On the Upbeat April 2013 • Volume 6, Edition 6
Four Seasons April 13 & 14, 2013
Gregory Vajda, Guest Conductor Nigel Armstrong, Violin Jett Green, Scenic Painter
The Four Seasons for Violin and Orchestra,
Op. 8, Nos. 1-4 Spring (R. 269): Allegro — Largo e pianissimo
sempre — Danza Pastorale (Allegro) Summer (R. 315): Allegro non molto — Adagio — Presto Autumn (R. 293): Allegro — Adagio — Allegro Winter (R. 297): Allegro non molto — Largo — Allegro
Hailed as a “young titan” by the Montreal Gazette after conducting the Montreal Symphony in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Schoenberg’s Erwartung, Gregory Vajda has fast become one of the most sought-after conductors on the international scene. Reflecting his growing presence and demand in North America, he has been appointed in 2011 the sixth music director of the Huntsville Symphony. He was also named Principal Conductor of the Hungarian Radio Symphony (MR Symphony) after concluding his seventh and last year as resident conductor of the Oregon Symphony in 2012. Concurrently, he continues to serve as artistic and music director of Music in the Mountains, CA—a position held since 2009. While assistant conductor with the Milwaukee Symphony, a position he relinquished in 2005, Gregory Vajda led several regional tours and had opportunities to conduct the Canadian Brass, Maureen McGovern, the King Singers, as well as the Milwaukee Symphony in a yearly classical subscription series. In past seasons, Vajda appeared with St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Winnipeg, Louisville, Charlotte and Omaha symphonies, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Ensemble Intercontemporain, led the Klangforum Vienna in
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GLAZUNOV The Seasons, Op. 67 (1865-1936) Winter Spring Summer Fall
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VAJDA, From Page 1 performances of Péter Eötvös’ As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams and Three Sisters (as part of the Wiener Festwochen), gave the premiere of his chamber opera The Giantbaby at the New Theatre in Budapest, and the premiere of Hungarian composer György Ránki’s opera King Pomade’s New Clothes at the Hungarian State Opera. He has also conducted at the festivals of Avignon and Strassbourg, at the Woodstock Mozart Festival, Grant Park Festival and the Mostly Mozart Festival in Lincoln Center. In addition to conducting, Vajda is also a gifted clarinetist and composer. He conducted his own composition for the silent film The Crowd at the Auditorium of the Louvre, with American
pianist Jay Gottlieb. He has also recorded his piece Duevoe with the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. He was honored with the Zoltán Kodály State Scholarship for composers for the year 2000, and the Annie Fischer State Scholarship for music performers in the year 1999. Born in Budapest the son of renowned soprano Veronika Kincses, Gregory Vajda studied conducting at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music under Professor Ervin Lukács. He was also a conducting and composition pupil of well-known composer and conductor, Péter Eötvös.
Mr. Armstrong has received numerous awards and prizes including silver-medal wins in the 2010 Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, held in Oslo, Norway, and the First International Violin Competition in Buenos Aires, also held in 2010. In both competitions, he received additional prizes, including the Premio Tango in Buenos Aires and the Ole Bull and Nordheim awards in Oslo. A graduate of The Colburn School Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Robert Lipsett, Mr. Armstrong is currently in the Diploma program at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studies with Arnold Steinhardt and Shmuel Ashkenasi. Past teachers include Zaven Melikian, Li Lin, and Donald Weilerstein. During the 2012-13 season, Armstrong appears as soloist with the Pacific Symphony (Mozart Concerto #5), the Stamford (Connecticut) Symphony (Tchaikovsky Concerto) and he returns to the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra on their Baroque Conversations series leading a solo performance/ lecture on the solo violin works of Bach.
Violinist Nigel Armstrong recently came to international attention as a finalist in the 14th Tchaikovsky International Competition, where he was the highest-ranked American prizewinner (Fourth Prize) as well as winner of the award for the commissioned work by renowned composer John Corigliano. Since then he has made debuts in Chicago, on the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW series with a performance of Corigliano’s Stomp, and Los Angeles, performing Mozart’s Violin Concerto #3 with the LA Chamber Orchestra. Jeffrey Kahane has described Nigel Armstrong as “one of many violinists with technique to burn... but to find that depth of musicianship in a young person is very unusual.” (LA Times, January 19, 2012)
matte painter she spent most of her time in the company of physical paint brushes and real life paint she applied directly on glass or masonite. Additional motion picture credits include Titanic, The Truman Show, Galaxy Quest, Star Wars Episode 2, Bee Movie, Madagascar 2 and 3 and many more. Jett is also an accomplished fine artist, whose paintings in various styles uniquely evoke the emotion and intensity of the scene. Jett is constantly growing her knowledge and skill, both as an artist and as a technologist. She understands the intricacies of teamwork and continues to be inspired by her fellow artists, generously reciprocating support and feedback to anyone who asks.
