Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Slee Sinfonietta performs seminal 20th century works!

Our September Slee Sinfonietta concert was a great success and enjoyed a huge turnout, and received a very thoughtful write-up in the Buffalo News by Daniel J. Kushner. We’re already gearing up for the second Fall Slee Sinfonieta concert, which will take place on Tuesday, October 30, at 7:30 p.m., in Lippes Concert Hall. Maestro Daniel Bassin will be conducting some of the most seminal works of 20th century chamber music, and will be joined by violinist Yuki Numata, hornist Adam Unsworth, and pianist Eric Huebner.

Daniel Bassin conducting David Rappenecker's Emergence

Morton Feldman - De Kooning
György Ligeti - Trio for horn, violin and piano

--- intermission ---

Pierre Boulez – Notations 8, 3, 9
Karlheinz Stockhausen - Kreuzspiel
Tristan Murail - Vues aeriennes
Witold Lutosławski - Dance Preludes

We sat down with Daniel Bassin and asked him about the program, how the pieces fit together, and if he could give us a sneak preview of the music in store for us: 

“They’re all major works, each and every one on the program, but the biggest work is Ligeti’s Trio for horn, violin, and piano, which Ligeti considered to be the first work of his late period, and which represents the culmination of the musical ideas he had been working with during the late 60s and 70s, and a maturation into a lyrical and autumnal style. On the other hand, there is Stockhausen’s Kreuzspiel, which Stockhausen said he considered to be his first true composition – he felt that this was his first work that wasn’t a study or copying someone else’s style, but was a true composition of his own. And we added to the program three of Boulez’s twelve Notations, for piano, written when Boulez was only 20 years old, but which present a nice context for hearing the Stockhausen, in terms of the composers’ treatment of the piano, and the techniques they employed related to total serialism. Bookending the concert are pieces by Feldman and Lutoslawski, both of whom are experiencing something of an anniversary – 2012 being the 25th anniversary of Feldman’s passing, and 2013 will be the 100th anniversary of Lutoslawski’s birth.*

“Morton Feldman’s De Kooning is a piece of chamber music with the unique instrumental combination of muted french horn, violin, cello, percussion (crotales, vibraphone, chimes, tenor drum, and bass drum), and piano/celeste. It was originally written to accompany a film on Feldman’s friend, the 20th century painter Willem de Kooning, created by German-American director Hans Namuth. Feldman once remarked of de Kooning’s work, that at first impression it seemed as if his canvases were painted quickly, but when watching de Kooning paint, he saw that he was painstakingly deliberate and slow, and I think the piece, in a way, mimics de Kooning's process. In Feldman’s composition, the individual instrumental tones succeed one another without regard to metric pulse, but rather with a cryptic instruction from the composer that each sound only begin when the preceding one starts to fade away. 

“The concert closes with the third version of Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski’s Dance Preludes.  The piece was originally written for clarinet and piano, and was derived from Polish folk dances and melodies. In an intervening version, Lutoslawski developed the work into a concertante version featuring the clarinet as soloist, however, in this final version composed for the group Czech Nonet, the composer treats the four string players and members of the woodwind quintet equally, while creating chamber orchestral textures which point forward to his more mature symphonic work.While the works in the program by Stockhausen, Boulez, and Ligeti each mark important turning points in those composer’s compositional output, it is with this final arrangement of the Dance Preludes that Lutoslawski made the artistic decision to abandon the folk arrangements and transcriptions that he had previously been compelled to write as a Soviet-era composer.

“The concert will also feature the composition Vues Aeriennes, by a Darmstadt composer from a later generation, Tristan Murail. In this work, the composer seeks to depict an object – in reality a set of musical processes – in four different qualities of light. Murail breaks it down into four movements: 1. morning light (clear light, very obtuse angles, maximum distortion), 2. light in the rain (soft-focus effect, softer angles, slighter distortion), 3. midday light (brilliant light, frontal view, no distortion), and 4. evening light (warm light, long shadows, heavy distortion). The horn player, throughout the four movements, travels an arc across the stage – he begins off stage to the right, in the second movement plays from stage right, in the third movement plays from center stage, and finally concludes the work off stage left.”

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Slee Sinfonietta
Tuesday, October 30, 2012, 7:30 pm
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall
Daniel Bassin, conductor
Yuki Numata, violin
Adam Unsworth, horn
Eric Huebner, piano

Ticket information can be found here

 * Note: Daniel Bassin will be presenting two other concerts associated with the Lutoslawski centennial: on Tuesday, February 2nd, at a Brown Bag concert in Slee Hall featuring chamber music from across Lutoslawski’s compositional career, and on Friday, March 1st, when TJ Borden will give the Buffalo premeire of Lutoslawski’s 1970 cello concerto with the UBSO.

Link to this post here.

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