Spectrum Concerts Berlin-USA, Inc. and The Abby Whiteside Foundation present
ROBERT HELPS in Berlin and New York Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall Wednesday December 7, 2011
ROBERT HELPS 1928 – 2001
Robert Helps was Professor of Music at the University of South Florida, Tampa, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He was a recipient of awards in composition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim, Ford, and many other foundations, and of a 1976 Academy Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters. His orchestral piece Adagio for Orchestra, which later became the middle movement of his Symphony No. 1, won a Fromm Foundation award and was premièred by Leopold Stokowski and the Symphony of the Air (formerly the NBC Symphony) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. His Piano Concerto No. 1 was commissioned by the Thorne Music Fund and first performed by the composer with the Manhattan Conservatory Orchestra. His Piano Concerto No. 2 was commissioned through the Ford Foundation by Richard Goode and performed by him with the Oakland (CA) Symphony. Robert Helps served as professor of piano at the New England Conservatory, the San Francisco Conservatory, Princeton University, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Manhattan School of Music. He was artist-in-residence (pianist) at the University of California-Davis in 1973. He was recorded extensively as pianist, composer, and pianist/ composer on such labels as Victor, Columbia, Composers Recordings Inc., Deutsche Grammophon, New World, Desto, Son Nova, and GM Recordings. Many of his compositions, including his Symphony No. 1 (Naumburg Award) and Gossamer Noons for voice and orchestra, are recorded. He was very active as a solo and chamber music pianist throughout the United States. His major teachers were Abby Whiteside for piano, and Roger Sessions for composition, and he toured extensively with such internationally famous performers as Bethany Beardslee, Isidore Cohen, Rudolf Kolisch, Phyllis Curtin, soprano, and Aaron Copland, and for many
years performed solo and chamber works, many of them world premières, for internationally known chamber music and contemporary music organizations in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, Spectrum Concerts Berlin in Berlin, Germany and elsewhere. His later concerts included memorial solo recitals of the music of renowned American composer Roger Sessions at both Harvard and Princeton Universities, an all-Ravel recital at Harvard, and a solo recital in Town Hall, NY. His final compositions include Eventually the Carousel Begins, for two pianos, A Mixture of Time for guitar and piano, which had its première in San Francisco in June 1990 by Adam Holzman and the composer, The Altered Landscape (1992) for organ solo and Shall We Dance (1994) for piano solo, Piano Trio No. 2, and a piano quartet commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation. He died in 2001.
The Program Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall Wednesday December 7, 2011 Members of Spectrum Concerts Berlin Alexander Sitkovetsky, Julia-Maria Kretz Violin Hartmut Rohde, Ronald Carbone Viola Jens Peter Maintz, Frank Dodge Cello Naomi Niskala Piano Bernhard Krug Horn
Robert Helps 1928 – 2001 Serenade Fantasy for Violin and Piano, 1963 Nocturne for String Quartet, 1960 Postlude for Violin, Horn and Piano, 1964 Quartet for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, 1997 Intermission Robert Helps In Retrospect for piano, 1977 Prelude Dance Song Pastorale Toccata Arnold Schönberg 1874 – 1951 Verklärte Nacht for String Sextet Op. 4
We want to thank the following for their particularly generous support to this project: Edward T. Cone Foundation, the German Consulate General in New York, the A440 Arts Group, Edition Peters in New York, NAXOS and Nina von Maltzahn.
