David Finckel and Wu Han, Artistic Directors
THE ART OF THE RECITAL
ANTHONY McGILL AND GLORIA CHIEN Thursday Evening, November 21, 2013 at 7:30 Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Studio 3,259th Concert
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, 10th Floor New York, NY 10023 212-875-5788 www.chambermusicsociety.org
This concert is made possible, in part, by the Grand Marnier Foundation.
THE ART OF THE RECITAL Thursday Evening, November 21, 2013 at 7:30
ANTHONY McGILL, clarinet GLORIA CHIEN, piano
CLAUDE DEBUSSY Première rapsodie for Clarinet and Piano (1862-1918) (1909-10) ALEXANDER Selected Preludes for Clarinet and Piano SCRIABIN (1894-95, arr. 1986 by Willard Elliot) (1872-1915)
Op. 11, No. 23 in F major Op. 16, No. 1 in B major Op. 16, No. 2 in G-sharp minor Op. 16, No. 4 in E-flat minor
SCRIABIN Nocturne in D-flat major for Piano Left Hand, Op. 9, No. 2 (1894) OLIVIER MESSIAEN “Abîme des oiseaux” for Clarinet from (1908-1992) Quatuor pour la fin du temps (1940) FRANCIS POULENC Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1962) (1899-1963)
Allegro tristamente Romanza: Très calme Allegro con fuoco
—INTERMISSION— ROBERT SCHUMANN Three Romances for Clarinet and Piano, (1810-1856) Op. 94 (1849) Nicht schnell Einfach, innig Nicht schnell
ALBAN BERG (1885-1935)
Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5 (1913) MĂ¤ssig Sehr langsam Sehr rasch Langsam
CARL MARIA VON WEBER (1786-1826)
Grand duo concertant for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 48 (1815-16) Allegro con fuoco Andante con moto Rondo: Allegro
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notes on the
We have been friends since we first met at Music@Menlo in California in 2006. We have since played several recitals together and when we were planning this program, we thought back to the repertoire we have chosen in the past. It all shares a certain melancholy and that led us to the idea of verlangen, or Romantic longing. Verlangen is inherent in the warm, nostalgic sound of the clarinet and subsequently in the clarinet repertoire. The instrument’s round, mellifluous tone ideally suits the colorful harmonic language of French composers Debussy, Messiaen, and Poulenc; its depth and mystery equally befit the dramatic weight of Schumann and Berg. The program ends with one of the most virtuosic works in the clarinet repertoire, Carl Maria von Weber’s Grand duo. We are honored to open the inaugural season of the recital series at the Chamber Music Society! -Anthony McGill and Gloria Chien
Première rapsodie for Clarinet and Piano Claude DEBUSSY Born August 22, 1862 in St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. Died March 25, 1918 in Paris. Composed in 1909-10. Premiered on January 16, 1911 in Paris, with Prosper Mimart as clarinetist. First CMS performance on November 5, 1982. Duration: 8 minutes
By 1907, despite his iconoclastic views, his unprecedented musical style, and the scandals surrounding his personal life (he abandoned his first wife in 1904 for another woman—Paris was deliciously outraged), it could no longer be denied by those in bureaucratic power that Claude Debussy, the author of the Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun, the Nocturnes, and the hotly debated opera Pelléas et
Mélisande, had established a significant reputation as a leading French composer. As a sort of back-handed recognition in lieu of the official establishment’s imprimatur of a faculty position at the Paris Conservatoire, he was invited by Gabriel Fauré, then the school’s director, to help judge the competitions for prizes in wind instrument performance in 1907. Apparently Fauré was pleased with Debussy’s participation, since he invited him to become a regular competition judge in February 1909. In December 1909 and January 1910, Debussy wrote two short works for the 1910 clarinet competitions—a Première rapsodie intended as the principal examination piece, and a Petite Pièce for sight-reading. Prosper Mimart, professor of clarinet at the Conservatoire and the dedicatee of the score, premiered the Première rapsodie (Debussy never composed a “deuxième rapsodie”) on January 16, 1911 at a Paris concert of the Société Musicale Indépendente.
As is true of virtually all of Debussy’s compositions, the Première rapsodie does not follow a traditional form, but is rather a seemingly free but actually tightly controlled elaboration of several thematic motives
wrapped in the luminous harmonies and sonorities of his Impressionistic musical language. The work is in several continuous sections that become more animated and virtuosic as they progress.
