ALIAS February 2004-2

February 22, 2004, 7:30 PM
Turner Recital Hall, Blair School of Music

Program
Ricercar no. 6 in G major for solo cello Domenico Gabrielli (1659-1690)
  • Christopher Stenstrom, cello
Two Songs for contralto and piano, op. 91 Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
  1. Gestillte Sehnsucht (Appeased Desire)
  2. Geistliches Wiegenlied (Sacred Lullaby)
  • Kay Reynolds, mezzo-soprano
  • Christopher Farrell, viola
  • Roger Wiesmeyer, piano
Serenade for two violins and viola, op. 12, excerpt Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967)
  1. Vivo
  • Alison Gooding, Jeremy Williams, violin
  • Christopher Farrell, viola
Fiddle Swing Matt Walker (b.1968)
  • Zeneba Bowers, violin
  • Matt Walker, cello
  • David Huntsinger, piano
  • Jack Jezzro, bass
  • Bob Mater, drums
– Intermission –
Impromptu for clarinet and bass Edgar Meyer
  • Lee Levine, clarinet
  • Edgar Meyer, bass
Duet for cello and bass Edgar Meyer
  • Grace Bahng, cello
  • Edgar Meyer, bass
Trio for clarinet, cello, and bass Edgar Meyer
  • Lee Levine, clarinet
  • Grace Bahng, cello
  • Edgar Meyer, bass
String Quartet no. 2 in F major, op. 92 Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
  1. Allegro sostenuto
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegro – Andante molto – Quasi Allegro I, ma un poco più tranquillo – Allegro I
  • Zeneba Bowers, violin
  • Carolyn Huebl, violin
  • Daniel Reinker, viola
  • Christopher Stenstrom, cello

Proceeds from this performance benefited Hands on Nashville, which offers programs, partnerships, and services that maximize volunteer impact in the greater Nashville community. More information and volunteer opportunities can be found on their web site, www.hon.org.

Program Notes

Domenico Gabrielli: Ricercar no. 6 in G major for solo cello (1689)
Domenico Gabrielli was known both as a composer of vocal music and as a virtuoso cellist. By the end of the 17th century the cello was becoming more prominent as a solo instrument, and Gabrielli’s works reflect this trend as well as his own technical mastery of the instrument, with rapid passage work and numerous chordal techniques.

The word ricercar is derived from Italian and means “to search for,” which hints at the improvisatory nature of the work. Early ricercars were generally prelude-like and free in structure, but by the 17th century the primary form was the imitative ricercar, similar to an invention or fugue, with several sections, each with it own motive. This ricercar, among the earliest known works for solo cello, demonstrates a fusion of both types, and can be viewed as a predecessor to the solo suites of J.S. Bach.

Johannes Brahms: Two Songs for contralto and piano, op. 91
The instrumentation of these songs is as unusual as their origin: The great violinist Joseph Joachim, and his wife Adele, a professional vocalist, were in the throes of divorce. Brahms, a good friend of both individuals, wrote the pieces in hopes of brokering a peace between them. The second of the two songs was originally written much earlier than the first, in 1864 to celebrate the birth of the Joachim’s first child, Johannes. Brahms revised it in 1884 and scored it for alto, viola, and piano, along with a second, newer song. The viola most closely matches an alto voice in range and timbre, and it is employed alternately as solo instrument and as counterpoint and harmony to the vocal line. Adele liked the songs and sang them on more than one occasion; Brahms success with this composition did not extend to the Joachim household, however, as Joseph never was the violist in his wife’s performances.

Zoltán Kodály: Serenade in E flat for two violins and viola (1899)
In addition to being a prolific and influential composer, Zoltán Kodály also created an extensive method of elementary school music education which is still used today. Along with his friend and colleague Bela Bartók, Kodály drew heavily on his native musical folk traditions to create a new and sophisticated musical culture in Hungary, while at the same time cataloguing and preserving much of the country’s folk music. He was also deeply devoted to linguistics and language education; he himself was fluent in at least five languages.

The Serenade is one of many small string ensemble pieces he wrote that strongly shows the roots of his Hungarian spirit.

Matt Walker: Fiddle Swing (2003)
This is the second in what is probably bound to become a series of pieces for cello paired with another instrument plus jazz trio. Fiddle Swing was written (if that is the term) in the summer of 2003 in order to demonstrate non-classical musical styles using a typically classical instrument. (It also provided a convenient excuse not to play string quartets.) It begins with a slow gospel/blues section which is introduced guitar-like on the cello, then breaks into a quick shuffle reminiscent of the old Motel 6 radio commercials, except without Tom Bodett.

Sergei Prokofiev: Quartet no. 2 in F major, op. 92 on Kabardinian Themes
After spending years abroad, in 1936 Prokofiev returned home to Moscow, where he would spend the rest of his life under the watchful eye of the Stalinist regime. In 1941, with the outbreak of war, Prokofiev was evacuated to the region of Kabarda, near Georgia, and government officials encouraged him to make use of the folk traditions of the region. Since the 1930’s Prokofiev had been moving toward what he referred to as a “new simplicity” in his music and in the Second Quartet he was able to satisfy this musical goal while also finding acceptance from his overseers by using Kabardinian themes in the work.

This quartet uses fewer harsh effects and dissonances than many of his works, but is marked by the driving rhythms that are so characteristic of his music. The energy is apparent immediately in the first movement, with a sustained subject at the beginning, alternating with a lighter, more playful theme first heard in the violin and cello.

The second movement features an accompaniment that is thought to have been inspired by Kabardinian string playing. This is interrupted by a lighter section in a shifting meter, with ricochet bowings in all parts, but the opening mood prevails and the movement ends on a spare E minor chord.

The last movement is based on a dance tune, “Getigezhev Ogurbi,” and features a rapid, driving accompaniment in the viola and cello. The motion is brought to a halt by a cello cadenza, which quickly leads to another furious section and finally a return of the opening material.