Small wonders

July 9, 2018 GMT

The 46th Annual Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival hosts a power trio of string quartets starting Sunday, July 15, at the New Mexico Museum of Art.

New York Philharmonic Principal String Quartet

The festival consists of 45 concerts with nearly 100 musicians across six weeks. Artist-in-residence and former New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert will helm three classical programs.

The Orion String Quartet, the Danish String Quartet and the fledgling New York Philharmonic Principal String Quartet and more will perform primarily in Santa Fe, toggling between the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Three performances are scheduled for Albuquerque Academy’s Simms Auditorium.

The Orion will open the festival at the New Mexico Museum of Art on Sunday with the music of sitar master Ravi Shankar and Beethoven.

The musicians will play Shankar’s “The Enchanted Dawn” and Beethoven’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3, “Razumovsky.” Razumovsky was the Russian ambassador to Vienna.


On Saturday, Aug. 4, also at the museum, the festival will dedicate the instrument of the late New York Philharmonic harpsichordist Paul Wolfe.

“This harpsichord was his last major recital instrument,” the festival’s executive director Steven Ovitsky said. “He left it to us in his estate when he passed away in 2016.”

Paolo Bordignon will perform works by Bach, Scarlatti and Bartok.

The tongue-twisters and Lewis Carroll rhymes of Edith Sitwell and William Walton will mark the Aug. 5 and 6 concerts at the New Mexico Museum of Art with the “Walton Facade.” Expect a tour-de-force performance by soprano Lucy Shelton and actor John Rubinstein, with verses by the British poet Sitwell. The piece was written in the early 1920s.

Steven Ovitsky

“It’s not sung; it’s spoken in rhythm,” Ovitsky said. “It’s very jazzy and very funny. In one of them, an old English music hall song comes up. This just has loads of musical jokes and the texts are outrageous.”

Albuquerque residents will hear a program of trios on Thursday, Aug. 2, with The Schubert String Trio in B-flat Major, D. 581 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor, Op. 50. Music From Angel Fire director Ida Kavafian will play the violin in a string trio with her husband, Peter Tenenbom, and Peter Stumpf. Van Cliburn Gold Medal winner Haochen Zhang will helm the piano with Benny Kim and Mark Kosower.

On Thursday, July 26, Albuquerque fans will hear a short set of Mozart variations on violin and piano. Walter Braunfels’ String Quintet in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 63 will follow with music by the composer who lived out World War II in Nazi Germany.

“His music was banned,” Ovitsky said. “He wasn’t sent to the camps, but he lost any ability to make a living.”

The music is strongly dark and sonorous, he said.

The mood will lighten considerably with Dvorak’s Piano Trio in E Minor Op. 90, “Dumky.”


“Dumky” is a type of Slavic dance, Ovitsky said.

“It starts slowly, then bursts into fast and goes back and forth,” he said. “It’s a wonderfully uplifting piece filled with Czech folk dances.”

The Danish String Quartet

On Thursday, Aug. 9, the Danish String Quartet (“modern Vikings ? perhaps a touch more harmless than our ancestors,” they say) will move to Albuquerque’s Simms Auditorium to play Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet. Anthony McGill, principal clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic, will join the quartet.

For complete concert listings, visit

If you go

WHAT: 46th Annual Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

WHEN: July 15-Aug. 20

WHERE: Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St., Santa Fe; St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Museum of Art, 107 W. Palace Ave., Santa Fe; Simms Auditorium, Albuquerque Academy, 6400 Wyoming NE

HOW MUCH: $15-$100 at, 505-982-1890 or 888-221-9836, ext. 102.