Performing this Week

David Shifrin
David Shifrin

Anne-Marie McDermott
Anne-Marie McDermott

Opus One
Opus One

WFMT Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Summer 2011 — Program 5

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."

Week 5 of our concert broadcasts from Santa Fe featured music by two extraordinary, prolific, European composers who lived a brief century apart. One reigns as one of most popular of all composers while the other remains relatively unknown despite the depth and scope of his work. Members of the piano quartet OPUS ONE played Robert Schumann's 1842 Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47, and clarinetist David Schifrin and pianist Anne Marie McDermott performed the Sonata for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 28 that Mieczysław Weinberg composed in 1945.

His friend and champion, Dmitri Shostakovich, regarded Weinberg as one of the greatest Russian composers ever, and he may also have been one of the luckiest of his era in that he managed to stay one step ahead of the Nazis. He was born in a Warsaw ghetto in 1919. By age 12 he had already made his debut as a pianist and enrolled at the Warsaw Conservatory. Arrangements were made for him to study in the United States, but the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 forced Weinberg, who was Jewish, to flee to the Soviet Union. Shostakovich helped his move to Moscow in 1943, and he remained there until his death in 1996. Although - or perhaps because - Weinberg survived the second world war and the siege of Stalin, his abundant oeuvre of more than 150 works never received the recognition they might have under better circumstances.

Louise Frank
Series Producer

PS - These nationally syndicated radio concerts of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival can be heard in the Chicago area Saturdays at 5pm, from April through June 2011, on 98.7 WFMT. You can also listen anywhere there's Internet. WFMT provides free, live streaming at wfmt.com and via a free, downloadable app for your iPhone.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg

Mieczyslaw Weinberg

MIECZYSŁAV WEINBERG

Sonata for Clarinet & Piano, Op. 28 (1945)

  • David Shifrin, clarinet
  • Anne-Marie McDermott, piano

 

Is Mieczyslaw Weinberg the greatest composer we've never heard of? Marc Neikrug believes "this music is of a quality that will find its rightful place as great, great music."

 

Kerry declares to Marc, "We have to tell the story of Mieczyslaw Weinberg because he's probably one of the great unknown composers of all time." In this clip they discuss Weinberg's "shadow existence," and how the Polish-born composer survived the Nazi's by escaping to Russia, became friends with Shostakovich, and composed prolifically in relative obscurity.

 

Marc tells Kerry how he knew of Weinberg's Clarinet Sonata. They also talk about how the work is imbued with the sound of Klezmer, the early 20th century music that originated in the Eastern European Jewish ghettos. "A lot of improvisation… a lot of minor thirds…" quips Marc.

 


Here is a rendition of Weinberg's Opus 28 Clarinet Sonata transcribed for viola.

 

Want to learn more about Mieczyslav Weinberg?

The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto has championed Weinberg's music, and they have issued a recording entitled On the Threshold of Hope: Mieczyslaw Weinberg Chamber Music.

Simon Wynberg, the classical guitarist who presides over the ARC Ensemble at the Royal Conservatory wrote a very comprehensive article about Mieczyslav Weinberg (no relation). You can read it online at the Orel Foundation.

The Orel Foundation reports that a much-anticipated biography of Weinberg will be published by Toccata Press in 2011. The work, begun by the late Per Skans is being completed by Prof. David Fanning and Michelle Assay.

Anton V. Uzunov believes that Mieczyslaw Weinberg is one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. Uzunov's website provides resources about the composer, including information about his life and work, and recordings of his music. His ambition is to provide listeners the opportunity to hear the immense power and originality of Weinberg's music.

Robert Schumann, Wien 1839. Lithographie by Joseph Kriehuber.

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

ROBERT SCHUMANN

Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47 (1842)

  • Opus One:
    • Ida Kavafian, violin
    • Steven Tenenbom, viola
    • Peter Wiley, cello
    • Anne-Marie McDermott, piano

 

"The quartet is a wonder of clarity and concision with traits that seem to reflect Schumann’s mode of production: it is a concentrated and highly integrated composition that manages to naturally incorporate all the key features of Classical chamber music. Melody, counterpoint, motivic development, heart-felt song, quicksilver scherzo, and even fugue come together for a rich composite that pays tribute to Schumann’s ardent study of the masters: Haydn, Mozart and especially Beethoven."

- Kai Christiansen, earsense.org

 

"This is a very big, serious, multi-faceted, beautiful and always interesting piece" states Marc of Schumann's only piano quartet.

 

"This piece has so many beautiful melodies which communicate in a very direct way," observes Kerry.

 

More about some of the artists on this program...

In addition to being in frequent demand as soloists and chamber musicians, three of the musicians on this program serve as artistic directors of popular summer music festivals. David Shifrin leads Chamber Music Northwest. Anne-Marie McDermott oversees the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Ida Kavafian is a co-founder of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and has been the artistic director of Music From Angel Fire since it began 28 seasons ago.

Vizsla puppies dancing for dinner from Opus One Vizslas

OPUS ONE the piano quartet was named after OPUS ONE the dog kennel where Ida Kavafian and Steve Tenenbom raise championship Hungarian Vizslas. (That's Ida's voice at the beginning, and Steve's at the end.)