ChamberFest Cleveland brings threes to Lenna

One of the focal points of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra program this summer is an increased attempt to balance contemporary performances with presentations of familiar, classic works.

That same mix will find its way into the Logan Chamber Music Series this afternoon at 4 p.m. in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. Members of ChamberFest Cleveland, including Chautauqua Music School Festival alumna Diana Cohen, will be making their Chautauqua Institution debut.

Cohen was a violin student at Chautauqua in 1994 and is thrilled to have the chance to return to the Institution in a professional context.

“It’ll be sort of a nice homecoming for me,” Cohen said. “I was always hoping [ChamberFest Cleveland] could do that, because it’s a community I know well. I know a lot of the people there, and it’s always been such a warm place to play.”

Cohen and the other 11 musicians joining her today will be performing “3X,” the program that made up their final show of the Cleveland festival yesterday afternoon.

“We’re just bringing the identical program to Chautauqua,” Cohen said. “We didn’t want to just bring in bits and pieces. We wanted to bring in the whole program.”

“3X” stands for the multiples of three featured throughout the program. The trio of works includes Osvaldo Golijov’s  “Last Round for Two String Quartets and Bass,”  Ludwig van Beethoven’s Trio for Piano and Strings in D major Op. 70, No. 1, “Ghost,” and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet in D minor “Souvenir de Florence,” Op. 70.

Staying in line with the classic-and-contemporary theme, the Beethoven and Tchaikovsky works fall into the former category while the Golijov piece is exceptionally modern in the world of chamber music.

Debuted in 1996, “Last Round” is described by Golijov on his website as “two quartets confronting each other … always attracting and repelling each other, always in danger of clashing.”

To Cohen, the piece represents a fiery, passionate boxing match between the two quartets with the upright double bass caught in the middle. It’s a sharp contrast between the eerie, haunting tones of Beethoven’s “Ghost” and the joyous score by Tchaikovsky.

Rather than a musical, Cohen sees the program as representative of both the vision of ChamberFest Cleveland and the Logan Series as a whole.

“What we love is variety — music that touches on all of the emotions,” Cohen said. “Not just having one kind of music but really having the full spectrum of what’s out there. We really try to mix it up quite a bit, and there’s a significant portion of music where what we play is truly unique.”