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UMS Concert Program, Thursday Feb. 10 To 13: University Musical Society: Winter Spring 2011 - Thursday Feb. 10 To 13 --

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Season: Winter Spring 2011
Hill Auditorium

WinterSpring 2011 Season 132nd Annual Season
General Information
On-site ticket offices at performance venues open 90 minutes before each performance.
Children of all ages are welcome at UMS Family and Youth Performances. Children under the age of 3 will not be admitted to regular, full length UMS performances. All children must be able to sit quietly in their own seats without disturbing other patrons. Children unable to do so, along with the adult accompanying them, will be asked by an usher to leave the audito?rium. Please use discretion in choosing to bring a child.
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Starting Time Every attempt is made to begin concerts on time. Latecomers are asked to wait in the lobby until seated by ushers at a predetermined time in the program.
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In the interests of saving both dollars and the environment, please either retain this program book and return with it when you attend other UMS performances included in this edition or return it to your usher when leaving the venue.
Event Program Book
Thursday, February 10 through Sunday, February 13, 2011
Blues at the Crossroads:
The Robert Johnson Centennial Concert
Thursday, February 10, 8:00 pm Hill Auditorium
Rafal Blechacz 9
Friday, February 11, 8:00 pm Hill Auditorium
Vijay Iyer Trio 15
Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green's Apex
Saturday, February 12, 8:00 pm Power Center
Concertante 19
Rafat Blechacz
Sunday, February 13, 4:00 pm Rackham Auditorium
ums University Musical Society
Fall 2010
@@@@ September
Oct3 Susurrus
25 Rosanne Cash
30 La Capella Reial de Catalunya with
Hesperion XXI and
Tembembe Ensamble Continuo
7-9 Paul Taylor Dance Company
9 Paul Taylor Dance Company
Family Performance
10 Mariinsky Orchestra with
Denis Matsuev, piano
14 Takacs Quartet: Schubert Concert 1
21 Jerusalem Quartet
23-24 Sankai Juku: Hibiki: Resonance from
Far Away
27 Venice Baroque Orchestra with
Robert McDuffie, violin
29 Django Reinhardt's 100th Birthday
Celebration: The Hot Club of San
Francisco and The Hot Club of Detroit
31 NT Live: A Disappearing Number
ONCE. MORE.: ONCE THEN ONCE. MORE.: ONCE NOW The Tallis Scholars Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan Assi El Helani Murray Perahia, piano Stew & The Negro Problem
Carolina Chocolate Drops Handel's Messiah
Winter 2011
2 I NT Live: Hamlet 14-15; Laurie Anderson's Delusion
16 I Renee Fleming, soprano 21-22 i Grupo Corpo
23 27
Joanne Shenandoah Sequentia
30 30
Baby Loves Salsa Family Performances NT Live: FELA!
i The Cleveland Orchestra with
I Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano 2 ! Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with
i Wynton Marsalis 4 i New Century Chamber Orchestra with
! Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin
Blues at the Crossroads: The Robert I Johnson Centennial Concert
: Rafat Blechacz, piano
i Vijay Iyer Trio and Rudresh Mahanthappa's
13 ! Concertante with Rafal Blechacz, piano t--19 Merce Cunningham Dance Company:
The Legacy Tour
20 Takacs Quartet: Schubert Concert 2 20 NT Live: King Lear
23 I Kodo
9 : Scharoun Ensemble Berlin 1-13 : Druid and Atlantic Theater Company: Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan
19 Detroit Symphony Orchestra with the UMS Choral Union: i Mahler's Symphony No. S Canceled
24 i Bach Collegium Japan:
Bach's Mass in b minor
Propeller: Shakespeare's Richard III and The Comedy of Errors
2 I St. Petersburg Philharmonic with i Nikolai Lugansky, piano
NT Live: Frankenstein
: Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro i de Cuba
i Takacs Quartet: Schubert Concert 3
: Tetzlaff Quartet
16 j Tony Allen's Afrobeat Tour
23 ; Liebeslieder Waltzes (Songs and I Waltzes of Love)
14 ! Breakin' Curfew
17 I NT Live: The Cherry Orchard
UMS Educational and Community Events
All UMS educational activities are free, open to the public, and take place in Ann Arbor unless otherwise noted. For complete details and updates, please visit or contact the UMS Education Department at 734.615.4077 or "
Concertante and Rafat Blechacz
PLAY Your Own Melody
Sunday, February 13, 3-4:00 pm and intermission Rackham Auditorium Lobby
How does individual play and exploration transform the experience of watching an exceptional artist play their instrument And how does the challenge of making music on a variety of keyboards further help audiences celebrate their own music making UMS provides opportunities for audience members to try their hand(s), or feet, on a variety keyboards in the Rackham lobby.
Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Screening of A Lifetime of Dance
Sunday, February 13, 3:30 pm Helmut Stern Auditorium, University of Michigan Museum of Art
Merce Cunningham's revolutionary take on modern dance is brilliantly explained in A Lifetime of Dance, which places interviews with the master and footage of his work front and center. It's also one big breathtaking performance piece, with endless film of his many abstract works, intercut with thoughtful comments by early members of Cunningham's dance company (founded in 1953), and dance critics and historians. John Cage, whose percussive compositions became a hallmark of the
Cunningham style, is fondly recollected by troupe members and Cunningham. It's tremendously educational, whether presenting historical footage, offering remarks by Cunningham about his obsession with movement, or bringing his work into the 1990s, when he was once again considered radical for incorporating computer technology into choreography. Above all, it is enchanting, and simply fun, to view the dozens of clips of Cunningham and his company, always humorously at work. Film directed by Charles Atlas, 90 minutes.
Evolution of a Brand: Merce Cunningham Dance Company
Monday, February 14, 5:00 pm University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Room R1220
Merce Cunningham Dance Company Executive Director Trevor Carlson leads a discussion with U-M business school students on the development, maturation, and end of a well-known brand; the legacy of the company's identity and how the brand will live on; and what we can learn from this process about problem-solving and leadership. Open to the public for observation.
A collaboration with the Ross Leadership Initiative.
UMS Educational Events continue on the following page...
A Lifetime of Creativity: Merce Cunningham and Defying Limitations
Wednesday, February 76, 6:00 pm Helmut Stern Auditorium, University of Michigan Museum of Art
Join us for a panel discussion on the changes in the creative process throughout the life of an artist with Trevor Carlson, MCDC Executive Director; David Vaughn, MCDC Archivist; Christine Bratton, MCDC Physical Therapist; U-M Professor Nicholas Delbanco who tackles the enigma of "Lastingness" over a creative life in his new book of the same title; and Professor Joel Howell, MD, who will address the physical changes inherent in the aging process. Open to the public for observation.
A collaboration with the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Department of English, and the Medical Arts Program.
A Lifetime of Inspiration: U-M Dance Student Responses to Merce's Story
Thursday, February 17, 7:00 pm
Studio A, Betty Pease Dance Studio
U-M Dance Building, 1310 North University Court
U-M Dance students have created solo work in response to Merce Cunningham's A Lifetime of Dance film and will perform their work for current company members. Current company members will tell stories about their performing life with Merce. Open to the public for observation.
