On the Upbeat March 2013 • Volume 6, Edition 5
American Masterpieces March 16 & 17, 2013
Xiayin Wang, Piano
LESHNOFF Concerto Grosso in the Baroque Style (b. 1973) Movement I: Allegro (half-note = 98)
Movement II: quarter note = 60 Movement III: dotted-quarter note = 128 Movement IV: quarter note = 130
Our March concert represents a celebration of American Masterpieces by greats such as Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin, as well as the premiere of a brand new piece by American composer Jonathan Leshnoff. We had the chance to speak with Maestro Kabaretti about his motivations for the March concert:
Commissioned to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Santa Barbara Symphony, Nir Kabaretti, Music and Artistic Director. With the generous support of Stefan and Christine Riesenfeld and Mrs. Raymond King Myerson Tereza Stanislav and Elizabeth Hedman, violins, Natasha Kislenko, harpsichord Trevor Handy, cello, James Thacher, horn, Jon Lewis, trumpet, Andrew Malloy, trombone Francine Jacobs, flute, Lara Wickes, oboe, Alicia Lee, clarinet, Andy Radford, bassoon
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story — INTERMISSION —
GERSHWIN Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra (1898-1937) Allegro
Q: The Jonathan Leshnoff commission is an important accomplishment for the Symphony in its 60th season. Can you tell us about your vision for the piece and what we can expect to hear?
Andante con moto Allegro agitato
Nir: When we planned our 60th anniversary season, my artistic team and I were very excited to be able to commission a new piece especially for the Santa Barbara Symphony to mark the event. It was our idea to suggest to Jonathan that he write a piece in the very old form of Concerto Grosso—a concerto featuring many soloists, not the usual one or two. By the nature of this form, it showcases the virtuosity of many different players, all
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Continues on Page 2
INTERVIEW, From Page 1 of them drawn from our own orchestra. It is also a fascinating piece because each movement features a different combination of soloists, so each part of the work has distinct and fresh sonorities. The piece is being played for the very first time this weekend.
pieces, the entire program is great fun for all of us. Q: This spring marks the 5th anniversary of the astonishing Granada Theatre restoration. How do you enjoy performing here and how does the theater compare to other venues you’ve performed in?
Q: Our March concert is entitled “American Masterpieces.” What do you find most enjoyable about the well-known compositions featured this weekend?
Nir: I can’t stop thinking about how fortunate we are in SB, to have such a fantastic hall right in the center of town. I’ve worked in many halls and theaters around the world, and the Granada theater is certainly among the best of them. It is a pleasure for us to call such a beautiful and great venue our home.
Nir: Both Bernstein and Gershwin’s pieces are not only beautifully written, but are brilliantly orchestrated, and include a lot of ‘jazzier’ elements. Given the virtuosic nature of all 3
Xiayin Wang piano An artist with a winning combination of superb musicianship, personal verve, and riveting technical brilliance, pianist Xiayin Wang conquers the hearts of audiences wherever she appears. As recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral soloist in such venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, she has already achieved a high level of recognition for her commanding performances. This past fall, Ms. Wang released a recording of the piano music of Earl Wild, including his celebrated Gershwin arrangements, on Chandos. More recent concert and recital commitments have taken Ms. Wang throughout the United States at such venues and locations as Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Jordan Hall in Boston, Tanglewood, the University of Miami, Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples Florida, the Caramoor Center in Katonah, NY, Saratoga Arts Festival, Coastal Carolina Arts Festival, the Meyer Concert Series at The Smithsonian in D.C., and the East Hawaii Cultural Center on the island of Hawaii. Ms. Wang recently released a disc of Franck and Strauss sonatas with violinist Catherine Manoukian on the Marquis label. Ms. Wang is also recording chamber works by Schumann with the Fine Arts Quartet soon to be released. Other recordings have included a solo album for the Naxos label featuring the great Russian composer Aleksandr Scriabin in a range of works from his early Chopinesque period to such later compositions as “Vers la Flamme,” Op. 72 and Deux Danses, Op. 73. In June 2008, Ms. Wang released a highly praised recording of Brahms’s Quartet for Piano and Strings in G Minor, Op. 25 and Quartet for Piano and Strings in C minor, Op. 60 with the Amity Players on Marquis Classics. Her debut CD, “Introducing Xiayin Wang,” was released on the Marquis Classics label in 2007. This disc features works by Mozart, Ravel, Bach, Scriabin and Gershwin. Xiayin Wang completed studies at the Shanghai Conservatory and garnered an enviable record of first prize awards and special honors for her performances throughout China. In addition, Ms. Wang has been heard in Europe with the Tenerife Symphony of Spain. Ms. Wang, who began piano studies at the age of five, subsequently came to New York in 1997 and, in 2000, was awarded the “Certificate of Achievement” by the Associated Music Teacher League of New York, winning an opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall. She also pursued studies at the Manhattan School of Music and won the school’s Eisenberg Concerto Competition in 2002, as well as the Roy M. Rubinstein Award. Xiayin Wang holds Bachelor’s, Master’s and Professional Studies degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. 2
Program Notes by Dr. Richard E. Rodda Jonathan Leshnoff (born in 1973)
