UMS Concert Program, March 11, 1992: University Musical Society --
Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY
Wednesday Evening, March 11, 1992, at 8:00 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Three Nocturnes ..........
C minor, Op. 48, No. 1 E-flat major, Op. 55, No. 2 E major, Op. 62, No. 2
Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58 ... Allegro maestoso Scherzo: molto vivace Largo Finale: presto non tanto, agitato
Valses nobles et sentimentales . . I. Modere-tres franc II. Assez lent III. Modere
Assez anime' Presque lent Vif
Moins vif Epilogue: lent
Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 36 Allegro agitato Non allegro L'istesso tempo Allegro molto
Ivo Pogorelich plays the Steinway piano available through Hammell Music, Inc., Livonia. Ivo Pogorelich is represented by Columbia Artists Management Inc., New York City. Activities of the University Musical Society are supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The box office in the outer lobby is open during intermission for tickets to upcoming Musical Society concerts.
Thirty-first Concert of the 113th Season
113th Annual Choral Union Series
Three Nocturnes: C minor, Op. 48, No. 1 E-flat major, Op. 55, No. 2 E major, Op. 62, No. 2 Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
Although the piano was over a century old by Chopin's time, it was evolving into a new instrument. Manufacturers were covering the hammers with more and more layers of soft felt and leather. The sound produced by this new piano lent itself to the romantic expression of composers like Johann Hummel and John Field, both of whom had profound influence on Chopin. While the Italian "Notturno" was used as a title in eighteenth-century music, the Irishman John Field was the first to apply the French form of the word "Nocturne" to music, in 1813. The structure of the nocturne is basically a piece wherein the melody is isolated in the right hand, while the left hand supplies the rhythmic and harmonic base in arpeggios. The Alberti bass is the predecessor of this texture, but Chopin's extra use of the pedal and added melodic interest in the bass carry expressive?ness and drama to new heights.
The Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, No. 1, is a dramatic piece in ternary form, making perhaps the most imposing instru?mental effect of any of the nocturnes with its huge crescendo, enhanced by Lisztian oc?taves.
The Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 55, No. 2, is a comparatively unfamiliar work and is characteristic of Chopin's later style. Unique duet-like passages occupy the right hand, while the lower voice is subordinate but individual.
The Nocturne in E major, Op. 62, No. 2, is the last of this genre, which Chopin himself published. Cast in ternary form, the eloquent gracefulness of the opening broad cantilena gives way to a spirited and animated middle section. The outer fingers carry the main melody, all the while subordinating the accompanying chords in the same hand.
Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58 Frederic Chopin
The Sonata in B minor is the third and last of Chopin's piano sona?tas. Composed in 1844, it is approximately contemporaneous with Chopin's three Mazurkas of Op. 56, the Berceuse in D-flat, Op. 57, the two Nocturnes of Op. 55, and the Scherzo in E major, Op. 54. The Sonata is dedicated to Mme la Comtesse E. de Perthuis.
The B-minor Sonata, conforming more strictly to sonata form than the earlier Sonata in B-flat minor, Op. 35, is in other respects as well a more conventional work, although Chopin modifies the generally accepted pat?tern of the sonata form of his time in order to accommodate the long, lyrical themes that came so easily to him. This striking alteration of sonata form occurs immediately in the first movement. Chopin so thoroughly discusses and treats his strong, chordal first subject in the development section that he omits it totally in the recapitulation section, present?ing instead a restatement of the lyrical second theme. "Wrong" as this may be, ample amends are made by the masterly piano writing and ravishing melody.
The first movement, Allegro maestoso, opens with an exhilarating theme possessing symphonic qualities that are announced at once, falling, and then rising in quick suc?cession, and which, after stimulating progres?sions and development, pours itself out into a wonderful cantilena in D major (second theme) -one of the most lyrical passages Chopin ever wrote. Poetic comment and arabesque follow, then a development that is almost improvisational in quality, leading to the return of the beautiful second theme and the final animated close in the key of B major.
