Chamber Orchestra Concert


In the House of Don Manuel: An Extravaganza Celebrating the Friendship of Manuel de Falla and Federico García Lorca

Guillermo Fesser, reciter
Lucy Schaufer, mezzo-soprano
Maria Todaro, mezzo-soprano
Jenny Lin, piano
Emmanuel Feldman, cello
Maverick Chamber Players
Members of the Aurea Ensemble
Garry Kvistad, percussion
Alexander Platt, conductor

This concert is underwritten by a generous grant from the Thompson Family Foundation.

Saturday, August 23, 2014, 6:30 pm

PROGRAM

Part I: Lorca

Homage to Federico García Lorca (1937)
Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940)

Baile (Dance): Lento (quasi recitativo)–Allegro—Lento
Duelo (Affliction)
Son (Sound or News)

Canciones, for mezzo-soprano and ensemble (1986) Simon Holt (b. 1958) (U.S. Premiere)

Movement 1: ...Eyes, To The Shadow
Movement 2: Canción De Jinete (1860)
Movement 3: Death in the Rose Bush

Puneña No. 2 for solo cello, Op. 45 (1976)
Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
(Homage to Paul Sacher)

Harawi
Wayno Karnavalito

INTERMISSION I

Part II: Madrid and Granada

Night Music from the original version of The Three Cornered Hat          
Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
Suite arranged by Alexander Platt

Los molineros y el mirlo (The Millers and the Blackbird)
La procesión (The Procession)
Danza del molinera (Dance of the Miller's Wife)
El corregidor (The Magistrate)
Las ovas (The Grapes)
Danza (El Fandango)
La cena (The Dinner)
Los alguaciles (The Constables)
La copla del cuco (Song of the Cuckoo)

Psyché, for soprano, strings, and harp (1924)
Falla

INTERMISSION II

Part III: Granada and Paris

Serenata Andaluza for piano (1899)
Falla

Fantasía Bética for piano (1919)
Falla

Concerto for Harpsichord or Piano (1926)
Falla

Allegro
Lento (giubiloso ed energetico)
Vivace (flessibile, scherzando)

TOMORROW

Sunday, August 24, 4 pm
Jupiter String Quartet with Ilya Yakushev, piano

The World of Richard Strauss: Interpreting Tradition
Music of Bach, Mozart, Brahms, and Strauss


NEXT WEEK

Saturday, August 30, 8 pm
Jazz at the Maverick
Anthony Wilson Guitar Quartet, featuring John Monteleone’s Four Seasons Guitars

Sunday, August 31, 4 pm
Pacifica Quartet
American Landscapes X: Celebrating Elliott Carter

Music of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Carter

 


LOGO
Program Notes © 2014 by Miriam Villchur Berg*

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Spanish journalist, author, filmmaker, radio personality, and philanthropist Guillermo Fesser studied journalism at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and studied film at UCLA on a Fulbright Scholarship. From 1982 to 2007 he and his partner, Juan Luis Cano, hosted Gomaespuma, one of the most popular radio shows in Spain. Fesser and Cano traveled around the world to cover the news, interviewing the king of Jordan, Vice President Al Gore, and other newsmakers. At its peak, their daily morning news show, which combined news and humor, had more than a million listeners throughout Spain. Fesser’s Gomaespuma production company has produced shows and commercials for radio and television as well as books, music albums, and cultural events.

In 2005, Fesser directed the feature film Cándida, a story based on his bestselling biography of a cleaning lady—a longtime friend and his family’s former housekeeper. He has written two other movie scripts, and has taught script writing at Vassar College and the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares. With the help of Kermit Love (the puppeteer who created Big Bird for Sesame Street), he created, produced, and acted as puppeteer for the Spanish television channel Telecinco.

Currently living in Rhinebeck, Fesser produces and presents A Cien Millas de Manhattan (A Hundred Miles from Manhattan), a series of skits and mini-documentaries on American daily life for the Spanish TVE political program 59 Segundos (59 Seconds). He is working with writer Mark Burns on a film about sustainable farming and the dangers of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. His first script for the theater, Ay Dios Mio! (Oh My God!), written with Cuban-Spanish author Eduardo Consuegra, is currently under production in Madrid.

