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Sheffield Chamber Players 2+2=5

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Sheffield Sessions

13 Sheffield Road

Winchester, MA 01890

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Chamber music featuring duets by Bartok, Bunch, Shaw and the Brahms cello quintet.

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On paper, the recipe looks pretty simple... In fact anyone can make it at home: take a well-crafted melody, add supportive but interesting harmonies, shake well with rhythm, then finish with a twist of clever orchestration and serve with a world-class ensemble of performers. Voila… a musical masterpiece! Wait. No?

So why does the greatest music always seem to add up to more than its constituent parts? This final program of our season explores the magic that can exist in the space between instruments, ideas and personalities - creating surprising and beautiful musical results. To see how this works, our program splits the ensemble and journeys through small but rich gems of the duet repertoire, including by three living American composers, Kenji Bunch, Caroline Shaw and Andy Stein. Interestingly, each of these personalities is an artist that refuses to sit still and be categorized: Bunch, with a fistful of composition and viola degrees from Juilliard is a passionate bluegrass fiddler; Shaw (the youngest winner of a Pulitzer prize in Music) is an amazing singer, violinist and one-time collaborator with Kanye West; while Andy Stein started his career in a rock band that frequently opened for the Grateful Dead, went on to decades as the fiddle player on “A Prairie Home Companion,” composes and arranges for many of the finest classical performers around, and occasionally plays baritone sax with Jazz at Lincoln Center.

To round out our musical investigation, our ensemble comes back together to play one of the greatest works of the western world, Brahms’ Quintet in F minor, here set for string quintet as it was originally conceived. Much like the younger, more contemporary, voices on this program, there was a certain unsatisfied restlessness to Brahms, and he was known for constantly, some might say obsessively, revising his work. He composed this quintet in 1862 as you will hear it today, for string quartet plus an extra cello - a versatile, but rarely used combination. Then, two years later, he scrapped the strings entirely and reset the work for two pianos, only to find himself yet unsatisfied. He once again went back to the drawing board and decided to split the difference - rewriting the work a third time as a string quartet plus one piano. We have chosen to present this music as set for its original ensemble as we feel that it highlights the richness and depth of the five string voices in a manner that uniquely transcends the limits of each individual part, and provides a wealth of surprises.

- Leo Eguchi

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Sheffield Sessions

13 Sheffield Road

Winchester, MA 01890

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