ALIAS May 2007

May 12, 2007, 8:00 PM
Turner Recital Hall, Blair School of Music

Cantata, BWV 199, “Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut” J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
  • Barbi McCulloch, soprano
  • Roger Wiesmeyer, oboe
  • Alison Gooding, Keiko Nagayoshi, violin
  • Melinda Whitley, viola
  • Michael Samis, Christopher Stenstrom, cello
  • Murray Somerville, organ
Paul Robeson Told Me *Double Take* Michael Daugherty (b. 1954)
  • Zeneba Bowers, violin
  • Jeremy Williams, violin
  • Christopher Farrell, viola
  • Christopher Stenstrom, cello
– Intermission –
And Legions Will Rise *Double Take* Kevin Puts (b. 1972)
  • Lee Levine, clarinet
  • Zeneba Bowers, violin
  • Christopher Norton, marimba
Quintet for piano and strings in F-sharp minor, op. 67 Amy Beach (1867-1944)
  1. Adagio – Allegro moderato
  2. Adagio espressivo
  3. Allegro agitato – Adagio come prima – Presto
  • Sylvia Samis, violin
  • Jeremy Williams, violin
  • Kathryn Plummer, viola
  • Michael Samis, cello
  • Leah Bowers, piano

Proceeds from this concert benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee.

Program Notes

J.S. Bach: Cantata, BWV 199, “Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut” (1713/4)
Bach cantatas summon up thoughts of a large choir and four-part chorales, yet the majority of movements in Bach’s cantatas are for just one or two voices. This solo cantata for soprano was written in Weimar in 1713 or 1714 for the eleventh Sunday after Trinity. It follows closely the Gospel for that day (Luke 18: 9-14), and the words of the humble tax-collector, “God have mercy on me, sinner that I am,” set the tone for the cantata. The prominent use of recitative, the single solo voice, and the modest instrumentation emphasize the personal nature of a spiritual journey as the speaker laments his sins and eventually finds relief in God’s redemption. The cantata is also unusual in that it includes a movement with solo viola obbligato, and for its dancelike final movement, which would not be out of place in one of his instrumental suites.

Michael Daugherty: Paul Robeson Told Me (1994)
After composing two works for string quartet and tape for the Kronos Quartet, Sing Sing: J. Edgar Hoover (1992) and Elvis Everywhere (1993), Daugherty chose Paul Robeson as subject for the Smith Quartet commission because “like Elvis Presley, Paul Robeson is an enduring American icon. Both were self-taught singers with a distinctive voice and both were considered “subversive” influences by J.Edgar Hoover, who monitored their activities for his secret files at the F.B.I. The insurgency of Robeson’s voice interests me–its powerful energy–and I want to explore its timbral possibilities as well as its political implications and ambiguities within American culture.”

Paul Robeson Told Me, for string quartet and digital tape, is ten minutes in duration and divided into two movements performed without pause. The tape part composed by Daugherty as part of the first movement contains segments of an extremely rare concert rendition of the “People’s Battle Song,” sung by Robeson in the summer of 1949 in Moscow, during a concert tour of the Soviet Union to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Pushkin’s birth. The string quartet augments the voice and orchestral accompaniment on the tape, and also introduces original thematic material composed by Daugherty.

The second movement begins without pause after Robeson completes the “People’s Battle Song.” The buoyancy of this movement reflects the visionary optimism of the Harlem Renaissance, in which Robeson was a central figure. Daugherty’s themes woven into the first movement are furiously repeated and composed into a lively rhythmic network–a showpiece for the string quartet, with vibrant syncopations and fearless fiddling in response to the dynamism of Robeson’s voice.

Kevin Puts: And Legions Will Rise (2001)
Kevin Puts is one of the most successful young composers in the music world today. His works have been commissioned and premiered by many of the top orchestras and artists in this country as well as abroad, including the Aspen Music Festival, Yo-Yo Ma, the New York Philharmonic, Emanuel Ax, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and Leonard Slatkin, to name only a few notable names in his CV. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, and then he earned a Master’s from Yale University before returning to Eastman for his doctorate. he is currently composer-in-residence for the Fort Worth Symphony. Following are his own notes about And Legions Will Rise:

Composed in the summer of 2001, And Legions Will Rise is about the power in all of us to transcend during times of tragedy and personal crisis. While I was writing it, I kept imagining one of those war scenes in blockbuster films, with masses of troops made ready before a great battle. I think we have forces like this inside of us, ready to do battle when we are at our lowest moments. The piece was written at the request of Makoto Nakura and commissioned by the Kobe Shinbun. It was premiered in October 2001 at Matsukata Hall, Kobe, Japan by Mr. Nakura, Yayoi Toda (violin), and Todd Palmer (clarinet).

Amy Beach: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F-sharp minor, op. 67 (1908)
The Quintet for Piano and Strings emerged from Amy Beach’s (formerly Cheney) married period, during which time her husband, a distinguished Boston surgeon, restricted her concert piano career to only charity events. Having grown up in the conservative atmosphere of a privileged New England household, Beach was used to being discouraged from chasing her musical dreams despite showing an uncanny ability and love for the piano from a very early age. (Her mother would often lock up the piano as punishment.) Within a few years of the 1908 premier of this quintet, both Beach’s husband and mother died. In her remaining thirty-four years, not only did her career as a world-class pianist flourish, but the self-taught composer left behind a library of works that, like the quintet, possess the romantic spirit of Brahms and a deep sensuality that is all her own.