Performing this Week
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival
Summer 2010 — Week 9
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."
The eighth in our thirteen radio concerts from Santa Fe started with pianist Anne Marie McDermott and a much loved keyboard gem by Felix Mendelssohn, "Spring Song," from his cycle, Songs Without Words. You'll find her performance below, and if you don't think you know it already, you'll likely recognize the beautiful tune from about a thousand different Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons.
After that, Ida Kavafian joined Anne Marie McDermott for a performance of Stravinsky's Divertimento for Violin & Piano. Lastly, Liang Wang, Ricardo Morales, Milan Turkovic, and Philip Myers teamed up with pianist Inon Barnatan to play music that made Mozart proud to have been its creator, the Quintet for Piano & Winds in E-flat Major, K. 452.
The nationally syndicated series can be heard April through June, 2010. WFMT broadcasts the shows to the Chicago broadcast area Sunday mornings at 11am on 98.7FM. And of course, there's also free, live streaming at wfmt.com anywhere there's Internet.
Scroll below to hear and see a few different versions of "Spring Song;" to find out a little more about Ida Rubinstein, the woman who commissioned Stravinsky's Divertimento, and about Stravinsky's relationship to Santa Fe; and to hear what Liang Wang likes to cook for dinner.
Please enjoy these items rescued from the "cutting room floor," and the other things found along the way to creating the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival radio series.
Thanks for stopping by,
FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
"Spring Song", Op. 62, No. 6 in A Major (1844)
Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
"Music begins where words end."
"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..."
Felix Mendelssohn first referred to a "lied ohne worte" in a letter to his sister Fanny Mendelssohn in 1828. But when the first set of these piano pieces was published in London it was given the title Original Melodies for the Pianoforte. Eventually, the name that stuck to these works was the one Mendelssohn had thought of in the first place, and many more sets of Songs Without Words were to follow. Composed in 1844, "Spring Song" ranks among the best known melodies from this cycle.
IGOR STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Divertimento for Violin & Piano (1932)
- Danses suisses
- Pas de deux: Adagio, Variation, Coda
Ida Kavafian, violin; Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
Stravinsky's Divertimento came out of the ballet The Fairies Kiss, and a 1928 commission from dancer, patron, and Belle Epoque icon Ida Rubinstein to write a score based on music by Tchaikovsky. Like Bach, Stravinsky often rearranged his own pieces for different instrumentations and specific players. In this case, his friend, violinist Samuel Dushkin, worked with him on the violin part.
It was in 1885 that Ida Rubinstein was born into a wealthy Jewish family in St. Petersburg, Russia. As a performer, she is said to have had tremendous stage presence. As an arts patron she often commissioned works that suited her abilities, and that mixed dance with drama and stagecraft.
In this excerpt from Louise Frank's conversation with violinist Ida Kavafian, Ida talks about Stravinsky's relationship with friend and muse, Samuel Dushkin, for whom the composer created a violin concerto.
Back in 1957 there were few opportunities for young American singers to prepare for careers on the stage during the summer. And so it was that the young impresario John Crosby launched the Santa Fe Opera, envisioning an opera company and training ground whose repertory would include not just well-known operas, but new and unusual works as well. Seven operas were given that first summer, including the Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky. Mr. Stravinsky, then perhaps the most famous composer in the world, came to Santa Fe to oversee the production. He was so thrilled with the results and with this audacious young company that he made Santa Fe his home for the next six summers. Later he said that the Santa Fe years were among the happiest of his life. His made-for-TV oratorio, The Flood, had its American premiere on the stage of the St. Francis Auditorium in 1962.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)
Quintet for Piano & Winds in E-flat Major, K. 452 (1784)
- Largo, Allegro moderato
- Rondo: Allegretto
Liang Wang, oboe; Ricardo Morales, clarinet; Milan Turkovic, bassoon; Philip Myers, horn; Inon Barnatan, piano
Mozart wrote his Piano and Wind Quintet in E-flat major, K. 452 in 1784, when he was 28 years old. At that time his career and, indeed, his life were in full bloom, and he was as happy and wealthy as he would ever be. His next successful opera — Figaro — and his next great symphony — the 38th — were still at least two years off, and he had turned instead in this period to the piano concerto.
In 1784 alone, he wrote six of these and in 1785 three more. His four horn concertos were also products of this period. In the midst of all this large scale writing, he crafted this quintet, and — upon performing in it himself on April Fool's Day — he pronounced it "...the best thing I have so far written in my life" in a letter to his father Leopold.