Performing this Week
Liang Wang, oboe
L. P. How
Marji Danilow, bass
Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Summer 2010 — Week 7
Violinist Ida Kavafian figures prominently in week 7 of WFMT's radio concerts from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. First, she collaborates with oboe player Liang Wang and an ensemble of Festival musicians in a double concerto by Bach. Then she joins her colleagues in the piano quartet OPUS ONE for a performance of Dvorak's Piano Quartet #2 in E-Flat Major.
Scroll below to listen to excerpts from Kerry Frumkin and Marc Neikrug’s conversation about the program. You can also read the Festival's program notes about the Dvořák, hear members of OPUS ONE talk about their ensemble, and even prepare Ida Kavafian's recipe for Armenian Aromatic Eggplant.
In other words, welcome to the home of items rescued from the “cutting room floor,” and other related tangents found along the way to creating these radio programs.
Thanks for stopping by,
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)
Concerto in C Minor for Violin & Oboe, BWV 1060 (ca. 1736)
Ida Kavafian, violin; Liang Wang, oboe; L. P. How, violin; Kathleen Brauer, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Sophie Shao, cello; Marji Danilow, bass; Kathleen McIntosh, harpsichord
It was not uncommon for Bach to rework his own earlier compositions for different sets of orchestrations. Original manuscripts for the BWV1060 concerto have long been lost to the ages and they might have remained so had Bach not re-arranged it as a concerto for two harpsichords. By observing the tonal palette, as well as differences in ranges and figurations assigned to each part, modern musicologists managed to restore the C minor concerto to its original form -- for violin and oboe.
Kerry and Marc discuss Bach's violin and oboe concerto, and agree that "you could take almost any piece of Bach and make it for almost any other composition of instruments and it would sound wonderful."
ANTONÍN DVORÁK (1841-1904) Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 87 (1889)
- Allegro con fuoco
- Allegro moderato, grazioso
- Finale: Allegro ma non troppo
OPUS ONE: Ida Kavafian, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
Dvořák was compulsive about dating his compositions. As he began work, he would note the date at the top of the blank page, and when he finished he wrote the date at the end of the manuscript. And so we know that he began the Piano Quartet in E-flat Major on July 10, 1889, and completed it six weeks later, on August 19. This was a very rich time in Dvořák’s life: surrounded by a large and happy family, he was composing steadily and was conducting and being honored throughout Europe. Earlier in 1889 he had seen his opera The Jacobin premiered in Prague, and a week after completing the Piano Quartet he would begin composing one of his finest works, the Symphony No. 8. The composition of the Piano Quartet went well, and on August 10 Dvořák wrote enthusiastically to his publisher: “I’ve now already finished three movements of a new piano quartet and the finale will be ready in a few days. As I expected, it came easily and the melodies just surged upon me. Thank God!”
The second of Dvořák’s two piano quartets, the E-flat Major has been much admired for its variety of moods, the deft fusion of piano and string instruments, and Dvořák’s easy modulation between surprising keys. Other critics have been less generous, and some have criticized this music for its quasi-orchestral writing and huge effects, one of them even going so far as to call this quartet “disagreeably melodramatic.” But one person’s disagreeable melodrama is another’s beauty, and for every critic who has complained about this music’s grand sweep, countless audiences have loved the quartet for just that excitement.
The opening Allegro con fuoco is aptly named, for there is plenty of fire here—at the very beginning the strings make a fierce declaration, only to be answered by the piano’s almost whimsical reply. Both these ideas will figure importantly in the development, and the yoking together of such dissimilar ideas is typical of the quartet. The viola, Dvořák’s own instrument, has the haunting second theme, and the movement fluctuates between the quietly lyrical and the dramatic.
In a similar way, the Lento is mercurial in its mood shifts. It is based on five different themes, and the cello’s wistful opening quickly gives way to a heated section introduced by the piano, which in turn is followed by sections of varied tonality and mood. The Allegro moderato, grazioso is in ABA form, but this is no minuet. The outer sections are based on a waltz rhythm, and some have heard Eastern influences here: the piano’s waltz tune sings languorously, and Dvořák soon has it tinkling in high registers in imitation of the Hungarian cimbalom. The trio dashes along agreeably on its omnipresent dotted rhythm.
