Robin Holland
Maria Bachmann, left, Jon Klibonoff and Pia Gerlach of Trio Solisti will play Ravel's Trio in A minor.

The Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City kicks off its new season Wednesday with a solid roster of ensembles ranging from trios to sextets performing a wide range of repertoire.

"I believe we shouldn't always bring in string quartets," society board member Rachel Varat Navarro told the Deseret News. "I like to have a variety of sounds. And we're greedy about the kind of music we want to hear — we want a lot of different things."

With these criteria, the society ushers in one of its most diverse seasons this week. Starting things off will be the Trio Solisti, whose two string players, violinist Maria Bachmann and cellist Pia Gerlach, just finished performing at the Moab Music Festival.

Together with their pianist, Jon Klibonoff, the Trio Solisti will play a program of Ravel's Trio in A minor, Piazzolla's "The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires" and their own arrangement of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition."

This will be the first time the society will be bringing the Trio Solisti to Salt Lake City. "It's important for us not to bring the same groups back," Varat Navarro said. "We are always looking for new groups. And sometimes it's hard for us to find them, if they don't have an agent," although that's not the case with this ensemble.

Another ensemble making its local debut through the society is Germany's Ma'alot Woodwind Quintet. Made up of principal players from several German orchestras, they'll be playing an eclectic program ranging from Mendelssohn to Ligeti on Jan. 13.

The big news for the society this year is the return of the Guarneri Quartet, especially since the 2008-09 season will be their last as a group. "Having the Guarneri play this season was a given," Varat Navarro said, adding that getting them was a real coup for Salt Lake City. "Because this is their last season, they are in demand everywhere."

The Guarneri has a long history with the Chamber Music Society. The foursome was one of the groups that performed here during the society's first season (1967-68), and they've maintained a special relationship with everyone since then. "They are incredibly talented musicians and just wonderful people," Varat Navaro said. "Over the years they've gotten to know us well and we them."

Even though Varat Navarro and her colleagues on the society's board of directors keep up to date with musical happenings around the country and around the world, many of the area's most devoted chamber music fans have made a point of keeping an eye on them. "We have a group of rabid fans who, when they found out the Guarneri was going to retire, started calling us and sending us e-mails about it to make sure we book them."

The Guarneri returns to Salt Lake City on Oct. 15 in a program of Mozart, Kodaly and Ravel.

Other groups performing this season are the Kuss String Quartet (Nov. 18), also making their first local appearance; the "Concertante" String Sextet (Feb. 17); the Brentano Quartet (March 17); and the Moscow String Quartet (April 7).

Here is the Chamber Music Society's concert schedule.

Wednesday, Trio Solisti: Ravel, Trio in A minor; Piazzolla, "The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires;" Mussorgsky, "Pictures at an Exhibition."

Oct. 15, Guarneri Quartet: Mozart, Quartet in D minor, K. 421; Kodaly, Quartet No. 2, op. 10; Ravel, Quartet in F major.

Nov. 18, Kuss String Quartet: Haydn, Quartet in G major, op. 77, no. 1; Bartok, Quartet No. 2; Stravinsky, Three Pieces for String Quartet; Smetana, Quartet No. 1 in E minor ("From My Life").

Jan. 13, 2009, Ma'alot Woodwind Quintet: Mendelssohn, Overture, 24 ("Harmoniemusik"); Ligeti, Six Bagatelles; Hindemith, Quintet No. 1 ("Kleine Kammermusik"); Piazzolla, Tangos.

Feb. 17, 2009, "Concertante" String Sextet: Martinu, Sextet for Strings; Korngold, Sextet in D major, op. 10; Brahms, Sextet in G major, op. 36.

March 17, 2009, Brentano String Quartet: Haydn, Quartet in D minor, op. 76, no. 2; Mozart, Quartet in D minor, K. 421; Beethoven, Quartet in E minor, op. 59, no. 2.

April 7, 2009, Moscow String Quartet: Borodin, Quartet in D major, op. 76, no. 5; Tchaikovsky, Quartet No. 3 in E flat major, op. 30; Shostakovich, Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor, op. 108.

If you go ...

What: Trio Solisti

Where: Libby Gardner Concert Hall

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

How much: $100 season pass; single tickets $25 general admission, $5 students

E-mail: [email protected]