Le Train Bleu, led by artistic director Ransom Wilson (left).

(Photo: Courtesy Bravo! Vail)
Le Train Bleu and the Calder Quartet, two ensembles known for championing contemporpary composers, spent the past week performing at Bravo! Vail, including a series of intimate, cabaret-style performances.

At Tuesday's concert, for example, members of the ensembles played a mix of pieces by impressionist composer Maurice Ravel and living composer Christopher Rouse.

For the concert, which will air at 7 p.m. Saturday on CPR Classical, Bravo! Vail transformed Vail's Donovan Pavilion. The venue, often used for smaller performances as well as weddings, became a virtual nightclub complete with wineglasses and candlelight.

The Calder Quartet.

(Photo: Autumn de Wilde)
The music of Ravel and Rouse can seem incompatible. Ravel's music makes use of colorful, usually pleasant harmonies while Rouse spikes many of his pieces with dissonance and speedy playing. But the program, suggested by Bravo! Vail Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott, holds together nicely, Le Train Bleu Artistic Director Ransom Wilson said.

“Ravel … was considered pretty radical,” Wilson said. “And he particularly liked music that was provocative, so I think he would have loved Christopher Rouse’s first quartet.”

CPR Classical headed to the Vail Valley to speak with Wilson as well as the members of Calder Quartet. Wilson spoke about why a nightclub-style setting works well for modern classical while he sat in his Vail hotel room, with village traffic and a persistent magpie audible through his window. The Calder Quartet talked about their collaborations with Rouse in a Beaver Creek hotel lobby near the Eagle River.

Click the audio above to hear their full interviews.

The program for Saturday's broadcast on CPR Classical:

  • Ravel: Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet, and Strings
  • Rouse: Compline for Harp, String Quartet, Flute, and Clarinet
  • Rouse: String Quartet No. 1
  • Ravel: Quartet in F major for Strings

Read the full schedule for the SummerFest concert broadcast series from Colorado Public Radio.