A collaboration with the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
ums University Musical Society
Blues at the Crossroads:
The Robert Johnson Centennial Concert
Big Head Todd and the Monsters
Todd Park Mohr, Guitars, Vocals
Rob Squires, Bass, Vocals
Brian Nevin, Drums, Vocals
Jeremy Lawton, Keyboards, Steel Guitars, Vocals
David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Guitar Hubert Sumlin, Guitar
Cedric Burnside, Drums
Steve "Lightnin"' Malcolm, Guitar
Thursday Evening, February 10, 2011 at 8:00 Hill Auditorium Ann Arbor
This evening's program will be announced from the stage by the artists and will be performed without intermission.
40th Performance of the 132nd Annual Season
UMS Global:
Americas and Americans
The photographing or sound and video recording of this concert or possession of any device for such recording is prohibited.
This evening's performance is sponsored by Bank of Ann Arbor.
Media partnership is provided by WEMU 89.1 FM, Metro Times, Michigan Chronicle, and Ann Arbor's 107one.
Special thanks to Bruce Conforth for his support of and participation in events surrounding this evening's concert.
Blues at the Crossroads appears by arrangement with Ted Kurland Associates, Boston, MA.
Large print programs are available upon request.
he Blues, straight from the heart of the back country. With Bluesman David "Honeyboy" Edwards on board, Blues at the Crossroads has a direct connection back to the legend, as Edwards was playing with Johnson the night he died. The evening picks up the thread of Johnson's legacy in Mississippi, at the junction of US Highways 61 & 49. The very crossroads where, as legend has it, Robert Johnson's burning desire pushed him to make his deal with the devil-giving up his soul to write the baddest-ass blues the world had ever heard.
hough his band has racked up seven studio albums and countless miles since he first picked up a guitar as a Colorado teen, Big Head Todd and the Monsters frontman Todd Park Mohr still uses the word "discovery" when he talks about writing songs. He says of "Blue Sky," from the group's forthcoming album, All the Love You Need: "We befriended this guy who's in research and development for NASA, and he asked us to come up with a song for their launches. But I'm not the kind of person who can say, 'Okay, I'll write you a song about a particular topic' A few months later, though, I discovered a piece of music I knew would be great; I just sort of fell upon it." More than anything, it is Mohr's excavation of his imagination that continues to drive Big Head Todd and the Monsters--singer-guitarist Mohr, bassist-singer Rob Squires, drummer-singer Brian Nevin, and keyboardist-guitarist-singer Jeremy Lawton. The fact is, the band could have begun resting on their laurels back in 1993, when their Top 10 singles "Bittersweet," "Broken Hearted Savior," "Circle," and "It's Alright" pushed the album Sister Sweetly to platinum certification. However, Mohr says, "I've fought throughout our career not to be a one-trick pony, to be the kind of band that has depth and diversity in its catalogue. I'm a fan of this band, and I'm constantly looking forward to what comes next."
avid "Honeyboy" Edwards was born June 28, 1915 in Shaw, Mississippi. Honeyboy is one of the last living links to Robert Johnson, and one of the last original acoustic Delta blues players. He is a living legend, and his story is truly part of history. He is the real deal.
Honeyboy was a part of many of the seminal moments of the blues. As Honeyboy writes in "The World Don't Own Me Nothing," " was in '29
when Tommy Johnson come down from Crystal Springs, Mississippi. He was just a little guy, tan colored, easy-going; but he drank a whole lot. At nighttime, we'd go there and listen to Tommy Johnson play." Honeyboy continues, "Listening to Tommy, that's when I really learned something about how to play guitar."
Honeyboy's life has been intertwined with almost every major blues legend, including Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Big Joe Williams, Rice "Sonny Boy Williamson" Miller, Howlin' Wolf, Peetie Wheatstraw, Sunnyland Slim, Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Walter, Little Walter, Magic Sam, and Muddy Waters.
After moving to Chicago in the early 1950s, Honeyboy played small clubs and street corners with Floyd Jones, Johnny Temple, and Kansas City Red. In 1972, Honeyboy met Michael Frank, and the two soon became fast friends. In 1976, they hit the North Side Blues scene as The Honeyboy Edwards Blues Band, as well as performing as a duo on occasion.
Honeyboy's early Library of Congress performances and more recent recordings were combined on Delta Bluesman, released by Earwig in 1992. He has written several blues hits, including " Long Tall Woman Blues,"" Sweet Home C hicago," and "Just Like Jesse James." Honeyboy continues up and down the Blues Highway, traveling from juke joint to nightclub to festival, playing real Delta blues to adoring fans everywhere.
hen Hubert Sumlin plays guitar he takes you to his World of Blues Feeling--from despair to ecstasy, from delicate grace to raw power, from lost to found. Though he's influenced and inspired many of the most famous guitar players, Hubert owns the magic. His style is original and personal and instantly recognizable. What kind of man can make or break your heart with his guitar
Hubert Sumlin was born on November 16, 1931 in Greenwood, Mississippi and raised in Hughes, Arkansas. He was taken by the great Blues players he heard as a child. Hubert told his mother that he wanted a guitar and she spent her entire $5 weekly paycheck to buy him his first. Good investment!
When Hubert was about 10, he sneaked out to the local juke joint and stood on a pile of Coca Cola crates to see Howlin' Wolf. Drawn in by the music, he fell through the window and landed right
on the stage. The club owner tried to throw out the underage boy, but Wolf insisted that Hubert stay and sit on the stage while he played. A few years later, Hubert and James Cotton started a band together. Howlin' Wolf heard about them in West Memphis and soon brought Hubert to Chicago. Along with Wolf's other great guitar players in the 1950s, Willie Johnson and Jody Williams, Hubert contributed to some of the deepest, darkest, most primitive, and powerful Blues the world has ever known.
More than 50 years after his musical career began, Hubert Sumlin enjoys being one of today's Blues stars. He gigs as a bandleader all over the world. He's often asked to be part of all-star Tributes to Howlin' Wolf, and Hubert's playing gives these a direct connection to Wolf, complementing the sincere homage of David Johanssen and Jimmy Vivino. Still gigging often while most legends of his age are gone or retired, Hubert has faced and met the biggest challenge of his life. In Fall 2002, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He had one lung removed, and has been tested to be cancer-free. He not only has already recovered his youthful strength, but has quit smoking and drinking. Given the chance to continue to make his music, and thrilled to survive, Hubert is living and performing with fresh fire. "I ain't through yet!" he assures us, and proves it with every twisted Blue note he burns on his guitar.
edric Burnside, grandson of the legendary R.L. Burnside and son of drummer great Calvin Jackson, is widely regarded as one of the best drummers in the world. Growing up at his grandfather's side, he began touring at age 13, playing drums for "Big Daddy" on stages around the globe. Cedric was born in 1978 and raised around Holly Springs, Mississippi, and has been playing music all his life, developing a relentless, highly rhythmic charged style with strong hip-hop and funk influences.