Program Notes Robert Helps
Serenade I. Fantasy for Violin and Piano, 1963 The composer Robert Helps begins his threemovement Serenade with Fantasy for violin and piano. Like the Nocturne and Postlude this piece can be played on its own. It is a work for true virtuosi whose instrumental brilliance signifies a heightening of expressive possibilities. Helps wrote it for his long-standing chamber music partner, the violinist Isidore Cohen. It was commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation and completed in 1963. The manner in which he lets both highly demanding parts interweave, drift apart, create tension and release, freely depicts the portrait of a musician in which the partners, like artists, confide in, and at the same time challenge each other. Not only the works title, but also the complex structure, the concentrated energy and the great demands placed on the interpreters all make reference to Arnold Schönberg’s Fantasy, Op. 47. II. Nocturne for String Quartet, 1960 The Nocturne for string quartet was also commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation and completed in November of 1960. It is Part II of Serenade. Robert Helps inscribed the original score with, “for my parents.” In his own note on the work he wrote: “It belongs to an esoteric genre of pieces that hardly ever get performed, single movement pieces for string quartet. I later incorporated the Nocturne into a yet more aptnot-to-be-performed work – a chamber music
‘happening’ entitled Serenade, a work in three movements, performable as a single work or as separate works, of which the Nocturne is the middle movement. It is very much a mood piece, the mood being in the tradition of the numerous Mahler and Bartók ‘night music’ movements, which make their appearances in these composers’ string quartets and symphonic works. It is predominately a gentle movement, ‘night music’ heard from afar. It does, however, have its share of ‘filigree’ passagework and an occasional ‘muted’ climax. The combination of delicacy, even wistfulness, and consistently high register employed in all four instruments presents, I feel, an interesting performance challenge”. The Nocturne for string quartet has a very special place in the history of Spectrum Concerts Berlin. Nocturne opened the series Spectrum Concerts Berlin on January 22, 1988. It also opened Spectrum’s 15th anniversary concert on January 22, 2003 and Spectrum’s sister organization Spectrum Concerts Berlin-USA, Inc. on November 3, 2006 in Zankel Hall. Spectrum has recorded the piece twice, once for CRI and once for Naxos and this fall it appears again on the program in cooperation with the Abby Whiteside Foundation. Spectrum Concerts Berlin has also been the p erpetuating force behind getting this work by Robert Helps published by Edition Peters in New York. It has been a work in progress since the composer’s death ten years ago.
Program Notes Robert Helps /Arnold Schönberg
II. Postlude for Violin, Horn and Piano, 1964 Helps expressed his primary musical ideal as the “Long Line.” For him, this expansiveness was architectural, like the taut wires holding lengthy platforms on a suspension bridge. His own music favored this kind of structural legato. As a composer, he could breathlessly extend phrase after phrase without losing crucial continuity and without sacrificing dramatic development. As pianist, he brought this sensitivity of musical breadth even to the most ‘pointillist’ serial work like Milton Babbitt’s Partitions. Postlude, final installment in his tripartite chamber music set Serenade and also commissioned by the Fromm Foundation, expresses this ecstatic long-line bathed in a crepuscular light, not without some turbulence. Spectrum Concerts Berlin has given several intensely beautiful performances of this work, and their recordings of it are available on two Naxos American Classics discs. Postlude is dedicated to Paul Fromm.
Quartet Piano Quartet for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, 1997 The Quartet for piano, violin, viola and cello was written in 1997 for the Sergey Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress and dedicated to the memory of Sergey and Natalie Koussevitzky. The world première took place on the 14th of December 1997, in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. by members of the Dunsmuir Piano Quartet. The composer
wrote as follows: “In music, long (several movement) pieces deal with ‘emotions’ and ‘rhythm’ (pacing) as does a long prose narrative (novel), but without the encumbrance of words (i.e., a ‘plot’). How music gets at us in this fashion, directly, without words, how a composer can set up a mood through the use of only twelve pitches, that produces a similar emotion in practically all sensitive people listening, remains a mystery. The quartet, in five movements, is a bit like looking at a piece of jewellery or a painting from five very different angles, getting very different perceptions, but basically just one new look each time. The titles suggest something of the mood content – Prelude, Intermezzo, Scherzo, Postlude and, perhaps a bit on the odd side, coda – The Players Gossip. The inspiration for this somewhat peculiar title comes from a comment made by Chopin before the publication of his famous ‘Funeral March’ Piano Sonata No. 2. The last movement of Chopin’s Sonata, the movement after the funeral march, is well known to us by its popular subtitle ‘The Wind Over the Grave’, a title probably as unknown to Chopin as ‘Moonlight Sonata’ was to Beethoven. In a letter to a friend, Chopin described the last two movements of his Sonata as ‘a funeral march followed by a bit of gossip’. Keeping in mind that composers can be, and often enjoy being, a bit frivolous (verbally) about basically serious things (non-verbal), the ‘mood’ of Chopin’s comment entered my mind after finishing the fifth movement and felt peculiarly appropriate to its mood. A capsule
