Performing this Week
Daniel Phillips, violin
Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord
Liang Wang, oboe
Marji Danilow, bass
Milan Turkovic, bassoon
Nicholas Canellakis, cello
Ricardo Morales, clarinet
Tara Helen O’Connor, flute
Teng Li, viola
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Summer 2010 — Week 3
Week 3 of the 2010 season of radio concerts from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival features music of Béla Bartók and Carl Maria Von Weber. Violinist Benny Kim plays Bartók's Sonata No. 2 in collaboration with pianist, composer, and Festival artistic director, Marc Neikrug. Written in 1922, this was something of a transitional work for Bartók, coming at a time when he was struggling to find a new approach to composition. Todd Levy is the principal clarinetist of the Milwaukee Symphony, and during the summer, the Santa Fe Opera orchestra, too. Happily for everyone involved, he also loves playing chamber music, and in this program he joins the Miró Quartet for a performance of Weber's B-flat Clarinet Quintet.
Scroll below to listen to excerpts from Kerry Frumkin and Marc Neikrug's conversation about this week's program. We also have remarks from some of the musicians in which they talk about their experience at this Festival and the music they've played here. For instance, Todd Levy explains some of the challenges of playing the clarinet at altitude here in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and shares his feelings about his love of chamber music.
So, welcome to the home of items rescued from the "cutting room floor," and 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,
BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Sonata No. 2 for Violin & Piano, Sz.76 (1922)
- Molto moderato
Benny Kim, violin; Marc Neikrug, piano
Through his far-reaching endeavors as composer, performer, educator, and ethnomusicologist, Béla Bartók emerged as one of the most forceful and influential musical personalities of the twentieth century. He dedicated his 2nd Violin Sonata to his pupil Jelly d'Aranyi (1895-1966), one of the many Hungarian artists who settled in London in the 1920s.
In this unedited excerpt from their conversation, Kerry asks Marc "This was a transitional work for Bartok...what was it that he was searching for?" And the answer: "As with every composer the search is always the same and it's for your voice."
CARL MARIA VON WEBER (1786-1826)
Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major, Op. 34 (1811-15)
- Fantasia: Adagio ma non troppo
- Menuetto: Capriccio presto
- Rondo: Allegro giocoso
Todd Levy, clarinet; Miró Quartet: Daniel Ching, violin; Tereza Stanislav, violin; John Largess, viola; Joshua Gindele, cello
Carl Maria von Weber was the son of a versatile musician who had founded his own travelling theatre company, and a cousin of Mozart's wife Constanze.
Todd Levy explains why "you have to carry on that very high tradition of clarinet playing" in order to live up to the example set by Heinrich Bärmann perhaps the original clarinet virtuoso, and the dedicatee of Weber's Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major.
Santa Fe is located in the foothills of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains at an altitude of over 7000 feet. Here's what Todd Levy had to say when producer Louise Frank asked him what he does to ensure he can play the clarinet at altitude.
In March 2010, the Milwaukee Symphony presented the world premiere performance of Marc Neikrug's Clarinet Concerto, a work commissioned for MSO principal clarinet Todd Levy.
In this excerpt from episode 15 of MSO Backstage, the Milwaukee Symphony's podcast, Nathan Langfitt sits down with MSO principal clarinet Todd Levy to discuss the world premiere of Marc Neikrug's Clarinet Concerto. (Pilfered with gratitude from <a href="http://www.mso.org" target="_blank">mso.org</a>)
Here is an excerpt from the concert review Tom Strini wrote for Third Coast Digest.
The orchestra surrounds the solo line like the air surrounds a bird in flight in Marc Neikrug's new Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra. Todd Levy, the Milwaukee Symphony's principal clarinetist, premiered the piece with guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero and the MSO.
In each of the concerto's five sections, the clarinet flies in a particular way through a particular orchestral atmosphere. The clarinet starts disjunct and mid-range against a shimmer of gongs and cymbals. After that, it: runs high and antic playing amid airy string chords; winds among the orchestral winds in a kind of clarinet bouquet; sings a lyric, anguished melody within a claustrophobic orchestral cage; yearns against mounting orchestral density on the way to an unexpected climax; and finally dissolves into a glowing shroud of sound.
Sonic beauty is the most esteemed value in this concerto. Its complex chords and timbres light up in ways that remind me of Ravel's orchestral music, but Neikrug music doesn't really sound like anyone else. From start to finish, I felt no pull of tonality, no home-base pitch. Because of that, the concerto has an unmoored, free-floating quality. Neither does it offer a melody to whistle on the way home. The long, florid, endlessly developing lyric melody is a journey, not a tune. The rest of the concerto is about sonority and gesture.
Those sounds and gestures are not isolated. Everything in the piece arises from two intervals: a perfect fourth, calm in its cathedral-like resonance; and the augmented fourth, the most dissonant of intervals. Their nearly constant presence in both harmony and melody lend the music a convincing wholeness.
Neikrug must be pleased with the performance. Guerrero and the orchestra did not merely get through a difficult new work, they empathized with it, shaped it, expressed it. Levy soared over the daunting technical demands and brought its gestures to full stature in a soulful performance. continue reading...