"I write about my life, my kids, and everyday things. I try to stick to the truth," Cedric says. Just 29 years old, he recalls growing up without a radio or a TV. "My granddad used to play out on the porch, and we'd have house parties every weekend. Johnny Woods would come over and blow harmonica, and he'd drink two or three gallons of corn liquor. We just stomped up dirt." In additionto "Big Daddy," Cedric has also played with Junior Kimbrough, Kenny Brown, North Mississippi Allstars, Burnside Exploration, Bobby Rush, and
Widespread Panic. In 2006 he was featured in the critically acclaimed feature film Black Snake Moan, playing drums alongside Samuel L. Jackson. (The film is a tribute to R.L Burnside, and gives many nods to the late bluesman.) Cedric has teamed up with guitarist Lightnin' Malcolm and is proving to be a powerful vocalist and great songwriter, bringing new life and energy to the blues.
luesman Lightnin' Malcolm is one of the leading younger generation artists on the scene today. Born in rural Missouri, Malcolm enjoyed the freedom of country life, quickly learning to entertain himself and others around him. Growing up in a little village called Burgess in a country house next to the KCS Railroad that ran from Kansas City to New Orleans, the train has always been a theme in Malcolm's music, as well as the inspiration for the steady, insistent bass rhythms of rural dance music.
Malcolm--a reckless live performer--has lived and breathed music his whole life, traveling and playing in a slashing, rhythmic style, with deep soulful vocals. Malcolm has played over the years with many of the best Mississippi blues artists, such as Cedell Davis, R.L. Burnside, Hubert Sumlin, Jessie Mae Hemphill, T Model Ford, Jr. Kimbrough, Robert Belfour, Big Jack Johnson, Sam Carr, and Otha Turner. Skilled on guitar, bass, and drums, Malcolm is an in-demand session player with a telepathic sense of how to follow the older archaic styles, and is especially noted for his old-fashioned, church "shout" style on drums.
Cedric and Malcolm caught the ear of Delta Groove Music label chief Randy Chortkoff, while playing on the outdoor jam stage at Chortkoff's 3rd Annual Delta Groove All-Star Blues Revue in Clarksdale, Mississippi. After receiving a demo from the duo's manager, Chortkoff contacted legendary producer, David Z (who has worked closely with the label, in addition to a career producing music legends such as Prince, Etta James, Buddy Guy, BB King, and many others) and sent the duo up to Nashville to record an album for the label. Chortkoff brought in some very special guests for the session, including the innovative harmonica genius Jason Ricci. The end result was such an authentic, swampy, backwoods sound that when you hear it, you'll have a hard time believing you're not sitting in a juke joint somewhere in the Delta.
UMS welcomes this evening's artists as they make their UMS debuts tonight.
and the University of Michigan Health System
Rafal Blechacz
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Claude Debussy Kami Szymanowski
Frederic Chopin Chopin
Friday Evening, February 11, 2011 at 8:00 Hill Auditorium Ann Arbor
Nine Variations in C Major on Lison dormait, K. 264
L'isle joyeuse
Piano Sonata No. 1 in c minor. Op. 8
Allegro moderato
Tempo di Minuetto: Comodo--Trio
Finale: Introduzione--Adagio--Allegro energico
Ballade No. ling minor. Op. 23
Polonaises, Op. 26
No. 1 in c-sharp minor No. 2 in e-flat minor
Mazurkas, Op. 41
No. 1 in E Major No. 2 in e minor No. 3 in B Major No. 4 in A-flat Major
Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38
41st Performance of the 132nd Annual Season
132nd Annual Choral Union Series
The photographing or sound and video recording of this recital or possession of any device for such recording is prohibited.
This evening's recital is sponsored by the University of Michigan Health System.
Media partnership is provided by WGTE 91.3 FM, WRCJ 90.9 FM, and Detroit Jewish News.
The Steinway piano used in this evening's recital is made possible by William and Mary Palmer and by the Steinway Piano Gallery of Detroit.
Special thanks to Tom Thompson of Tom Thompson Flowers, Ann Arbor, for his generous contribution of floral art for this evening's recital.
Rafal Blechacz records exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon.
Rafal Blechacz appears by arrangement with Opus 3 Artists, New York, NY.
Large print programs are available upon request.
Now that you're in your seat...
rom Poland with love: tonight's guest soloist chose the bulk of his program from the works of two Polish composers: Frederic Chopin and Karol Szymanowski. The former hardly needs an introduction but, despite an increased number of performances and recordings in recent years, the latter still hasn't attained the level of international recognition that he deserves. It is a situation that is gradually changing, not least through the efforts of prominent young artists like Rafal Blechacz.
Nine Variations in C Major on Lison
dormait, K. 264(1778) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Born January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria Died December 5, 1791 in Vienna
Snapshot of History... In 1778:
The American Revolutionary War enters its fourth year
John Singleton Copley paints Watson and the Shark
James Cook discovers the Hawaiian Islands (which he calls "Sandwich Islands")
Jean-Jacques Rousseau dies at Ermenonville, near Paris, at the age of 66
La Scala, Milan's world-famous opera house, opens its doors
Since the theme for these variations comes from a light opera that was showing in Paris during Mo?zart's stay there in 1778, the latest edition of the Kochel catalog dates it from that year. Yet Mozart could also have encountered the opera in ques?tion, Nicolas Dezede's Julie, in Vienna in 1781, where it was also played. Mozart composed some other French-related variation sets, including the popular "Ah, vous dirai-je maman" (also known as "Twinkle, twinkle, little star") in 1781. Not only are there some definite similarities in that melody and Lison dormait, some passages in the respective sets of variations also sound surprisingly alike.
The number of variations is not the typical six or 12 but rather nine (a number we find in only one of his other sets). The variations unfold, more or less, in what had become the standard format in works of this type, with figurations of increasing
difficulty first in the right, then in the left hand. As usual, the minor-mode variation (here, No. 5) intro?duces some turbulent chromaticism and the Ada?gio variation (here, as elsewhere, in penultimate place) dazzles with lavish ornamental runs. (The embellished passages are notated mostly in 32nd-or 64th-note values, but, astonishingly, there are a few 128ths as well!) The final variation, as custom dictated, is in a faster tempo and in triple time: the simple air about the slumbering Lison suddenly turns into a quick-footed dance. What is surpris?ing is the grandiose cadenza at the end with fast runs in parallel sixths and thirds--almost unheard-of in Mozart. (The cadenza is followed by a more subdued coda returning to the original tempo.) The cadenza and the extended trills, both for the right and the left hand, earlier in the piece, make this work one of the most technically demanding piano compositions that Mozart ever wrote.
Program note by Peter Laki.
