Chatter Sunday concerts feature Brahms, boombox

This month, Chatter Sunday will contrast the beauty of Brahms with boombox bombast.

Violinist Sarah Kwak.

Beginning on Sunday, Aug. 13, a trio of concerts at Las Puertas Event Center will pair Brahms’ supple romanticism with the edgy abstraction of contemporary music.

“Let’s just see how the two talk to each other,” Chatter artistic director and violinist David Felberg said.

The other performances are scheduled Aug. 20 and 27. The music mixes familiar Chatter players with some high-profile out-of-towners, including violinists Sarah Kwak (Oregon concertmaster) and Aaron Schwebel (National Ballet of Canada concertmaster), violist Keith Hamm (Canadian Opera Company) and cellist Joseph Johnson (Toronto Symphony), as well as New York-based pianist Conor Hanick.

James Holland, David Felberg and Shanti Randall are the Chatter Trio.

On Aug. 13, the musicians will play the Brahms Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Opus 115. The master’s final work of chamber music, the piece moves with an autumnal and reflective tone.

“He had stopped composing when he got older,” Felberg said. “But then he became friends with a clarinetist and became inspired again. It’s more introverted than outwardly directed. The string work makes them sound like Hungarian folk instruments.”

Clarinetist James Shields will open the program with “Grab It” for bass clarinet and tape. In-your-face to the extreme, the piece is by Dutch “avant-pop” composer Jacob Ter Veldhuis, (aka Jacob TV) who began as a rock musician.

“It’s for clarinet and ghetto blaster,” Felberg said. “It’s really quite funny and fun.”

Violist Keith Hamm.

On Aug. 20, the Chatter Trio will play Brahms’ G major string quintet. Violist Hamm will join the musicians, along with local violinist Megan Holland.

“The added viola gives it incredible richness,” Felberg said. “There’s an awesome cello solo at the beginning of the piece.”

Shields and hornist Nathan Ukens will join the strings on Wolfgang Rhim’s dynamic and violent “Sextett.” Rhim is a prolific German composer who is prominent in new European music.

“It’s got a lot of older music techniques cast in a modern idiom,” Felberg explained. “There’s a waltz in there, but you have to listen to it very carefully to extract it.”

On Aug. 27, the series will close with Hanick and the Chatter Trio performing the Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor.

“It’s an earlier work, so it’s really extroverted,” Felberg said. “Everyone’s got a real virtuosic part in that.”

Hanick will open the concert with Matthias Pintscher’s delicate “Now I” from his “Profiles of Light” series.

The pairing of the old and new began germinating when several of the musicians wanted to perform music by Brahms, Felberg said. Chatter has long championed contemporary music.

“It tends to throw the older piece in a very interesting light,” he said. “You’re making it fresh when you hear it paired with a contemporary piece.”

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