The second movement, a Scherzo marked Molto vivace, is in the unrelated key of E major. It presents music of an airy and graceful character. A delicate, yet vivacious figure winds in and out, constantly on the move until the middle section, a trio, brings a moment of wistful reflection. Following the trio, the music of the first section is reprised.
The third movement, Largo, is in the key of B major and is cast in three-part song form. The theme of the two outer sections, possessing a decided Italian flavor, is a beau?tiful and long-drawn melody. The middle
section presents music of a slow tempo and celestial character. Some have likened this movement to a nocturne, replete with the most subtle harmonies and rich instrumental timbres.
The Finale is marked Presto non tanto, agitato and cast in rondo form. It is considered one of the touchstones of piano virtuosity; from its beginning to its conclusion, it is a mad whirl of sound. Ringing opening octaves introduce a triple figure agitato, which, though beginning in the key of B minor, is vibrant and rhythmical and becomes increas?ingly high-spirited, with brilliant passage work in the treble, until it finally emerges triumphantly into the key of B major and comes to a thrilling and magnificent close. This movement is considered to be one of the most difficult compositions in all of Chopin's catalogue.
Valses nobles et sentimentales Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Much of Ravel's orchestral work began as piano solo. Such is the case with Valses nobles et sentimentales, a set of eight waltzes first com?posed in 1911 for the piano. Louis Aubert gave the first performance on May 9, 1911, in Paris. Ravel then orchestrated the work in 1912 for use in the ballet Adelaide, ou le langage des fleurs.
The first waltz, in G major, has a rhythm that immediately calls to mind Schubert's Valses nobles. Ravel makes use of appoggiatura with striking effect. The second waltz, in G minor, is more restrained and intimate in mood. Beginning in a sort of modal E minor, the third is lighter in char?acter and is an example of Ravel's skillful use of harmonic pedals: in 70 bars of music, the bass changes only twelve times. The fourth waltz, with its swaying rhythm, continually shifts tonalities. It finally settles in A-flat, which changes enharmonically to G-sharp for the fifth waltz. In the sixth waltz, the tonality hovers between a C-sharp and a C-natural tonal base. The rhythmic base is also ambiv?alent, alternating between 32 and 64 bars. The seventh waltz is the most extended. A short introduction serves to bridge the C-major finality of the previous waltz to A major. In the middle section, duple and ternary rhythms are combined, and tonality is lost except for a brief excursion into F
major. A shortened version of the introduc?tion occurs before the main section of the waltz is repeated. The eighth waltz brings back the memory of the previous waltzes as fragments appear before quietly ending in G major.
The piano version of Valses nobles et sentimentales was given a curious premiere. It was presented at a concert of the Independent Musical Society, an organization that Ravel had helped to found in 1909 as a protest against "those solid qualities of incoherence and boredom" in the Parisian musical estab?lishment. The Society attracted an audience sympathetic to contemporary music. In 1911, the organization presented a recital in which the names of eleven pieces, but not their composers, were listed in the program. The audience was invited to fill out ballots, indi?cating who they thought the composers were. Although the audience of supposed new music enthusiasts jeered at the dissonances and alleged wrong notes of Valses nobles, the plurality named Ravel as the composer. Was he supposed to be flattered or insulted by the unfavorable reception and correct identifica?tion Other composers who received several votes for authorship of Valses nobles included Satie and Kodaly. Only two other pieces on the concert were correctly attributed.
Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 36 Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Sergei Rachmaninoff, one of the greatest pianists in the history of music, was last in the line of great nineteenth-century composer-pia?nists that began with Beethoven. At the Moscow Conservatory, where he won a gold medal in 1892, Rachmaninoff was noted for his brilliant technique and remark?able musical mind. He could memorize virtu?oso pieces overnight, reproduce in entirety a work played months previously, or sight-read and transpose with effortless rapidity. In ad?dition to his formidable abilities as a composer and virtuoso pianist, he also possessed a great facility with conducting.
