Performing this Week
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Summer 2010 — Week 1
Our 5th season of radio concerts from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival begins with music by the Festival's artistic director, composer Marc Neikrug. The work is called Green Torso, and he wrote it especially for the musicians of the piano quartet OPUS ONE on a commission from another New Mexican chamber festival, Music From Angel Fire. The piece takes its name from a work by Hopi artist Dan Namingha. We also have music by Sergei Rachmaninov's Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos in C Minor, Op. 17 as performed by Marc-André Hamelin and Yuja Wang.
Scroll down to listen to excerpts from Kerry Frumkin and Marc Neikrug's conversation about this week's program. You'll also find Marc's description of his composition as well as a photograph of the sculpture that inspired it, and some remarks from Ida Kavafian, too! In other words, welcome to the home of items rescued from the "cutting room floor," and many related tangents found along the way to creating the programs.
These pages will be updated each week, so I hope you'll come back again.
Thanks for stopping by,
Green Torso—Green Torso Too (2008-09)
MARC NEIKRUG (b. 1946)
One night, my friend, Hopi artist Dan Namingha, came to dinner at our home and presented me, quite unexpectedly, with a bronze sculpture of a female torso about eight inches tall. I was taken aback by his generosity and promised Dan that when I wrote my next piece I would place the bronze on the piano for inspiration.
The result—a musical contemplation on his sculpture—was Green Torso, a piano quartet commissioned by the 2007 Music from Angel Fire Festival for the group OPUS ONE.
The figure is quite realistic and has a distinctive posture: it stands at an angle, with one truncated upper arm raised. I was intrigued by the suggestive strength of the implied gesture of this torso, which, to me, elicits all the flowing power and beauty of a whole figure.
But having completed Green Torso I found that its ending pervaded my thoughts. I liked it very much, but sensed there was somehow more to the torso's gesture than what was visible. And after further reflection I realized that my concluding passage, too, held within it some further possibilities or implications. I also felt that if my existing composition were to become a "first movement," it had built enough momentum to sustain a lengthy slow movement following it.
So, on a commission from the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, I wrote two additional movements: first an adagio (II) and then a propulsive movement (III) that balances the first movement (I) and exploits the potential of the first movement's ending. I call this extended version Green Torso Too.
Dan Namingha (born in 1950) is an important Native American painter and sculptor. He was born in Keams Canyon, Arizona and is a member of the Hopi-Tewa tribe. He currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
More about Dan Namingha and his family can be found at their gallery, Niman Fine Art.
Marc and Kerry discuss the genesis of his composition, Green Torso. "What's amazing about the sculpture is that the implications of the posture are very energetic, you feel it going beyond what it is, and that's kind of what happened to me in the piece," explains the composer.
As founder of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, artistic director of Music From Angel Fire, frequent performer, and faculty member at Curtis, Ida Kavafian knows a thing or two about chamber music and chamber music festivals. She believes in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival because of Marc Neikrug's leadership, and his commitment to presenting new music.
With the Piano Suite No. 2, Op.17 Sergei Rachmaninov essentially announced, "I'm back from the depths!" Kerry and Marc discuss how the elusive spirit of creativity returned to Rachmaninov, thanks in part to Nikolai Dahl, the hypnotist and therapist whom the composer credited with curing his depression.
Rachmaninov dedicated his second Suite for Two Pianos, opus 17 to the Russian pianist, composer and pedagogue, Alexander Goldenweiser, who you can hear playing the piece along with Grigory Ginzburg in this YouTube clip.
Rachmaninov himself plays his famous Prelude on this 1919 Ampico system recording. Ampico was the most advanced version of piano roll's systems which contained also track with recorded dynamics in hexadecimal code. In the 1990's it was transferred to PC and reproduced by a Boesendorfer 290SE piano.