description of the mood of each movement might read something like: 1. (a piano solo movement)…Radiance, but of a subdued sort; 2. the most ‘human’ movement – perhaps intimacy again of a subdued sort; 3. at last some speed, falling into an ABA shape, in this case, defined as such mostly by LOUD, soft; 4. the return of movement no. 1, the piano being joined by the other instruments, thus altering somewhat the perception; 5. a good-natured finale. The title of the movement, Coda – the Players Gossip, pretty well describes one way of looking at it.” In Retrospect for Piano, 1977 Helps himself writes: “This set of five pieces was slated for a children’s opus but quickly got out of hand. However, an original intention of ‘nostalgia’ (hence the title) and a pervasive ‘hanging-in’ around the tonality of E minor gives the work a somewhat simple (childlike?) quality. The five movements of the suite: Prelude, Dance (Ravel’s ‘Forlane’ winks slyly in the background), Song, Pastorale, and Toccata (which unites the previous four in a steady flow).”
Arnold Schönberg Verklärte Nacht for String Sextet Op. 4 Verklärte Nacht was controversial when it was premiered in 1902. This was due to the highly advanced harmonic idiom as well as, perhaps, Dehmel’s explicit references to sexual themes in the poem. The work does indeed employ a richly chromatic language and often ventures far from the home key, though the work is clearly rooted in D minor. A particular point of controversy was the use of a single ‘nonexistent’ (that is, uncategorized and therefore not permitted) inverted ninth chord, which resulted in its rejection by the Vienna Music Society. Schönberg remarked “and thus (the work) cannot be performed since one cannot perform that which does not exist.” The first performance took place on March 18, 1902, in the chamber hall of the Vienna Music Union (Rosé Quartet; Franz Jelinek, 2nd Viola and Franz Schmidt, 2nd cello). The version for string sextet was mostly completed in 1899. There are two versions for string orchestra from 1917 and 1943. Schönberg composed Verklärte Nacht when there was still a fierce rivalry between the Wagner/Liszt camp and the supporters of Brahms. Schönberg’s work shows influences from both rival musical camps. The 1890s was also the height of Richard Strauss’ orchestral symphonic poems. He unites Wagner’s chromaticism with Strauss’ programmatic element with the Brahmsian technique of “developing variation”
Program Notes Robert Helps /Arnold Schönberg
and for the first time produces a tone poem in a chamber music medium. Continuing and developing these traditions, he later succeeded in out-straussing Strauss with his Pelléas und Mélisande, Op. 5, which is a genuine tone poem. Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht illustrates a poem from the collection Weib und Welt (“Woman and World”) by Richard Dehmel (1863–1920) that was published in 1896. The poem itself is in five sections. The odd numbered sections are brief narratives. Sections 2 and 4 are monologues. The first section sets the stage: two people are walking through a desolate moonlit grove. In the second section it becomes clear that the two people are a man and a woman. The woman confesses that not only she is pregnant but also that the child is not his. In the brief third section she gazes at the moon. The man responds in the fourth section. He forgives her and eases her conscience by saying that a “special warmth” between them will transfigure the child; it will become as his own. In the final section they continue to walk together in the now no longer desolate moonlit night.
Robert Helps and Spectrum Concerts Berlin Robert Helps was closely connected with Spectrum Concerts Berlin in Berlin both as a creator/composer and recreator/performer. He joined in their ensemble in Germany’s capital, revealing as a pianist an original, persuasive
spirit in the way in which he interpreted Chopin and Schönberg among others. Spectrum musicians knew his chamber music works from many performances over many years, and gave them exemplary and vibrant interpretations. After Helps played his “Shall We Dance” for piano solo in Spectrum’s concerts, painter Alan Magee was inspired to produce a visual work which has become almost an emblem for Spectrum Concerts Berlin. Appropriately, since this piano piece itself might be a concentrated expression of what were, and still remain, the aims of Spectrum Concerts Berlin: transatlantic bridge-building independent of cultural-political trends and interference.
