Sunday, November 11, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
Old Capitol Museum Senate Chamber (map)
Guest Violinist Wolfgang David
David Gompper, piano
|Rhapsody No. 1 (1928)
|Spring of Chosroes (1977)||Morton FELDMAN|
|Tristia: Six lyric pieces for violin and piano (2006-07)
I. Appassionato – with élan
II. Semplice; feroce
IV. Presto; still
VI. Andante lugubre – alla barcarolla
|Jeremy Dale ROBERTS|
|— Intermission —|
|Three Irish Fiddle Tunes
Finnegan's Wake (1997)
Music in the Glen (2004)
Star of the County Down (2005)
Wolfgang David and David Gompper met in 2000, when Wolfgang was on a concert tour of the US. They began to work together as a performer and composer, which resulted in eleven works composed by David Gompper especially written for Wolfgang David, including a Violin Concerto, recently performed by Wolfgang and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and recorded for the NAXOS label. As Laurence Vittes of Gramophone writes, "their working relationship is as close and meaningful as Brahms had with Joachim." In 2002 both musicians were invited to perform together as a violin & piano duo in Moscow. Encouraged by this success, they have since presented over 100 concerts, touring throughout the United States and a number of countries in Europe. While their repertoire includes traditional works for this instrumentation, the main focus is a combination of late romantic, standard 20th century and contemporary compositions written especially for them. Three CDs of the duo are available: two on Albany and one on VDE-Gallo.
He has been well received by the press — the Washington Post wrote that he "scaled the heights of musicmaking" and The Strad described his playing "as emotionally wide-ranging as one could hope for".
Admitted to the University for Music in Vienna at the age of eight, David studied there for many years with Rainer Küchl, the concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Later he continued his studies at the Musikhochschule in Cologne with Igor Ozim and with Yfrah Neaman at the Guildhall School of Music in London.
The winner of many competitions and prizes, David has performed in major halls such as Konzerthaus and Musikverein Hall in Vienna, Carnegie Hall in New York, Cerritos Center in Los Angeles, the Wigmore Hall in London, Victoria Hall in Geneva, and Philharmonie in Cologne.
Highlights of his career included concerts at the Great Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York in the presence of Secretary General Kofi Annan, and a concert in Bangkok, given for the Queen of Thailand.
Besides focusing on the traditional main repertoire, Wolfgang David also enjoys collaborating with a number of living composers, such as David Gompper, Noel Zahler, Ching-chu Hu, Joseph Dangerfield, Rainer Bischof, Jeremy Dale Roberts, John Allemeier, etc. He has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works specially written for him.
Wolfgang David performs on a violin built in 1715 by Carlo Bergonzi, Cremona, on exclusive loan to him from the Austrian National Bank.
Wolfgang David has recorded a CD with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Emmanuel Siffert and three albums with the American pianist David Gompper. Another CD with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was released on the NAXOS label in April 2011.
Gompper's compositions have been performed in such venues as Carnegie and Merkin Halls (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), Konzerthaus (Vienna) and the Bolshoi Hall (Moscow). Wolfgang David and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recently recorded his Violin Concerto for a Naxos CD. His song cycle The Animals, based on the poetry of Marvin Bell, was released on an Albany disc last June. Currently he is working on a Double Concerto that will be complete for a March 2013 premiere.
