ALIAS October 2007

October 4, 2007, 8:00 PM
Turner Recital Hall, Blair School of Music

Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight *Double Take* Roy Harris (1898-1979)
  • Sharon Mabry, mezzo-soprano
  • Zeneba Bowers, violin
  • Matt Walker, cello
  • Roger Wiesmeyer, piano
Quintet in D major Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
  1. Allegro moderato
  2. Intermezzo: Allegretto
  3. Andantino
  4. Finale: Allegro molto
  • Lee Levine, clarinet
  • Leslie Norton, horn
  • Alison Gooding, violin
  • Michael Samis, cello
  • Melissa Rose, piano
– Intermission –
Rhythm Changes Everything *World premiere* Larry Lapin
  1. Allegro
  2. Ostinato
  3. Fugato ’bout it
  • Alison Gooding, violin
  • Matt Walker, cello
  • Larry Lapin, piano
String Quartet no. 9 in E-flat major Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
  1. Moderato con moto
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegretto
  4. Adagio
  5. Allegro
  • Zeneba Bowers, violin
  • Jeremy Williams, violin
  • Christopher Farrell, viola
  • Christopher Stenstrom, cello

Proceeds from this concert benefited the W.O. Smith / Nashville Community Music School.

Program Notes

Roy Harris: Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight (1953)
Although Roy Harris was influenced by his studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, he created, along with the better known Aaron Copland, what is commonly known today as a distinctively American musical sound. His symphonic works were often programmatic, with titles like West Point Symphony (with military band), Gettysburg, and Bicentennial Symphony, which he wrote in 1976. Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight, for mezzo-soprano and piano trio, exemplifies the composer’s leanings towards patriotic subjects. The piece is a setting of a poem by Vachel Lindsay.

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Quintet in D major (1898)
One of England’s most important and notable composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams was known to travel the countryside and write down the tunes of folk singers and carolers. It was around the time of these journeys that the Quintet in D Major was composed. Shortly afterward, Vaughan Williams began studies with Maurice Ravel, at which point he felt that he found his inner compositional voice. He then proceeded to reject and throw much of his earlier music into a cupboard. The Quintet in D, along with four other chamber works from this same early period, were dragged out of the cupboard by Vaughan Williams’ widow shortly after his death, not having its first modern performance until 2001. Through this unique instrumentation, the quintet echoes the style of Brahms, yet possesses the charm that is quintessential Vaughan Williams.

Larry Lapin: Rhythm Changes Everything (2007)
Miami jazz pianist Larry Lapin has blended classical forms and structures with standard jazz idioms to create this distinctive work. The piece was written at the urging of ALIAS cellist Matt Walker, and completed just this past summer. It is comprised of three movements: The first, “Allegro,” is a standard jazz form known as rhythm changes; the second, “Ostinato,” is a lyrical ballad-style setting with a repeating underlying figure. The last movement, titled “Fugato ’bout it,” reflects Lapin’s skill with the Baroque fugue form as well as his questionable sense of humor. The piece includes several sections in which the musicians improvise, including a lengthy open-ended “tag” near the end which builds up as the instruments play off of each other extemporaneously.

Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet no. 9 in E flat major, op. 117 (1964) The last quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich are generally viewed as some of the most personal and introspective of his compositions. While he had more creative freedom in the post-Stalin era, when this quartet was written, Shostakovich still struggled to maintain his musical integrity, his independence from the government, and his failing health. This is the second “Ninth” quartet that Shostakovich wrote – the composer destroyed the first in 1961 in what he referred to as “an attack of healthy self-criticism.”

The quartet is in five movements, played without break, and even before the melody begins, the second violin plays an ostinato that will become the unifying motive of the piece. In E-flat major, the first movement is good-natured, at least for Shostakovich, and, after a lighter middle section, the ostinato fades out, leaving only a sustained note in the viola to make the transition to the second movement.
This Adagio is the emotional center of the quartet, with dense, chorale-like writing in the key of F-sharp minor. At the end of the movement, the violin returns to the ostinato, which is then the basis, sped up, for the material of the third movement, a scherzo that at times threatens to become a twisted polka. Again the music fades into the ostinato, now in the first violin, to start the fourth movement. This time the chorale is interrupted by a series of pizzicato chords and an exclamation by the violin before it returns to opening material, almost unchanged.

The final movement bursts in triple meter at a breakneck pace. A march-like section in duple time is followed by a fugue more like a four-part argument in character than an a serious attempt at counterpoint. Again the music is interrupted, this time by an outburst from the cello. The entire quartet joins in massive pizzicato chords, and then the ostinato returns, one last time. The movement regains speed, combining motives from the entire quartet and building to a raucous finale.