Leonore Overture

collects the music and arts criticism of Keith Powers

Rockport Chamber Music Festival, 2017 season announcement

Rockport Chamber Music Festival, 2017 season announcement

David Deveau, outgoing Rockport Chamber Music Festival artistic director, in the house that he built. Paul Cary Goldberg photograph

David Deveau, outgoing Rockport Chamber Music Festival artistic director, in the house that he built. Paul Cary Goldberg photograph

The 2017 Rockport Chamber Music Festival features, as usual, many of the greatest musicians performing today. Joshua Bell and Garrick Ohlsson; the Brentano, Escher, Jupiter and Jasper quartets; the Boston Camerata, Handel & Haydn Society, and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players will all grace the Shalin Liu Performance Center stage this summer. 

But tugging at the hearts of regular festival audiences will be the farewell season of outgoing artistic director David Deveau. In his 22 years, Deveau has overseen not only innumerable unforgettable chamber music programs, but helped Rockport Music transform itself from a summertime-only festival in an centuries-old converted barn, to a year-round music organization, performing in one of the great concert halls anywhere, built especially for chamber music.

It’s been an amazing two decades, and this festival brings it to a close. Deveau has chosen many familiar faces to fill this summer’s season, including multiple performances with himself collaborating on piano.

Bell adds his considerable star power to opening night, June 2, performing sonatas with pianist Alessio Bax (no slouch himself). In addition to Ohlsson, visiting pianists include Russell Sherman, Andrew Rangell, Gilles Vonsattel, Charlie Albright, Joyce Yang and Heng-Jin Park. 

World premieres by Charles Shadle (a piano quartet, June 3) and RCMF co-founder David Alpher (his setting of Marsden Hartley poems, with baritone Robert Osborne, on June 24) highlight the repertory. H&H stages Purcell’s “The Fairy Queen,” and the Boston Camerata “Tristan and Iseut,” in concert-length performances.

The final concert, July 9, will have special resonance, as Deveau takes the stage one final time as artistic director along with his replacement, violist Barry Shiffman. There will be much to enjoy this summer, capped off with this significant goodbye and hello event.


Friday, June 2, 6 p.m.

Opening Night: Joshua Bell, violin, with Alessio Bax, piano

Duo sonatas by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy; solo violin sonata by Ysaÿe; and Sarasate’s “Carmen Fantasy.” Another splashy opening to the summer festival.

Dinner and tickets: $750-$1250.


Saturday, June 3, 8 p.m.

David Deveau, piano; Bayla Keyes, violin; Steven Ansell, viola; Michael Reynolds, cello

The outgoing artistic director, with some of his closest friends and musical associates, performs a world premiere quartet by Charles Shadle, Beethoven’s C minor string trio, and Fauré’s C minor piano quartet.



Sunday, June 4, 5 p.m.

Canadian Brass

Leaders in the brass chamber repertory offer music ranging from Lennon/McCartney to Bernstein to Monteverdi to Mozart.



Thursday, June 8, 8 p.m.

Jonah Ellsworth, cello, and Heng-Jin Park, piano

Mother and son team, two-thirds of the Boston Trio, play sonatas by Janacek, Mendelssohn, and Brahms. Ellsworth tackles George Crumb’s solo sonata as well.



Friday, June 9, 8 p.m.

Jasper Quartet, Jupiter Quartet

Haydn (Jasper) and Ligeti (Jupiter) quartets, and then a joint performance of the great Mendelssohn Octet. A premiere event of the summer season.



Saturday, June 10, 8 p.m.

Russell Sherman, piano

Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt. Only fitting that the venerable Sherman, a teacher and mentor, returns during David Deveau’s last season. 



Sunday, June 11, 5 p.m.

Jupiter String Quartet, with Richard Stoltzman, clarinet

Quartets by Beethoven (“Harp”) and Golijov (“Yiddishbbuk"), Mozart’s clarinet quintet



Thursday, June 15, 8 p.m.

Andrew Rangell, piano, with Sarita Kwok & Robyn Bollinger (violins), Stephanie Fong (viola), Rafael Popper-Keizer (cello)

All-Brahms: Piano Trio, Op. Post (A major), and F minor quintet, Op. 34



Friday, June 16, 8 p.m.