Lucy Schaufer, mezzo-soprano, has performed major roles in opera houses around the US, including the Metropolitan Opera and the opera houses of Washington, St. Louis, Houston, and Los Angeles. International performances include appearances in New Zealand, Lyon, Milan, Turin, Monte Carlo, Hamburg, Geneva, Barcelona, and Portugal. She has performed at the Aldeburgh Festival, and was a soloist in the world premiere of Simon Bainbridge’s Garden of Earthly Delights at the BBC Proms.

Her recordings include Kurt Weill’s The Firebrand of Florence with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ira Gershwin at 100: Celebration at Carnegie Hall, Der Rosenkavalier, and Paul Bowles’ The Wind Remains. Lucy’s first solo recording, Carpentersville, was released in spring 2013.

Born into a family of singers, Maria Todaro has been surrounded by music and the arts since her youngest childhood. She is one of the co-founders of the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice, and she has performed with the Westfield Symphony, Sinfonia New York, and international venues including Versailles, le Havre, São Paulo, and Palermo. She created a one-woman show singing twelve operatic arias ranging from Mozart to Bernstein and performed it during nine months at the Théâtre Traversière in Paris. She has sung solo recitals at a number of international festivals and can be heard on the album Echoes From Earth.

Jenny Lin is one of the most respected young pianists today, admired for her adventurous programming and charismatic stage presence. She has performed with the American Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, La Orquesta Sinfónica de Gijón, SWR Rundfunkorchester, Orchestra Sinfonica Nationale della RAI, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan. She has also worked with NDR Radiophilharmonie, Flemish Radio Orchestra, N&rnberger Symphoniker, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

Ms. Lin’s concerts have taken her to Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Miller Theatre, MoMA, the Whitney Museum, the National Gallery of Art, Spivey Hall, and throughout Europe and the Far East. She has performed at festivals including Mostly Mozart, BAM’s Next Wave, and Spoleto, as well as numerous festivals in Europe and Asia. Ms. Lin has over twenty albums to her credit, including a Shostakovich album that was voted “Best of 2009” by the Washington Post. Born in Taiwan and raised in Austria, Jenny studied in Vienna and Geneva as well as at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She holds a bachelor’s degree in German literature from Johns Hopkins University and currently resides in New York City, where she serves on the faculty of the 92nd Street Y.

The Maverick Chamber Players is a group of professional musicians who live and work in the Hudson Valley. As members of area ensembles—including the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the West Point Concert Band, and the Albany Symphony Orchestra—all are accomplished performers of repertoire ranging from orchestral masterpieces to world premieres. The members of the Maverick Chamber Players are Erica Pickhardt, cello; Pascale Feldman, bass; Norman Thibodeau, flute/piccolo/alto flute; Susan Kokernak, oboe/English horn; Weixiong Wang, clarinet/E flat clarinet; Lori Tiberio, bassoon/contrabassoon; Joseph Demko, horn; Peter Bellino, trumpet; Jerome Burns, trumpet; Nate Rensink, trombone; and Jennifer Hoult, harp.

 

 

Members of the Providence-based chamber ensemble Aurea join the Maverick Chamber Players for this performance. Aurea takes its name from Catena Aurea Homeri, or the Golden Chain of Homer, a symbol of eighteenth century esoteric alchemy, which strove for the refinement of the human condition. That alchemy—combining disparate elements into a divine new element—defines every Aurea event. Today’s Aurea performers are Charles Dimmick, violin; Omar Chen Guey, violin; Consuelo Sherba, viola; and Emmanuel Feldman, cello. Mr. Feldman, who also plays the solo cello piece by Ginastera this evening, enjoys an active career as a soloist and chamber musician, with concerts throughout Europe and North America. He has soloed with the Boston Pops, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, and the New England String Ensemble, and has performed with numerous prominent soloists. Emmanuel has premiered works by Roy Harbison, Richard Danielpour, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Gunther Schuller, and he serves on the cello faculty at the New England Conservatory, Tufts University, and the Heifetz and Killington music festivals.

