its 16th season, the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival continues
to bring entertaining and challenging music to the SPAC season
around 9 PM and the heat has finally broken, making the humidity
tolerable on this fine Saratoga evening. There’s no event
tonight in the nearby main amphitheater at Saratoga Spa State
Park, so it’s pleasingly quiet outside. In the soft darkness,
people are milling about in front of the Spa Little Theater,
munching biscotti, chatting, and drinking coffee and bottled
water. And many of these people seem to be talking about the
excellence of the evening’s performers, New York City-based
ensemble the Claremont Trio.
The trio, who got together while they were students at Juilliard
in 1999, are making their first appearance at the Saratoga
Chamber Music Festival. Pianist Donna Kwong and sisters Julia
(cello) and Emily (violin) Bruskin opened the concert with
Beethoven’s second piano trio, bringing precision and a light
touch to this early work by the well-loved German, and followed
this with contemporary American composer Paul Schoenfield’s
raucous Café Music.
If you’ve listened to any of the NPR classical radio shows
over the last couple of decades, you’ve likely heard Café
Music. It’s a very popular piece, probably because it’s
full of classic 20th-century American popular sounds: jazz,
blues, Broadway and ragtime. What the Claremont Trio brought
to the piece that made it special, however, was a fierce virtuosity—they
attacked the intricacies of the work with relish, and let
the “fun” take care of itself. (Which it did.) The audience
responded warmly, and, now, as they file back inside, people
are clearly looking forward to the second half of the program,
Brahms’ Piano Trio No. 1in B-major.
As a traveling ensemble, the Claremont Trio are a rarity in
the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival season (as are the Tokyo
String Quartet, who will perform on Aug. 12). Most of the
regular performances feature violinist and musical director
Chantal Juillet, members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and
featured guests, who, usually, are also featured soloists
with the Philadelphia Orchestra on the SPAC main stage. And
a couple of concerts feature an official SPAC composer-in-residence.
This week, for example, the Capuçon brothers—Gautier, cello,
and Renaud, violin—will be featured with Juillet and pianist
Emanuel Ax in an all-Brahms program on Aug. 5, and with Juillet
and clarinetist Jose French-Ballester in a pair of works by
Schubert and Stravinsky on Aug. 7.
In her introduction to this first concert of the season, Chantal
Juillet greets the audience warmly—and vice versa. She has,
she says, just arrived by car from Montreal shortly before
show time: “I changed in the parking lot,” she explains, laughing.
She wasn’t deliberately tardy—though Juillet doesn’t go into
the gory details, she makes it clear that she was extensively
delayed by the tender mercies of homeland security, in the
person of U.S. customs officers. The experience, she says,
helped derail her efforts to come up with a good joke for
the concert introduction.
Juillet welcomes back the many “familiar faces” she sees,
as this 16th season of the festival begins—“We’re growing
old together,” she smiles— and gets right to the point.
This year’s composer-in-residence is Polish-born Krzysztof
Penderecki. This is, genuinely, a big deal: Penderecki is
one of the most important and acclaimed living composers.
And she wants to make sure the regulars, a traditional classical
music audience that is probably, even at this late date, wary
of 20th-century music, will come out and support Penderecki’s
He didn’t even need much convincing to come to Saratoga. “Right
away, he said yes,” she says, and adds that he is disarmingly
not prepossessing, telling her that “I don’t want to tell
you how to play my music.”
While Penderecki won’t, as is the usual custom, have a newly
commissioned work for the Saratoga season—it just wasn’t logistically
possible—he will conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra in his
Symphony No. 2, and two of his works will be performed
in the chamber music festival. The Quartet for Clarinet
and Strings will be featured on Aug. 14, and the Sextet
for Clarinet, Horn, String Trio and Piano will be performed
in the season- ending concert on Aug. 19.
Juillet explains that she is “very honored to have somebody
like him,” a towering figure of contemporary music, coming
to Saratoga Springs.
Getting back to tonight’s concert, the Claremont Trio don’t
disappoint in the second part of the show with the Brahms
piano trio. The audience is again generous with the applause;
half even manage to give the ladies a standing ovation.
As Juillet alluded in her introduction, it’s a very gray audience
and finding faces under 40 is disturbingly difficult. (There
are three—maybe four—not counting the performers themselves.)
Maybe the future of classical music is, as some commentators
have suggested, in the east, specifically China. Maybe Americans
are giving up on this wonderful tradition. But it’s not done
yet, and the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival is as musically
vital as it has ever been.
night headliners: the Claremont Trio.
Saratoga Comedy Club, the Inn at Saratoga, 231 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 8/3-4, 9 PM. Alex House. $15, $44.95
dinner and show package. 792-5233.
Round Lake Auditorium, 2 Wesley Ave., Round Lake. 8/5,
8 PM; 8/6, 2 PM: A pipe organ recital featuring Cherie Wescott
of Oklahoma City. $8-$5. 899-2130.
Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga
Springs. 8/2, 8 PM: Erich Kunzel conducts the Philadelphia
Orchestra in a pops program, Broadway Rocks. Music from Hair,
Tommy, Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia
and more. 8/3, 8 PM: Charles Dutoit conducts the Philadelphia
Orchestra, with guests Renaud Capuçon (violin) and Gautier
Capuçon (cello), in works by Prokofiev, Brahms and Rimsky-Korsakov.
