2017/2018 Season
Click on the artist's name for website link
 

TILL FELLNER, piano

November 2, 2017 – Series A

Till Fellner, a Vienna native, has emerged from the large field of exceptional pianists of his generation as someone unique and extraordinary. His recent worldwide performances of Bach's monumental Well Tempered Clavier and the 32 Beethoven sonatas have earned him a place in the pianists' Pantheon. Fellner is famous for his "deeply thought, illuminating playing" (London Telegraph). This season he returns to one of his passions-Franz Schubert, his fellow Viennese. The Washington Post raved, "Fellner immersed the Schubert in reverence while conveying the tragic impulses and the stupefying magnitude of his music." Schubert has no greater servant.
Program: Schubert Klavier Stücke No. 2 D946, Schubert Sonata D894, Schubert Four Impromptus D935


PAUL GROVES, tenor
St. LAWRENCE STRING QUARTET  

November 13, 2017 – Series B

Paul Groves, the great American tenor, commands a broad repertory including these rare compositions for tenor and string quartet which he sings with the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Groves stars in all of the important opera houses from La Scala to the Met and in concerts with the great conductors including Levine, Mutti, and Dutoit. Reviewing his recent Parsifal, The Chicago Tribune exclaimed, "He filled the huge auditorium with golden sound."

The St. Lawrence String Quartet formed in Canada in 1989 and made their Chamber Music in Napa Valley debut in 2009. Since 1998, they have been the Quartet in Residence at Stanford University. They have a modern, New World sound celebrated by The Washington Post for its "smoldering intensity." The LA Times lauded their "flexibility, dramatic fire and a hint of rock 'n' roll energy." One feels a bit of Jimmy Hendrix in their Beethoven Grosse Fuge. This program with Paul Groves is typical of their adventurous programing and will be recorded in the spring.
Program: Fauré La Bonne Chason, Vaughn Williams On Wenlocke Edge, Rachmaninoff Four songs with Solo Violin


TAKÁCS STRING QUARTET
GARRICK OHLSSON, piano

December 8, 2017 – Series A

The Takács String Quartet has been coming to Napa since 1985 and this is their 12th performance here-their second with pianist Garrick Ohlsson. The Quartet formed in Hungary 42 years ago, so these are the senior officers of this season. This great quartet has a sound like no other. Last year, The Financial Times praised the Quartet: "Even in the most fiendish repertory, these players show no fear, injecting the music with a heady sense of freedom. At the same time, though, there is an uncompromising attention to detail: neither a note nor a bow-hair is out of place."

Garrick Ohlsson joins the Takács for the monumental Brahms Piano Quintet, a masterpiece requiring a pianist with both power and grace. Ohlsson has collaborated with the Takács many times, including their magnificent Shostakovich Quintet here. Ohlsson is like a member of the Chamber Music in Napa Valley family, having played at least one concert in each season since his overwhelming all-Beethoven debut in 1999. An international legend since his youthful victory in the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 1970, this complete master of the keyboard commands an uncanny repertory (80 concertos and counting, for example). The Seattle Times nailed it, "Ohlsson's sound is so lush, it almost glistens."
Program: Mozart String Quartet K575, Shostakovich String Quartet No. 11, Brahms Piano Quintet


EMANUEL AX, piano

January 8, 2018 – Series B

Emanuel Ax has been coming to Chamber Music in Napa Valley for 20 years. He is hallowed in every cultural capital in the world and is known for his "plush tone and intense focus" (SF Chronicle). His virtuosity always seems equally heart-felt and brainy. There is no mensch quite like "Manny" Ax; his performances convey warmth, humility, and energy in a way that makes you feel glad to be a human being. Over his nine previous concerts in Napa, we have seen his uncanny mastery over a huge range of music. Ax's recent Beethoven recital in London was praised by The Guardian: "This was a master class in the infinite gradations of dynamics, the finest pianism and, overall, a grandeur to rival the symphonies."
Program: Mozart Fantasy K487, Mozart Sonata K457, Liszt Two Petrarch Sonnet, Bach Partita No. 5, Beethoven Waldstein Sonata.


