Close Encounters With Music Presents Grand Piano Quartets: Schumann and Brahms

Image of Clara Schumann

(Great Barrington, MA) Explore the complex relationships between Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and the immortal Clara Schumann when Close Encounters With Music delivers a concert with an enthralling range of emotions Saturday, March 24th at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. The 6 PM “Grand Piano” extravaganza evokes vigor, passion, power and the timeless endurance of music masterpieces. The program includes Piano Quartets in E flat minor, Opus 47 (Robert Schumann) and G minor, Opus 25 (Johannes Brahms). Both were premiered with the participation of Clara Schumann, guiding muse and one of the most distinguished pianists of the day. Performers are Lydia Artymiw, piano; Arnaud Sussman, violin; Toby Appel, viola; Yehuda Hanani, cello. The concert is part of CEWM’s 20th Anniversary season.

Much has been written about the connections between art and life in the works of these giants of musical Romanticism. The confluence of the three — from Robert Schumann hailing Brahms as the “young Eagle” of composition, to the friendship between Clara and Johannes, to Schumann’s confinement and death in an insane asylum — makes for one of music history’s most poignant chapters. After Robert’s death, Brahms assumed therole of “head of household” and resided in an apartment over Clara’s home, relinquishing his career for two years, and never marrying, presumably for her sake. To this day, questions remain about their true relationship, and any letters that would solve the mystery were destroyed. However, their genius, passion and extraordinary sensibilities are all distilled and to be found in the music.

An on stage “Afterglow Reception” provided by Castle Street Café and Domaney’s Fine Wines & Liquors follows for all audience members.


Lydia Artymiw, pianist, is recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Prize. She has performed with over one hundred orchestras worldwide, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. She has collaborated with renowned artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Richard Stoltzman. Artymiw graduated from the Philadelphia School of the Arts. She is the McKnight Distinguished Professor of Piano at the University of Minnesota.

Toby Appel, violist/violinist, has appeared at the White House and United Nations. He has been a frequent guest of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society and performed with jazz artists Chick Corea and Gary Burton and at festivals throughout the world. Mr. Appel teaches viola and chamber music at the Juilliard School, and has served on the faculties of Yale School of Music and Carnegie Mellon University.

Cellist Yehuda Hanani is founder and artistic director of Close Encounters With Music. His engaging chamber music with commentary has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant, he appears with orchestras and on the recital stage on five continents. He has been the subject of hundreds of articles and interviews in the media, and his weekly program on NPR affiliate station WAMC Northeast Radio, “Classical Music According to Yehuda” attracts thousands of fans. Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, he also directs the High Peaks Festival, a teaching and chamber music festival in Hunter, New York.

Arnaud Sussmann, violinist, has performed as soloist at Carnegie, Avery Fisher, and Alice Tully halls. Appearing in concerts throughout the world, Mr. Sussmann joins the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society on national tours. Recent appearances include the Mostly Mozart Festival and the Metropolitan Museum. Born in Strasbourg, France, he holds a Masters Degree from The Juilliard School. He was chosen by Itzhak Perlman to be a Starling Fellow and Perlman teaching assistant.

Tickets, $40 (Orchestra and Mezzanine) and $30 (Balcony) include the After Glow audience reception on stage. They are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, 413.528.0100. For further information contact or 800-843-0778.


Tuesday, March 27, 7:30 PM: Guitar Master Eliot Fisk & Acclaimed Cellist Yehuda Hanani Perform at the Frick Collection, NYC
Close Encounters With Music presents virtuoso music by Schubert, Boccherini, Bach, Albeiz, Villa-Lobos, de Falla, Paganini and Robert Beaser. The Frick Collection, NYC. Tickets & information: 212.547.0696 or

Saturday, April 21, 6 PM: “Trade Winds—From China with Love”
Presented by Close Encounters With Music
China’s “Empress of Pipa,” soloist Liu Fang, performs traditional selections on the Chinese counterparts to the lute and zither, and is joined by cellist Yehuda Hanani for a premiere by Pulitzer Prize winner Zhou Long. Bulgarian pianist Emma Tahmizian plays Ravel’s Mother Goose and Leo Ornstein’s remarkable A la Chinoise, and Israeli violinist Hagai Shaham offers Debussy’s pentatonic-inflected Sonata and Fritz Kreisler’s Tambourin Chinois. Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA. Tickets $40/$30. Box Office: 413.528.0100.

Sunday, April 29, 12:30 PM: Close Encounters With Music Annual Musicale Benefit at Blantyre
Savor a superb lunch and chamber concert while supporting Close Encounters With Music. A Salon-style celebration at one of the Berkshire’s most elegant resorts. Blantyre, Lenox, MA. For further information and reservations: 800.843.0778 or [email protected].

Sunday, May 13, 4 PM: “Conversations With…An Afternoon of Young Berkshire Composers”.
Free Presentation by Close Encounters With Music at the Lichtenstein Center
Emerging artists present their compositions. Conversations reflect on inspiration, the creative process and differences from the days of Mozart and Stravinsky. Light refreshments follow. The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, MA. Free and open to the public. For further information: 800.843.0778 or [email protected].

Saturday, May 19, 6 PM: “Daedalus Quartet-Beethoven, Schubert & Berg”
Presented by Close Encounters With Music
An intriguing all-Viennese program. Schubert’s Quartettsatz; Alban Berg’s groundbreaking Lyric Suite; “Razumovsky,” Beethoven’s Opus 59 No. 1 in F Major. Min-Young Kim, violin; Ara Gregorian, violin; Jessica Thompson, viola; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello. Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA. Tickets $40/$30. Box Office: 413.528.0100.

Saturday, June 2, 6 PM : “The Roaring Twenties-Berlin, Paris, New York.”
Close Encounters With Music Season Finale at Tanglewood
Celebrate the golden age of jazz and cabaret, a period exemplified by experimentalism and decadence. Songs by Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler, Cole Porter and Gershwin; Erwin Shulhoff’s Jazz Suite; and Entartete composers whose “degenerate” music. Jennifer Rivera, mezzo-soprano; Will Ferguson, tenor; James Tocco, piano; Yehuda Hanani, cello. Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA. Tickets $50 Orchestra/$40 Balconies. 800.843.0778;


Close Encounters With Music 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, Jorge Martin, 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 William Wolfram; 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, Lucille Beer 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.