Close Encounters with Music Presents “Magyar!” Liszt, Brahms, Bartok and Authentic Hungarian Folk Music

Photographs of the Performing Artists

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. —Musical fireworks, passion, and vertiginous speed are hallmarks of Hungarian and Gypsy music. From the cimbalom, the national folk instrument of Hungary, to the sophistication of Liszt’s fiery “Rhapsody” and Brahms’s majestic Piano Trio No. 2 in C Major, selections on the April 27 Close Encounters With Music concert reflect the cadences and rhythm of Hungarian speech—and the paprika that spices up its cuisine.

The stage is set with a bravura performance on the folk hammered dulcimer (cimbalom) by Hungarian-trained Cosmo Gorsci. Béla Bartók’s 1938 “Contrasts for Clarinet, Violin and Piano,” commissioned by jazz legend Benny Goodman, is an amalgam of abstracted Hungarian folk music combined with Romanian dance melodies. It’s a study in contrasts: the tone and color of the three different instruments, different musical idioms, and jazz and classical modes. Both violist and clarinetist require two instruments apiece to capture the dual character and the disparate tunings—gritty country fiddle-atmosphere with barbaric energy, dances, and syncopations, and the concert-worthy brilliant passage work and polish. Also on the program is another Hungarian “Rhapsody,” a virtuosic work for cello and piano by David Popper, a famous 19th century cellist. It concludes with Brahms’s torrentially romantic piano trio with its Magyar themes.

Guest artists joining artistic director Yehuda Hanani are Erin Keefe, concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra and winner of the 2006 Avery Fisher Career Grant, who appears regularly at Lincoln and has been featured on “Live From Lincoln Center” broadcasts; Alexander Fiterstein, one of today’s top-tier clarinet players and winner of a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant Award (“beautiful liquid clarity—“ New York Times); and pianist Lydia Artymiw, another Avery Fisher Award winner who has performed with over one hundred orchestras worldwide, including the Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the National Symphony.

Roma performer Cosmo Gorsci will demonstrate the expressive and haunting qualities of the cimbalom in traditional Magyar melodies, as well as its visual beauty. With its horizontal strings, two beaters, and tremolo sound, the cimbalom’s special effect—familiar to concert audiences from Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly’s opera Hary Jano— is used in film to evoke mystery and intrigue.

Ticket Information for MAGYAR!
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]. Visit Performances are supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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, 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.

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

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