Performing this Week

Daniel Phillips, violin
Daniel Phillips, violin

Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord
Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord

Liang Wang, oboe
Liang Wang, oboe

Marji Danilow, bass
Marji Danilow, bass

Milan Turkovic, bassoon
Milan Turkovic, bassoon

Nicholas Canellakis, cello
Nicholas Canellakis, cello

Ricardo Morales, clarinet
Ricardo Morales, clarinet

Tara Helen O’Connor, flute
Tara Helen O’Connor, flute

Teng Li, viola
Teng Li, viola

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

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,
Louise Frank
Series Producer

Bela Bartok

Béla Bartók

BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Sonata No. 2 for Violin & Piano, Sz.76 (1922)

  • Molto moderato
  • Allegretto

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."

 

Marc and Kerry discuss the virtuosity necessary to be able to play Bartok's 2nd Violin Sonata, and how the combination of experience and freshness adds to the performance.

 

Todd Levy and Mark Neikrug at rehearsal
Jelly d'Aranyi and her sister Adila were the daughters of the chief of police in Budapest and the great-nieces of the violinist Josef Joachim. Based mostly in Britain from 1914, they were celebrated performers of a wide variety of music and the dedicatees of work by Holst, Bartok and Ravel. Jelly's portait, painted by Charles Geoffroy-Dechaume, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

 

Joseph Szigeti & Bela Bartok playing the Bartok Violin Sonata No.2 1st mov

Additional Links

Carl von Weber

Carl Maria von Weber

CARL MARIA VON WEBER (1786-1826)
Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major, Op. 34 (1811-15)

  • Allegro
  • 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.

 

Marc tells Kerry, "this is as much a concerto as anything can be without an orchestra..."

 

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.

 

Additional Links

 

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.

Todd Levy and Mark Neikrug at rehearsal
Todd Levy and Mark Neikrug at rehearsal

 

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...

(Pilfered with gratitude from Third Coast Digest)