Some others about Robert Helps
“Robert Helps is not only the pianist’s pianist and the composer’s composer, but he is the composer’s pianist and the pianist’s composer, for, since his teenage perfomance of music that was deemed unperformable he has played incomparably compositions which other pianists could not or would not perform. The singular pianistic mastery, which he brought to these performances moulds his own writing for piano, from which pianists have discovered resources of nuance, rhythmic subtlety, dynamic control and sound, which endow their own playing with a new sensitivity and sensibility. His chamber and orchestral compositions are not pianistic transcriptions but the fresh realization of the same awareness in these non-pianistic media. He long has been a legend in his time, and he deserves it.” Milton Babbitt (1996)
“I met Robert Helps during Spectrum Concerts Berlin’s American Music Week, in November, 2000. His music, and Helps himself, made a profound and lasting impression. His Shall We Dance was my introduction to his work; it felt entirely modern – opening up possibility and space rather than enclosing them – while expressing a timeless and finely nuanced empathy. His performances at the Berlin Philharmonie were moving, technically brilliant and unforgettable. In our conversations Helps spoke with understatement – with the right few words – leaving the impression of a deep and hard-won understanding of the way things are for us here on this planet. But Helps’ eyes conveyed a sense of humor too – a sense of mischief. Is this what I remember about him, or what I still hear in the music?” Alan Magee (2010)
“Robert Helps was always an unfashionable composer, which is a big reason his music sounds increasingly fresh, poetic, and independent. Even in the self-conscious dialectically driven 50s and 60s he continued to ask the most basic questions, about expressivity, honesty, and clarity. He was also an exceptionally original pianist. His music for his instrument is not especially pianistic. It sounds, but it is also awkward to play, the notes chosen not by his fingers but by his very specific, discriminating ear. His music is alive because it is so insistently his, at his own pace, in his own world.” John Harbison (2010)
Some others about Robert Helps
“Robert Helps could take amazing musical chances when playing piano, yet he did so without ever making you not feel safe in your audience seat. I think the reason for that was his calm body language, plus a sense of physical and expressive economy that projected joy rather than reserve. His sense of rhythm was precise, yet flexible and internalized, geared toward long curvy singing lines as opposed to bar lines. Bob’s own compositions and transcriptions also seem to reflect these characteristics, in that they are cannily crafted and refined, yet never rigid for a second. And how marvelous was his sense of placing and spacing notes in time – you hear that in the best Romantic pianists, but rarely from modern players. The classical music mainstream doesn’t know Robert Helps, yet he remains sorely missed.”
Jed Distler (2010)
“Bob Helps is an American Maverick. While many composers of his day rushed to embrace atonality, he continued to create his coolly tonal marvels – often piano pieces of a refined, unique sensibility. He played these pieces himself, with matchless skill, being, as he was, the premier contemporary pianist of his time.” David DelTredici (2011)
Remembering someone who helped a lot
Michael Shugrue 1934 – 2010 Michael Shugrue went beyond the borders of “good token citizenship” in his support for not only the classics, but also music from our recent past and today. He was beacon-like in this regard. He had an instinctive sense of when and how to help both young musicians and established ensembles like Spectrum Concerts Berlin-USA, Inc. He was an avid supporter and admirer of the work of Spectrum Concerts Berlin, particularly in New York, and we want to remember him this evening with particular fondness.