Jonathan Leshnoff was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1973, and simultaneously earned undergraduate degrees in anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and in music composition from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore; he completed his doctoral work at the University of Maryland. Since 2001, he has been on the faculty of Towson University in Maryland, where he is now Professor of Music. The “concerto grosso” (“great concerto”) was a widely used genre of Baroque music that created contention and cooperation (both meanings are inherent in the word “concerto”) between multiple soloists and a larger ensemble. Bach’s magnificent Brandenburg Concertos are the most famous of such pieces, but the concept was used in countless works until the solo concerto was perfected by Mozart and his contemporaries in the 1770s. The solo group in Leshnoff’s Concerto Grosso in the Baroque Style, commissioned by the Santa Barbara Symphony in honor of its sixtieth anniversary, includes the orchestra’s principal players of the woodwinds, horn, trumpet, trombone, violins and cello in this 21st-century analogue of the 18th-century form. The first movement, featuring two violins, adopts the Baroque characteristics of motoric rhythm, continuous spinning-out of a few motives, and a form that juxtaposes sections for the full ensemble with lightly scored solo episodes. The soloists in the slow second movement are the brass instruments and cello, with the outer sections devoted to a sparsely accompanied cello soliloquy and horn, trumpet and trombone exchanging a wideranging theme in the central passage. The third movement, with lively interchanges of thematic elements among the flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon soloists, is reminiscent of both the propulsive 19th-century scherzo and the Baroque gigue, an energetic number derived from an English folk dance that became popular as the model for instrumental compositions by French, German and Italian musicians when it migrated to the Continent in the 17th century. The finale returns the dynamic motion, the conversational textures and all of the soloists to close the Concerto Grosso with a flourish.
Concerto Grosso in the Baroque Style Composed in 2012. World Premiere Commissioned to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Santa Barbara Symphony, Nir Kabaretti, Music and Artistic Director with the generous support of Stefan and Christine Riesenfeld and Mrs. Raymond King Myerson
Single woodwinds plus piccolo, three horns, two trumpets, two trombones, timpani, percussion, harp, harpsichord (optional) and strings, with flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, two violin and cello soloists. Approximately 20 minutes. Jonathan Leshnoff is winning an international reputation as one of America’s most gifted composers. His works have been programmed and commissioned by such symphonies as Baltimore, Curtis Institute, Buffalo, Kansas City, Columbus (Ohio), Oakland, Duluth, IRIS, Kyoto, Extremadura (Spain), National Repertory, National Symphony of Mexico, Baltimore Chamber and Boca Raton orchestras, Da Capo Chamber Ensemble, Smithsonian’s Twentieth Century Consort, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and other noted ensembles and soloists; he is currently Composer-in-Residence with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. Leshnoff’s honors include two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, Honorable Mention in the Rudolph Nissim Prize and an Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. Among his recent premieres are Starburst (April 2010, performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop) and Cello Concerto (March 2013, premiered by the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, soloist Nina Kotova and conductor Dirk Brossé). His current projects include a concerto for guitarist Manuel Barrueco and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Quartet No. 4 for the Carpe Diem String Quartet.
NOTES, From Page 3
choreography. “The dance movements not only epitomize the tensions, the brutality, bravado, and venomous hatred of the gang warriors but also had sufficient variety in themselves to hold audiences spellbound,” wrote Abe Laufe in Broadway’s Greatest Musicals. In 1961, Bernstein chose a sequence of dance music from West Side Story to assemble as a concert work, and Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal executed the orchestration of these “Symphonic Dances” under the composer’s direction. Bernstein said that he called these excerpts “symphonic” not because they were arranged for full orchestra but because many of them grew, like a classical symphony, from a few basic themes transformed into a variety of moods to fit the play’s action and emotions. West Side Story provides more than just an evening’s pleasant diversion. It is a work that gave a new vision and direction to the American musical theater. The following summary, outlining the stage action that occurs during the Symphonic Dances, appears in the orchestral score: “Prologue (Allegro moderato) — The growing rivalry between two teen-age gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. “Somewhere (Adagio) — In a visionary dance sequence, the two gangs are united in friendship. “Scherzo (Vivace leggiero) — In the same dream, they break through the city walls, and suddenly find themselves in a world of space, air and sun. “Mambo (Presto) — Reality again; competitive dance between the gangs. “Cha-cha (Andantino con grazia) — the star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria, see each other for the first time and dance together [Maria]. “Meeting scene (Meno mosso) — Music accompanies their first spoken words. “Cool, Fugue (Allegretto) — An elaborate dance sequence in which the Jets practice controlling their hostility. “Rumble (Molto allegro) — Climactic gang battle during which the two gang leaders are killed. “Finale (Adagio) — As Tony dies in Maria’s arms, love music developing into a procession, which recalls, in tragic reality, the vision of Somewhere.”
