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Chamber festival busy for pianist

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the flow of pianist Inon Barnatan’s professional life, there are waves of solo recitals, chamber music concerts and orchestral performances.

At the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Barnatan will be doing all three — sort of.

He’ll be part of a group playing Johannes Brahms’ Clarinet Trio in A minor on July 29 and July 30 and part of a different ensemble playing Brahms’ Horn Trio in E-flat major on Aug. 7.

Barnatan will give a solo recital on July 31, playing Franz Schubert’s Sonata in A major and two works from his new “Darknesse Visible” CD — Claude Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque and Ronald Stevenson’s Fantasy on Themes from Benjamin Britten’s opera “Peter Grimes.”

“The theme of the CD is pieces that have been inspired by other art forms, mostly literature. They explore the dichotomy of light and dark,” Barnatan said in a phone interview from Aspen, Colo.

The Schubert fits this theme in two ways.

“It has an episode in the center of it, in the second movement, that is incredibly dark, and it’s almost like we get a glimpse of underlying insanity, this kind of despair. Most of the piece is very light-hearted, open-hearted,” he explained.

Another dichotomy often evident in Schubert’s music is between sorrow and love, “kind of the yin and yang of sound,” Barnatan said.

The pianist’s third avenue of musical expression at the festival finds him performing three J.S. Bach Clavier (piano) Concerti on Aug. 4.

But instead of an orchestra, he’ll be joined by five musicians.

“Normally you’d be playing with a Baroque size orchestra. This is not much smaller than the numbers of musicians I’d be playing with. This is a small version of a small orchestra,” Barnatan said.

He said he likes combining recitals, chamber music and concertos in his performance schedule.

“Each one enriches the other. If you’re a good chamber musician, you’ll play well with orchestras. And if you’re a good recitalist, you can bring that solo attitude to chamber music and concertos. And playing with other instruments teaches you about what sounds to look for on the piano. So I do enjoy doing all of them,” Barnatan said.

He also will participate in a nonperformance aspect of the festival. On Aug. 6 Barnatan will be on a panel discussing issues related to a festival-sponsored symposium on music, the brain, medicine and wellness.

Barnatan said his concertizing at different festivals this summer is typical.

“There are so many great festivals. … It’s very difficult to say no to any of them,” he said. “The variety keeps it alive for me.”

Barnatan, a native of Israel, has lived in the United States since 2006. He has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Houston, Philadelphia and San Francisco symphony orchestras.

Here is a list of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival concerts in which Barnatan is performing:

♦ 6 p.m. July 29 and July 30 at St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art, downtown Santa Fe.

♦ Noon July 31 at St. Francis Auditorium.

♦ 5 p.m. Aug 4 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco, downtown Santa Fe.

♦ Noon Aug. 7 at St. Francis Auditorium.

For tickets, go to the festival box office in the Museum of Art, call 505-982-1890 or toll-free 888-221-9836 or visit