Jett Green has created rich, luminescent, and endlessly detailed matte paintings for film since 1984 when she began her career at Industrial, Light and Magic. There she learned how to paint on glass alongside the film industry’s greatest special effects masters. Jett’s early credits include The Never Ending Story, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Star Trek 3. As a traditional 2
Program Notes by Dr. Richard E. Rodda Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
dilettante composer who was attracted by the work’s musical portrayal of Nature, and as a motet (!) by Michel Corrette to the text Laudate Dominum de coelis in 1765. Today, The Four Seasons remains Vivaldi’s best-known work, and one of the most beloved compositions in the orchestral repertory. Though specifically programmatic (Lawrence Gilman went so far as to call The Four Seasons “symphonic poems” and harbingers of Romanticism), the fast, outer movements of these works use the ritornello form usually found in Baroque concertos. The orchestra’s opening ritornello theme (Italian for “return”), depicting the general emotional mood of each fast movement, recurs to separate its various descriptive episodes, so that the music fulfills both the demands of creating a logical, abstract form and evoking vivid images from Nature. The slow, middle movements are lyrical, almost aria-like, in style. Though Vivaldi occasionally utilized in these pieces the standard concertino, or solo group, of two violins and cello found in the 18th-century concerto grosso, The Four Seasons is truly a work for solo violin and orchestra, and much of the music’s charm comes from the contrasting and interweaving of the soloist, concertino and accompanying orchestra. For their publication of The Four Seasons in 1725, Vivaldi prefaced each of the concertos with an explanatory sonnet:
The Four Seasons, Op. 8, Nos. 1-4 Composed around 1720. Strings and continuo. Approximately 40 minutes. The Gazette d’Amsterdam of December 14, 1725 announced the issuance by the local publisher Michele Carlo Le Cène of a collection of twelve concertos for solo violin and orchestra by Antonio Vivaldi — Il Cimento dell’Armonia e dell’Inventione, or “The Contest between Harmony and Invention,” Op. 8. The works were printed with a flowery dedication typical of the time to the Bohemian Count Wenzel von Morzin, a distant cousin of Haydn’s patron before he came into the employ of the Esterházy family in 1761. On the title page, Vivaldi described himself as the “maestro in Italy” to the Count, though there is no record of his having held a formal position with him. Vivaldi probably met Morzin when he worked in Mantua from 1718 to 1720 for the Habsburg governor of that city, Prince Philipp of HessenDarmstadt, and apparently provided the Bohemian Count with an occasional composition on demand. (A bassoon concerto, RV 496, is headed with Morzin’s name.) Vivaldi claimed that Morzin had been enjoying the concertos of the 1725 Op. 8 set “for some years,” implying earlier composition dates and a certain circulation of this music in manuscript copies, and he hoped that their appearance in print would please his patron. The first four concertos, those depicting the seasons of the year, seem to have especially excited Morzin’s admiration, so Vivaldi made specific the programmatic implications of the works by heading each of them with an anonymous sonnet, perhaps of his own devising, and then repeating the appropriate verses above the exact measures in the score they had inspired. The Four Seasons pleased not only Count Morzin, but quickly became one of Vivaldi’s most popular works. A pirated edition appeared in Paris within weeks of the Amsterdam publication, and by 1728, the concertos had become regular items on the programs of the Concert Spirituel in Paris. The Spring Concerto was adapted in 1755 as an unaccompanied flute solo by Jean Jacques Rousseau, the philosopher and
Spring, Op. 8, No. 1 (R. 269) The spring has come, joyfully, The birds welcome it with merry song, And the streams, in the gentle breezes, flow forth with sweet murmurs. Now the sky is draped in black, Thunder and lightning announce a storm. When the storm has passed, the little birds Return to their harmonious songs. And in the lovely meadow full of flowers, To the gentle rustling of leaves and branches, The goatherd sleeps, his faithful dog at his side. To the rustic bagpipe’s merry sound, Nymphs and shepherds dance under the lovely sky Continues 3
NOTES, From Page 3
Hearing, as they burst forth from their iron gates, the Scirocco, The North Wind, and all the winds battling. This is winter, but such joy it brings.
When spring appears in all its brilliance. Summer, Op. 8, No. 2 (R. 315)
Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936)
In the heat of the blazing summer sun, Man and beast languish; the pine tree is scorched. The cuckoo raises his voice. Soon the turtledove and goldfinch join in the song. A gentle breeze blows, But then the north wind battles with its neighbor, And the shepherd weeps As above him the dreaded storm gathers, controlling his fate.