Selected Preludes for Clarinet and Piano Nocturne in D-flat major for Piano Left Hand, Op. 9, No. 2 Alexander SCRIABIN Born January 6, 1872 in Moscow. Died there on April 27, 1915. Composed in 1894-95. Preludes arranged in 1986 by Willard Elliot (1926-2000). Tonight is the first CMS performance of these pieces. Duration: 12 minutes “The Muscovite seer”; “the Russian musical mystic”; “the clearest case of artistic egomania in the chronicles of music”: Alexander Scriabin was one of the most unusual of all composers. Living in the generation between Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, he showed an early talent for music and trod the accepted path of lessons, conservatory training, and teaching. His visions, however, refused to be channeled into the conventional forms of artistic expression, and he developed a style and a philosophy that were unique. He believed that mankind was approaching a final cataclysm from which a nobler race would emerge, with himself playing some exalted but illdefined Messianic role in the new order. (He welcomed the beginning of World
War I as the fulfillment of his prophecy.) As the transition through this apocalypse, Scriabin posited an enormous ritual that would purge humanity and make it fit for the millennium. He felt that he was divinely called to create this ritual, this “Mystery” as he called it, and he spent the last 12 years of his life concocting ideas for its realization. Scriabin’s mammoth “Mysterium” was to be performed in a specially built temple in India (in which country he never set foot), and was to include music, mime, fragrance, light, sculpture, costume, bells hung from the clouds, etc., etc., which were to represent the history of man from the dawn of time to the ultimate world convulsion. He even imagined a language of sighs and groans that would express feelings not translatable into mere words. He whipped all these fantasies together with a seething sexuality to create a vision of whirling emotional ferment quite unlike anything else in the history of music or any other art. In describing the Poem of Ecstasy to his friend Ivan Lipaev he said, “When you listen to it, look straight into the eye of the Sun!” In 1986, Willard Elliot (1926-2000), composer, arranger, and Principal Bassoonist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 32 years, arranged for
clarinet and piano several of Scriabin’s Preludes that were written before the full impact of his dizzying vision had taken hold and Chopin was still a strong influence. (Scriabin claimed to have slept with scores of Chopin’s music under his pillow.) The Prelude in F major, Op. 11, No. 23 (1895), flowing and limpid, is a wide-ranging pastorale. The first of the five Preludes, Op. 16 of 189495 (B major) drapes a dreamy melody upon a cushion of almost Impressionistic harmonies. The Prelude in G-sharp minor, Op. 16, No. 2 begins in a hesitant
manner but accumulates considerable dramatic tension as it unfolds. The Prelude in E-flat minor, Op. 16, No. 4 is a tiny but heart-felt threnody. The Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2, composed in 1894 while Scriabin was recovering from a broken collar bone on his right side and could only play the piano with his left hand, is marked by a strong sense of melody, richness of figuration, clarity of form, and traditional (but considerably extended) harmonic palette grown from his study of Chopin’s music.
“Abîme des oiseaux” for Clarinet from Quatuor pour la fin du temps Olivier MESSIAEN Born December 10, 1908 in Avignon. Died April 28, 1992 in Paris. Composed in 1940. Premiered on January 15, 1941 at Stalag VIIIA in Görlitz, Silesia (now Poland) by clarinetist Henri Akoka. First CMS performance on March 12, 1971. Duration: 8 minutes When World War II erupted across Europe in 1939, Messiaen, then organist at Trinity Cathedral, a teacher at the École Normale de Musique and the Schola Cantorum, and a composer of rapidly growing reputation, was called up for service but deemed unfit for military duty because of his poor eyesight. He was instead assigned first as a furniture
mover at Sarreguemines and then as a hospital attendant at Sarrabbe before ending up with a medical unit in Verdun, where he met Henri Akoka, a clarinetist with the Strasbourg Radio Orchestra, and Etienne Pasquier, cellist in an internationally renowned string trio with his brothers, violinist Jean and violist Pierre. Inspired by the dawn bird songs that marked the end of his night watch at Verdun, Messiaen composed the Abîme des oiseaux (Abyss of the Birds) for solo clarinet, but even before Akoka could try it out the Germans invaded France in May 1940 and all three musicians were captured the following month and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp—Stalag VIIIA— at Görlitz, Silesia (now in Poland). At Stalag VIIIA, they met the violinist Jean Le Boulaire, who had graduated from the Paris Conservatoire but spent much of his life in military service (and who would become a successful actor under the name Jean Lanier after the war).