L'isle joyeuse (1904)
Claude Debussy
Born August 22, 1862 in St-Germain-en-Laye,
France Died March 25, 1918 in Paris
Snapshot of History... In 1904:
War between Russia and Japan
Theodore Roosevelt wins second term as President of the United States
Puccini's Madama Butterfly is first performed
Chekhov's Cherry Orchard is first performed
Henry James writes 77ie Golden Bowl
L'isle joyeuse, one of only two works for piano completed by Debussy in 1904, was inspired by Antoine Watteau's painting L'Embarquement pour Cythere. But there may have been a second, more personal inspiration as well. In the summer of 1904, just as he was reworking this piece into its final form, Debussy's first marriage collapsed, and he decided to elope with Emma Bardac to Jersey in the English Channel Islands. Subsequently, Debussy used the English spelling in the title--"isle" rather than the French "Tie"--suggesting that Jersey was Debussy's personal "happy island." Throughout the opening passages, snatches of a jaunty dotted-note tune alternate with shimmering watery figurations. These give way in the central section to a noble melody that speaks of contentment and inward joy. The dotted rhythms and water imagery return before a series of fanfares announce the noble theme again, this time in a grand and brilliant fortissimo.
Program note by Luke Howard.
Piano Sonata No. 1 in c minor, Op. 8
Karol Szymanowski
Born October 3, 1882 in Tymoszowka, Ukraine Died March 29, 1937 in Lausanne, Switzerland
Around the time that Claude Debussy, in his early forties and at the height of his fame, was compos?ing L'isle joyeuse, a young student at the Warsaw Conservatory destined to become the second great Polish composer after Chopin was just beginning to attract attention with a series of piano works written in a lush, grand, Romantic manner. It is unlikely that the 22-year-old Szymanowski would have been familiar with the music of Debussy, whose influence was to change his stylistic outlook completely a few years down the road. In 1904, Szymanowski's orientation was still predominantly Germanic: he was profoundly steeped in the pas?sionate chromaticism of Wagner and Strauss. Another important influence at this time was Scri-abin, who provided Szymanowski with a model for developing a musical language based on, but not imitating, the great predecessor, Chopin.
Such was the background of Szymanowski's first piano sonata, a demanding half-hour work dedicated to the composer's close friend, the writer and artist Stanistaw Ignacy Witkiewicz.
The sonata's principal underlying idea is thematic transformation, a technique the young composer had learned from Franz Liszt's Sonata in b minor. Unlike Liszt, however, who shaped his sonata in a single continuous movement, Szymanowski ad?hered to the classical four-movement format. Yet the thematic connections between the movements are obvious even at first hearing. The opening ges?ture of the first movement--an ascending step and an ascending leap, followed by a chromatic descent--generates much of the thematic mate?rial of all four movements.
Having chosen the key of c minor, Szyman?owski fully exploited the traditional implications of that tonality: the basic mood of the work is turbulent and tempestuous. The agitato, con pas-sione (agitated, with passion) opening material is temporarily relieved by an amoroso (affectionate) second theme (whose melody, however, is very closely related to the first theme); yet the agitato character prevails throughout the movement right to the dramatic ending.
The hymn-like melody of the second-move?ment "Adagio" derives from the amoroso section of the first movement. Its long legato lines contrast with a middle section that revisits the first move?ment's emotional landscape of agitato-passionato. After this upheaval, the recapitulation cannot go back exactly to the initial state; the reprise of the melody is "less calm" than it was the first time.
The third movement is a minuet that hints at olden times by means of harp-like broken chords in a high register and less chromaticism than be?fore. The central trio section makes up for it by a melody consisting almost entirely of half-steps.
A somber "Adagio" introduction, derived from the opening theme of the first movement, opens the finale; the same melody serves as the first theme of the dramatic three-part double fugue that ensues. "Double fugue" means that, after the first theme has been heard in all three voices, a second fugue on a new theme begins. This second theme, although distinct in shape from the first, also takes its origin from the opening movement. After an inserted slow episode, which recalls the initial form of this melody, the two related themes are combined in a new fugal section that culmi?nates in a triumphant concluding section, where the tragic c minor finally changes into a bright and majestic C Major.
This sonata was in a group of scores that a friend of Szymanowski's brought to the attention
of Artur Rubinstein, not quite out of his teens yet but already an international star pianist. Rubin?stein was very impressed; he soon developed a close friendship with Szymanowski, and played the world premiere of the composer's second piano sonata in Warsaw in 1911.
Program note by Peter Laki.
Ballade No. 1 in g minor. Op. 23 (1835) Frederic Chopin
Born March 1, 1810 inZelazowa Wola, Poland Died October 17, 1849 in Paris
Snapshot of History... In 1835:
Vincenzo Bellini writes Puritani; the composer dies later in the same year, at the age of 34
Alexis de Tocqueville publishes the first volume of Democracy in America
Georg Buchner writes The Death of Danton
The city of Melbourne is founded in Australia
Charles Darwin arrives at the Galapagos Islands aboard the HMS Beagle
The Ballade No. 1 was first sketched in 1831, but Chopin did not complete it until four years later. Oddly, there is only a single documented perfor?mance by the composer of the new work--in 1836, the year he published it, first met love inter?est George Sand, and drafted the Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38. The occasion was a private concert for Schumann, who wrote afterward that it showed "genius" and that it was his favorite among Chopin's pieces. French pianist Alfred Cortot linked this music to one of Adam Mickiewicz's (Polish Ro?mantic poet and friend of Chopin) ballades:
Conrad Wallenrod, leaving a banquet in an overexcited, drunken state, stuns his fellow Poles with praises for the Moorish exploits against the Spanish--who not only oppressed them but gave them the plague, leprosy, and other frightful diseases--and vows that he, likewise, will breathe the breath of death to his adversaries in a fatal embrace.
Present fashion in musicology decries such lit?eral associations as those that Cortot suggested for the two Ballades performed in this program.
The focus today is on Chopin's original explora?tions of the bounds of harmony, his struggles with abstract form, and his influence on later piano music in France. However, such have rarely been the concerns of the popular press and never of the listening public at large. These Ballades captivate us precisely because they stir associations with the world of ideas beyond music. They are for us a kind of poetry. And we would do well to recall that a Parisian newspaper of Chopin's day once dubbed him "the Mickiewicz of the piano."
Polonaises, Op. 26(1836)
Snapshot of History... In 1836:
Texas breaks away from Mexico and becomes independent
Mendelssohn writes his oratorio St. Paul
Charles Dickens publishes the Pickwick Papers
Hans Christian Andersen writes The Little Mermaid
Ralph Waldo Emerson anonymously publishes his essay Nature, a fundamental text of transcendentalism
The Polonaises, Op. 26 appeared in 1836, when Chopin was living in Paris. It had been five years since Russia crushed Polish opposition and its troops occupied Warsaw. For Chopin, the dance form named after his native land began providing the framework to express depths of personal feeling deeply rooted in his distant, unhappy homeland. These Polonaises set a new stage for displays of Chopin's Polish soul in all its expatriate anguish. The French already had their image as a nation through Delacroix's masterpiece Liberty Leading the People and were about to complete the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Now Poland would have an image of its own, one which brought to life the suffering of its once proud countrymen. Of this pair, No. 1 is distinguished by the aggression of its opening bars and by the lyrical suavity of its Trio, while No. 2 (sometimes dubbed "Siberian" or "The Revolt") is marked by the masterly control of its gloom, of its impotent clanking of chains via insistent repetitions of a simple but ominous rhythmic pattern. Sudden runs and arpeggios seem to represent the shrieks and screams of a distressed people.
