ALIAS May 2004

May 9, 2004, 7:30 PM
Turner Recital Hall, Blair School of Music

Quintette Instrumental for harp, flute, and strings (1957) Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)
  1. Allegro poco moderato
  • Licia Jaskunas, harp
  • Erik Gratton, flute, Erin Hall, violin
  • Christopher Farrell, viola, Sari Reist, cello
Suite no. 1 for solo cello, op. 72 (1964) Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
  • Canto primo: Sostenuto e largamente
    1. Fuga: Andante moderato
    2. Lamento: Lento moderato
  • Canto secondo: Sostenuto
    1. Serenata: Allegretto (pizzicato)
    2. Marcia: Alla marcia moderato
  • Canto terzo: Sostenuto
    1. Bordone: Moderato quasi recitativo
    2. Moto perpetuo e Canto Quarto: Presto
  • Michael Samis, cello
Trio for clarinet, horn, and piano, op. 274 Carl Reinecke (1824-1910)
  1. Finale: Allegro
  • Lee Levine, clarinet
  • Leslie Norton, horn
  • Robert Marler, piano
Sonata Representativa for violin and continuo H.I.F. Biber (d. 1704)
  • Zeneba Bowers, violin
  • Christopher Stenstrom, bass viol
  • Roger Wiesmeyer, harpsichord
– Intermission –
Sonata no. 2 for violin and piano (1923) George Antheil (1900-1959)
  • Zeneba Bowers, violin
  • Rolin Mains, piano and percussion
Piano Trio no. 2 in C minor, op. 66 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
  1. Allegro energico e con fuoco
  2. Andante espressivo
  3. Scherzo: Molto allegro quasi presto
  4. Finale: Allegro appassionato
  • Erin Hall, violin
  • Christopher Stenstrom, cello
  • Amy Dorfman, piano

Proceeds from this concert benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, which creates one-to-one friendships between children who need a positive role model and caring adult volunteers.

Program Notes

Heitor Villa Lobos: Quintette Instrumental for harp, flute, and strings
Brazilian composer/cellist/guitarist Villa-Lobos was never formally educated in music to any significant degree; he learned at the side of his parents and then by reading and studying on his own, with only brief (and largely unsuccessful) forays into academia. What he did do, and what ultimately set him apart, was travel extensively, collecting and studying the folk music of his Brazil and the surrounding areas. (He sometimes worked in offices, and once in a match factory, to finance his travels.) At the same time he studied the scores of the masters and several treatises on composition. As a result of his self-education he developed a unique and fresh, sometimes almost improvisatory compositional style which included folk idioms often combined with Baroque structures and forms. (Indeed, he believed that there were only two great composers in history: J.S. Bach, and himself.)

Benjamin Britten: Suite #1 for solo cello, op. 72
Britten was a prominent figure among the generation of English composers who came to the fore during the World War II era. Composed in the autumn of 1964, the first suite for solo cello is among several of Britten’s compositions inspired by and dedicated to the legendary cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich. The suite is comprised of a reoccurring Canto, or song, and six movements. This Canto appears in three emotionally different presentations, each preceding a pair of movements, then finally clashes directly with the Moto Perpetuo wearing its original face and tonality. Each movement has a unique character and explores various technical and virtuosic abilities of the cello.

Carl Reinecke: Trio for clarinet, horn, and piano, op. 274
Though not well-known to modern audiences, Reinecke was an important musical figure of the 19th century, as a pianist and composer but also as an educator and administrator. In 1860 he was appointed to the Leipzig Conservatory; he became the director in 1897. His music is known today by young pianists who play his exercises and sonatinas; but he also wrote an impressive number of “serious” works (of which his trio for piano, clarinet and horn is one), including operas and orchestral and chamber music. His style was generally in the vein of Schumann and Brahms, often marked by an affinity for folk elements.

Heinrich Biber: Sonata Representativa
Born in Bohemia, Biber was the foremost violin virtuoso of his time. As such, he wrote a large body of work for solo violin and violin with accompaniment in order to showcase his talents. As a composer, then, he was very creative: Many of his works employ altered tuning (scordatura) and a wide variety of technical effects not ordinarily found in the music of the time. He also tended, usually in good fun, to “borrow” (not to say “steal”) musical material from his contemporaries’ works. His Sonata Representativa is a good example of all of these aspects. In it he demonstrates not only a number of effects to simulate various animal sounds (which he quotes from the Musurgia Universalis, a tome of musicology which was highly regarded in academic circles of the time) but also extremely involved technical material which enabled him to show off his unparalleled virtuosity.

George Antheil: Second Sonata for Violin, Piano, and Drum (1923)
Aaron Copland wrote of Antheil in 1925: “I am honesty bound to repeat my unshakeable conviction – the boy is a genius. Need I add that he has yet to write a work that shows it.” The American-born Antheil developed a compositional style to oppose the (in his words) “mountainous sentiment” of Strauss and the “fluid diaphanous lechery” of the French impressionists. His riotous Carnegie Hall premiere of his Ballet méchanique which included pianos and player pianos, xylophones, two airplane propellers, tam-tam, four bass drums and a siren, earned him the moniker “The Bad Boy of Music.” His style, which he referred to as a “synthesized jazz” idiom, is evident in his second violin sonata: While, like Charles Ives, Antheil uses many quotations from some of the popular jazz and salon music of the day, he also presages, in different ways, elements of later composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

Felix Mendelssohn: Piano Trio no. 2 in C minor, op. 66
Mendelssohn was, not unlike Mozart, a child prodigy both as a pianist and as a composer. His family was well-educated and financially comfortable, which was an ideal environment to develop the talents that Mendelssohn displayed at an early age. Musically, not unlike Beethoven, he stood at the juxtaposition of the highly structured Classical period and the budding Romantic period. His music bears elements of both; moreover, he was at least partially responsible for a popular revival of interest in the Baroque stylings of J.S. Bach. All of these elements are present in his tremendous body of work, which spans from solo to orchestral, instrumental to vocal, secular to sacred. His second piano trio was written in 1845, only two years before his death (again, like Mozart, Mendelssohn died in his thirties). While in a classic four-movement form, it clearly bears the mark of the coming Romantic era which he helped to create.