Performing this Week
Liang Wang, oboe
Marc Neikrug, piano
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Summer 2010 — Week 8
Welcome to the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival radio series production blog, the home of program out takes, artist commentary, and other related tangents we like to call "web extras."
Week 7 of WFMT's radio concerts from Santa Fe started with "Oblivion" by Astor Piazzolla. He's the creator of the nuevo tango who expanded that form much in the way Chopin expanded the idea of the nocturne. For this performance, Liang Wang, first oboe of the New York Philharmonic, collaborated with the festival's artistic director, pianist Marc Neikrug.
After that, the Kim Brothers, Benny and Eric, paired up to play Bohuslav Martinu's 1927 Duo No. 1 for violin and cello.
The hour concluded with Soovin (no relation to Benny & Eric) Kim and fellow Johannes String Quartet member Peter Stumpf, along with pianist Shai Wosner, in a performance of Brahm's B-Major Piano Trio No. 1. This is the later version of a work Brahms famously returned to and rewrote some thirty-five years after he first put his notes on paper.
Scroll below to listen to excerpts from Kerry Frumkin and Marc Neikrug’s conversation about the program. You can also see a number of videos of the bandoneon master himself in concert, listen to Brahms speaking in a recording made in 1889, and hear what some of the musicians had to say about their experience and the music they played here.
Please enjoy these items rescued from the "cutting room floor," and the other things found along the way to creating these radio programs.
Thanks for stopping by,
ÁSTOR PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Liang Wang, oboe; Marc Neikrug, piano
The impression we take away from experiencing these tangos is of a complete and indigenous native voice, one whose roots were as innately Buenos Aireian as Tchaikovsky’s were Muscovite. We then learn with amazement that Piazzolla was far from being the homegrown phenomenon that his persona might suggest, but rather a highly cultured musician, a student of the great French pedagogue, Nadia Boulanger (teacher of Aaron Copland and friend of Stravinsky), and a long-time resident of New York City. Piazzolla was a highly cultured composer of instrumental music possessing a secure grasp of musical theory and the practical technique to realize his ideas.
Piazzolla moved to Paris in the 1950's to study with Nadia Boulanger, one of the greatest musical mentors of the twentieth century, and she helped the prolific Argentinean composer and bandoneon player find his unique creative voice by encouraging him to remain true to his roots.
Learn more about Astor Piazzolla at www.piazzolla.org.
Of course there's a piece called Pianazzolla...
BOHUSLAV MARTINU (1890-1959)
Duo No.1 for Violin & Cello (1927)
- Praeludium: Andante moderato
- Rondo: Allegro con brio
Benny Kim, violin; Eric Kim, cello
The 1920s found Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu living in Paris and struggling to make his way as a composer. As a young man he had earned his living by playing violin in the Czech Philharmonic, but in 1923 he resolved to become a composer and moved to Paris, where he studied with Albert Roussel. In the 1920s Paris was the musical center of the planet: among those active in the City of Light at that time were Stravinsky, Ravel, Prokofiev, Diaghilev, Gershwin, and the members of Les Six. It was an era of neo-classicism, jazz, Dadaism, and musical experimentation. Martinu would remain in this heady atmosphere until 1940, when war drove him into exile in America.
The artistic experimentation of that time and place may have been what drew Martinu to compose the Duo for the unusual combination of violin and cello in 1927. The combination of two linear instruments without the harmonic foundation of piano presents special problems for a composer, and duos for violin and cello remain relatively rare. ... His Duo No. 1 is a concise work: its two movements—set in a slow-fast sequence—span only about seven minutes. The Praeludium, marked Andante moderato, may be at a measured tempo, but the music is characterized by unusual intensity, and it drives to a great climax before falling away to the quiet close. By contrast, the Rondo, marked Allegro con brio, is full of energy and drive, with the melodic line leaping rapidly between the two instruments, and it fairly flies to the ebullient conclusion. Technically, this music is extremely difficult, and it was a favorite recital piece of Heifetz and Piatigorsky, who made a brilliant recording in 1964.
When they're not concertizing or playing golf, Eric and Benny Kim can be found in the classroom, mentoring the next generation of young musicians.
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8 (1854, 1889)
- Allegro con brio
Soovin Kim, violin; Peter Stumpf, cello; Shai Wosner, piano
Brahms originally composed his B-Major Piano Trio No. 1 in 1854. Then, 35 years and a change of publishers later, he revised the piece so much that the early and later versions are quite different from one another. After performing the new version in 1890, Brahms wrote to a friend, saying, "Do you still remember the B major trio from our early days, and wouldn't you be curious to hear it now, as I have (instead of placing a wig on it!) taken the hair and combed and ordered it a bit...?" This was quite an understatement. In fact, he had shortened the overall length of the work by a third, substantially rewriting the middle sections of the first, third, and fourth movements. Only the Scherzo remained essentially unchanged from its original version. The final work seamlessly blends the impetuosity and passion of his youth with the technical assurance and architectural mastery of his maturity.
In this unedited excerpt from their conversation, Marc and Kerry discuss the nature of what happens when composers revise their earlier creations. Regarding the Brahms Trio, Marc mentions that Maurice Sendak once said that every good idea he ever had he had before he was twenty. Marc comments that it makes sense to return to one's earlier inspiration, bringing along 35 years of experience you didn't have at that earlier time... But you have to be careful not to overdo it!
The ensemble for this performance of the Brahm's Piano Trio No. 1 included Soovin Kim and Peter Stumpf, both members of the Johannes String Quartet. The Johannes brings together the first American to win the Paganini Violin Competition in 24 years, Soovin Kim; a Concert Artists Guild Competition winner, Jessica Lee; the Principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, C.J. Chang; and the Principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Peter Stumpf. Their collaboration was forged at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, and shaped and mentored by the Guarneri String Quartet whose style was influenced by the Budapest String Quartet decades before. (Read more about the Johannes String Quartet)
More about Shai Wosner