Escher String Quartet, with Joyce Yang, piano

Yang performs selected “Etudes-Tableaux” of Rachmaninov, and joins Escher for Shostakovich G minor quintet. Escher adds Shostakovich E-flat major quartet (no. 9) as well.



Saturday, June 17, 8 p.m.

Handel & Haydn Society, Ian Watson, conductor and harpsichordist

Henry Purcell’s “The Fairy Queen” in concert performance. Early music fans, don’t miss this.



Sunday, June 18, 5 p.m.

Chameleon Arts Ensemble

Beethoven, Bartok, Berio and Bloch—compelling works by Boston’s champions of unusual repertory.



Thursday, June 22, 8 p.m.

Frank Huang, violin; David Requeiro, cello; Gilles Vonsattel, piano

Call them the Naumburg trio. Naumburg Competition winners all, they perform works by Beethoven, Elliott Carter, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.



Friday, June 23, 8 p.m.

Lorelei Ensemble

Beth Willer’s talented singers have made a mark. No repertory limits on these nine singers: early to new, it all sounds great. Program—from Dufay to new commissions by Gilbert, Shank and Bornfield—reflects their versatility.



Saturday, June 24, 8 p.m.

David Alpher, composer and piano; Robert Osborne, baritone; Stephanie Chase, violin; Sophie Shao, cello

RCMF co-founder Alpher returns, with his own world premiere, a setting of Marsden Hartley’s poems. Mozart and Schumann trios fill out the program.



Sunday, June 25, 5 p.m.

Charlie Albright, piano

Gifted young artist tackles Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Come and see. Chopin’s “La ci darem” variations, Handel, Kapustin, and Albright’s own improvisations as well.



Thursday, June 29, 8 p.m.

New York Woodwind Quintet, with Mihae Lee, piano

Beautiful program ranging from Monteverdi to Mozart to Hindemith to Carter. Poulenc Sextet caps it off. 



Friday, June 30, 8 p.m.

Boston Symphony Chamber Players, with David Deveau, piano

Mozart sonata for violin and piano, Taffanel wind quinet, Brahms E-flat horn trio. 



Saturday, July 1, 8 p.m.

Brentano String Quartet

One of the premiere quartets in this generation, Brentano performs Stephen Hartke’s “The Fifth Book,” written for them, the first Razumovksy quartet, and a Bruce Adolphe arrangement of Gesualdo madrigals. Fascinating program.



Thursday, July 6, 8 p.m.

Garrick Ohlsson, piano

Schubert’s A minor and A major (D. 959) sonatas, selections from Scriabin. Get tickets early for this. 



Friday, July 7, 8 p.m.

Deveau-Càrdenes-Williams Trio

Wouldn’t be a summer in Rockport without David Deveau’s Pittsburgh Symphony friends and collaborators: Andrés Càrdenes (retired concertmaster) and Anne Martindale Williams (principal cello). Haydn, Shostakovich, Dvorak’s Dumky. Great trios all—both the compositions, and the artists.



Saturday, July 8, 8 p.m.

Boston Camerata

Anne Azéma leads the Camerata—now 60+ years old—in “Tristan and Iseut: A Medieval Romance in Poetry and Music.” Must-see event.



Sunday, July 9, 5 p.m.

David Deveau, piano; Barry Shiffman, viola; Andrés Càrdenes, violin; Anne Martindale Williams, cello

David Deveau’s farewell, and Barry Shiffman’s hello. Outgoing and incoming artistic directors collaborate in music of Mozart, Dvorak and others.



There are many preconcert lectures, lecture-performances and open rehearsals, most free to the public. For complete listing, tickets and information visit www.rockportmusic.org or call 978-546-7391.


Busoni’s Concerto for Forte, in C. Boston Symphony Orchestra, March 10, 2017

Busoni’s Concerto for Forte, in C. Boston Symphony Orchestra, March 10, 2017

Schuller, Ax, Eroica. Nelsons leads the BSO

Schuller, Ax, Eroica. Nelsons leads the BSO