8/4, 8 PM: The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform works by
Weber, Stravinsky, Ravel, and, with pianist Emanuel Ax, Mozart’s
Piano Concerto No. 22. 8/8, 8 PM: Yo-Yo Ma joins the
Philadelphia Orchestra to perform works by Sibelius, Shostakovich,
Saint-Saëns and Debussy. $70-$18. 587-3330.
Little Theater, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga
Springs. 8/5, 2:15 PM: Pianist Emanuel Ax, cellist Gautier
Capuçon and violinists Renaud Capuçon and Chantal Juillet,
with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, will perform an
all-Brahms program. 8/7, 8 PM: Cellist Gautier Capuçon and
violinists Renaud Capuçon and Chantal Juillet, with members
of the Philadelphia Orchestra, will perform works by Stravinsky
and Schubert. $40, $35. 587-3330.
Museums & Galleries
Barking Frog Art Gallery, 90 Broad St., Schuylerville.
695-5243. The Moving Figure. Reception 8/4, 4-8 PM.
100, 462 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-0818. Horse
of a Different Color, works by Audrey Romano. Reception
8/4, 6-8 PM.
on the Hudson, 92 Broad St., Schuylerville, 695-6131.
Early and recent paintings by New York City artist Tom Vincent.
Also, works by Susan Reynolds and Joyce Vincent.
Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, 99 S. Broadway, Saratoga
Springs. 584-2225. On Browaday. Also, The Dawn of
Modern Dance: Music, Myth and Movement, chronicling the
lives of Ruth St. Denis and Isadora Duncan; also, works by
Frank Ohman. Also, Two Dancers, photography by Charles
Bremer and poetry by Robert Bensen. Also, The Moving Figure.
Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave., Saratoga
Springs. 584-0400. The Voss Family, Artists of American
Sporting Life. Also, California Images: The Racing
Photography of William Mochon; also, the Racing Art Collection
of Charles H. Thieriot.
York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs.
581-5100. Worth a Thousand Muskets: Civil War Field Artillery;
also, Battleground for Freedom: New York during the Revolutionary
War; also, World War II: United for Victory; also,
Fiery Trial and Sacrifice: New York and the First World
Automobile Museum, 110 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Spa
State Park, Saratoga Springs. 587-1935 ext. 20. East of
Detroit, and New York Racing exhibit. Also, Barn Finds.
County Arts Council, Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Individual View, works
by Ann Larsen, Jeffrey Braxton, and David R. White. Reception
8/4, 5-8 PM.
Springs History Museum, Canfield Casino, Congress Park,
Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Along the Winding River: A
Natural and Human History of the Kayderosseras Creek.
College, Schick Art Gallery, 815 N. Broadway, Saratoga
Springs. 580-5049. Regis Brodie: A Retrospective.
Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 N.
Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Alumni Invitational
2. Also, West African Masquerade, photographs by Phyllis
Malta/Saratoga Farmers Market, Dave Meager Community Center,
Route 9, Malta. Tuesdays, 11 AM-2 PM.
Farmers Market, High Rock Park, High Rock Avenue, Saratoga
Springs. Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM; Wednesdays, 3-6 PM.
Fairs & Festivals
First Friday, downtown Ballston Spa. 8/3, 6-9 PM. Various
performances and art exhibits. 884-9913, 885-6302.
Siro’s Scramble, Saratoga State Park Golf Course, Saratoga
Springs. 8/7, 1 PM: Registration and lunch begin at 11:30
PM for this annual golf event to raise funds for St. Peter’s
ALS Regional Center. $300 per golfer, $1,200 per foursome.
Ghost Walks Haunted History Tours of Saratoga Springs
begins every Friday evening July-October and Saturday evenings
at 7 PM in August and October. $10, $5. 584-4132, MasonWinfield.com.
Spa State Park announces Mineral Springs Tours every Tuesday
and Friday in August, 11 AM. $3, $5. Registration required.
584-2000 ext. 119. www.nysparks.com.
daily through Sept. 3, except Tuesdays
267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-6200.
$3 grandstand, $5 clubhouse; children under 12 free; seats
are $6 and $7, respectively
$10 per car at the trackside and $5 across the street at the
Oklahoma Training Track. General parking is free.
Nine or 10 races a day; pari-mutuel wagering on every race.
Race Post Time is at 1 PM (except Travers Day, Aug. 26,
when it’s at 12:30 PM).
Stakes Races The Whitney Handicap (July 28); the Sword
Dancer Invitational (Aug. 11); the Alabama Stakes (Aug. 18);
the Travers Stakes (Aug. 25); the Woodward (Sept. 1).
Jockey Calvin Borel, 40 years old, who won this year's Kentucky
derby aboard Street Sense, with fiancée Lisa before riding
Street Sense to victory in the Jim Dandy Stakes on Sunday
at Saratoga Race Course. Earlier this year the Daily Race
Form described Borel: "Calvin Borel never wanted anything
more than to ride racehorses. Not play with the other kids.
Not take up a sport. Not even go to school." Born and raised
in southern Louisiana he is nicknamed by some as "Bo-Rail"
for his stretch drives down the rail on the inside of other
horses. He will ride Street Sense again in the Travers Stakes