It was for this unlikely ensemble that Messiaen composed his Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time) during his internment, incorporating the solo clarinet movement he had written for Akoka. Messiaen’s introduction to the score of the Quartet for the End of Time bespeaks the work’s interpenetration of cosmology, religion, and music as it reflects his visionary universe: “I saw a mighty angel descend from heaven, clad in mist; and a rainbow was upon his head. He set his right foot on the sea, his left foot on the earth, and standing thus on sea and earth, he lifted his hand to
heaven and swore by Him who liveth for ever and ever, saying: There shall be time no longer; but on the day of the trumpet of the seventh angel, the mystery of God shall be finished.” Messiaen noted of the third movement, for solo clarinet, “Abîme des oiseaux (Abyss of the Birds). The abyss is Time, with its sadness and tediums. The birds are the opposite of Time; they are our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows, and for jubilant outpourings of song! There is a great contrast between the desolation of Time (the abyss) and the joy of the bird-songs (desire of the eternal light).”
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano Francis POULENC Born January 7, 1899 in Paris. Died there on January 30, 1963. Composed in 1962. Premiered on April 10, 1963 in New York, by Benny Goodman and Leonard Bernstein. First CMS performance on November 21, 1971. Duration: 13 minutes Of Poulenc’s 13 chamber works for various instrumental combinations, only three are exclusively for strings. “I have always adored wind instruments,” he remembered, “preferring them to strings, and this love developed independent of the tendencies of the era. Of course, L’Histoire du Soldat and Stravinsky’s solo clarinet pieces stimulated my taste for winds, but I had already developed
the taste as a child.” The Clarinet Sonata, Poulenc’s last work except for the Sonata for Oboe and Piano, was composed in the summer of 1962 for Benny Goodman, and is dedicated to the memory of Arthur Honegger; Goodman and Leonard Bernstein gave the premiere in New York on April 10, 1963, ten weeks after the composer’s death from a heart attack in Paris on January 30th. Keith W. Daniel noted that this composition and the sonatas for flute (1957) and oboe (1962) “may be compared with Debussy’s late sonatas in their mastery of form and medium, their reticence, and their easy flow of melody. Indeed, the three wind sonatas rank among Poulenc’s most profound, accomplished works: they retain the early tunefulness, but the impertinent edge is replaced by serenity and self-confidence, deepened by the addition of a religious undertone.” Rather than the sonata-allegro structure
often heard in the first movement of such works, the Clarinet Sonata opens with a three-part form in which a central section, at once benedictory and slightly exotic, is surrounded by a beginning and ending paragraph in quicker tempo. The second movement is almost hymnal
in its lyricism and quiet intensity. The finale is based on the progeny of a French music hall tune that is treated, as Stravinsky did with the themes he stole (Stravinsky’s word) from Pergolesi for Pulcinella, with good humor and sympathy rather than with parody.
Three Romances for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 94 Robert SCHUMANN Born June 8, 1810 in Zwickau, Germany. Died July 29, 1856 in Endenich, near Bonn. Composed in 1849. First CMS performance on February 11, 1972. Duration: 12 minutes On May 3, 1849, insurrection broke out in Dresden. Richard Wagner was one of the leaders of the rebellion, but Schumann, though he admired Wagner the musician, was not about to join with Wagner the politician. Schumann fled to the countryside with his wife, Clara, and their oldest daughter. Such turmoil was difficult for Schumann, who not only suffered repeated bouts of melancholia during that time, but was also grieving over the recent deaths of his brother Karl and his friend and champion Felix Mendelssohn. The rebellion was soon quelled, and Schumann and his family were able to return to Dresden. They found the town full of Prussian soldiers (“Oh, shame! After shooting harmless citizens,
now they demand food and drink,” he complained), but was quickly able to resume composing. His inspiration, temporarily checked by events, started to flow once again, and the closing months of 1849 were among his most productive. In addition to many piano works and choral compositions, he finished large parts of the Scenes from Goethe’s “Faust” as well as these lovely Three Romances for Clarinet and Piano. Schumann had throughout his life a superb ability to write beautiful melodies. This characteristic demonstrated itself in his earliest piano works and was confirmed by his many settings of German Romantic poems for voice, including the nine sets of Romanzen und Balladen he wrote for chorus. In the same vein of expressive lyricism, he composed Three Romances for Clarinet and Piano in December 1849 that are songs without words. The Romances, each of which is disposed in the simple, three-part form that he favored for his smaller works, are imbued with the twilit tenderness and bittersweet nostalgia that mark the best of Schumann’s music.
Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5 Alban BERG Born February 9, 1885 in Vienna. Died there on December 24, 1935. Composed in 1913. Premiered on October 17, 1919 in Vienna. First CMS performance on April 4, 1970. Duration: 8 minutes
Berg served his musical apprenticeship under Arnold Schoenberg from 1904 to 1910, and he mooted a large symphonic score, perhaps even something with voices, as his first major work after finishing his studies. His sketches had not gotten any farther than a few ideas for an opening movement, however, before he turned to making succinct settings for voice and orchestra of five aphoristic poems by his friend Peter Altenberg, which were directly influenced by Schoenberg’s Piano Pieces, Op. 11 (1908) and Op. 19 (1911) and Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6 (1910),
seminal creations both in their atonal harmonic language and their miniature scale. Schoenberg included two of the Altenberg Lieder (Op. 4) in the concert of new music that he presented in Vienna on March 31, 1913, and Berg followed them with an instrumental sequel, the Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano (Op. 5), which he completed in June. Though the short durations of the Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano do not allow for the unfolding of any conventional formal patterns, the movements are unified by repeated references to a few melodic and harmonic interval cells, a technique that Schoenberg was to evolve into his system of serialism a decade later. The writing here is virtuosic not in the traditional sense, but in the control and the range of techniques—from warmly expressive legato to flutter-tongue growls, echo tones, trills, and extreme registers—demanded of the clarinetist. Except for brief dramatic outbursts in the first and last movements, the Four Pieces are whisper-soft throughout, hardly more than echoes of a dream of music.
Grand duo concertant for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 48 Carl Maria von WEBER Born December 18, 1786 in Eutin. Died June 5, 1826 in London. Composed in 1815-16. Premiered on February 10, 1817 in Dresden, by Johann Simon Hermstedt and the composer. First CMS performance on March 6, 1975. Duration: 20 minutes During a visit to Prague late in 1814, Weber met the clarinetist Johann Simon Hermstedt, whose brilliant playing had inspired four concertos and several chamber works from Louis Spohr. The virtuoso asked the visitor to compose a concerto for his instrument, and Weber went to work on the piece immediately, but he ended up with a duo for piano
and clarinet rather than a full concerto. He finished the Grand duo concertant in Berlin the following November, and performed it twice with Hermstedt when they met in Dresden in February 1817. Of the work’s musical nature, Weber’s biographer John Warrack wrote, “This is not a sonata for clarinet with piano accompaniment, but a full-scale concert work for two virtuosos.” The opening movement (Allegro con fuoco—Fast, with fire) is a large sonata form, with a pleasing balance of themes and an ingenious development section. The Andante begins and ends with a somber melody in C minor whose poignant lyricism is indebted to Weber’s experience as an opera composer; the movement’s middle portion is marked by a certain chromatic peregrination. The Gran duo concertant closes with an expansive and delightfully showy Rondo. © 2013 Dr. Richard E. Rodda
Chosen by the Boston Globe as one of the Superior Pianists of the Year and described by that newspaper as one “who appears to excel in everything,” pianist Gloria Chien made her orchestral debut at the age of 16 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Since then she has appeared as a soloist under the batons of Sergiu Comissiona, Keith Lockhart, Thomas Dausgaard, and Irwin Hoffman. She has presented recitals at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Jordan Hall, Harvard Musical Association, Caramoor Musical Festival, Verbier Festival, Salle Cortot in Paris, and the National Concert Hall in Taiwan. An avid chamber musician, she has been the resident pianist with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston since 2000. She has recorded for Chandos Records, and recently released a CD with clarinetist Anthony McGill. In 2009 she launched String Theory, a chamber music series at the Hunter Museum of American Art in downtown Chattanooga, as its founder and artistic director, and the following year she was appointed director of the Chamber Music Institute at the Music@ Menlo festival. A native of Taiwan, Ms. Chien is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, where she was a student of Russell Sherman and Wha-Kyung Byun. She is an associate professor at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, a member of Chamber Music Society Two, and a Steinway Artist. Principal Clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra since 2004, Anthony McGill has been recognized as one of the classical music world’s finest solo,
chamber, and orchestral musicians. He has appeared as a soloist with many orchestras including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the Baltimore Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming orchestral performances include Orchestra 2001, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, he has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia with such quartets as the Guarneri, Tokyo, Brentano, Pacifica, Shanghai, Miró, and Daedalus, and with Musicians from Marlboro and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He is a member of the Schumann Trio. He has collaborated with Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Gil Shaham, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and Lang Lang, and on January 20, 2008, performed with Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, and Gabriela Montero at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. He has appeared on Performance Today, MPR’s St. Paul Sunday Morning, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society series, and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. In 2013 with his brother Demarre, he appeared on NBC Nightly News, the Steve Harvey Show, and on MSNBC with Melissa HarrisPerry. In demand as a teacher, Mr. McGill serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School, the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, and Manhattan School of Music, and has given master classes throughout the United States and in Europe. He is a former member of Chamber Music Society Two.