On the Upbeat October 2012 • Volume 6, Edition 1
This Weekend: October 20 & 21, 2012 Nir Kabaretti, Conductor André Watts, Piano
Santa Barbara Overture
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
( b. 1927)
In celebration of the Symphony’s 60th anniversary opening concert, our maestro, Nir Kabaretti took some time to sit down with us and discuss the occasion and this special program.
Allegro con brio Andante con moto Allegro — Allegro
— INTERMISSION —
R ACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
Q: You come from a world that measures time in centuries. In your mind, what makes the Santa Barbara Symphony’s 60th anniversary such a milestone?
Nir: It is indeed a milestone, the development of the SBS in these 60 years. What started as a group of volunteer music lovers who practiced many different professions, is now a fully professional union orchestra which is able to perform the most difficult pieces in a short rehearsal period. Today the orchestra is made up of musicians from many different states and countries, musicians who have graduated from the best schools of America and overseas. These are musicians who now need to pass a very tough audition and probation process before becoming tenured members of the orchestra.
Moderato Adagio sostenuto Allegro scherzando
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In addition to the members of the orchestra, I wish to personally thank all the wonderful people who led and supported the symphony in 60 years of success. The uncompromised commitment, and endless efforts of our board of directors, staff, the Symphony league, volunteers and audience, enable us to continue growing musically a year after year, and reach new artistic heights.
Join Ramón Araïza for “Behind the Music” beginning one hour before each concert! Sponsored by Marlyn Bernard Bernstein & Dunvegan Associates, Inc.
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soloist. I wouldn’t say that the fact that I played the piano makes a difference, but for sure every conductor must also learn well the soloist’s part, not necessarily being able to play it, but simply knowing the solo part, and the challenges they face.
Q: For many, Beethoven’s 5th is one of the most powerful and energetic works ever composed. How do you approach conducting this famous piece?
Q: How does Emma Lou Diemer’s Overture speak to you about Santa Barbara? If you were to play it in, say, Rome, how would you describe its connection to Santa Barbara for your audience?
Nir: Conducting almost any Beethoven music is quite powerful and energetic, but indeed the 5th Symphony is certainly one of the climaxes of his orchestral writing. I first studied and conducted this symphony as a student, but while relooking at the score after many years of experience with other Beethoven music gives me some new perspectives about the score, I am still humbled and amazed by the power and the complexity of this music, excited and passionate every time I hear the very simple 3 repeated notes of the motif.
Nir: From the very first note of Diemer’s score, you can feel the spirit of American music. The rhythms, the orchestration, the flavor of different sounds - that’s very obvious. If I had to play it in Italy or elsewhere out of the USA, I imagine, I would need a bit more rehearsal time to work with the orchestra on these specific rhythmical patterns, and the feeling of the tunes. At the end of the day the result will be similar, but the American musicians are naturally much more experienced with this type of writing. I am delighted that this work, which was written and dedicated to our own orchestra by local treasure, Emma Lou Diemer, will be kicking off our 60th anniversary season.