Julia-Maria Kretz leads an active career as soloist and chamber music musician and as member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra led by Claudio Abbado. She is also a member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and till recently, principal second violinist of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Julia-Maria Kretz is violinist of the Julius Stern Trio and also of Spectrum Concerts Berlin. Additional chamber music appearances include Julian Rachlin and Friends, Janine Jansen’s International Chamber Music Festival in Utrecht, Holland and the “Mozarttage” in Salzburg. Julia-Maria Kretz was winner of the German music competition, “Jugend musiziert.” She also received the Classic Prize from WDR (West German Broadcasting Corporation). Julia-Maria studied with Marianne Boettcher,Thomas Brandis and Josef Suk. Julia-Maria Kretz performs on a violin by Joseph Nicola Gagliano, Naples, ca. 1791. Alexander Sitkovetsky was born into a musical family in Moscow. At eight years of age he attended the Menuhin School. Lord Menuhin was a mentor for him and they performed often together. He performed the Mendelssohn violin concerto under Menuhin’s baton. He has appeared with the Netherlands Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the English Chamber Orchestra, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin’s in the Fields, the Monterrey Symphony, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, l’Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn, the Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra. He also has an active chamber music life working often with such artists as Janine Jansen, Julia Fischer Misha Maisky, Maxim Rysanov, Bella Davidovich, Polina Leschenko and Julian Rachlin. Alexander has recorded for Angel/EMI, Decca and Orfeo including the Bach Double Concerto with Julia Fischer.
Hartmut Rohde is one of the most sought after European violists. He has been invited to perform in prestigious series at the Berliner Philharmonie, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, at Lincoln Center, the Casals Festival, the Ravinia Festival, the Asian Music Festival, the ABC Concerts Sydney and the Beethoven Festival in Warsaw. Solo appearances with the Staatskapelle Weimar, the Beethoven Orchester Bonn, the Lithausische Kammerorchester, the Radio Orchestra Hannover under such conductors as Paavo JĂ¤rvi, Massimo Zanetti, G.A. Albrecht and Michael Sanderling. His chamber music partners include David Geringas, JĂśrg Widmann, Lars Vogt, Jannine Jansen, Misha Maisky. He is member of the Mozart Piano Quartet and the Joachim Quartet Berlin. He is professor at the University of Art Berlin and has been appointed as honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London. He received the ECHO prize for chamber music and has recorded for Decca, EMI, MDG, Naxos and for Sony/BMG. Ronald Carbone enjoys a diverse musical life encompassing chamber music, recording, orchestral and solo performances. He is principal violist of the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, an associate member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and a member of the Orchestra of St. Lukes. He was, for ten years, violist in the distinguished Composers String Quartet and has participated in Spectrum Concerts Berlin programs since 1989. Ronald Carbone was also a member of the Portsmouth Chamber Ensemble, Lexington Trio and Griffes String Quartet. He was a member of the Atlanta Symphony and the Barcelona City Orchestra. He attended the New England Conservatory of Music and holds degrees from Florida State and Yale Universities. Among his noted teachers were Boris Koutzen, Richard Burgin and Harold Coletta. He is currently on the faculty of Vassar College and the Chamber Music Conference of the East. His chamber music recordings are on Naxos, CRI, Albany and ReferenceRecords labels.
Jens Peter Maintz won first prize in the international ARD competition. The first prize had not been awarded for 17 years. He was prizewinner in the 1993 Leonard Rose Competition, first prizewinner at the International Cello Competition in Scheveningen and at the German Music Competition. He was principal cellist of the Deutsches Symphonieorchester Berlin and has been principal cellist of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado since 1996. He has performed with conductors Vladimir Ashkenazy, Herbert Blomstedt, Marek Janowski, Franz Welser-Möst and Bobby McFerrin, performing with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSO), the Leipzig MDR Symphony Orchestra, the Stuttgart RSO, the Residentie Orkest of The Hague and the Berlin Komische Oper Orchestra. Jens Peter Maintz has performed as member of Spectrum Concerts Berlin since 1995. He also performs regularly with the Schleswig Holstein Festival, the Lucerne Festival and the Rheingau Festival and is a popular guest at the chamber music festivals in Utrecht, Dubrovnik and Kuhmo. His debut CD released by Sony Classical with works by Bach, Kodaly and Dutilleux received the ECHO Klassik award. He recorded Isang Yun’s cello concerto for Capriccio and with Arte Nova a CD of romantic repertoire from the Circle of Tchaikovsky. In 2008 Berlin Classics released his recording of Joseph Haydn’s cello concertos with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. David Geringas was his primary instructor. Jens Peter Maintz is professor at the University of Arts Berlin and plays cellos made by Vincenzo Rugeri dated 1696 and by Wolfgang Schnabl dated 2010.