Rachmaninoff himself conceded the difficulties that his two piano sonatas pose for the player. His music demands extreme tech?nical facility along with great emotional in?tensity. The Sonata in B-flat minor contains the rich harmonies, sweeping melodies, and interweaving lines typical of many of his works for piano. Although Rachmaninoff had
attached a Faustian program to his first piano sonata, he did not do such with the work that is heard in this performance. Although it is possible to hear in the sonata's first move?ment the evocation of bells conjuring an image of a great Russian church tower, the composer supplies no program nor rationale. Rachmaninoff composed the Sonata in B-flat minor from January to August, 1913, playing its premiere himself in Moscow in December 1913. In 1931, influenced possibly by the neo-classicist Stravinsky, he drastically revised the work. The piece, constructed on a monumental scale, holds a place secure among the great Romantic piano sonatas. It is a work of great lyricism and impassioned expressiveness, brooding and savage, uniquely Russian. The pyrotechnic difficulty of the writing seems to demand more from the performer than ten fingers can produce at a piano.
The first movement of the Sonata No. 2, centered around the harmonic color of B-flat minor, reveals huge, polyphonic bell-like figures suggesting perhaps some dark, human destiny. The second movement rises from quiet contemplation to a feverish pas?sion and then subsides to an E-major closing of matchless beauty. The Finale begins ailocca and becomes dominated by a kind of devilish waltz -a danse macabre. The Sonata closes in a triumphant blaze of B-flat major.
Of his music, Rachmaninoff has stated: "I try to make my music speak simply and directly that which is in my heart at the time I am composing. If there is love there, or bitterness, or sadness, or religion, these moods become part of my music, and it becomes either beautiful, bitter, or sad, or religious. For composing music is as much a part of my living as breathing and eating. I compose music because I must give utterance to my thoughts."
About the Artist
Ivo Pogorelich initially gained interna?tional attention as a pianist of rare gift and unique talent when he won the First Prize in the International Music Competition in Montreal, Canada, in 1980, having won previously First Prizes in five national Yugoslav events. But it was the political controversy surrounding his elimina?tion before the final round of the 1980 Warsaw International Chopin Competition that catapulted him to instant recognition and world fame.
A scandal of international proportions, far over and beyond sheer musical merit, erupted when the Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich -herself the winner in 1965 -resigned from the jury in protest against a system of marking that enables conventional and conservative style purists to exclude from the finals such a "pianist of extraordinarily original talent" as Pogorelich. The Vietnam?ese competitor Dang Thai Son might have won the competition, but it was Ivo Pogorelich who captured the laurels and the exceptional international acclaim, shooting overnight to stardom and becoming an undis?puted youth idol -the "Rock Star of Clas?sical Music."
It was a trying period for Pogorelich. To safeguard his progress and reputation, he
had to adopt an attitude of extreme caution, which manifested itself in limiting his accep?tances of live performances and recording offers, striving always to the highest possible standards and supreme quality.
Twelve years later and now in his early thirties, attention has finally drifted away from Pogorelich's glamorous stage presence and the sensationalist "star treatment" ac?corded him by the media in the early years of his career. His musical insights and his ma?turity as an original and innovative artist have become universally acknowledged.
Ivo Pogorelich was born on October 20, 1958 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, the son of an orchestral musician who also studied com?position and conducting. Pogorelich began his musical education at the age of seven in Belgrade. At the age of twelve, he was invited by E. M. Timakhin (himself a student of Igumnov, a famous Russian pianist in the school of Liszt) to Moscow to continue his studies at the Central School of Music and later at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where he received conventional piano instruction from such teachers as Vera Gornostaeva and Malinin.
His real introduction to professional pianism began in 1976, when he met the renowned Georgian pianist Alice Kezeradze, with whom he began an intensive course of studies. Kezeradze opened up new worlds for him. When asked what it was that he learned from her that was so compellingly unconven-tion and new, Pogorelich replied: "Alice's musicianship embodies a unique mixture of extraordinarily beautiful sound, limitless technical ability, and an authoritative musi?cal vision, combined with a rare gift to communicate her knowledge and to impart her enthusiasm to others. These characteris?tics were nurtured in her from an early age by such piano alumni as the outstanding Russian pianist Nina Pleshcheieva, who studied with Alexander Ziloti [himself a favorite student of Liszt], and her own mother, an accom?plished pianist in her own right, who gradu?ated from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in the class of Igumnov." In 1980, Pogorelich married Alice Kezeradze, and the two have retained to this day a profound professional bond.