Q: Andre Watts is such a prolific and talented musician, how is your onstage relationship with him manifested? You are a pianist… what difference does that make? Nir: I am very much looking forward to sharing the stage with Andre’ Watts, especially with this piece. Accompanying a concerto is a bit different then conducting an orchestra without a
André Watts piano André Watts burst upon the music world at the age of 16 when Leonard Bernstein chose him to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic in their Young People’s Concerts, broadcast nationwide on CBS-TV. Only two weeks later, Bernstein asked him to substitute at the last minute for the ailing Glenn Gould in performances of Liszt’s E-flat Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, thus launching his career in storybook fashion. More than 45 years later, André Watts remains one of today’s most celebrated and beloved superstars. Recent and upcoming engagements include appearances with the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, and the St. Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Seattle and National symphonies among others. In celebration of the Liszt anniversary in 2011, Mr. Watts played all-Liszt recitals throughout the US, while recent and upcoming international engagements include concerto and recital appearances in Japan, Hong Kong, Germany and Spain. A perennial favorite with orchestras throughout the US, Mr. Watts is also a regular guest at the major summer music festivals. André Watts has had a long and frequent association with television, having appeared on numerous programs produced by PBS, the BBC and the Arts and Entertainment Network. His 1976 New York recital, aired on the program Live From Lincoln Center, was the first full length recital broadcast in the history of television. Mr. Watts’ most recent television appearances are with the Philadelphia Orchestra on the occasion of the orchestra’s 100th Anniversary Gala and a performance of the Brahms Concerto No.2 with the Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz conducting, for PBS. Mr. Watts’ extensive discography includes recordings of works by Gershwin, Chopin, Liszt and Tchaikovsky for CBS Masterworks; recital CD’s of works by Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt and Chopin for Angel/EMI; and recordings featuring the concertos of Liszt, MacDowell, Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens on the Telarc label. He is also included in the Great Pianists of the 20th Century series for Philips. A much-honored artist who has played before royalty in Europe and heads of government in nations all over the world, André Watts received a 2011 National Medal of Arts, given by the President of the United States to individuals who are deserving of special recognition for their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States. Previously Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland, Mr. Watts was appointed to the newly created Jack I. and Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in Music at Indiana University in May, 2004. 2
Program Notes by Dr. Richard E. Rodda Emma Lou Diemer (born in 1927)
Santa Barbara Overture Composed in 1995. Piccolo, three flutes, three oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, piano and strings. Approximately 8 minutes. Composer, teacher and organist Emma Lou Diemer was born into a cultured family in Kansas City, Missouri on November 24, 1927—her father was a college president and her siblings became poets, educators, musicians and writers. Diemer was composing short pieces by age seven, and within six years she had moved on to writing piano concertos. She studied with Gardner Reed at the Kansas City Conservatory during high school, and undertook her professional training with Paul Hindemith and Richard Donovan at Yale (B.M., 1949; M.M., 1950) and with Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers at the Eastman School of Music (Ph.D., 1960). A Fulbright Scholarship enabled her to study at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels in 1952-1953; she was a student of Ernst Toch and Roger Sessions at the Berkshire Music School at Tanglewood during the following two years. Diemer taught at several colleges and was a church organist in the Kansas City area during the 1950s, and was Composer-inResidence with the Arlington, Virginia public schools from 1959 to 1961 as part of the Ford Foundation’s Young Composers Project. After serving as organist at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C. from 1962 to 1965, she taught theory and composition at the University of Maryland until 1971, when she joined the faculty of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she helped to establish the electronic/computer music program; she became Professor Emeritus at the school upon her retirement in 1991. Diemer has also served throughout her career as organist at various churches, and is now organist emerita at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara. From 1990 to 1992, she was Composer-in-Residence with the Santa Barbara Symphony, when that ensemble premiered four of her works. Among Diemer’s many distinctions are awards from Yale University, Eastman School of Music, National Endowment for the Arts, ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and American Guild of Organists (1995 Composer of the Year), as well as a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award and an honorary doctorate from the University of Central Missouri. Diemer’s extensive creative output encompasses a wide variety of genres in styles influenced by such modern masters as Ravel, Schoenberg, Cowell, Cage and Crumb—three symphonies (including one on American Indian themes); concertos for harpsichord, violin, piano, organ and flute; many keyboard and chamber compositions; electronic and tape pieces—as well as sacred and secular choral works in more traditional idioms. Diemer wrote, “Santa Barbara Overture was composed in early 1995 for Gisèle Ben-Dor and the Santa Barbara Symphony for the 1995-1996 season; the work was premiered on March 23, 1996. Maestro Ben-Dor asked for ‘happy, beautiful’ music, and the overture definitely has the former of these two attributes. The work is an exuberant concert-opener. There were a number of ideas and reflections that I wanted to express in writing musically ‘about Santa Barbara.’ Here are some of them: An opening, rhythmic crescendo leading to a loud and joyful theme of ‘deliverance,’ reflective perhaps of seeing the Pacific Ocean and Santa Barbara for the first time after crossing the desert and enduring the clogged freeways and smog of Los Angeles; Transitional material using pentatonic scale figures vaguely reminiscent of Asian music; Intimations of ragtime filtered through a ‘honky-tonk’ piano in a gold miners’ saloon in a Hollywood movie; a Native American melody done up in a brief jazz setting; Musical puns on Spanish and Mexican music; The bells of the Old Mission of Santa Barbara; Organum at the interval of a fourth reminiscent of the imagined friars at the Mission (imagined because they did not sing organum but rather music more in the style of Schubert). This may be quite a lot to put into one eight-minute piece, but I wanted to express musically at least some of the diversity of the wondrous city of Santa Barbara.” 3
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 Composed between 1804 and 1808. Woodwinds in pairs plus piccolo and contrabassoon, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani and strings. Approximately 35 minutes. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, more than any work in the musical repertory, is the archetypal example of the technique and content of the form. Its overall structure is not one of four independent essays linked simply by tonality and style, as in the typical 18th-century example, but is rather a carefully devised whole in which each of the movements serves to carry the work inexorably toward its end. The progression from minor to major, from dark to light, from conflict to resolution is at the very heart of the “meaning” of this work. The triumphant nature of the final movement as the logical outcome of all that preceded it established a model for the symphonies of the Romantic era. The psychological progression toward the finale—the relentless movement toward a life-affirming close—is one of Beethoven’s most important technical and emotional legacies, and it established for following generations the concept of how such a creation could be structured, and in what manner it should engage the listener. The opening gesture is the most famous beginning in all of classical music. It establishes the stormy temper of the Allegro by presenting the germinal cell from which the entire movement grows. Though it is possible to trace this memorable four-note motive through most of the measures of the movement, the eminent English musicologist Sir Donald Tovey pointed out that the power of the music is not contained in this fragment, but rather in the “long sentences” that Beethoven built from it. The key to appreciating Beethoven’s formal structures lies in being aware of the way in which the music moves constantly from one point of arrival to the next. The gentler second theme derives from the opening motive, and gives only a brief respite in the headlong rush that propels the movement. It provides the necessary contrast while doing nothing to impede the music’s flow. The development section is a paragon of cohesion, logic and concision. The recapitulation roars forth after a series of breathless chords that pass from woodwinds to strings and back. The stark hammer-blows of the closing chords bring the movement to its powerful close. The second movement is a set of variations on two contrasting themes. The first theme, presented by violas and cellos, is sweet and lyrical in nature; the second, heard in horns and trumpets, is heroic. The ensuing variations on the themes alternate to produce a movement by turns gentle and majestic. The Scherzo returns the tempestuous character of the opening movement as the four-note motto from the first movement is heard again in a brazen setting led by the horns. The fughetta, the “little fugue,” of the central trio is initiated by the cellos and basses. The Scherzo returns with the mysterious tread of the plucked strings, after which the music wanes until little more than a heartbeat from the timpani remains. Then begins another accumulation of intensity, first gradually, then more quickly, as a link to the finale, which arrives with a glorious proclamation, like brilliant sun bursting through ominous clouds. The finale, set in the triumphant key of C major, is jubilant and martial. The sonata form proceeds apace. At the apex of the development, however, the mysterious end of the Scherzo is invoked to serve as the link to the return of the main theme in the recapitulation. It also recalls and compresses the emotional journey of the entire Symphony. The closing pages repeat the cadence chords extensively as a way of discharging the work’s enormous accumulated energy. Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 Composed in 1900-1901. Pairs of woodwinds, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion and strings. Approximately 34 minutes. When he was old and as mellow as he would ever get, Rachmaninoff wrote these words about his early years: “Although I had to fight for recognition, as most younger men must, although I have experienced all the troubles and sorrow which precede success, and although I know how important it is for an artist to be spared such troubles, I realize, when I look back on my early life, that it was enjoyable, in spite of all its vexations and bitterness.” The greatest “bitterness” of Rachmaninoff’s career was brought about by his Symphony No. 1, a work that had such a disastrous premiere he forbade any other performances of the piece while he was alive. The total failure of the Symphony at its premiere in 1897 was a traumatic disappointment to him, one that thrust him into such a mental depression that he suffered a complete nervous collapse. Such a hyper-emotional attitude was not unusual at the turn of the 20th century for the Russian aristocracy of which Rachmaninoff was a member. Melancholia was virtually a way of upper-class life at the time, as the Russian critic and composer 4
