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Chamber music series kicks off in St. Petersburg

Jeff Multer, Florida Orchestra concertmaster, is enthusiastic about the Palladium Chamber Players.

Thomas Bruce Studio (2009)

Jeff Multer, Florida Orchestra concertmaster, is enthusiastic about the Palladium Chamber Players.

By Jon Carter

Times Staff Writer

When the Palladium Theater asked Jeff Multer, concertmaster of the Florida Orchestra, to start a series of concerts at the downtown St. Petersburg venue, he thought it was the perfect opportunity to return to his chamber music background.

"We are really excited to bring such high quality chamber music to the area," said Multer, who thinks Tampa Bay could use more intimate and accessible concerts.

The Palladium Chamber Players has taken great care to program works it thinks everyone will appreciate. There's even a celebrity guest artist for the second concert: Grammy Award-winning violinist James Ehnes. Ehnes lives in Bradenton and is one of the biggest names in classical music today. He will perform a concerto by Ernest Chausson in which the "orchestra" consists of a string quartet and a piano.

The three concerts of the series are all on Wednesday nights, which Multer considers to be an ideal mid-week musical fix. "We spent a lot of time working on the scheduling," Multer said. "The concerts are at a slightly early time, so you can grab dinner before or after and still get home at a reasonable hour."

Although the ensemble performed a concert at the Palladium Theater last February, this will be its first full season in residence there. Violist Danielle Farina, cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park, the other core members of the ensemble, are all based in New York, so Multer typically flies there for rehearsals.

For each program, one member will be spotlighted in a smaller chamber work, typically a sonata. Arron will be featured on the first program, Ehnes has the concerto on the second, and Multer will be the third, performing Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 5, Spring.

On the program at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday is Schubert's Adagio and Rondo Concertante in F major; Debussy's Sonata for Cello and Piano; Brahms' Quartet for Piano and Strings in G minor; and Five Old French Dances, a lesser-known work by Baroque composer Marin Marais.

The other two concerts of the season are March 19 and April 23, also at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $26-36, or $96 for a season subscription. The Palladium is at 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-3590.

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Florida Orchestra does Rachmaninoff

The orchestra, conducted by Daniel Hege, will be joined by pianist Andrew von Oeyen in performances of Rachmaninoff's virtuosic Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Schumann's Symphony No. 2 in C major. The Rachmaninoff is a set of 24 variations on the theme from the last of 24 Caprices for Solo Violin by Niccolo Paganini. Rachmaninoff himself, who was an accomplished pianist, found the last variation exceedingly difficult to play and reportedly took a drink of alcohol before the premiere to calm his nerves. Also on the program is Michael Daugherty's Red Cape Tango from Metropolis Symphony. The composer has described this work as a "musical bullfight." It is meant to depict Superman's fight to the death with the villain Doomsday and draws on the medieval chant Dies Irae ("Day of Wrath") for melodic material. Performances are 11 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. Call toll-free 1-800-662-7286.

Chamber music series kicks off in St. Petersburg 02/18/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 6:08pm]
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