Chamber music concert features Davis standouts

By From page A11 | February 07, 2012

Check it out

Who: Chamber Music Society of Sacramento, featuring soprano Rebecca Plack and cellist Julie Hochman, both of Davis

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Congregation Bet Haverim, 1715 Anderson Road, Davis

Tickets: $28 general, $22 seniors, $12 students, available at the door

Soprano Rebecca Plack and cellist Julie Hochman — performers who live and teach in Davis — will be the featured artists at a concert by the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Congregation Bet Haverim, 1715 Anderson Road in Davis.

The concert will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Capistrano Hall at Sacramento State University.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Chamber Music Society, and in recognition of this milestone, this program will feature several works identified as Opus 25 by their respective composers.

“Robert Schumann wrote ‘Mythren’ — with means ‘wreath’ — for Clara Schumann the year he married her,” Plack explained. “It’s his Opus 25, and it is like a wreath of songs he wrote for her.

“There are 26 songs in the set, I will be singing three of them. The three I’m doing are all settings of German translations of poems from the ‘Scots Musical Museum’ ” — a six-volume collection of Scottish folk songs and music, published between 1787 and 1803.

“In some cases, these songs were collected and rewritten by Robert Burns (the noted poet and songwriter regarded by many as Scotland’s national poet), and then later translated into German,” Plack said.

There is a tradition of German/Austrian composers adapting Scottish songs — Haydn and Beethoven enjoyed success in this regard some decades before Schumann composed “Mythren” in 1840.

“For this concert, I have paired the original Scottish poems and songs by Burns with Schumann’s settings,” Plack said. “I’ll sing the Scottish folk songs first, then follow with the Schumann setting.

“It was Larry Snyder of Davis who brought these pairs to my attention. I’m indebted to him for letting me know; this wasn’t something I knew about.”

Plack also will sing “Nuvoletta,” which is American composer Samuel Barber’s Opus 25, composed in 1947, and incorporating text drawn from James Joyce’s 1939 novel “Finnegan’s Wake.” In the Irish author’s distinctive style, it begins with these words:

Nuvoletta in her lightdress,
spunn of sisteen shimmers,
was looking down on them,
leaning over the bannistars
and listening all she childishly could …

“Barber, like Schumann, was a pretty literary guy;  he was very much aware of the writers of his era,” Plack said.

Plack will be accompanied by pianist Dmitri Cogan. Plack is an adjunct faculty member at the San Francisco Music Conservatory, and is also on the faculty of the Vancouver International Song Institute in Canada. She teaches voice privately in Davis, and several of her students attend Davis High School, where they sing with the Jazz Choir and other groups. Plack is a Davis High graduate herself.

Plack will make a university tour in the spring, giving master classes and lectures at the Eastman School of Music, Yale, Stanford and Temple University.

Hochman, a cellist, will be featured in another Schumann work — the Piano Quartet (Opus 47, 1842). Hochman explained that “in 1840, Schumann wrote something like 120 songs” — including “Mythren” — “and then he got married. And in 1842, he wrote a ton of chamber music — it was a lush, exuberant pouring forth of melody.

“The Piano Quartet starts with a movement that has a slow introduction with a very vigorous feeling. Then the second movement is a Mendelssohn-like Scherzo. The third movement is a romantic love song, said to be for his wife Clara. And then the fourth movement has theme after theme, very melodic and lyrical.

“It’s one of those pieces that when people hear it, even for the first time, they feel a connection to it.”

Hochman’s hometown is Milwaukee, and she began playing the cello at age 9. She did her undergraduate work in Tennessee at what is now the University of Memphis, and her graduate studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. She married and settled in San Francisco with her family, then came to Davis in 1995 “with a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old.”

Hochman started giving private lessons and now has a cello studio with 25 students, “ages 6 to 60-something,” she said.

One of her better-known students is cellist Eunghee Cho of Davis High School, who won last year’s Classical Jammies competition at the Mondavi Center. Cho, who studied with Hochman for eight years, will be a featured soloist in the Sacramento Philharmonic’s concert at the Sacramento Community Center Theater on Feb. 18.

Tickets for the Chamber Music Society’s concert in Davis on Saturday are $28 general, $22 for seniors, $12 for students, available at the door.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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