Mazurkas, Op. 41 (1840) Chopin
Snapshot of History... In 1840:
Donizetti's opera La Fille du regiment is first performed
James Fenimore Cooper publishes The Pathfinder
Piotr Tchaikovsky is born-
Robert Bunsen invents the Bunsen cell (or battery)
Polish poet and Parisian expatriate Juliusz Slowacki writes his celebrated poem "My Testament"
Mazurkas reflect another aspect of Chopin's fascination with dance music. He is known to have written at least 60 of them during his brief life. Each is a miniature with details which Chopin's friend Berlioz called "unbelievable." Moreover, these works are, in Han Holoman's memorable phrase, the "first civilized mazurkas"; Chopin's adaptations for the piano transform the rustic Polish folk dance and music into a high art form. They evidently meant a lot to their composer as one of his pupils, Wilhelm von Lenz, tells us, "Chopin's mazurkas are the diary of his soul's journey through the socio-political territories of his Sarmatian dream-world! There his playing was truly at home, in them resided Chopin's originality as a pianist." So, as we hear in the Mazurkas, Op. 41, our pleasure is enhanced by the knowledge that, although classical forms underlie each (No. 1 is a kind of rondo, while Nos. 2, 3, and 4 are in A-B-A form), their expression is a matter of the man's soul.
Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38 (1839) Chopin
Snapshot of History... In 1839:
Edgar Allan Poe publishes The Fall of the House of Usher
Verdi's first opera, Oberto, is premiered
J. M. W. Turner paints 77ie Fighting Temeraire
Berlioz's Romeo et Juliette is first performed
Modest Mussorgsky is born
The Ballade No. 2 was drafted in 1836. That year Chopin met the woman of his life, the notorious "George Sand," one of Romanticism's authentic phenomena--a cigar-smoking baroness who sup?ported herself and her children by writing volumi?nously. Her seduction of Chopin and his subse?quent infatuation with her may have contributed to the trouble he had perfecting the piece, for he revised it first in 1838, then again in 1839--before publishing it in 1840. This was the period of misery on the isle of Mallorca with Sand and her children. Is the Ballade autobiographical We may wish it so, but evidence from Chopin himself points to a literary source rooted deep in Polish nationalism: the ballades of Chopin's friend, the poet Adam Mickiewicz. Chopin told Schumann so. Specula?tive scholarship by French pianist Alfred Cortot has linked this piece to a specific poem, a brief sum?mary of which may stimulate the listener to appre?ciate the narrative tone of this impassioned work:
The Lake of Willis--its waters smooth as a mirror in which--at night, the stars admire themselves--lies near the spot where Russian hordes once laid siege with terrifying effect to a Polish city. To escape the shame of being subjugated by their conquerors, the young maidens there pray to Heaven for a miracle-and are swallowed up by the earth which suddenly opens beneath their feet. Changed into mysterious flowers, they ever since have adorned the edges of the lake. Woe to him who touches them!
Program notes by Frank Cooper.
t age 25, Rafat Blechacz has already been cited by critics as a talent that only comes along every few decades. His playing is characterized by its elegance, delicacy, and a poetic solemnity that has invited comparison to the legendary pianists of the early 20th century.
A consummate presence at various international piano competitions over the years, he won Second Prize at the Arthur Rubinstein Young Pianist Competition in Bydgoszcz in 2002. In 2003 Mr. Blechacz was co-winner at the Fifth International Young Pianist Competition in Hamamatsu, Japan. In 2004 he won First Prize at the Fourth International Piano Competition in Morocco.
2005 was a pivotal year for Mr. Blechacz, as he won unanimously First Prize and all non-statutory distinctions for "Best Mazurka," "Best Polonaise," and "Best Concerto" performances at the 15th In?ternational Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. He also won four special prizes including the Polish Radio Award for "Best Performance of
the Mazurkas," the Polish Chopin Society Award for "Best Performance of the Polonaise," the War?saw Philharmonic Award for "Best Performance of the Concerto," and the award founded by Krystian Zimerman for "Best Sonata Performance."
Winning the Gold Medal at the Chopin Com?petition opened doors into the most prestigious concert halls around the world. In 2006, Mr. Blechacz received invitations to perform at the Warsaw Philharmony Hall, the Tchaikovsky Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Mariinsky Or?chestra under Valery Gergiev, Tonhalle in Zurich, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He also presented a series of 12 recitals in major concert halls in Japan including Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and he gave critically acclaimed performances at the Ruhr, Verbier, and La Roque d'Antheron summer music festivals.
In May 2006 Mr. Blechacz signed an exclu?sive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. His first recording was the complete Chopin Preludes
coupled with Nocturnes Op. 62. In October 2009, he collaborated with the Royal Concertgebouw Orches?tra conducted by Jerzy Semkow and made his first orchestral recording of the two Chopin concertos.
Highlights of recent seasons in?clude a debut with the New York Philharmonic and a tour of Japan performing Beethoven's Piano Con?certo No. 4 with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under Marek Janowski. Mr. Blechacz has also appeared at the Gilmore Interna?tional Keyboard Festival and the Verbier, Heidelberg, and Salzburg festivals. He continues to give solo recitals throughout the major mu?sic capitals of Europe, and in 2010 he made his Kennedy Center recital debut.
Mr. Blechacz began studying the piano at the age of five and com?pleted his formal education in 2007 at the Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, studying under Professor Katarzyna Popowa-Zydron.
Tonight's concert marks Ratal Blechacz's UMS debut.
ums University Musical Society
Rafal Blechacz
ums University Musical Society
Vijay Iyer Trio
Vijay Iyer, Piano Stephan Crump, Bass Marcus Gilmore, Drums
Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green's Apex
Rudresh Mahanthappa, Alto Saxophone Bunky Green, Alto Saxophone Craig Taborn, Piano Francois Moutin, Bass Damion Reid, Drums
Saturday Evening, February 12, 2011 at 8:00 Power Center Ann Arbor
Tonight's concert will be performed with one intermission following the Vijay Iyer Trio's set. Bach program will be announced from the stage by the artists.
42nd Performance of the 132nd Annual Season
17th Annual Jazz Series
The photographing or sound and video recording of this concert or possession of any device for such recording is prohibited.
Media partnership is provided by WEMU 89.1 FM and Metro Times.
The Steinway piano used in this evening's performance is made possible by the Steinway Piano Gallery of Detroit.
Tonight's concert is presented in collaboration with the 2011 U-M Jazz Combo Festival.
Special thanks to Ellen Rowe and the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance for their support of tonight's concert.
Vijay Iyer Trio appears by arrangement with Unlimited Myles, Inc.
Rudresh Mahanthappa and Bunky Green's Apex appears by arrangement with Nick Venti Artist Services.
Large print programs are available upon request.
omposer-pianist Vijay Iyer is one of today's most acclaimed and respected young American jazz artists. He received the "Musician of the Year" Award in the 2010 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards, the 2010 Echo Award (the "German Grammy") for "Best International Ensemble" with his trio, and the Downbeat Critics Poll for "Rising Star Jazz Group of the Year." His latest recordings on the ACT label include Solo (2010) and the trio album Historicity (2009). Historicity is nominated fora 2011 Grammy Award for" Best Instrumental Jazz Album" and was named "Jazz Album of the Year" by The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, the annual Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, and the Downbeat International Critics Poll. In the past decade, Mr. Iyer has won the Downbeat Poll in multiple categories, the JJA Jazz Award for "Up & Coming Musician of the Year," the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and numerous composer commissions.