Frank Dodge began studying the cello at age 16. His instructors were Jacobus Langendoen, Aldo Parisot, Pierre Fournier, Eberhard Finke and Maurice Gendron. Dodge received a BM from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1973 and a MM from the Yale Graduate School of Music in 1975. He founded the Strawbery Banke Chamber Music Festival, Inc. in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and was its artistic director and cellist from 1969–1980. Frank Dodge was founding member of the Portsmouth Chamber Players, frequent guests on series including the Cleveland Museum of Art at University Circle, the Harvard Musical Association, Carnegie Recital Hall and Bay Chamber Concerts. He lived in New York from 1978 to 1982 playing with the Opera Orchestra of New York, the St. Lukes Chamber Ensemble, and the Orchestra of our Time and as principal cellist of the Stanford Symphony. He has lived in Europe since 1982 performing with the Berlin Philharmonic and in the 1980s he was a member of the National Orchestra in Madrid and co-principal cellist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He founded Spectrum in 1988 and Spectrum in the USA. He plays a cello by Antonio Casini, Modena 1676, and a cello by Jebran Yakoub, Cremona and Berlin 2010. Recordings on NAXOS, New World Records and CRI. Bernhard Krug began studying the horn at the age of sixteen with Anton Hammer and piano from age six. He continued his studies with Gerd Seifert at the University of Arts Berlin and later at the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Bernhard Krug is first horn of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig and member of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. He has appeared as horn soloist with numerous renowned orchestras including the Gewandhaus Orchestra, La Scala di Milano and the Musikverein in Vienna. As a chamber musician he has toured extensively including Germany, France, Japan, Mexico, Austria, Spain and the United States. He is a founding member of the Gewandhaus Oktett and teaches at the University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” in Leipzig. He has been involved in Spectrum Concerts Berlin programs since 1990.
Naomi Niskala has appeared as soloist and chamber musician in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and Japan, and her performances have been broadcast on BBC Radio and NPR’s Performance Today. Her competition awards have included first prize at the 1996 Kingsville International Isabel Scionti Solo Piano Competition, and a top prize at the International Stravinsky Awards Competition in Illinois. Attending two summers each at Tanglewood’s Music Center and Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute, Niskala also toured on the first “Musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Institute” tour with violinist Miriam Fried. She was later invited by Zarin Mehta to Israel, Turkey, and Greece to perform chamber music for a Ravinia Festival benefit. Niskala has established herself as one of the prominent scholars of the solo piano works of American composer Robert Helps (1928–2001), and her release in 2007 of the first complete recordings of Helps’ solo piano works on two discs with Albany Records was met with high acclaim. The first volume was chosen by ClassicsToday as one of its “2007 Best of the Year” discs. Niskala holds degrees from the Yale School of Music, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the New England Conservatory of Music, and also attended Tufts University. She received her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Piano Performance with Gilbert Kalish at Stony Brook, and an Artist Diploma with Claude Frank at Yale. She is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania where she teaches piano, theory, and leads a summer chamber music exchange program to Japan.
Spectrum’s New York concert celebrates…
…the November 2011 release of Edition Peters publication of Nocturne for String Quartet (EP68356), a coproduction of Edition Peters and Spectrum Concerts Berlin.
…Robert Helps in Berlin: Chamber Music with Piano Spectrum’s newly released double CD on Naxos (8.559696-97), includes music written between 1957 and 2000 and never before released piano arrangements and solo works performed by the composer.
