“How do you know when a guy is Armenian?” asks a character in the film Author, Author! “His last name rhymes with ‘Armenian.’ ” This year’s edition of the Mimir Chamber Music Festival takes on a distinctive note from the Caucasian country that produced the likes of Aram Khachaturian, Alan Hovhaness, and various members of System of a Down. Arno Babajanian worked during the Soviet era and produced many musical pieces in the accepted Soviet vein, but his celebrated Piano Trio is distinctive precisely because he incorporates traditional Armenian motifs and techniques into a conventionally Western framework. The same goes for Prokofiev’s Second String Quartet (sometimes called the “Kabardinian” Quartet), which was inspired by the composer’s trip to the Caucasus region and his exposure to folk music there.
If the Eurasian vibe isn’t your thing, the festival will also have plenty of music from other places, including classics such as Ravel’s Second Violin Sonata and Brahms’ Viola Sonata. Mahler’s Piano Quartet is a rare chance to hear the composer in a non-symphonic setting, a single movement of a planned larger work that he abandoned. Ives’ “From the Salvation Army” String Quartet sounds downright decorous in this company, but Elgar’s Piano Quintet is a chance to hear the English composer’s oak-paneled anguish in a chamber setting. Plus, Dr. Sajid Surve will return to lecture on repetitive stress injuries that musicians are prone to. As always, curious sounds will be available to you at this festival.
The Mimir Chamber Music Festival runs Jul 3-12 at TCU, PepsiCo Recital Hall, 2800 S University Dr, FW. Tickets are $35. Call 817-257-7602.