Garry Kvistad, percussion, received a Master of Music degree from Northern Illinois University, where he studied music, art, and physics in the pursuit of building musical instruments. In the 1970s, he worked with composer/conductor Lucas Foss as a creative associate, and joined the faculty of Northern Illinois University before moving on to the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. He co-founded the Blackearth Percussion Group, which recorded and toured in the US, Canada, and Europe. He served as the timpanist and percussionist with the Chicago Grant Park Symphony, was a summer Tanglewood Fellow, and worked as a percussionist with the Cabrillo Music Festival Orchestra in California. Giri Mekar, the Balinese Gong Kebyar Gamelan ensemble which he formed in 1987, is currently in residence at Bard College. He won a Grammy award for his participation in the 1998 recording of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. Since 2002, Garry has been performing and touring extensively with NEXUS, which The New York Times called “the high priests of the percussion world.” He is the founder and owner of Woodstock Chimes, which manufactures wind chimes that are precision-tuned using ancient and exotic scales.

Alexander Platt’s 2013 debut at the Ravinia Festival—conducting Leonard Bernstein’s Songfest with members of the Lyric Opera of Chicago— received high praise in the Chicago Tribune and epitomizes a unique career among younger American conductors. In addition to his duties at Maverick (this is his eleventh season), Alexander is the music director for the Wisconsin Philharmonic, the Marion Indiana Philharmonic, the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, and the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted orchestras in the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, and Canada, and continues a close relationship with Symphonia Boca Raton, where he previously served as Principal Conductor.

In 1997 Alexander made his debut with Chicago Opera Theater conducting Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and was appointed resident conductor and music advisor in 2001. He stayed for twelve seasons, leading the Chicago premieres of major works of Britten, Shostakovich, and John Adams to unanimous critical acclaim.

Alexander was educated at Yale University, and was a conducting fellow at Aspen and Tanglewood. He received a British Marshall Scholarship to attend King’s College Cambridge, and as a conductor of the Cambridge University Opera Society he led a revival of Britten’s neglected opera Owen Wingrave. He made his professional debut at the Aldeburgh Festival and his London debut at Wigmore Hall, and returned to America to be the apprentice conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul chamber Orchestra, and the Minnesota Opera. During that time he reconstructed the lost chamber version of Gustav Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, which has become a classic of the repertoire.

 


 


 


ABOUT THE MUSIC

Born into a family of prominent Mexican artists, Silvestre Revueltas acquired a distinctive personality as a composer—full of spontaneity and always reflecting the spirit of contemporary Mexican life. Although his music does not directly quote Mexican folk songs, his melodies and harmonies reflect the brilliant colors of the people and the landscape, the festivities of the marketplace, and the raw vitality of popular street music.

Revueltas composed Homage to Federico García Lorca as a protest against the great Spanish poet’s assassination by the militia of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco. After a piano arpeggio and an elegiac trumpet solo, the ensemble plays a light, playful theme with troubling, dissonant accompaniment. The movement ends with the return of the lonesome trumpet. In the second movement, Duelo (Affliction), the piano plays a rhythmically plodding ostinato (a repeated note pattern), which intensifies the plaintive sound of the ensemble. Once again, as in much of Mexican music, the trumpet figures prominently, as does the piccolo, here recalling the panpipes of the indigenous Mayan Indians. The final movement is rhythmically complex, switching rapidly between 3/4 and 6/8 meters, and using some irregular meters as well. Ostinati abound, often superimposed upon one another, and the piece ends with a rousing climax.

Simon Holt graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and soon thereafter received commissions from the London Sinfonietta and the Nash Ensemble. He has enjoyed ongoing relationships with both groups, and his music is celebrated in the UK. Two orchestral pieces were commissioned and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the legendary Proms concerts in London. Long fascinated with the life and writings of Federico García Lorca, he divides his time between London and Granada in Spain. His music is dramatic and often eerie. Textures vary widely; turbulent passages are contrasted with moments of calm, which he calls “still centres.” The composer writes: “Canciones are three Spanish songs: a love song, a setting of a Lorca poem, ‘Canción de Jinete (1860)’ and a [folk-song] lyric. The two outer poems are anonymous but are cited by Lorca in his essay on ‘Duendé [Magic].’”

