Performance Friday, October 13, 2017 | 7 PM

Sphinx Virtuosi

Concerti per Venti

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
String works from the Baroque to the present day are performed by the masterful young musicians of the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization. Vivaldi’s Concerto in B-flat Major is an energetic dialogue for the violin and cello soloists, while Beethoven’s Op. 133 masterpiece is a magnificent exploration of fugal writing. There’s also a new work by Jimmy López, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and much more.


  • Sphinx Virtuosi


  • BEETHOVEN Grosse Fuge, Op. 133
  • VIVALDI Concerto in B-flat Major for Violin, Cello, and Continuo, RV 547
  • JIMMY LÓPEZ Guardian of the Horizon: Concerto Grosso for Violin, Cello, and Strings (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • MILSTEIN Paganiniana
  • MICHAEL ABELS Delights and Dances

At a Glance

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Grosse Fuge, Op. 133

Originally composed as the finale to Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130, this massive fugue was later spun off and issued on its own. At the publisher’s insistence, rehearsal letters were inserted in the score to keep unwary amateur players from losing their way amid the tangled thickets of counterpoint.

ANTONIO VIVALDI  Concerto in B-flat Major for Violin, Cello, and Continuo, RV 547

A virtuoso violinist as well as a prolific composer, Antonio Vivaldi virtually created the instrumental concerto as we know it. This bravura double concerto for violin and cello with string accompaniment is laid out in the three-movement, fast-slow-fast format that Vivaldi helped to standardize in the early 18th century.

JIMMY LÓPEZ  Guardian of the Horizon: Concerto Grosso for Violin, Cello, and Strings

Peruvian composer Jimmy López sought inspiration in the multilayered textures of the concerto grosso. Like Vivaldi, he assigned the solo roles to violin and cello, treating them as both rivals and partners. Premiered last month in Miami, Guardian of the Horizon celebrates Sphinx’s 20th anniversary.


As a student in St. Petersburg, Milstein mastered the 24 fiendishly difficult solo Caprices by the early-19th–century Italian violinist Nicolò Paganini. Later he decided to flesh out his concert repertoire with an equally show-stopping set of variations based on Paganini’s music. After a straightforward rendition of the familiar tune from Paganini’s last caprice, Milstein plunges into a series of elaborately virtuosic variations on it and other themes.

MICHAEL ABELS  Delights and Dances

This exuberant, concerto-like piece by African American composer Michael Abels is one of two works on tonight’s program commissioned by the Sphinx Organization. Scored for string quartet and string orchestra, Delights and Dances is spiced with elements of jazz, blues, bluegrass, and other distinctively American musical styles.
Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.
This performance is part of Weekends at Carnegie Hall.

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