The ancient Byzantine hymns of the Greek Orthodox church are beautiful and solemn, with earthy drones and trembling melodies that rise heavenward. The music has something in common with both Gregorian chant and the choral traditions of Bulgaria and Georgia. Composer Philip Glass drew on this austere and sublime tradition when writing his piano quintet “Annunciation,” which will get its East Coast premiere in Hartford this month when the Chiara String Quartet is joined by pianist Paul Barnes.
The Chiara Quartet has earned a name for performing “by heart,” committing complex chamber works by Bartok and others to memory — not an unheard-of feat, but impressive nonetheless. The exercise highlights the deep commitment and connection the instrumentalists have to the music, having it stored, basically, in their bodies. That profound resonance will surely be of use when performing the new piece by Glass, whose music is often profoundly meditative.
The night’s program will also feature other pieces by Glass, including solo piano music, duos and more. See Barnes and Chiara String Quartet perform “Annunciation” at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, 814 Asylum Ave., Hartford, on Sunday, April 22 at 4 p.m. Tickets $20. ahcc.org/music-arts/concert-series or at 860-278-0785.