Composer and jazz musician Chris Brubeck wrote his new double concerto for violinist and Vermont Symphony Orchestra Music Director Jaime Laredo and his wife, cellist Sharon Robinson, and the VSO.
“When dancing a pas de deux, the leads trust each other to know the choreography and create a memorable interpretation,” Brubebeck says. “Sharon and Jaime play this ‘Pas de Deux’ with a spirited give-and-take approach and combine their talents to create an artistic and uplifting performance.
“This concerto is my heartfelt salute to their extraordinary musical partnership.”
The VSO, guest conducted by Sarah Hicks, will perform Brubeck’s “Pas De Deux: Concerto for Violin, Violoncello and Orchestra,” co-commissioned by the VSO, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. (“Musically Speaking,” a free discussion with the artists, precedes the concert at 6:30.)
The opening program of the VSO’s 2019-20 Masterworks season, “Brubeck for Two,” will also include Johannes Brahms’ No. 2 in D major, Op. 73, and Zoltan Kodály’s “Dances of Galánta.”
Chris Brubeck (b. 1952), son of legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, is perhaps best known as a jazz and pop musician. But since his 2001 “Convergence,” written for the Boston Pops, Chris Brubeck has been a successful composer, often crisscrossing the lines between jazz and classical.
It was in early 2016, when Laredo conducted the VSO performance of Brubeck’s “Affinity: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra,” written for and performed by renowned guitarist Sharon Isbin, that the two men first met.
“Maestro Laredo and I got to know each other during rehearsals and performances,” Brubeck said in his program notes. “It was evident that he was simpatico with my eclectic style of writing.”
Laredo, also a renowned violinist, proposed that Brubeck write a double concerto for him as the solo violinist and his wife, a virtuoso cellist.
“I was thrilled by this idea, and imagined a three-movement work that would be about 20 minutes in length,” Brubeck said. “Jaime and Sharon requested that the new piece be written for a chamber-size orchestra with winds in pairs. After much discussion with the soloists about what kind of piece they wanted, a few strong concepts emerged.
“I envisioned the creation of a tonal piece that would be uplifting, filled with memorable melodies, and joyful in a way that would reflect the unique musical and personal partnership of Jaime and Sharon,” Brubeck said. “We agreed on our vision for the piece, and so I started writing.”
After many discussions between Brubeck, Laredo and Robinson, including a run-through and work session at the Laredos’ Guilford home, “Pas de Deux” was premiered Aug. 11, 1918, at the Classical Tahoe Festival, another co-commissioner, under the direction of conductor Joel Revzen.
“Joel was very generous in rehearsal for this premiere,” Robinson told the Cleveland Institute of Music Newsroom. “We had several rehearsals to really work with the orchestra and make adjustments to the piece to create a beautiful balance between the soloists and the orchestra. It’s always exciting to see a new work grow and evolve in this way!”
Robinson described the second movement affectionately: “This movement was finished on Valentine’s Day, and it’s an incredibly romantic love duet that captures the best of the cello and the best of the violin.”
“It’s unabashedly romantic, as I think is befitting a couple who have been making music together, both literally and metaphorically, for many years,” Brubeck said. “I wanted to give them strong, passionate themes to play both individually and as a duo with intertwining melodies.”
Laredo and Robinson have long developed consortia to commission new works for the repertoire, including triple concertos and piano trios, among others. “Pas de Deux” is the 10th double concerto they have commissioned in this way.
“All of them are pieces we’ve championed and performed often,” Robinson said. “They’re all very different works, but there’s a place in the repertoire for each one.”
Other commissioning partners were the Pacific Symphony, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra and Robinson’s alma mater, the North Carolina School of the Arts.