VERTAVO STRING QUARTET

January 16, 2018 – Series A

The Vertavo Quartet, Norway's extraordinary chamber music ambassadors, made an overwhelming and joyful impression with their first concert here in 2011. This will be their third Napa performance. The Vertavo Quartet formed in 1984 when four young Norwegian women came together to play in a quartet competition in Finland and won the first prize. Now 33 years later, they still play with the infectious energy that brought their sudden fame. The Guardian in London understands the Quartet: "The Vertavo moved from warmest sensuality to knife-edge bitterness with phenomenal expressive flexibility."
Program: Dutilleux Ainsi la Nuit, Ravel String Quartet, Schubert Death and the Maiden


YEFIM BRONFMAN, piano

February 12, 2018 – Series B

Yefim (Fima) Bronfman, the great Uzbek pianist, plays in Napa as often as his crazy schedule allows. In his nine previous recitals here, he has played an amazing array of music from Scarlatti to a piece written for him by his friend Esa Pekka Salonin. Sought equally as solo recitalist, chamber music collaborator, and concerto soloist, there just isn't enough of Fima to go around. He has been honored recently to play the premiers of concertos written for him by Salonen, Lindberg, and Widmann. The Chicago Tribune described his performance as "a marvel of digital dexterity, warmly romantic sentiment, and jaw-dropping bravura."
Program: Schumann Humoreske Op. 20, Widmann Elf Humoresken, Stravinsky Petruschka


DENIS KOZHUKHIN, piano

February 20, 2018 – Series A

Denis Kozhukhin, the 31-year-old Russian pianist, has already established a phenomenal international career. After his shattering performance of the Prokofiev Concerto No. 2 earlier this year, The Chicago Tribune declared, "It is hard to imagine any pianist seizing this formidably difficult concerto in a mightier grip than this Russian firebrand." He collaborates with the most important conductors including Barenboim, Temirkanov, Rattle, and Runnicles. The Berlin Morganpost reviewed his Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 and noted: "While he dispatched the fiendish last movement like a wild virtuoso, the fortissimo excitement did not overshadow his intelligent and differentiated piano playing." He has chosen a recital program highlighting some of the tenderest moments of the romantic repertory.
Program: Bach English Suite No. 2, Brahms Three Intermezzos Op. 117, Debussy Book One Preludes


QUATUOR EBÈNE

March 8, 2018 – Series B

Quatuor Ebène, the greatest quartet ever to emerge from France, returns for their second performance in Napa. The Quartet formed 18 years ago at the Boulogne-Billancourt Conservatory near Paris. In their first decade they won many of the big quartet competitions and honors in Europe and England, began a recording contract with Virgin Classics, and were honored by Gramophone with the Recording of the Year Award. This Quartet is as cool as they are great, they can morph into a jazz band when they play at a high school or shake up a classical audience with a rock encore. Their enormous popularity however is based upon their exquisite musicianship. The New York Times noted both their "no-holes-barred fervor" and their "searing introspection."
Program: Haydn String Quartet Op. 76 No. 2, Fauré String Quartet Op. 121, Beethoven String Quartet Op. 74


JUPITER STRING QUARTET
ROGER TAPPING, viola and NATASHA BROFKSY, cello

March 20, 2018 – Series A

The Jupiter String Quartet and their friends and frequent collaborators, Roger Tapping and Natasha Brofsky, have created an exceptional program of rarely played masterpieces. Tapping (when he was the violist of the Takács Quartet) coached the Jupiter Quartet when they were beginning their career in 2002 and has often collaborated with them. In their first years, the Jupiters won most of the North American chamber music awards from Banff to Lincoln Center. The Quartet has since emerged as the most exciting American quartet of their amazing generation, maturing into a deep, powerfully expressive ensemble, while keeping their youthful zeal. "From beginning to end, they played as if they were on fire with passion and energy galore," The Washington Post recently noted.

Roger Tapping, the superb violist of the Juilliard String Quartet (and formerly the Takács Quartet) has appeared here many times, as has his wife Natasha Brofsky, the exceptional cellist of the Peabody Trio.
Program: Schubert Quartettsatz D703, Schoenberg Verklaerte Nacht Op. 4, Brahms Sextet Op. 36

ARTEMIS STRING QUARTET

April 17, 2018 – Series B

The Artemis Quartet from Berlin returns for their third concert in Napa. Formed in Lübeck in 1989, they are now Germany's top quartet. They have powerful positions in Berlin at the Philharmonie, in Vienna at the Konzerthaus and in Munich at the Prince Regent Theater. They studied with the greatest mentors-from the Alban Berg, Emerson and Juilliard Quartets to Alfred Brendel. This is a quartet with a ravishing sound led by their formidable first violin, the Latvian superstar Vineta Sareka, who joined the quartet in 2012. Joachim Kaiser (the Robert Parker of German music critics) holds a halo over them declaring that they play with "a higher musical intensity than all others."
Program: Mozart String Quartet K590, Bartok String Quartet No. 2, Schuman String Quartet Op. 41 No. 1