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Friday, July 4, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Concert Preview

Seattle Chamber Music festival is ready for blastoff

Seattle Times music critic

It's the Fourth of July weekend, so music lovers are tuning their radar toward the imminent arrival of the Seattle Chamber Music Society's Summer Festival — which opens Monday, bypassing the tricky holiday weekend.

The region's economic doldrums actually have their silver lining: The planned renovations at the Lakeside School, which would have moved the festival off-site this year, have been postponed due to their cost. So once again, there will be picnicking on the beautiful lawns, pre-concert recitals in the airy chapel, and main-event concerts in St. Nicholas Hall on the Lakeside grounds, just west of I-5 at the Northeast 145th Street exit.

The first notes at the festival will be played by up-and-coming pianist Adam Neiman, whose 7 p.m. pre-concert recital has Schumann's Symphonic Etudes (Op. 13). The 8 p.m. concert that follows features some beloved returning artists: Violinists William Preucil and Ida Levin, cellist Ronald Thomas, violist Cynthia Phelps are among them. They and others will play a Haydn Trio, Jean Francaix's "L'Heure du berger" for string quintet and piano (the latter is Jeremy Denk), Enescu's First Romanian Rhapsody and Brahms' F Minor String Quintet.

The Wednesday program opens with the West Coast premiere of Leon Kirchner's Duo No. 2 for violin (Levin) and piano (Denk) in a pre-concert recital. Mezzo-soprano Mary Nessinger joins in for the main event, singing Respighi's "Il Tramonto" and selected Cole Porter songs. Finally, there's a Beethoven trio (the "Ghost") and Chausson's Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, with Preucil as the featured violinist.

Tickets (206-283-8808) will be scarce.

Head for the hills

Up in the Cascade Mountains near Leavenworth, the Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival is in full swing, with two 7:30 p.m. programs tomorrow and Sunday (see www.icicle.org for directions and details). A Schumann classic, the Piano Quartet in E-Flat, features pianist Duane Funderburk and several other guest artists — plus one of the festival's ongoing features, the Collage. Anything can happen in the Collage: bluegrass, Bach, ragtime, Ravel. You can get tickets online or call toll-free at 877-265-6026.

A Northwest favorite

The Olympic Music Festival continues its Saturday-Sunday concert series (2 p.m. each day) on the festival grounds near Quilcene with this weekend's program: a Beethoven Festival with three string quartets, early (Op. 18, No. 1), middle (Op. 95) and late (Op. 135). The players are violinists Charles Wetherbee and Michi Wiancko, violist Alan Iglitzin and cellist Clancy Newman. Concerts sell out quickly for seating in the 1890s dairy barn and on the lawns outside; call 206-527-8839.

Nadja alert

Fans of the passionate violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg should mark their calendars for her three upcoming concerts with duo guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad and the Seattle Symphony, starting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (with repeat concerts 8 p.m. July 11 and 12; call 206-215-4747). Alastair Willis conducts the performances, which feature Sergio Assad's Concerto for Violin and Two Guitars. Expect fireworks.

Melinda Bargreen: mbargreen@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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