A short note The project Robert Helps in Berlin and New York
In 2005 I received a letter from pianist Naomi Niskala with the first of two CDs she recorded of the complete solo piano music of Robert Helps. Having learned of the long friendship I had with Robert Helps, she thought I would appreciate knowing about these recordings. After savoring her wonderful performances, I asked Naomi to join us in Berlin for a program with Spectrum Concerts Berlin in 2007. During the course of our first musical collaboration she expressed her dream to perform and record the complete chamber music with piano by Robert Helps. Her idea quickly became deeply rooted in my list of dreams as well. During the 22nd season of Spectrum Concerts Berlin, 2009 â€“ 2010, all of the ensemble pieces on tonightâ€™s program, and on the new NAXOS double CD released in September 2011 were performed at the Berlin Philharmonie and at the University of the Arts Berlin. Immediately following these performances the works were recorded in the acoustically superb Siemens Villa in Berlin for Naxos in collaboration with Deutschlandradio. After this project ended, we decided to try and bring it to New York. Generous and loving support of this idea has come from many. I especially want to thank the Abby Whiteside Foundation and its president Sophia Rosoff, Jeffrey Farrington, NAXOS, Editon Peters in New York, the Edward T. Cone Foundation and Nina von Maltzahn. I also wish to thank my
dream partner, Naomi Niskala, and the other ensemble members involved in the project; unfortunately, the ATOS Trio was unable to participate in the New York concert. Their splendid work on the Helps piano trios can be heard on the new Naxos release. About half of the second CD of the new Naxos set consists of encores played by Robert Helps on two concert evenings presented by Spectrum Concerts Berlin in the Philharmonie in 1997 and 2000. From his first appearance, he won deep respect from our Berlin audience as a man, a pianist, and a composer. The two CDs that have just been released by Naxos, the newly published score and parts of Nocturne by Edition Peters in New York, and the concerts in Berlin in 2010, and in New York in 2011 are a tribute to this remarkable man and gifted composer who made an important contribution to Spectrum Concerts Berlin. Frank Dodge
Founder and Artistic Director of Spectrum Concerts Berlin
“It was like looking at a beautiful castle at night in the reflections of the face of a lake that is stirred by winds.” Benjamin Weiner “It is an enchanting work, residing comfortably in an oasis which both feeds on and ignores the icons of contemporary music.” Russell Sherman
Janine Jansen, Quinten de Roos Violin Ronald Carbone, Hartmut Rohde Viola Frank Dodge Cello Ron Shaaper Horn Robert Helps, Daniel Blumenthal Piano
“The textural refinement and timbral elegance of Robert Helps’ music reflect the composer’s intense interest in Fauré and Ravel (whose piano music, incidentally, he played ravishingly well)… It takes supreme technical control and a sixth sense for delicate nuance to fully convey the work’s subtle sound world, and the string players of Spectrum Concerts Berlin command these qualities and much more. In fact, all of the performances are on the highest level.” Classics Today, Jed Distler
“…on this CD Helps gives a highly evocative performance of his Shall We Dance, and distils effects of exquisite beauty from John Ireland’s Darkened Valley.” Irish Times, Michael Dervan
The Abby Whiteside Foundation
Administration Sophia Rosoff, President Nancy Cardozo, Treasurer Dominic Meiman, Secretary Board of Directors Barry Harris Jane Lahr Christopher Reed Bob Resnikoff Kevin Troy Founding Advisory Board Milton Babbitt Vivian Fine Miriam Gideon Morton Gould Robert Helps Byron Janis Eunice Nemeth Joseph Prostakoff
Abby Whiteside (1881–1956) dedicated her life’s work to helping students find and convey their emotional connection to music with freedom and clarity at the piano. Whiteside relentlessly pursued and acquired a profound awareness of the physical basis for a performance that is beautiful, moving, and technically fluent, and her approach to piano playing involves the student in a process that is musical from the very start. The Abby Whiteside Foundation was established to keep Whiteside’s work alive and to train a new generation of teachers and performers. The Foundation presents an acclaimed concert series at Carnegie Hall, featuring world-renowned artists and promising young pianists in the early stages of their careers. Robert Helps was one of her most remarkable students. He continued and developed her work in both his teaching and performance. www.abbywhiteside.org Future Concerts on the 2011/2012 Series Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall February 29, 2012 Hiroko Sasaki Piano Richard Locker Cello March 28, 2012 Vered Reznik Piano Haim Avitsur Trombone April 25, 2012 John Kamitsuka Piano May 30, 2012 Jeremy Siskind Piano