Leonid Sabaneiev described: “The famous Moscow restaurants, the no-less famous Gypsy choruses, the atmosphere of continuing dissipation in which perhaps there was no merriment at all, but on the contrary, the most genuine, bitter and impenetrable pessimism—this was the milieu. Music there was a terrible narcosis, a sort of intoxication and oblivion, a going-off into irrational places.... It was not form or harmoniousness or Apollonic vision that was demanded of music, but passion, feeling, languor, heartache. Such was Tchaikovsky’s music, and such also the music of Rachmaninoff developed into.” After the failure of his First Symphony, Rachmaninoff was mired in exactly such an emotional abyss as Sabaneiev described, and he showed little inclination of ever climbing out. His family, alarmed at the prospect of the brilliant young musician wasting his prodigious talents, expended their own capabilities to help him, and then sought out professional psychiatric counsel. An aunt of Rachmaninoff, Varvara Satina, had recently been successfully treated for an emotional disturbance by a certain Dr. Nicholas Dahl, a Moscow physician who was familiar with the latest psychiatric discoveries in Paris and Vienna, and it was arranged that Rachmaninoff should visit him. Years later, in his memoirs, the composer recalled the malady and the treatment: “[Following the performance of the First Symphony] something within me snapped. All my self-confidence broke down. A paralyzing apathy possessed me. I did nothing at all and found no pleasure in anything. Half my days were spent on a couch sighing over my ruined life. My only occupation consisted in giving a few piano lessons to keep myself alive.” For more than a year, Rachmaninoff’s condition persisted. He began his daily visits to Dr. Dahl in January 1900. “My relatives had informed Dr. Dahl that he must by all means cure me of my apathetic condition and bring about such results that I would again be able to compose. Dahl had inquired what kind of composition was desired of me, and he was informed ‘a concerto for pianoforte,’ which I had given up in despair of ever writing. In consequence, I heard repeated, day after day, the same hypnotic formula, as I lay half somnolent in an armchair in Dr. Dahl’s consulting room: ‘You will start to compose a concerto—You will work with the greatest of ease—The composition will be of excellent quality.’ Always it was the same, without interruption.” Almost like a movie script from the Hollywood where Rachmaninoff eventually settled, the good doctor’s unusual cure worked. “Although it may seem impossible to believe,” Rachmaninoff continued, “this treatment really helped me. I started to compose again at the beginning of the summer.” In gratitude, he dedicated the new Concerto to Dr. Dahl. Rachmaninoff wrote the second and third movements of his rehabilitative Concerto in the summer and early autumn of 1900 in Italy, Novgorod and Moscow; that incomplete version was heard at a charity concert in Moscow on October 14th, with the composer at the keyboard and Alexander Siloti conducting. The opening movement was composed by the following spring, and the premiere of the finished work was given on October 14, 1901 with the same two principals and the orchestra of the Moscow Philharmonic Society. The C minor Concerto was the first orchestral work to carry the name of Rachmaninoff into the world’s concert halls. (His ubiquitous C-sharp minor Prelude of 1892 had been a piano-bench and recital favorite for a decade.) Other advances in Rachmaninoff’s life soon followed—many successful musical compositions, an appointment as the opera conductor of the Moscow Grand Theater, and a triumphant career as a concert pianist. There always remained buried away in his innermost thoughts, however, those ghosts of selfdoubt and insecurity that Nicholas Dahl could never have totally exorcised from the dour composer’s psychological constitution. The C minor Concerto begins with eight bell-tone chords from the solo piano that herald the surging main theme, announced by the strings. A climax is achieved before a sudden drop in intensity makes way for the arching second theme, initiated by the soloist. The development, concerned largely with the first theme, is propelled by a martial rhythm that continues with undiminished energy into the recapitulation. The second theme returns in the horn before the martial mood is re-established to close the movement. The Adagio is a long-limbed nocturne with a running commentary of sweeping figurations from the piano. The finale resumes the marching rhythmic motion of the first movement with its introduction and bold main theme. Standing in bold relief to this vigorous music is the lyrical second theme, one of the best-loved melodies in the entire orchestral literature, a grand inspiration in the ripest Romantic tradition. These two themes, the martial and the romantic, alternate for the remainder of the movement. The coda rises through a finely crafted line of mounting tension to bring this work to an electrifying close. ©2012 Dr. Richard E. Rodda
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©On the Upbeat, OCTOBER 2012 VOL. 6, EDITION 1. Published for Symphony Series concert subscribers by the Santa Barbara Symphony, 1330 State Street, Suite 102, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, (805) 898-9386 — A non-profit organization.
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