Ensemble by long distance--not possible, you say? Consider the 13-year-old, highly regarded instrumental quintet, An die Musik. That group, founded in the mid-1970s, gives up to 50 performances a year--its latest is an appearance on the Coleman Concerts series at Caltech, today at 3:30--and still operates with four members who live in New York, while the fifth resides in California.
The Los Angeles member, Daniel Rothmuller, who is also the associate principal cellist of the L.A. Philharmonic, says being part of An die Musik "is not that complicated."
"When we are going to perform, we gather in New York, virtually live together for a week, all become friends again, and rehearse eight hours a day. Then we go out on tour."
"It's more like a total of 50 or 60 hours in that week," adds pianist Constance Emmerich, like Rothmuller one of the three original members of the group. Oboist Gerard Reuter is another founder; the newer players are violinist Timothy Baker and violist Richard Brice.
For the group's formal, public Los Angeles debut--it played at a semi-private Doheny Mansion concert in 1986--its program lists Mozart's Oboe Quartet, Brahms' C-minor Piano Quartet, Opus 60, and Jerzy Sapieyevski's "Aria," written expressly for the five players of An die Musik.
Sapieyevski is a 42-year-old, Polish-born composer who now lives in Washington, Rothmuller explains. With the oboe as its principal voice, the work, composed "at least six years ago," has what Rothmuller calls "one of the most difficult oboe parts ever written." Sapieyevski writes in a variety of different styles, the cellist adds, "but 'Aria' is a very beautiful piece."
Dedication is the principal element in the survival of An die Musik, Rothmuller thinks. "We are more interested in the music itself than in the music business or in the idea of career ," he says. "When we work on a new piece, we are concerned with a single concept and a single sound. We believe our group sound is unique."
That sound, the cellist says, "is spiritually arrived at, and very painfully worked out. We are not an ensemble who plays through a piece, then considers it finished. We work out every detail in every measure. We do it the painful way. But, then, finally, we are more than well-prepared, we have achieved a real personality."
Juggling the An die Musik schedule and the Philharmonic's master calendar presents many challenges, Rothmuller admits.
"It means planning everything no less than a year in advance. In all this, I've been very lucky to have had the sympathy and support of Zubin Mehta (music director when Rothmuller joined the orchestra in 1971), then Carlo Maria Giulini and now Andre Previn. And, of course, (Philharmonic executive director) Ernest Fleischmann, who has always been most helpful and supportive.
"But it means, also, that if I use my vacation time to go on tour, years can go by between real vacations. That doesn't bother me, however. I happen to love music."
LEWITZKY & CO.: When the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company performs at Citrus College in Glendora, Friday night, and at Occidental College, Saturday, longtime company member Sean Greene will be making his final appearances with the troupe. A native Californian who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, Greene retires from performing after the Saturday performance to continue his association with dance as choreographer and teacher.
In the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, Friday night at 8, the company will dance "Facets," "Confines" and "Spaces Between." Saturday night at 8, in Thorne Hall at Occidental, the program lists "8 Dancers/8 Lights," "Suite Satie" and "Nos Duraturi."
AT THE PHILHARMONIC: After an absence of 27 months, Simon Rattle, principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, returns to a Philharmonic podium this week. With vocal soloists Margaret Marshall, Jonathan Mack and David Thomas, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Rattle and the orchestra will perform Haydn's oratorio, "The Creation," in the Pavilion of the Music Center, Thursday through Saturday nights at 8, and, a fourth time, next Sunday afternoon at 2:30.
COMPOSERS: John Harbison and Gordon Getty are two of the featured composers at the three-day Composers Symposium of the University of New Mexico, Monday through Wednesday, on the Albuquerque campus. Three Harbison works will be presented, along with the premiere performance of Scene Three of Getty's "concert opera," "Plump Jack." . . . Donald Martino has been named the latest winner of the Mark M. Horblit award from the Boston Symphony, along with a cash stipend of $5,000, "for distinguished composition by an American" . . . "Steve Reich: A New Musical Language" profiles the popular, minimalist composer on the "Great Performances" series on public television Saturday night. Interviewed on the program, in addition to Reich himself, will be conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, flutist Ransom Wilson and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman. Check television listings for local times.