Mr. Iyer has also composed orchestral and chamber works; scored for film, theater, radio and television; collaborated with poets and choreographers; and joined forces with artists in hip-hop, rock, experimental, electronic, and Indian classical music. He has performed and recorded with Steve Coleman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Mike Ladd, Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Amiri
Baraka, Amina Claudine Myers, Butch Morris, Oliver Lake, dead prez, Karsh Kale, Talvin Singh, Imani Uzuri, Craig Taborn, DJ Spooky, and Das Racist. He teaches at Manhattan School of Music, New York University, The New School, and School for Improvisational Music. His writings appear in Music Perception, Journal of Consciousness Studies. Current Musicology, JazzTimes, Wire, The Guardian, and the anthologies Uptown Conversation, Sound Unbound, Arcana IV, and The Best Writing on Mathematics: 2010. For more information, please visit
Stephan Crump is a Memphis-bred bassist composer and a rising star on the New York music scene. Shunning barriers of genre, he has performed and recorded in the US and across the globe with a diverse list of artists. As a longtime collaborator with adventurous jazz composers (since 1999 with Vijay Iyer) as well as guitar wizard Jim Campilongo and radiant singer-songwriter Jen Chapin, he has become known for the elegance and purposeful groove of his acoustic and electric bass playing, and for transforming his instrument into a speaking entity with magnetic pull on audiences. As a composer, Mr. Crump is emerging as a singular voice, one who "avoids obvious routes but manages never to lose his way" (The New York Times). Mr. Crump recently launched his solo performance career as an invited artist at the 2009 International Society of Bassists conference. 2010 also saw the release of new recordings documenting his free-improvised duo collaborations with alto saxophonist Steve Lehman and pianist James Carney.
Marcus Gilmore was inspired by the music of his grandfather, legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes, who gave him his first set of drums at age 10. He took naturally to jazz as well as classical theory and percussion. He has performed around the world with some of today's best known jazz artists, including Chick Corea, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Natalie Cole, Clark Terry, Cassandra Wilson, Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, Dave Douglas, John Clayton, Christian Scott, and Najee. Mr. Gilmore joined Vijay Iyer's group in 2003 at the age of 16. He also leads his own ensemble, and recently debuted a commissioned suite of his music titled American Perspicacity.
ums University Musical Society
Vijay Iyer
udresh Mahanthappa is often considered one of the most important jazz musicians and composers of the new millennium. The recipient of numerous commission grants and awards, he is regarded as an innovative entity both as a composer and improviser. At the age of 74, Bunky Green is a significant, though unsung, fixture and trendsetter in the history of jazz. A historically crucial voice of the alto saxophone, Mr. Green transmuted the hard-bop jazz vocabulary of the 1960s into a musical language that continues to resonate as forward thinking and vital to modern music. He is viewed as the primary impetus and inspiration for the M-BASE Collective of the 1980s that included such important musicians as Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, and Gary Thomas. It's obvious that Mr. Mahanthappa and Mr. Green together is a necessary pairing.
"I first heard about Bunky Green from the great (late) saxophone teacher Joe Viola when I was a student at Berklee in the early 1990s," remarks Mr. Mahanthappa. "Joe heard me warming up once and recommended that I check Bunky out as he thought that my approach was on track to being something similar to his. He loaned me Places We've Never Been which totally knocked me out!"
Apex, their new co-led album together, features the stellar rhythm section of pianist Jason Moran, acoustic bassist Francois Moutin, and drummers Jack DeJohnette and Damion Reid.
Mr. Mahanthappa and Mr. Green first played together at the Jazz Baltica Festival in Germany in July 2008 in a loosely organized jam session along with Greg Osby and Joe Lovano. In 2009, the City
of Chicago approached Mr. Mahanthappa to put together a concert for their summer series. "I used to live in Chicago between 1993-1997 so I'm seen as an honorary alum of sorts. They wanted me to put something together that had a Chicago focus. I saw this as an opportunity to both reconnect with former colleagues there and to finally do something real with Bunky." The concert was a great success and the new music was performed flawlessly to over 10,000 people in Millennium Park.
While most intergenerational collaborations in jazz yield little more than superficial interplay, Apex is a true dialogue across generations yielding inventive work that speaks to contemporary music. Furthermore, Mr. Mahanthappa's exploration of classical Indian music and its relationship to jazz brings added weight to the scope of this work. This is not an ensemble that simply revisits the annals of jazz, but one that sets the trend for the future of this truly American art form.
UMS Archives
onight's performance marks Rudresh Mahanthappa's second appearance under UMS auspices. Mr. Mahanthappa made his UMS debut in April 2010 at Hill Auditorium with Danilo Perez and Friends.
UMS welcomes Vijay Iyer, Bunky Green, U-M alumnus Craig Taborn, Francois Moutin, Damion Reid, Stephan Crump, and Marcus Gilmore, who make their UMS debuts tonight.
Bunky Green and Rudresh Mahanthappa
ums University Musical Society
Xiao-Dong Wang, Violin Ittai Shapira, Violin Dov Scheindlin, Viola Rachel Shapiro, Viola Alexis Pia Gerlach, Cello Zvi Plesser, Cello
Ratal Blechacz
Edward Elgar, An. Ara Gregorian
Arnold Schoenberg
Frederic Chopin,
An. Bartlomiej Kominek
Sunday Afternoon, February 13, 2011 at 4:00 Rackham Auditorium Ann Arbor
Serenade for Strings in e minor. Op. 22
Allegro piacevole
Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4
Sehr langsam
Schwer betont
Sehr breit und langsam
Sehr rubig
Piano Concerto No. 1 in e minor. Op. 11
Allegro maestoso e risoluto Romanze: Larghetto Rondo: Vivace
43rd Performance of the 132nd Annual Season
48th Annual Chamber Arts Series
The photographing or sound and video recording of this concert or possession of any device for such recording is prohibited.
This afternoon's performance is sponsored by Miller Canfield. Media partnership is provided by WGTE 91.3 FM.
Concertante appears by arrangement with Arts Management Group, Inc., New York, NY.
Rafal Blechacz appears by arrangement with Opus 3 Artists, New York, NY.
Large print programs are available upon request.
Serenade for Strings in e minor. Op. 22
(1892) Edward Elgar Born June 2, 1857 in Broadheath, near Worcester,
England Died February 23, 1934 in Worcester
Snapshot of History... In 1892:
Russian biologist Dmitry Ivanovsky discovers viruses
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle publishes The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Graver Cleveland is elected President of the United States for a second, non-consecutive term
Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is first performed
Walt Whitman dies at the age of 73
The stirring, noble phrases of Sir Edward Elgar's symphonies were products of his mature years. They had not begun to sing out with full-throated confidence at the time he composed his fledging Serenade for Strings in 1892. Elgar had just been married two years earlier and was struggling to establish himself as a composer at the time this piece was written. He and his wife, Alice, had attempted settling in London to be near the city's busy concert activity, all to little avail when it came to gaining performances of works or students to provide income. They moved to Malvern, close to his native Worcester, and it was there that the Serenade was written. Elgar gave credit to his supportive wife, saying she "helped a great deal to make these little tunes."
