MANHATTAN CHAMBER PLAYERS
DAVID FUNG, piano
Maverick Chamber Music Festival

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Reserved Hall Seats: $50.00, $29.00, $25.00 (partial obstruction)
General Admission/Outdoors/Uncovered: $20.00, Students: $10

manhattanchamberplayers.com

Wind, Sun, and Water

Ravel: String Quartet in F Major
Harold Meltzer: AQUA, for string quartet (2011)
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Debussy: Estampes
Jean Cras: Piano Quintet (1922)

David Fung, piano
Katie Hyun, violin
Rubén Rengel, violin
Luke Fleming, viola
Andrew Janss, cello

Our 2024 season of Sunday concerts begins with a gorgeous and provocative afternoon celebrating the subtle yet profound connections between Asia and the music of France. After starting with the ultimate “blockbuster” of French string quartets — Maurice Ravel’s single essay in the form, rich with the brilliant sunlight and verve of his homeland in the south of France — we come to the Maverick premiere of what is undoubtedly one of the finest American string quartets written in the last twenty years, from one of our most distinguished living composers: inspired by Aqua Tower, Jeanne Gang’s modern architectural masterpiece on the Chicago lakefront, Harold Meltzer’s dramatic ode to energy, wind and water freshens our ears, as a worthy successor to Ravel’s score.

After intermission, the brilliant pianist David Fung — born in Australia, now resident in both Canada and the United States — joins his equally gifted colleagues in the Manhattan Chamber Players for two of the greatest musical examples of French Orientalism: one celebrated, the other obscure. Claude Debussy’s Estampes — which include the justly famous “Pagodes” — has long been a staple of the piano repertoire, but the elegant music of Jean Cras, his near-contemporary, remains shrouded in neglect. Retiring an admiral in the French navy, Cras was also truly a composer of distinction, and widely acclaimed as such in the Paris of the 1920s. His 1922 Piano Quintet is a shimmering musical travelogue of his many journeys to France’s empire in the East — in some ways a direct byproduct of colonialism, yet in others, “the piano quintet Ravel never wrote”. Is it the music of cultural appropriation, or inspiration? A fascinating journey with which to start our Sunday season.

The Manhattan Chamber Players are a chamber music collective of New York-based musicians who share the common aim of performing the greatest works in the chamber repertoire at the highest level. Formed in 2015 by Artistic Director and violist Luke Fleming, MCP is comprised of an impressive roster of musicians who all come from the tradition of great music making at the Marlboro Music Festival, Steans Institute at Ravinia, Music@Menlo, Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival and Perlman Music Program, and are former students of the Curtis Institute, Juilliard School, Colburn School, and the New England Conservatory.

MCP has been praised in Strings Magazine for “A fascinating program concept…It felt refreshingly like an auditory version of a vertical wine tasting.” The article went on to applaud MCP for “an intensely wrought and burnished performance…Overall, I wished I could put them on repeat.” At the core of MCP’s inspiration is its members’ joy in playing this richly varied repertoire with longtime friends and colleagues, with whom they have been performing since they were students. As stated by The Boston Music Intelligencer: “This ensemble’s nature and practices constitute proof against complacency and stagnation. They achieved as precise ensemble as you’d ever want to hear.”

Transformations: Celebrating East Asian-American Creators and the Music of France is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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