Hope springs in Savannah



I'm almost glad I missed Tchaikovsky's "Souvenir de Florence" when members of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra presented the sextet at the Myers Park Baptist Church earlier this month.


Down at the Savannah Music Festival, where I'm spending five days in jazz and chamber music bliss, my wife, Sue, and I attended a performance led by violinist Daniel Hope that was nectar of the gods - and I'm not obliged to make comparisons! Nor was that the only delight in this Daniel Hope & Friends event, titled "From Russia With Love." The recovered half of Borodin's String Sextet and Anton Arensky's String Quartet No. 2 came before the intermission, both featuring Benny Kim in the first violin chair.

The Hope & Friends series continues with "German String Masterpieces" on March 31, another all-German program on April 1 and concludes with a "French Soiree" on April 3. I do envy ticketholders who sit in on this soiree, for it will include a Ravel violin sonata, a Fauré piano quartet and César Franck's mighty piano quintet.

Afterwards, the Savannah Music Festival lingers on through April 7, but it doesn't lose Hope. In another series, the celebrated Deutsche Grammophon recording artist teams up with the 12-member L'Arte del Mondo ensemble for three more concerts on April 4, 5 and 6, concentrating on concertos and divertimentos by numerous 17th and 18th century composers from Vivaldi to Mozart. Half of The Four Seasons are on the bill for the April 5 kickoff to the series.

Another taste of musical ambrosia was an all-Mendelssohn concert with Wu Han at the keyboard, joined by two members of the Emerson String Quartet, violinist Philip Setzer and cellist David Finckel, Han's husband. After the marrieds played Felix's Cello Sonata No. 2, we heard splendid performances of both Mendelssohn's piano trios. The full Emerson String Quartet will play three late Beethoven Quartets on April 2. Meanwhile, we'll have to content ourselves on our final day in Savannah with three more piano trios, two by the genial Haydn and one by that Beethoven dude.

All of these concerts - except for the April 6 L'Arte del Mondo program - are being performed in the main gallery of the Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences, an ideal place to hear chamber music.

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