Alberto Ginastera is considered one of the most important Latin American classical composers of all time. His career was advancing steadily in his native Argentina until pressure from the government of Juan Perôn forced him to travel to the US (where he became a close friend of and collaborator with Aaron Copland), and then to Europe, where his music received great acclaim. His early works were nationalistic, employing indigenous dance rhythms and inspired by the tradition of the gauchos (the landless native horsemen of the plains and the symbol of Argentina). In later years, he composed and promoted avant-garde and serialist music, taking over the directorship of the newly formed Latin American Centre for Advanced Musical Studies in Buenos Aires. Ástor Piazzolla was one of his notable students. At the end of his life, settled into a happy second marriage, his music took a romantic turn, with settings of love poetry, including verses of García Lorca. He died an exile in Switzerland in 1983.

Ginastera’s career was aided by Paul Sacher, a Swiss conductor and patron of the arts who, when he died in 1999, was said to be the richest man in Europe. During his lifetime, he commissioned countless works from major composers and premiered them with his chamber orchestra. In honor of Sacher’s seventieth birthday in 1976, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich asked twelve of Sacher’s composer friends to write works for solo cello in his honor, based on the notes represented by the letters of his name (Es (E-flat), A natural, C natural, H (B natural), E natural, and Re (D natural)). Ginastera added his Puneña No. 2, Op. 45, to works by such luminaries as Pierre Boulez, Benjamin Britten, and Witold Lutosławski.

The Puneña (a song of the Argentine plains) explores the range of the cello from highest to lowest, and uses many extended techniques such as glissando, ponticello (playing near the bridge), and strumming with the left hand while continuing to bow with the right hand. It belongs to the period of his composition that Ginastera himself described as Neo-Expressionism. The composer writes: “Puneña No. 2, Homage à Paul Sacher, is a re-creation of the sonorous world of this mysterious heart of South America that was the Inca Empire, the influence of which one can still feel in the north of my country, as well as in Bolivia and Peru.”

Manuel de Falla studied piano and composition at the Conservatory in Madrid, where his teacher Felip Pedrell instilled in him a love of the native music of Andalusia—the southeastern region of Spain where flamenco music originated. His education was broadened with a seven-year sojourn in Paris, where he was influenced by Ravel, Debussy, Paul Dukas, and Stravinsky. Forced to return to Madrid at the outbreak of World War I, he was part of a group of artists—including poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, filmmaker Luis Buñuel, painter Salvador Dalí, and author/philosopher Miguel de Unamuno—whose avant-garde movement was dubbed “the silver age.”

Falla composed many of his greatest works in Madrid, including El amor brujo (Love, the Magician, 1915) and El corregidor y la molinera (The Magistrate and the Miller’s Wife). The latter was revised and became El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), which was produced by Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes with set design and costumes by Pablo Picasso. During the thirties and forties, his music was given jazz and pop arrangements and used in MGM musicals, which incensed him greatly.

He was especially close with García Lorca. He and Lorca looked for materials on which they could collaborate, and did so on some small works. Both of them took great interest in the folk traditions of the many regions of their native Spain. In 1922, Lorca and Falla joined forces to produce a festival dedicated to promoting flamenco performance.

Yearning for the country life, Falla moved in 1921to Granada, where he wrote his Harpsichord Concerto. This was the first twentieth-century composition for that instrument, which was having a renaissance mostly because of the efforts of his good friend Wanda Landowska. Falla continued to compose in the serenity of his home in Granada until 1936, when Francisco Franco and his fascist Falange attacked the democratically elected republican government. García Lorca was suspected of leftist activities. Falla tried to use his influence to save his friend, but Lorca was gunned down, his body buried in an unmarked grave which has never been found. Falla decided to leave Spain, and lived the rest of his life in voluntary exile in Argentina.