The Seasons, Op. 67 Composed in 1899. Woodwinds in pairs plus piccolo and English horn, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp and strings. Approximately 36 minutes. By the turn of the 20th century, Russian music had become a mature art, and the works of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Borodin, having been played at home and abroad, established a national character and tradition that those masters wanted to see passed on to succeeding generations. The most important Russian musical torchbearer of the two decades after 1900, the time between the deaths of Tchaikovsky and his contemporaries and the rise of the modern school of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, was Alexander Glazunov. Glazunov was gifted with an exceptional ear and musical memory (after Borodin’s death, he completely reconstructed the Overture to Prince Igor from recollections of Borodin’s piano performance of the piece), and early demonstrated his gifts in his native St. Petersburg. By age nineteen, he had traveled to western Europe for a performance of his First Symphony. During the 1890s, he established a wide reputation as a composer and a conductor of his own works, journeying to Paris in 1889 to direct his Second Symphony at the World Exhibition. In 1899, he was engaged as instructor of composition and orchestration at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. When his teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, was dismissed from the Conservatory staff in the wake of the 1905 revolutionary turmoil, Glazunov resigned in protest in April and did not return until December 14th, by which time most of the demands by the faculty for the school’s autonomy had been granted. Two days later he was elected director of the Conservatory. He worked ceaselessly to improve the Conservatory’s curriculum and standards, and made a successful effort to preserve the school’s independence after the 1917 Revolution. In the final years of his tenure, which lasted officially until 1930, Glazunov was criticized for his conservatism (Shostakovich, one of his students, devoted many admiring but frustrated pages to him in his purported memoirs, Testimony) and spent much time abroad. In 1929, he visited the United States to conduct the orchestras of Boston and Detroit in concerts of his music. When his health broke, in 1932, Glazunov settled with his wife in Paris; he died there in 1936. In 1972, his remains were transferred to Leningrad and reinterred in an honored grave. A research institute devoted to him in Munich and an archive in Paris were established in his memory. Glazunov’s greatest period of creativity came in the years before his Conservatory duties occupied most of his time and
His weary limbs are roused from rest By his fear of the lightning and fierce thunder And by the angry swarms of flies and hornets. Alas, his fears are borne out. Thunder and lightning dominate the sky, Bending down the tops of trees and flattening the grain. Autumn, Op. 8, No. 3 (R. 293) The peasant celebrates with dance and song The joy of a fine harvest; And filled with Bacchus’ liquor He ends his fun in sleep. Everyone is made to leave dancing and singing. The air is gentle and pleasing, And the season invites everyone To enjoy a delightful sleep. At dawn the hunters set out With horns, guns and dogs. The hunted animal flees, the hunters follow its tracks, Terrified and exhausted by the noise Of guns and dogs. Wounded, it tries feebly to escape, But is caught and dies. Winter, Op. 8, No. 4 (R. 297) Freezing and shivering in the icy darkness, In the severe gusts of a terrible wind, Running and stamping one’s feet constantly, So chilled that one’s teeth chatter. Spending quiet and happy days by the fire While outside the rain pours everywhere. Walking on the ice with slow steps, Walking carefully for fear of falling, Then stepping out boldly, and falling down. Going out once again onto the ice, and running boldly Until the ice cracks and breaks,
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collaborated with Tchaikovsky on The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. The ballet has no distinctive plot, but is arranged as a series of four divertissements. In the First Tableaux, the Spirit of Winter enters with his attendants, Frost, Ice, Hail and Snow; each has a solo variation. Two gnomes suddenly appear, and set fire to some kindling. Unable to resist the warmth, Winter and his band approach the fire and disappear. In Tableaux Two, Spring dances joyfully with Zephyr amid a sunny field of flowers. Tableaux Three (Summer) begins with the appearance of the Spirit of Corn. The spring flowers wilt and their petals droop. Several Naiads enter, symbolizing refreshing streams. The flowers revive and dance with the Naiads. Suddenly, satyrs invade the grove, attempting, without success, to carry off the Spirit of Corn. Autumn (Tableaux Four) celebrates the grape harvest with a stirring bacchanale, with solo variations for Winter, Spring and Zephyr. The dance grows wilder until a deluge of autumn leaves ends the revels. The starlit sky is revealed as a reminder of the constancy of the universe that serves as the backdrop for the changes of the earthly seasons.
energy. He produced much music in all forms except opera — his last major work, the Saxophone Concerto of 1934, bears the opus number 109. His best-known piece is the Violin Concerto, written just before he was installed as director of the Petersburg Conservatory, but a few other works, notably the ballets Raymonda and The Seasons, the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Symphonies and the atmospheric tone poems The Kremlin and Stenka Razin, occasionally grace concert programs. “Within Russian music, Glazunov has a significant place because he succeeded in reconciling Russianism and Europeanism,” wrote Boris Schwarz. “He was the direct heir of Balakirev’s nationalism but tended more toward Borodin’s epic grandeur. At the same time he absorbed Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral virtuosity, the lyricism of Tchaikovsky and the contrapuntal skill of Taneyev.... He remains a composer of imposing stature and a stabilizing influence in a time of transition and turmoil.” Glazunov’s three ballets — Raymonda, Les Ruses d’Amour and The Seasons — were all produced between 1898 and 1900. The Seasons was premiered in St. Petersburg on February 7, 1900 with libretto and choreography by Marius Petipa, who had
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