Intimate classics |

Intimate classics

Cassie Pence
Special to the Daily

BEAVER CREEK – It was chance that introduced violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg to pianist Anne-Marie McDermott.Aspen’s winter classical music series called in Salerno-Sonnenberg at the last minute to perform a chamber piece with McDermott. What began as a fortunate opening in schedule yielded a musical relationship so perfect “it’s almost annoying,” Salerno-Sonnenberg joked.

“There are people who, personally, are quite easy to work with. It doesn’t mean what you’re doing musically together is interesting or vibrant,” Salerno-Sonnenberg said. “It’s not easy (with McDermott) – it’s perfect. Anne-Marie picks up on my instinct instantly; not even a millisecond goes by. I feel it’s a gift.”McDermott and Salerno-Sonnenberg have now been playing together for 10 years. They are recital partners and have recorded a live CD together on Salerno-Sonnenberg’s own label, NSS Music. The two share personality traits, too, Salerno-Sonnenberg said, like their kinetic energy, fast New York speech and love of hot dogs. On Tuesday, however, the Vilar Center audience will hear their connection played out in Schumann’s “Quartet in E-flat Major for Piano and Strings” during Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival’s first Chamber Classics concert of the season. Toby Appel, viola, and Ani Aznavoorian, cello, will join the two in the performance.

The concert begins with Mozart’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano,” one of only seven sonatas written by the Austrian composer, played by Benny Kim, violin, and McDermott. It moves into Shostakovich’s “Trio No. 2 in E Minor for Piano, Violin and Cello,” written in remembrance of the composer’s friend, critic and musicologist Ivan Sollertinsky. Adam Neiman, piano; Stefan Milenkovich, violin; and Aznavoorian will perform the piece.Chamber music is written for small groups of musicians, and throughout history, it has been a platform for composers to experiment and express musical ideas and attitudes.”Chamber music is quite different than orchestral music,” said Salerno-Sonnenberg, who is celebrating her 25th anniversary as a professional musician and commonly works as a soloist in orchestra performances. “It’s a shared experience, and it’s far more intimate. I mean, it can be Carnegie Hall, but the music is much more intimate.”

Salerno-Sonnenberg compares playing as a soloist in a symphony to playing chamber music as the difference between a one-woman show and an ensemble cast.”The music is much more intricate in the way that everyone on stage has important stuff to do,” she said. “You really have to focus to see where the piece will end up.”

Tuesday’s concert is one of five chamber concerts at the Vilar throughout the Bravo! festival. Tickets cost $27 and can be purchased by calling 845-TIXS. For more information or festival program details, visit

Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 748-2938 or, Colorado

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