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story Composed in 1957. Piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, E-flat clarinet, two B-flat clarinets, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, piano, celesta and strings. Approximately 21 minutes. Leonard Bernstein, a native of Boston, had a productive fascination with New York City for much of his career. Beside being linked with that city’s major orchestra for many years as conductor and music director, the great metropolis also served as the inspiration for several of his original stage compositions. The idea for West Side Story was suggested to Bernstein as early as 1949 by the choreographer Jerome Robbins, who envisioned a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet set in New York City. Bernstein was fascinated with the idea, but he could not find time to work on the project until the middle 1950s, beginning composition as soon as he had finished the brilliant score for the operetta/musical Candide. Stephen Sondheim, in his Broadway debut, supplied the lyrics, Arthur Laurents wrote the book and Robbins staged the show, which was finally completed in 1957. After try-outs in Washington and Philadelphia, West Side Story was unveiled on Broadway on September 26th and ran for almost two years. After a ten-month road tour, it returned to New York and closed on April 27, 1960 after a total of 732 Broadway performances. It was made into a film in 1961 that swept ten Oscars, including Best Picture, and has since entered into the pantheon of the American theater as one of the greatest musicals ever created. West Side Story was one of the first musicals to explore a serious subject with wide social implications. More than just the story of the tragic lives of ordinary people in a small, grubby section of New York, it was concerned with urban violence, juvenile delinquency, clan hatred and young love. The show was criticized as harshly realistic by some who advocated an entirely escapist function for the musical, depicting things that were not appropriately shown on the Broadway stage. Most, however, recognized that it expanded the scope of the musical through references both to classical literature (Romeo and Juliet) and to the pressing problems of modern society. Brooks Atkinson, the distinguished critic of The New York Times, noted in his book Broadway that West Side Story was “a harsh ballad of the city, taut, nervous and flaring, the melodies choked apprehensively, the rhythms wild, swift and deadly.” Much of the show’s electric atmosphere was generated by its brilliant dance sequences, for which Jerome Robbins won the 1957-1958 Tony Award for
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra (1925) Composed in 1925. Piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion and strings. Approximately 32 minutes. Walter Damrosch, conductor of the New York Symphony and one of this country’s most prominent musical figures for the half-century before World War II, was among the Aeolian Hall 4
NOTES, From Page 4
Gershwin provided a short analysis of the Concerto for the New York Tribune: “The first movement employs a Charleston rhythm. It is quick and pulsating, representing the young, enthusiastic spirit of American life. It begins with a rhythmic motif given out by the kettledrums, supported by other percussion instruments and with a Charleston motif introduced by bassoon, horns, clarinets and violas. The principal theme is announced by the bassoon. Later, a second theme is introduced by the piano. The second movement has a poetic, nocturnal atmosphere which has come to be referred to as the American blues, but in a purer form than that in which they are usually treated. The final movement is an orgy of rhythms, starting violently and keeping the same pace throughout.” Though Gershwin based his Concerto loosely on classical formal models, its structure is episodic in nature. He was learning as he went, and this Concerto is nothing short of astonishing when it is realized that it was only his second concert work, written when he was just 27 years old. Few other composers could boast of such a successful beginning.
audience when George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue exploded above the musical world on February 12, 1924. He recognized Gershwin’s genius (and, no doubt, the opportunity for wide publicity), and approached him a short time later with a proposal for another large-scale work. A concerto for piano was agreed upon, and Gershwin was awarded a commission from the New York Symphony to compose the piece. The story that Gershwin then rushed out and bought a reference book explaining what a concerto is is probably apocryphal. He did, however, study the scores of some of the concertos of earlier masters to discover how they had handled the problems of structure and instrumental balance. He made the first extensive sketches for the work while in London during May 1925. By July, back home, he was able to play for his friends large fragments of the evolving work, tentatively entitled “New York Concerto.” The first movement was completed by the end of that month, the second and third by September, and the orchestration carried out in October and November, by which time the title had become simply Concerto in F.
©2012 Dr. Richard E. Rodda
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