Szymanowski Concerto No. 1 for Polygram. He has also appeared performing on both violin and viola in chamber music concerts at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Aspen, Ravinia and festivals and music series worldwide. Wang was the resident soloist of the Shanghai Symphony for the 2012-13 season, during which time he also performed as a soloist with other major Chinese orchestras, including the China Philharmonic in Beijing. He is artistic director of the chamber music group Concertante, collaborating with world renowned musicians and producing a vast number of recordings.


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