Performing this Week

Opus One
Opus One

Ida Kavafian
Ida Kavafian

Anne-Marie McDermott
Anne-Marie McDermott

Marc-André Hamelin
Marc-André Hamelin

Yuja Wang
Yuja Wang

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

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,
Louise Frank
Series Producer

Neikrug

 

Green TorsoGreen 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.

Marc Neikrug
(Marc Neikrug's program notes reprinted with permission.)

 

This is Dan Namingha's sculpture, Torso, as it looked on the stage of the St. Francis Auditorium where many of the Festival concerts take place.
This is Dan Namingha's sculpture, Torso, as it looked on the stage of the St. Francis Auditorium where many of the Festival concerts take place. The artist gave a smaller version of this work to Marc Neikrug.

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.

 

Marc tells Kerry about the ensemble OPUS ONE and expresses his gratitude for their work on his piece saying, "these are four accomplished and dedicated musicians who all happen to like new music..."

 

Music from Angel Fire
Music From Angel Fire

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.

 

Ida Kavafian reigns over the Music From Angel Fire chamber festival and calls Marc's commission "a major work," saying "he composes with his heart and you can hear that in the music."

 

One of the advantages of commissioning new music is working directly with the composer. During that process, Ida recalls, she and the other members of Opus One fell in love with this piece.

Rachmaninov

 

Rachmaninov in 1900, around the time he wrote the Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos in C Minor, Op. 17
Rachmaninov in 1900, around the time he wrote the Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos in C Minor, Op. 17.

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.

Cover of score for Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos in C Minor, Op. 17
Cover of score for Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos in C Minor, Op. 17.

 

Marc tells Kerry that Rachmaninov was "probably one of the greatest pianists imaginable," and goes on to describe the collaboration between Marc Andre Hamelin and Yuja Wang.

 

Marc describes for Kerry the technical challenges of playing works for two pianos.

 

Goldenweiser & Ginzburg play Rachmaninov Suite No. 2

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.

 

Sergei Rachmanov at the keyboard in 1922
Sergei Rachmanov at the keyboard in 1922 (Courtesy of Life Magazine online archives)

 

Rachmaninov plays Rachmaninov

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.

 

Producer, Louise Frank, interviews Yuja Wang in the elegant surroundings of the glamorous, temporary recording studio set up in a basement storage room of Santa Fe's Lensic Performing Arts Center.
Producer, Louise Frank, interviews Yuja Wang in the elegant surroundings of the glamorous, temporary recording studio set up in a basement storage room of Santa Fe's Lensic Performing Arts Center.