"Pianism today has undergone a tre?mendous development since the days of Liszt," says Pogorelich. "There are many aspects. Firstly, perfect technique is some?thing to be taken for granted. Secondly, by making the piano sound as an orchestra on one hand and as a human voice on the other -as elaborated by such pianist-composers of the late nineteenthand early twentieth cen-
turies as Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Ravel, and Bartok -new technical ap?proaches and different solutions were devel?oped, far more demanding of the performer than ever before. This prompted [thirdly] the construction of new, richer sounding, and more potent instruments, intended for bigger halls and larger audiences. Fourthly, with the continuing advent of ever more advanced recording and reproduction techniques, we are now facing a multitude of differing inter?pretations and diverse approaches condition?ing our attitudes, forcing us to compare, make distinctions, and learn to actually 'hear' the music and not only listen to it."
Since his recital debut in New York's Carnegie Hall in 1981, Ivo Pogorelich has made triumphant appearances in all major concert halls throughout North and South America, Europe, Australia, Japan, and Is?rael, performing as recitalist and with leading orchestras and conductors.
In 1981, Ivo Pogorelich made his debut recording for Deutsche Grammophon, choos?ing heterogeneous pieces of Chopin to dem?onstrate the contradictory nature of the composer's piano composition. In doing so, Pogorelich deliberately went beyond the cus?tomary limits of the accepted, "agreeable" styles of Chopin interpretation. A year later, he signed a long-term exclusive contract with
the prestigious label, an association that has resulted in acclaimed recordings of nine?teenth-century concertos with Claudio Abbado (Chopin's Second Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Tchaikovsky's First Concerto with the Lon?don Symphony Orchestra), as well as solo works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Schu?mann, Liszt, Ravel, Scriabin, and Prokofiev. He is one of the best-selling classical record?ing artists of all time, and his immediate future recording plans include works by Brahms and Rachmaninoff. Pogorelich will record further solo pieces by Chopin, as well as sonatas by Scarlatti and Beethoven. In addition to his recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Ivo Pogorelich also recorded much of his solo repertoire on six video discs for the Unitel TV Company.
In addition to his recording activities and heavy public performance schedules of some 80 appearances a season, Ivo Pogorelich is actively involved in various charity con?certs for causes as diverse as the International Red Cross, Cancer Research, Multiple Scle?rosis, Salisbury Cathedral Appeal, Earth?quake Victims in Mexico, and others.
A strong proponent of education, the artist's main public interests lie in the field of young people in general and young musi?cians in particular. Thus, he devotes a con?siderable amount of time to the Young Musicians' Fellowship in Yugoslavia, which he himself established in 1986, raising funds for scholarships for young, talented Yugoslav artists to pursue their musical studies abroad. In 1988, he inaugurated the Bad Worishofen Festival, bearing his name, whose main pur?pose is to afford performance opportunities and scope for public exposure to international young talented musicians and soloists, as well as offering a platform for more established artists.
In January 1988, in recognition of his continuous international efforts on behalf of young people, Ivo Pogorelich was appointed Ambassador of Goodwill at UNESCO -the first classical musician to date to have been bestowed with this high honor.
Ivo Pogorelich made his Ann Arbor debut in the Musical Society's Debut and Encore Series in 1984, returning this evening for his second recital.
A limited edition of "Je Pense a Toi," by Emil Weddige
Internationally acclaimed printmaker and painter Emil Weddige is making available 80 lyrical and colorful prints of his new lithograph "je Pense a Toi," a work inspired by and created for the University Musical Society. The new lithograph will be on display at Workbench Furniture in Kerrytown from March 8 through April 5, and all proceeds from the sale of the prints and posters will be donated to the Musical Society. For further information, please call (313) 764-8489.
University Musical Society