JoAnn Falletta bringing her guitar to Chamber Players concert - The Buffalo News
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JoAnn Falletta bringing her guitar to Chamber Players concert

The Buffalo Chamber Players like their concerts to be surprising, featuring different repertoire as well as different musicians in various combinations. Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra violist Janz Castelo, who leads the loose confederation, has come up with a well-known collaborator for their next concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Buffalo Seminary.

The new colleague is JoAnn Falletta, the BPO’s music director, who is going to be there with her guitar.

The concert is a program of transcriptions and arrangements. Falletta is joining in on Schubert’s Quartet for Flute, Guitar, Viola and Cello. It is an arrangement Schubert made of a trio by the Austrian guitarist Wenzel Matiegka. (Schubert loved to play guitar, an instrument he picked up as a teenager.)

The piece has a convivial feel, Castelo said.

“A lot of chamber music Schubert wrote was for his family to play. His father played cello,” he said.

Falletta has won admiration in international chamber music circles for finishing this piece, which Schubert left unfinished. “It ended up being too difficult for his family. Once he figured his dad couldn’t play it, he abandoned it,” Castelo explained. The combination of instruments has shifted, he said. It will be played on violin, viola, cello and guitar.

To finish the piece, Falletta sat down with Schubert’s score and Matiegka’s score, comparing the two and learning Schubert’s methods. Then she carried it forward in the same style. The result is a sort of gift for guitarists, who do not have much repertoire of this type.

The rest of the program also will focus on various composers’ music as filtered through the imagination of other composers.

The evening includes, for instance, a piece that Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu made of Tchaikovsky’s “Autumn Song.” “He arranged it for string quartet and clarinet,” Castelo said.

There also is an arrangement by Arnold Schoenberg of Johann Strauss Jr.’s uber-romantic “Emperor Waltz.”

“People think of Schoenberg as cerebral. But he was a romantic at heart,” Castelo said. “Unless you’ve experienced that part of Schoenberg, you’re not appreciating the whole man.”

Buffalo’s Ron Martin has arranged the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony for string quintet, harmonium and guitar. Falletta will be playing the guitar part. For the harmonium, we have Castelo to thank.

“We used it a few concerts ago for the Dvorak Bagatelles,” he said. “I found it on Craigslist. It was free but you had to get it out of the basement of this Williamsville house. We got a pickup truck and we had to haul this. This thing must weigh 400 pounds. But it was in pretty good shape. We keep it backstage at Buffalo Seminary. There are a lot of pieces that use harmonium,” he added. “We’ll be using it for this one.”

Short pieces by Rob Diina and Caroline Malonee (who reimagined Willie Nelson’s “Falling”) will round out the concert.

Castelo delights in the varied program. “During the concert, I’ll discuss things from the stage,” he said. “The transcription versus an arrangement – there’s definitely a difference between the two.”

A challenging art, at that. “I want to say it’s going to be tough,” Castelo said, anticipating the concert. “But they’ll do a great job. I’m not worried. Luckily we’ve got great musicians.”


What: Buffalo Chamber Players

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Buffalo Seminary, 205 Bidwell Parkway

Tickets: $15



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