Whether the relationship between Falla and Lorca was romantic is unknown. Falla never married, and had important friendships with men most of his life. The only women he was close to were his sister, who cared for him in his old age, and Landowska, who was a lesbian. What we can say for sure is that he was at least open-minded, despite his devout Roman Catholicism. He stoutly defended his gay friend, Federico García Lorca, and opposed the homophobic fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Falla’s El corregidor y la molinera (The Magistrate and the Miller’s Wife) is a pantomime in the style of the Commedia dell’Arte plays. It was written in 1916 (the same year Maverick Concerts was founded) and scored for chamber orchestra. Falla again uses traditional Andalusian music throughout the work. Alexander Platt has created a suite of pieces from the original titled Night Music from El Corregidor y la molinera, as the action of the story progresses from afternoon, through the evening, and to the hour before dawn.

The story tells of a miller, his faithful wife, and the local magistrate who tries unsuccessfully to seduce her. It is set in the nineteenth century in a small Andalusian town. The music begins with the miller and his wife laughing as they try to teach their caged blackbird to count. The Magistrate and his entourage parade by, and he admires the miller’s wife as she dances. She teases him with a bunch of grapes, and then she dances a fandango. The neighbors come and share a meal with the millers, but the magistrate’s men come and arrest the miller on trumped-up charges. The suite ends with the dawn song of the cuckoo, as the magistrate’s desires are thwarted and the miller’s wife remains faithful. The first performance of El Corregidor took place at the Teatro Eslava in Madrid on April 7, 1917, with Joaquin Turina conducting.

Falla’s Psyché is a setting of a poem by the French music critic Georges Jean-Aubry (1882-1950), who also wrote a biography of Joseph Conrad and translated his works into French. Aubry was a friend of Debussy and Ravel, and knew Falla during the composer’s seven years in Paris (1907-1914). The Greek goddess Psyche is best known in French literature from Molière’s 1671 tragedy Psyché. Psyche falls in love with the adult Cupid, who refuses to reveal his identity, saying she will lose him forever if he tells her. She insists, so he tells her his name, and then disappears. The French ballet ends with her in the underworld, bereft and weeping. As Antonio Gallego has noted, “Although the myth on which the poem is based is timeless, Falla imagined an eighteenth-century concert in one of the rooms of the Alhambra in Granada, a residence of the first Spanish Bourbon kings.”

In Aubry’s poem, she is urged to awaken, cease crying, and notice the beauty of the springtime. Falla sets Psyché for soprano with a small ensemble. The instruments open the work, after which the soprano sings a cappella, and then voice and instruments join. This repeated pattern is reminiscent of the dialogue between the main character and the chorus in a Greek tragedy. After the soprano ends the song, the instruments provide a brief coda.

The first of our two solo piano works this evening is Serenata Andaluza, which Falla named for his beloved Andalusia. A serenata, or serenade, is a piece written for the evening—a time of peaceful reflection, as in the cognate “serene.” In Falla’s Serenata, the left hand plays an arpeggio (a chord played one note at a time) as the right hand plays the melody, imitating how the piece would sound on a Spanish guitar.

Fantasía Bética also references Andalusia, this time using the name of the ancient Roman province Hispania Baetica in southern Spain, whose borders corresponded roughly to modern Andalusia. The piece features folk-inspired and flamenco cadences, with rippling cascades of notes. The influence of Falla’s Parisian period can be heard in the wide-ranging, Stravinsky-like melodies and the blurred impressionistic harmonies.

Falla composed the Harpsichord Concerto for Landowska (whose life’s mission was to reintroduce the harpsichord into the musical life of Europe and the Americas), giving her a contemporary option for her performances. Landowska performed the premiere, with Falla conducting, in Barcelona in 1926. The concerto is being performed on the piano this evening, as it often was by Falla himself. In the Allegro, the keyboard plays delicate figurations as the chamber ensemble—flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, and cello—accents the offbeats and offers syncopated rhythmic interest. The slow movement (Lento) is marked giubiloso ed energico—jubilant and energetic. Strong, dissonant heartbeats seem the furthest thing imaginable for the usually thin sound of the harpsichord, but Falla is obviously intending to stretch the instrument beyond its traditional limits. The finale (Vivace: flessible, scherzando—lively: flexible, playful) provides light textures and exuberant dance meters for a rousing finish. In this Concerto, Falla’s transition from a Spanish nationalist composer to one in the modern neo-classical style is complete.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg. It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy,  publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at miriam@hvc.rr.com. Program Notes © 2014 by Miriam Villchur Berg