Performing this Week

William Preucil
William Preucil

Benny Kim
Benny Kim

Todd Levy
Todd Levy

Julie Landsman
Julie Landsman

Anne-Marie McDermott
Anne-Marie McDermott

Ida Kavafian
Ida Kavafian

Eric Kim
Eric Kim

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Summer 2010 — Week 2

You could say our second 2010 broadcast from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival is all about the idea of Songs Without Words, or how different composers express feelings, experience, patriotism, or even animals through music. Beginning with Anne Marie McDermott's performance of "Spinning Song" from Mendelssohn's beloved cycle Songs Without Words, the program also includes Janáček's Concertino, in which the composer recalls some adventures of his boyhood, and Dvořák's celebration of Czech dance music, the String Sextet in A Major.

Scroll below to explore excerpts from Kerry Frumkin and Marc Neikrug's conversation about this week's program, as well as remarks from some of the musicians about their experience at this Festival and the music they play here. And in case you're wondering what some of the artists like to do when they're not rehearsing or playing concerts, here's an example: Benny Kim has shared his favorite recipe for roast chicken...

So, welcome to the home of items rescued from the "cutting room floor," and many other related tangents found along the way to creating the radio programs. These pages will be updated each week, so I hope you'll come back again.

Thanks for stopping by,
Louise Frank
Series Producer

FELIX MENDELSSOHN

Felix Mendelssohn

FELIX MENDELSSOHN
"Spinning Song" Op. 67, No. 4 (1845)

Anne-Marie McDermott, piano

"Music begins where words end..." So declared Goethe, linchpin of the German Romantic literary movement. Felix Mendelssohn took the concept to heart in his cycle, Songs without Words, eloquently summing up the idea behind these works when he wrote, "People usually complain that music is so ambiguous; that they are doubtful as to what they should think when they hear it, whereas everyone understands words. For me, it is just the reverse... Words seem to me so ambiguous, so indefinite, so open to misunderstanding in comparison with real music which fills one's soul with a thousand better things than words."

Marc and Kerry ponder the age-old question of how to keep a performance fresh when the music is as well-known as Mendelssohn's Spinning Song. Marc's advice? Just be yourself.

 

Felix Mendelssohn 1oz Silver Proof Coin

Last year the Perth Mint of Australia released the first of a five coin series celebrating the Romantic-era composers with the Felix Mendelssohn 1oz Silver Proof Coin (perthmint.com.au).

 

Earl Wild Plays Mendelssohn's Spinning Song

 

Kanon Matsuda plays Mendelssohn's Spinning Song

LEOS JANÁCEK
Concertino (1925)

William Preucil, violin; Benny Kim, violin; Ida Kavafian, viola; Todd Levy, clarinet; Theodore Soluri, bassoon; Julie Landsman, horn; Anne-Marie McDermott, piano

According to Leos Janáček, his Concertino is an intimate expression of reminiscences of his own youth.

It was in the spring, when we once blocked the entrance of a hedge-hog's house in a linden tree. The hedge-hog had lined its nest softly in that old tree. It was beside itself with anger! It just could not understand it... Should the hedge-hog stand on its hind-legs and burst into an elegy? No sooner had he put his snout out, than he had to roll up again [first movement (prelude), 4/4, 6/4: piano/horn]. The squirrel chattered away, as it jumped from the top of one tree to another. Later, it moaned in a cage like my clarinet, but turned around and danced to amuse the children [second movement (scherzo) 6/8, 2/4, 6/16: piano E flat clarinet]. The wide-open eyes of little owls and big owls stared insolently out from the strings of the piano, as did those of the remaining critical night-folk [third movement, 4/4]. In the fourth movement [2/4, 5/8] everything seems like the penny that one quarrels about in fairy-tales. And the piano? Someone must, surely, be in command. I believe that every movement has three motifs.

 

The premičre of Janáček's Concertino took place on February 16, 1926

The premičre of Janáček's Concertino took place on February 16, 1926.

Here's another example of music being inspired by something non-musical. In this case, Marc tells Kerry that Janáček's Concertino recalls youth from the perspective of someone looking back on younger days in a charming and complex way.

 

Janáček's Concertino expresses some unusual programmatic stories, for example, the second movement is about a hedgehog which is being trapped by Janáček and some friends of his. And Marc wonders, what exactly does a hedgehog sound like?

 

Benny Kim finds Janáček's Concertino both a powerhouse for the piano, fun to play, and also sort of cartoonish.

 

Reverse of coin commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Czech composer Leos Janacek.

The 150th anniversary of the birth of Czech composer Leos Janacek is commemorated on this silver proof coin. The coin's reverse features a close-up portrait of Janacek with his familiar wavy hair and mustache. Inscribed around this are "1854- 2004 LEOS JANACEK". The obverse shows the national emblem of the Czech Republic, below which are two staffs of music. "CESKA REPUBLIKA 200 Kc" is inscribed around the perimeter.

 

"Bill and I got it into our heads that ... we could have a sword fight." Benny Kim tells tales of humor and high jinks from behind the scenes.

 

"Odd little piece..." says Todd Levy of Janáček's Concertino, "the e-flat clarinet is supposed to play the part of the fidgety squirrel, which is appropriate."

 

When producer Louise Frank asked clarinetist Todd Levy what it is about playing chamber music that moves his heart, he confided, "it gives you the most freedom as a musician."

 

 

Janacek, Concertino - I. Moderato (Martha Argerich)

Martha Argerich plays the first movement of Janáček's Concertino with Lucia Hall and Alissa Margulis, violins; Nora Romanoff-Schwarzberg, viola; Corrado Giuffredi, clarinet; Zora Slokar, horn; and Vincent Godel, bassoon.

ANTONÍN DVORÁK
String Sextet in A Major, Op. 48 (1878)

William Preucil, violin; Benny Kim, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Ida Kavafian, viola; Eric Kim, cello; Timothy Eddy, cello

Kerry asks Marc, "what sort of an ensemble has to be put together in order to play this well?"

 

When cellist Peter Wiley played the Dvořák Sextet in Santa Fe a few ago he mused, "what better piece to play in a place like this?"

 

Benny Kim's Roast Chicken
Wash the entire bird. Pat it dry. Pull all the innards out. Pat seasoning salt around the outside and inside. Add some thyme, lemon, pepper, garlic, onions, and "whatever you want to put in it – just stuff that puppy." Cook the bird in a hot oven at "like 400 for...maybe half an hour and then finish it at like 500 for the last 10 minutes. So that skin gets super crispy and most of the fat is rendered so you don't blow the oven apart. And then what you get is just incredibly moist bird with incredibly crisp skin."

Benny Kim shares an easy recipe for a moist bird with incredibly crisp skin.

 

Ida Kavafian and her 'top dog,' Lady Sang the Blues, aka Billie. (Photo credit: Bernard Mindich)

Ida Kavafian and her "top dog," Lady Sang the Blues, aka Billie. (Photo credit: Bernard Mindich)

Ida Kavafian and her husband Steve Tenenbom have a kennel named OPUS ONE where they raise beautiful, spirited, Hungarian Vizslas. Ida writes, "the photo is of me with my big Vizsla star Billie (as in Billie Holiday), who was the #1 Vizsla in the entire country in 2003 and the National Champion in 2007." Billie also won Best of Opposite Sex at the 2002 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

 

 

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival enjoys a great reputation. As long time Artistic Director of Music from Angel Fire in northern New Mexico Ida appreciates what it takes to program a festival, and how tricky it can be "to put people in the right repertoire so that they can shine."