Spectrum Concerts BerLin
The Vision A century ago America and Europe were united by strong bonds of musical appreciation. Separated after two wars, these important cultures can be significantly reconnected through the shared experience of high-level chamber music. Music is a medium of powerful and direct communication, which can create moments of profound understanding, and insights that are beyond the power of words. Chamber music, so-called from the smaller spaces and numbers of performers typically involved, provides an especially intimate and compelling musical experience. Founder and Artistic Director Frank Sumner Dodge Honorary President Dr. Richard von Weizsäcker, Former President of the Federal Republic of Germany President Frank S. Dodge Vice President Helene Sostarich-Barsamian Treasurer Paul Beito Secretary John H. Beck
The Mission Founded in 1988 by Frank Dodge, an American cellist living in Germany, Spectrum Concerts Berlin has become well established and widely acclaimed in its native city. Presentation of music by contemporary American composers has been an integral and important part of its presence. Two American Music Weeks hosted in 1990 and 2000 by highlevel political and cultural figures were enhanced by lectures and art exhibitions. Highly praised CD’s have made the group’s work available worldwide. Spectrum Concerts Berlin has also organized programs for European music students including two visits to the USA. With the wide acceptance in Berlin, Spectrum Concerts Berlin-USA, Inc., Expanding the Language of Chamber Music has been organized with a mission to extend the work of Spectrum Concerts Berlin – performances by the professional ensemble, master classes and related cultural experiences. www.spectrumconcerts.com
Spectrum Concerts Berlin 24th Season 2011 /2012 in the Philharmonie Berlin
Frank S. Dodge, Artistic Director I. Opening Night, Friday, November 11, 2011 Philharmonie / Kammermusiksaal
Claude Debussy Sonata for Cello and Piano
Janine Jansen Violin Torleif Thedéen Cello Itamar Golan Piano
Serge Rachmaninoff Sonata for Cello and Piano in g minor, Op. 19
Edvard Grieg Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in c minor, Op. 45 Karol Szymanowski Three Myths for Violin and Piano, Op. 30 Franz Schubert Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello No. 1 in B-Flat Major, Op. 99
II. Monday, November 14, 2011 Philharmonie / Kammermusiksaal
Torleif Thedéen Cello Roland Pöntinen Piano Béla Bartók Rhapsody for Cello and Piano No. 1 Gabriel Fauré Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Major, Op. 117, No. 2
III. Monday, May 21, 2012 Philharmonie / Kammermusiksaal
Janine Jansen, Boris Brovtsyn Violin Maxim Rysanov, Amihai Grosz Viola Torleif Thedéen, Jens Peter Maintz Cello Arnold Schönberg Transfigured Night for String Sextet, Op. 4 Franz Schubert String Quintet in C Major, Op. 163
IV. Monday, June 18, 2012 Philharmonie / Kammermusiksaal
V. June 2012 Philharmonie / Kammermusiksaal
Janine Jansen, Julia-Maria Kretz, Boris Brovtsyn Violin Maxim Rysanov, Amihai Grosz Viola Torlief ThedĂŠen Cello Inon Barnatan Piano
Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer Clarinet Annette von Hehn Violin Hartmut Rohde Viola Jens Peter Maintz Cello Katya Apekisheva Piano
Thomas AdĂ¨s Arcadiane for String Quartet, Op. 12 Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy String Quintet in A Major, Op. 18, No. 1 Ernest Chausson Concerto for Piano, Violin and String Quartet in D Major, Op. 21
Ernst Toch Divertimento for Violin and Cello, Op. 37, No. 1 Adagio Elegiaco for Clarinet and Piano Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 50 Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 21, No. 1 Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 63 In cooperation with Deutschlandradio and NAXOS
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