The Finale: Allegro ma non troppo is the movement most often criticized for sounding too orchestral. A dramatic unison passage launches the movement on its vigorous way, and once again a lovely viola melody provides contrasts. Some of the most attractive music in the quartet comes in this movement’s quiet passages. The coda begins quietly but soon gathers force, and the quartet rushes to a knockout conclusion.
The variety of mood, pure abundance of thematic material, and exuberant musical textures in Dvorak's E-flat piano Quartet yield a nearly orchestral sound from the four instruments. Marc tells Kerry that to play this, you need four soloists who really know how to play chamber music. And with Opus One on stage for this performance, that's just what he got.
"OPUS ONE is a piano quartet ensemble that consists of Ida Kavafian, who is married to me, and Peter Wiley, who is not married to me, and the pianist Anne Marie McDermott … It's a joy to work with them." So says violist Steven Tenenbom.
One of the great joys shared by many of the musicians is a love of good food, and quite often, a passion for cooking. Frequently this takes place during an informal gathering of friends. Ida Kavafian was kind enough to share her recipe for Armenian Aromatic Eggplant.
Armenian Aromatic Eggplant
- 2 Medium Eggplant, firm, dark and not too heavy
- Olive Oil
- 1 Small (8 Oz.) can Tomato Sauce or even better, 1/2 container of Parmalat chopped tomatoes
- 2 Fresh Tomatoes
- 2-3 Cloves chopped Garlic
- 2 Tablespoons (or to taste) Balsamic Vinegar (Wine Vinegar is also fine)
- 1 Small Container Plain Yogurt
- Oregano to taste (just a bit)
Wash, then peel 3 strips lengthwise down the eggplant, creating a striped effect. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces and salt both sides, placing on paper towels to soak up moisture. Leave for about 45 minutes, turning over a few times, changing paper towels if needed.
While eggplant is "sweating", sauté garlic in olive oil in medium pan until lightly brown. Add fresh tomato, salt and pepper to taste, and cook over medium low heat for about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, bring to a boil and simmer for another 8 minutes or so. Add vinegar and let simmer for 1-2 minutes, just until flavors blend. Let cool.
Preheat broiler. Place eggplant slices in single layer in a large broiling pan or cookie sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Place under broiler and cook until evenly light to medium brown. Turn and broil other side. Although eggplant can be fried, I prefer broiling, since it absorbs less oil. Let cool slightly.
In a serving platter, place a single layer of eggplant, spoon yogurt on top to almost cover each individual piece, then tomato sauce to cover well. Layer until you have used up the eggplant. The top layer should be the sauce. Serve at room temperature. One of the advantages of this recipe is that it can be made long ahead of time and kept at room temperature, or even the day before and refrigerated. Be sure to let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour if that is the case. Enjoy!
This is a recipe that I learned, then modified myself, from my mother who was without a doubt the World's Greatest Cook. Although she never let me help her prepare dinner when I was a child (she always sent me to my room to practice), I stole some peeks while growing up, then tried to duplicate the delicious dishes when I went to live on my own. I would inevitably have to call her to consult with her, and we had some of my favorite conversations as a result!
- When she's not raising Vizslas, cooking Armenian eggplant, hiking, teaching, or playing chamber music elsewhere, Ida Kavafian can be found at the chamber festival, Music at Angel Fire, where she is the artistic director.
- Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott balances a versatile career of solo recitals, concerto appearances, and chamber music.
- Steven Tenenbom is a member of the Orion String Quartet. He also serves on the faculty at Bard.
- Peter Wiley replaced his mentor David Soyer as the cellist in the Guarneri Quartet. He teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music, and along with Ida Kavafian, leads a student/mentor ensemble on national tours.