Each holiday season, the Taos Chamber Music Group (TCMG) highlights music from a specific region of the world. This year, France is the focus for the TCMG’s “Joyeux Noel” concerts with pieces by composers Philippe Gaubert, Maurice Ravel and Camille Saint-Saens. The concerts feature virtuoso pianist Gleb Ivanov who will be making his fourth appearance with TCMG.
“Joyeux Noel” will be performed Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 16-17) at 5:30 p.m. at the Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux St.
The program opens with Gaubert’s “Third Flute Sonata” performed by TCMG Director and flutist Nancy Laupheimer and pianist Ivanov. Next, is Ravel’s “Miroirs” with Ivanov on solo piano. The concluding piece is Saint-Saens “Second Piano Trio” with Ivanov on piano, LP How on violin and Sally Guenther on cello.
Gaubert’s “Third Flute Sonata” is one of three sonatas he wrote. Laupheimer noted that both the piano and flute parts are commanding.
“I have played Gaubert’s ‘First Flute Sonata’ which is also very mellifluous, so I decided to learn this one which I love and has provided such solace in these difficult times for me,” Laupheimer said. “To immerse myself in such gorgeous sound and find ways to make it ever more expressive for the listener is a great gift to have access to.”
Laupheimer has an interesting connection to Gaubert through Marcel Moyse, one of Gaubert’s students. Laupheimer studied with Moyse at one of his summer flute seminars in Brattleboro, Vermont.
“Moyse was close to 90 when I met him, a seemingly diminutive man who still had a monumental presence, in fact at times even intimidating,” Laupheimer recalled. “His approach was all about the quality of sound and the beauty and expression you could bring to it, beginning with the simplest melodies. No detail escaped his attention, and he demanded the most of his students. He said that ‘the real beauty of sound came from the generosity of the heart.’ To this day, an unending and ever-fascinating focus on tone and phrasing make up a good part of my practice in an effort to not only honor the music, but to connect with my own and audiences’ hearts.”
Ravel’s “Miroirs” was completed in 1905 as a tribute to an avant-garde group of French artists, poets, critics and musicians referred to as ‘Les Apaches.’ Ravel, himself, was a member of this group. Each of five movements was dedicated to a fellow member: Léon-Paul Fargue, Ricardo Viñes, Paul Sordes, Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi and Maurice Delage.
“Ravel’s ‘Miroirs’ is an absolutely incredible masterpiece,” Ivanov said. “As any other impressionistic piece this one is about colors and movements. You won’t find many melodies in this piece. Playing ‘Miroirs’ is like drawing a painting with sounds. I guess, this is the most challenging part. You have to represent sounds of water, wind, birds, bells. Doing that on piano is one of the most thrilling things ever.”
Laupheimer explained that she chose Saint-Saens’ piece over some other better-known French piano trios because “it is a really effective composition that places drama, dance, sublime melody, exuberance and passion side by side.”
“This will add another significant work to the repertoire of the trio of Ivanov, How and Guenther, and really gives all three players the chance to shine as soloists as well as together,” said Laupheimer.
Gleb Ivanov comes from a family of musicians. Following his graduation from the Moscow Conservatory in 2005, Ivanov moved to the United States where he earned his master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, studying with Nina Svetlanova.
Last season, Ivanov played with Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra, and the Auburn, Waterbury and Monroe symphony orchestras. He performed recitals at the University of Florida, the Summer Stars Series in Ocean Grove, and in a special program at Bargemusic in New York City, presenting Sergei Prokofiev’s “War Sonatas.”
LP How has been a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra since 1980, touring through the Americas, Europe and Asia. For 38 years, he was the principal second violinist with the Santa Fe Orchestra. How has performed with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Caramoor, Spoleto, Lochenhaus and Moab music festivals, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the New York Philomusica at the International Music Festival of Sophia, and as guest soloist for the New Mexico Symphony.
Sally Guenther has performed with the New Mexico Symphony, Santa Fe Pro Musica and Santa Fe Symphony orchestras as well as chamber music festivals in New Mexico and Colorado. Guenther played with several U.S. orchestras before becoming solo cellist of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway for 20 years. In Norway, she taught at the Grieg Academy of Music and was a founding member of the contemporary chamber ensemble, BIT 20.
In 1993, Nancy Laupheimer founded the Taos Chamber Music Group. She serves as its Artistic and Executive Director as well as its primary flutist. Laupheimer has played flute, alto flute and piccolo with the Santa Fe Symphony, Musica de Camera Orchestra, Santa Fe Festival Ballet, Desert Chorale, New Mexico Music Festival, Serenata of Santa Fe, Music from Angel Fire, the Dorian Wind Quintet, and the American and Helios String Quartets. She has also performed with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic on the Dolores and Green rivers. As an educator, Laupheimer has been a guest lecturer at the University of Arizona and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and has participated in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s Educational Outreach Program.
Tickets are $25, $12 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the Harwood or online at taoschambermusicgroup.org. For concert-goers who will be dining out after the concert, a dinner discount is being offered by Doc Martin’s, Martyrs, the Gorge Bar & Grill and Lambert’s restaurants. For details, call the museum at (575) 758-9826.
For more information, visit taoschambermusicgroup.org.