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Beethoven, Bach still valuable currency of festivals

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the classical music world, composers Ludwig van Beethoven and J.S. Bach could be considered the Killer Bees.

The sobriquet is cute but it makes a point: The compositions of Beethoven and Bach are continuously performed. Music from Angel Fire, the summer chamber music festival, is affirming that point in its 28th season.

The season begins with back-to-back concerts of Beethoven’s Piano Trio Cycle. The Friday, Aug. 19, concert at the Angel Fire Community Center offers three trios and the Saturday, Aug. 20, concert at the Taos Center for the Arts will have three others.

If you go
WHAT: Music from Angel Fire
WHEN: Friday, Aug. 19, through Sept. 4
WHERE: At venues in Angel Fire, Taos, Raton and Las Vegas, N.M.
HOW MUCH: $20-$35. Tickets are available by calling 575-377-3233 or toll-free 888-377-3300 or by visiting

Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, cellist Peter Wiley and violinist Ida Kavafian, the festival’s artistic director, will perform the cycle. Kavafian called the twin performances of Beethoven’s six major piano trios “the centerpiece of the season … and listening to them one can hear his life in his music.”

“You get a sense not just of his music but of Beethoven and his state of mind at the time, from those early pieces which are light and carefree, and the middle period, which is stormy and troubled, and the ‘Archduke’ trio in which he’s resigned and peaceful and almost content,” she explained.

Kavafian said people who are chamber music fans would welcome hearing a Beethoven trio 20 times as much as they would twice.

She made that statement because the same musicians – she, McDermott and Wiley – are playing the same six trios on Wednesday, Aug. 17, and Thursday, Aug. 18, as part of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Kavafian said Marc Neikrug, that festival’s artistic director, invited them to perform the trios.

“I asked him if he would mind if we did it in Angel Fire. He said, ‘Why not?’ ” she recalled.

“A lot of people get very possessive about their artists and their programming. He doesn’t need to feel he owns the people who play there or the music they play. A lot of places have exclusivity clauses.”

These are some of the other Music from Angel Fire concerts featuring music of Beethoven and Bach:

• Aug. 22 at the United Church of Angel Fire. Bach’s The Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) arranged for string trio.

• Aug. 23 at the Shuler Theater in Raton. Beethoven’s Quintet in C minor for Strings. Also on the program are music of Georg Philipp Telemann, Sergei Prokofiev and Michael Djupstrom, a composer-in-residence in the festival’s young artists program.

• Aug. 24 at Angel Fire Community Center. Beethoven’s Quartet in E-flat major for Piano and Strings; W.A. Mozart’s Quintet in E-flat major for Piano and Winds and the world premiere of “Fuego de ángel” by Roberto Sierra, the festival’s composer-in-residence.

• Aug. 26 at the Ilfeld Auditorium, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, N.M. Beethoven’s Sextet in E-flat major for Two Horns and String Quartet; selections written for and performed by the Imani Winds; and selections performed by Time for Three.

• Aug. 27 at the Taos Center for the Arts. Beethoven’s Sonata No. 3 in A major for Cello and Piano, his Octet in E-flat Major for Winds and Sierra’s Concierto de Cámara for Woodwind Quintet and String Quartet.

• Aug. 31 at the Taos Center for the Arts. Bach’s Trio Sonata in G major for Flute, Violin and Continuo, his Quintet in D major for Flute, Oboe, Violin, Cell and Keyboard and his Sonata No. 2 in A major for Violin and Harpsichord; J.C. Bach’s Quintet in D major for Flute, Oboe, Violin, Cello and Keyboard; C.P.E. Bach’s Sinfonia in C major for Strings and Keyboard; and W.F. Bach’s Suite in G minor for Strings and Continuo.

“I think it’s interesting to hear father (J.S. Bach) and sons,” Kavafian said. “It’s a unique look, but I certainly don’t claim it to be my idea.”