Performing this Week

Todd Levy
Todd Levy

Marc Neikrug
Marc Neikrug

Daniel Phillips
Daniel Phillips

Steven Tenenbom
Steven Tenenbom

Timothy Eddy
Timothy Eddy

WFMT Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Summer 2011 — Program 13

Welcome to the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival radio series production blog, home of program out takes, artist commentary, and other related tangents we like to call "web extras."

The intuitive way musicians communicate with each other is one of the ingredients that enrich their performances, and in turn, enhance our enjoyment of the music they make. In the final program of our 2011 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival radio series, pianist Marc Neikrug and clarinetist Todd Levy performed Robert Schumann's Phantasiestücke for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 73. They also sat down in the WFMT performance studio to play excerpts from the work, and to talk about the process of collaboration.

After the Schumann, the Orion String Quartet played Bedřich Smetana's autobiographical String Quartet in E Minor, “From My Life.” This is the piece Smetana wrote as his internal life gave way to the travails brought on by tinnitus, a chronic ringing in the ears.

My father also suffered from tinnitus and as an amateur poet shared his thoughts in some simple verses. Those poems, Marc and Todd's unedited conversation, and excerpt from Kerry Frumkin's conversation with Marc about the music on this program are among the things you can explore below.

I hope you enjoy perusing the variety of things found along the way to creating this broadcast radio from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Thanks for stopping by,
Louise Frank
Series Producer

Robert Schumann, Wien 1839. Lithographie by Joseph Kriehuber.

Robert Schumann, Wien 1839. Lithographie by Joseph Kriehuber. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

ROBERT SCHUMANN

Phantasiestücke for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 73 (1849)

  • Todd Levy, clarinet
  • Marc Neikrug, piano

 

Kerry Frumkin asks Marc Neikrug why some people tend to think less of Schumann's shorter works. Marc is a great advocate of these Fantasy Pieces.

 

Kerry and Marc discuss Schumann's Fantasy Pieces, agreeing that, in these works, "he just lets his imagination go."

 

When Kerry asks Marc about performing Phantasiestücke for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 73, Marc replies that the musicians playing together must understand each other without explanation.

 

Performing Schumann's Phantasiestücke for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 73 requires the same spontaneity and imagination with which Schumann wrote the music, and that can require the players to understand each other without a lot of verbal explanation. So if you've ever wondered how it is that two great musicians can do that, we invited clarinetist Todd Levy to WFMT's studios where he and Marc Neikrug sat down to play parts of the work, and to talk about how it is they collaborate musically. Turns out, it's a matter of listening, breathing, multi-tasking, and intuition.

Todd Levy and Marc Neikrug on performing Schumann's Phantasiestücke for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 73 (Part 1 of 5)

Todd Levy and Marc Neikrug on performing Schumann's Phantasiestücke for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 73 (Part 2 of 5)

Todd Levy and Marc Neikrug on performing Schumann's Phantasiestücke for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 73 (Part 3 of 5)

Todd Levy and Marc Neikrug on performing Schumann's Phantasiestücke for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 73 (Part 4 of 5)

Todd Levy and Marc Neikrug on performing Schumann's Phantasiestücke for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 73 (Part 5 of 5)

 

Reading Robert Schumann's letters is a great way to learn more about his life and his music. You can find a compilation of his correspondence online at OpenLibrary.org.

 

Cover of Leonard Bernstein's Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

Publishing house Boosey & Hawkes recently asked Todd Levy to edit a revised edition of Leonard Bernstein's first published work, the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano he composed in 1941-42. Todd visited the Library of Congress and investigated Bernstein's pencil manuscripts of the clarinet and piano score, and also the separate clarinet part. The result is a fresh look at one of the most important and beloved of twentieth century clarinet repertoire.

 

Shortly after Todd Levy's new edition of the Bernstein Clarinet Sonata was published by Boosey and Hawkes he told Louise Frank about the project.

Todd Levy on the Bernstein Clarinet Sonata. (Part 1 of 2)

Todd Levy on the Bernstein Clarinet Sonata. (Part 2 of 2)

 

Portrait of Bedřich Smetana

Portrait of Bedřich Smetana (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

BEDŘICH SMETANA

String Quartet in E Minor, T. 116, "From My Life" (1876)

  • Orion String Quartet:
    • Todd Phillips, violin
    • Daniel Phillips, violin
    • Steven Tenenbom, viola
    • Timothy Eddy, cello

 

Josef Wagner sculpture of Smetana

Czech sculptor Josef Wagner cast this life size, bronze portrait of Bedrich Smetana in 1930 or so.

Marc Neikrug talks about Smetana's autobiographical E Minor quartet, a piece that stands on its own musically while conveying Smetana's decent into tinnitus and mental illness.

 

Marc and Kerry understand that this is a very draining piece to play, given that "it is about a person that basically disintegrates into deafness and mental calamity."

 

The last page of the autograph score of Smetana's first string quartet

The last page of the autograph score of Smetana's first string quartet.

tinnitus (defintion): ringing or buzzing in the ears

My father, Gerald B. Frank, suffered from tinnitus, the same affliction Smetana expresses in "From My Life." He also fancied himself an amateur poet, and devoted much of his spare time to crafting verses about his life. Here are a few from his series about living with tinnitus.

Tinnitus Z
By Gerald B. Frank

The constant hiss of Tinnitus
is growing more and more,
Its getting louder worries me -
I wonder what’s in store?
I wake and hear my Tinnitus,
the hissing in my ears,
I walk and hear that Tinnitus
exacerbating fears!
Please, tell me what is Tinnitus,
and tell me, please, why me?
And tell me what I have to do
to be of Tinnitus free?

 

Tinnitus O
By Gerald B. Frank

The bells are ringing in my ears
As they’ve been ringing all these years,
And as I listen to their peel,
I wonder if they’re really real?
The bells are ringing in my ears -
Unreally real for all these years!

 

Tinnitus A
By Gerald B. Frank

The hissing in my ear goes on
Like an operatic song,
One by Verdi, not Bellini,
Led by Solti, not, Guilini,
Sung and played in monotone
On my ear-drum gramophone!