Getting "little tunes" published was a daunting challenge, however. When Elgar sent the manuscript off to Novello and Company in London, he got a discouraging response: "We have given your Serenade our attention, and think it is very good," the publisher wrote back. "We find however that this class of music is practically unsaleable, and we therefore regret to say that we do not see our way to make you an offer for it." Biographer Jerrold Moore notes that, in order to hear the piece himself, Elgar had to rehearse it with an amateur women's orchestra he had begun teaching when he returned to Malvern.
The opening movement, marked "Allegro piacevole" is indeed "pleasant" and "agreeable,"
nicely matching the definition of lexicographer Willi Apel. The violas set up a lightly bouncing rhythm at the outset; then the violins lead off with the opening section. A central episode sets forth a longer, arching theme as the bouncing rhythm dallies with moments of syncopation, setting the rhythm and pulse out of synchronization with each other. A reprise of the opening section neatly rounds off the movement.
Elgar considered the central "Larghetto" the best thing he had written up until that time. Beyond its poetic elegance, its seamless dovetailing of phrases illustrates one facet of the composer's style. Its form is slightly more complex than the opening movement, since the first 16 measures constitute a sort of prologue to the body of the movement--again a three-part ABA form--and they return as muted epilogue at the end.
The finale again begins with a light skipping rhythm during four introductory measures. This opening is followed by a small three-part form, with the main melody restated in octaves. Then, the bouncing rhythmic figure that opened the first movement and its arching central melody form a long reflective codetta to the entire work.
Verklarte Nacht, Op. 4 (1899) Arnold Schoenberg
Born September 13, 1874 in Vienna, Austria Died July 13, 1951 in Los Angeles, California
Snapshot of History... In 1899:
A peace treaty is ratified to end the SpanishAmerican War; the Philippine-American War begins
Elgar's Enigma Variations are first performed in London
Anton Chekhov writes Uncle Vanya
Johann Strauss, Jr. dies at the age of 74
Sigmund Freud publishes The Interpretation of Dreams
Arnold Schoenberg was 25 years old when he wrote Verklarte Nacht, the work that made him first infamous and, soon afterwards, famous. Growing up in Vienna, the young Schoenberg was naturally a follower of Brahms, who dominated musical life in the city. Through his mentor, Alexander von Zemlinsky, he discovered the music
of Wagner, Brahms's antithesis in the eyes of the contemporaries. With Verklarte Nacht, then, he managed to infuriate both the Brahms and the Wagner camps, transferring as he did the idea of program music, associated with Wagner and the "New German School," to the chamber medium, which was Brahms's bailiwick and traditionally devoted to "absolute" music only. (The only earlier major chamber work with a program was Bedfich Smetana's string quartet "From My Life.") To add insult to injury, Schoenberg used a particular dissonance that could not be found in the existing harmony textbooks, giving the Vienna Composers' Association the excuse they needed to turn the piece down. Soon thereafter, however, the piece became accepted as one of the great chamber works of the decade.
The title Verklarte Nacht comes from a poem by Richard Dehmel (1863-1920), a German poet very highly regarded at the time. Dehmel's success rested on his individual combination of naturalism and political consciousness with an expressionistic, visionary passion. The poem in question, printed in Dehmel's 1896 collection Weib und Welt (Woman and World) is a good example: its central event (a woman's admission to her lover that she is bearing another man's child) is a declaration of war on conventional bourgeois morality. (It has to be stressed, though, that she conceived the child before meeting the love of her life.) This shockingly frank confession, which represents the naturalistic layer of the poem, is, however, immediately "transfigured," partly by the man's words of comfort and partly by the background of the magical, moonlit landscape which elevates the somewhat lurid story to a completely different, almost cosmic plane.
Schoenberg followed the outline of Dehmel's poem in his string sextet. There are five sections: introduction--the woman speaks--interlude--the man speaks--postlude.
The "introduction," "interlude," and "postlude" share the same thematic material, a descending scale motif with a dotted rhythm, suggestive of the two people walking in the night. At the beginning, this theme is soft and almost neutral. In the middle, it becomes loud and impassioned, with each note heavily emphasized. At the end, it is soft again, but surrounded by sensuous chromatic countersubjects and special devices such as arpeggios (broken chords), tremolos ("trembling" note repeats), and pizzicatos (plucked strings).
Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night)
Richard Dehmel
Two people walk through a bare, cold grove; The moon races along with them, they look
into it.
The moon races over tall oaks. No cloud obscures the light from the sky, Into which the black points of the
boughs reach. A woman's voice speaks:
I'm carrying a child, and not yours,
I walk in sin beside you.
I have committed a great offense
against myself.
I no longer believed I could be happy And yet I had a strong yearning For something to fill my life, for the joys
of Motherhood
And for duty; so I committed an effrontery, So, shuddering, I allowed my sex To be embraced by a strange man, And, on top of that, I blessed myself for it. Now life has taken its revenge: Now I have met you, oh, you.
She walks with a clumsy gait, She looks up; the moon is racing along. Her dark gaze is drowned in light. A man's voice speaks:
May the child you conceived
Be no burden to your soul;
Just see how brightly the universe
is gleaming!
There's a glow around everything; You are floating with me on a cold ocean, But a special warmth flickers From you into me, from me into you. It will transfigure the strange man's child. You will bear the child for me, as if it
were mine;
You have brought the glow into me, You have made me like a child myself.
He grasps her around her ample hips. Their breath kisses in the breeze. Two people walk through the lofty, bright night.
The woman's speech, with d minor as its central tonality, is filled with dramatic passion. Its tension-laden main theme rises from a subdued pianissimo to a desperate outburst. The influence of Wagner and Strauss are evident, though Schoenberg goes considerably beyond both in his bold handling of dissonances.
In a total contrast, the man's speech begins in a calm and peaceful D Major with an entirely classical cadence. While the continuation is more adventurous, the lyrical element always prevails. The tenderness of the music is underscored by special playing techniques (harmonics, and sul ponticello, or playing near the bridge). The tempo, slow at first, gradually speeds up, but returns to its initial state at the end of the section. In the "postlude," the protagonists and the lurid details of the story become totally dissolved in Schoenberg's music, and only timeless feelings remain. We suddenly realize how close the story is to Tristan, where another man (King Mark) casts a transient shadow on the love of two people. It is hard not to feel a little bit "transfigured" when Verklarte Nacht is over.
Piano Concerto No. 1 in e minor. Op. 11
Frederic Chopin
Born March 1, 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, Poland Died October 17, 1849 in Paris
Snapshot of History... In 1830:
July Revolution in France
Uprising against the Czar in Poland
Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique is first performed
Mendelssohn writes the Hebrides Overture
Joseph Smith publishes The Book of Mormon
Chopin was barely 20 years old when he wrote his e-minor concerto, having composed the f-minor work, now known as No. 2, somewhat earlier. Even before his formal education at the Warsaw Conservatory was complete, Chopin was already a star in the city's artistic life. He was a frequent guest in the salons and played public concerts to packed halls. He wrote several works for piano and orchestra during this time. In addition to the two concertos, there are the variations on "La ci
darem la mano" from Mozart's Don Giovanni (the work that made Schumann exclaim: "Hats off, gentlemen! A genius!"), a "Fantasy on Polish Airs," and a "Rondo a la Krakowiak." It is not likely that a full orchestra was available whenever Chopin performed one of these works, and one may come across references to performances with string quartet accompaniment in contemporary sources. While no actual scores of this kind are known to exist, it has been possible to reconstruct them; the chamber versions of the two piano concertos have recently been published in Poland.
One reason why such chamber versions were possible in the first place is the relative simplicity of Chopin's orchestral textures. This is something for which the composer has repeatedly been taken to task by critics who compared these concertos to those of Beethoven; in the latter, the soloist and the orchestra do indeed achieve equal importance. Yet Chopin's models were the works of Johann Nepomuk Hummel, John Field, and Carl Maria von Weber that never challenge the piano's absolute primacy over the accompanying ensemble. Beethoven's music was still too new and too controversial to be on the curriculum in Warsaw in 1830.
Another charge leveled by the severe critics at Chopin's concertos had to do with what seemed an incomplete mastery of the large instrumental forms. It is true that Chopin treated classical sonata form in a somewhat cavalier fashion. Most strikingly, the opening "Allegro maestoso" of the e-minor concerto fails to reach the goal prescribed by the rules (the key of G Major) until the end of the movement. What this means is that instead of leaving its initial state and pressing forward to new horizons, the harmony stays where it is, happily alternating between e minor and E Major, without a change in the keynote. Who is to say whether this is a flaw or rather a difference in artistic temperament The point is that Chopin does eventually reach G Major--at the end of the movement, where other composers would be settling back in the home key. The effect, precisely because it has been delayed for so long, is much stronger than it would have been had it come at the "regular" moment. The piano writing is so virtuosic throughout that Chopin evidently saw no need for a cadenza.
The second-movement "Romanze" adds "insult to injury" in the eyes of the critics because--at the beginning at least--the keynote still does not
budge from the original "E." Clearly, Chopin's intention was not to maximize contrast, but to write a contemplative movement from the perspective of an immobile eye that, as the composer himself wrote in a letter, "rests on a beloved landscape that calls up in one's soul beautiful memories--for instance, on a fine, moonlit spring night." And he added: "I have written for violins with mutes as an accompaniment to it. I wonder whether it will have a good effect. Well, time will show."
In keeping with the idea of a spring night, the style of the music is akin to that of the nocturnes, and when the key is beginning to change, the music moves "upwards" from the initial E Major to B Major, a fifth above, and then to the rather unusual G-sharp Major, a major third above the home key. It is a rise that can be easily perceived even without perfect pitch.
The last movement is based on the Polish folk dance Krakowiak (from the region of Cracow), which had already inspired a Chopin work for piano and orchestra. Here is another rondo of great freshness and vitality. It has a bouncy main theme and dreamier second melody that gracefully jumps from key to key, making up for some of the preceding tonal uniformity.
At the first performance, the Warsaw audience
greeted the e-minor concerto with "deafening bravos," according to the composer's own account. Later on, however, Chopin did not perform his concertos very often. After his arrival in Paris, he played mainly solo recitals instead. Still, the concertos contributed a great deal to his early fame, and were soon taken up by other pianists, the most notable being Clara Wieck. The future Mrs. Schumann performed the last movement of the e-minor work in Leipzig as early as 1833, three years after the premiere (she was 14 at the time). Since then, no matter what the critics may say, the work has been firmly established in the repertoire in its orchestral form--and now as chamber music as well.
Program notes by Peter Laki.
fter more than a decade before the pub?lic, Concertante has established itself as a chamber ensemble that combines in equal measure world-class virtuosity and an ad?venturous willingness to explore and enhance the sextet repertoire. Comprised of a core of six vir?tuoso string players, the group performs in varied combinations of instrumentalists in a wide array
Photo Michael Aheam
of repertoire, ranging from works by established masters to less commonly performed compos?ers. As solo performers who have won important national and international music competitions, they have appeared in such major venues as New York's Carnegie Hall, London's Royal Festival Hall, and Shanghai's Grand Theatre.
Concertante entered its 1011 season after the completion in 0910 of its One Plus Five project, an ambitious, six-composer commissioning project that brought to the repertoire six new and notable sextets by Lowell Liebermann, Tigran Mansurian, Gabriela Frank, Kevin Puts, Shulamit Ran, and Richard Danielpour.
For the current season Concertante returns to perform its regular series at New York's Merkin Hall and in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the Rose Lehrman Arts Center, where it continues as Resi?dent Chamber Music Ensemble. The season will feature performances in Harrisburg, Baltimore, and New York of programs such as Mozart's Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A Ma?jor, K. 581 and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time with clarinetist Christopher Grimes and pianist Xak Bjerken; Schumann's Piano Quartet in E-flat. Op. 47 and Piano Quintet in E-Flat, Op. 44 with pianist Benjamin Hochman; Mozart's Di?vertimento in E-flat, K. 563 and Brahms's String Sextet No. 2 in 0 Major, Op. 36; Beethoven's String Sextet Op. 81, String Sextet by Shulamit Ran, and Brahms's Viola Quintet in F Major, Op. 88; Prokofiev's Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 56, and Tigran Mansurian's String Sextet "Con Anima" and Tchaikovsky's Sexfef in d minor, Op. 70 "Sou?venir de Florence."
Throughout its career, Concertante has been active in the recording studio and has received high critical praise for its CDs on the internationally distributed Helicon label. Its most recent recording
for this label features Erich Wolfgang Korngold's String Sextet in D Major, Op. 10 and Frank Bridge's String Sextet in E-Flat Major (1912). Earlier record?ings include the Brahms Quintet in f minor for Piano and String Quartet, Op. 34, as well as the Dvorak Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 which were released on the Meridian label. Veteran critic Joan Chissell of Gramophone wrote: "I enjoyed them (Concertante) most in Dvorak's much-loved A-Major Quintet...They risk a dare-devil tempo without loss of finesse in conveying the exuber?ant joie de vivre of the 'Scherzo' and 'Finale.' They also never leave us in a moment's doubt as to the subtleties of Dvorak's chamber-music scoring." Concertante's discography also includes Strauss's String Sextet from Capriccio, the "Metamor-phosen," Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht, and Men?delssohn's Octet and the "Souvenir de Florence" by Tchaikovsky, both of which received the highest praise in the JanuaryFebruary 2000 issue of the American Record Guide.
Please refer to page 14 for a biography of Rafat Blechacz.
UMS Archives
his evening's performance marks Concertante's second appearance under UMS auspices, following its UMS debut in November 2005 at Rackham Auditorium.
Rafal Blechacz makes his second UMS appearance tonight, following his UMS recital debut earlier this weekend at Hill Auditorium.

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