Rhapsody No. 1
First Rhapsody was composed in 1928, and may well have been dedicated by Bartók to a fellow Hungarian and kindred spirit: the violinist Joseph Szigeti (1892 – 1973); at any rate the two musicians are known to have performed the work together on several occasions, and at least one such performance is preserved—a 1940 Library of Congress recording (Vanguard Classics OVC 8008). First Rhapsody comprises two movements labeled „lassú” and „friss,” "slow" and "fast" respectively. The "Moderato" tempo indication of the opening movement must be contextualized, for this highly stylized version of a gypsy tune captures the essence of the genre from its outset. The two measures of piano introduction imitate the droning of peasant instruments laying down the beat, here in a persistent and marked left-right, left-right oppositional pattern which continues as the violin enters. That entry, and much of the melodic material of „lassú” is based on what has come to be known as "the acoustic scale," wherein characteristic aspects of two modes are conjoined: the raised fourth of the lydian (a half-step from scale degree 5), and the lowered seventh of the mixolydian (a whole step below scale degree 1). At issue here is a means of formalizing—in a notational sense—what is very much a performance practice, namely the distinctive note bending endemic to certain Hungarian folk idioms. Only the briefest of breaks is to occur between the first and second movements (Bartók's indication is "poi attacca"), and yet „lassú” and „friss,” are quite noticeably different from one another in virtually every musical parameter. Bartók retains an inner pitch (the pitch "B") from the final chord of the opening movement and treats it essentially as a point around which everything will pivot for the turn to „friss.” The piano introduction to the later movement effects a change in mood, and when the violin enters (a scant four measures after the piano) „lassú” has already become a distant memory. The form of the second movement is much looser than that of the first, resembling something of an A – B – C – A' design (with C carrying an improvisatory flavor). The principal folk tune of the opening is cast in an imaginative setting which increases in terms of its complexity as the A section proceeds. This is classic Bartók, wherein neither source material nor compositional integrity in its reworking are compromised. In other words, Bartók is equally committed to the preservation of a rich heritage and to his own creative engagement with that heritage; the old lives on in the new, and is not usurped by it. A related tune enters in the B section, and the build in its intensity matches that of the A section. The alternate pulling at and pushing of the tempo aligns with changes of register: the violin moves from one pitch zone to the next while rhythmic activity increases in the drive to the climax of the section. The highly improvisatory feel to the ensuing section (section C) is the result of its episodic nature. In a metaphorical sense, it is as though numerous participants in a free round of music-making each take their turn at outdoing one another in an orgiastic display of musical acumen. Everything builds toward a highly agitated state, where the return of the opening section—in what is a highly transformed adaptation of the initial A material—seems the only possible means out of the fray. This version of A, however, combines aspects of all that has gone on since the opening of „friss,” and hence serves as a fitting conclusion to the rhapsodic work.
Béla Bartók (1881-1945). The esteem in which Bartók is held today masks the fact that compositional success was rather slow in the coming. While always interested in composing, Bartók was originally on a path toward a career as a concert pianist. Early compositional works reflect his knowledge of the Germanic canon of the Classical and Romantic eras—from which spawned an enduring concern for formal design. Added to the early influences was a commitment to Hungarian traditions perhaps initially sponsored by a quasi-rebellious stance against the long arm of the Hapsburg regime. Regardless, Bartók's pioneering work in folk idioms did not come ready made, but rather reflects a lifelong commitment the various traditions of his native land. The manner in which he blended folk and highbrow traditions, however, represents a critical facet of his lasting legacy.
Spring of Chosroes
commissioned by the McKim Fund of the Library of Congress—is dedicated to the American violinist Paul Zukofsky. According to legend, during the reign of the Sassanid prince Chosroes I (531—579 A.D), "a marvelous carpet representing a garden was woven. The garden carpet was sixty yards square and made of the finest materials…[and represented] streams and paths, trees and beautiful spring flowers". Spring of Chosroes projects a barren sonic landscape; and in the process of giving oneself over to the experience of the piece, a hypnotic effect takes hold. One of the means by which the hypnosis is controlled centers about the inclusion of pitch events at the upper extremes of what is possible for either the violin, or the piano. In its careful control of the dialogue between the two instruments, Spring of Chosroes, is programmatic, sonically projecting the rich tapestry of Chosroes's sumptuous carpet.
Morton Feldman (1926-1987) was a close friend of John Cage, and together they influenced generations of American composers from the 1950s onward. Feldman was critically concerned with the dimensions of his compositions, and believed that heightened degrees of concentration were required to take in works that often last longer than an hour and a half—works that for him had become evolving entities.
Tristia, 6 lyric pieces for violin and piano
this sequence of short movements has inscribed on its title page two fragments from the Tristia (1917-20) of Osip Mandelstam:
'We shall die in transparent Petropolis,
Where Prosperina rules over us…'
'…And on my lips the black ice burns,
The recollection of Stygian bells.'
They reflect my enduring attraction to the poets of the Russian 'Silver Age': Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Mandelstam – the brilliant but doomed generation, whose world was evoked and given its memorial in the 'Poem without a Hero' of Akhmatova. Like Mandelstam's collection, my work is loosely bound together by recurrent themes and images, dominated by the master image of St. Petersburg.
Jeremy Dale Roberts (b. 1934, Gloucestershire, England), who recently retired as Head of Composition at the Royal College of Music, London, was a Visiting Professor of Composition at the University of Iowa for the 1999-2000 academic year.
He studied with William Alwyn and Priaulx Rainier at the Royal Academy of Music, London. His compositions have been performed worldwide at the Edinburgh and Aldeburgh Festivals, the Venice Biennale, the Diorama de Geneve, and the festivals of Avignon and Paris.
They include the cello concerto Deathwatch, written for Rohan de Saram; Tombeau for Stephen Kovacevich; Croquis for string trio, written for members of the Arditti Quartet (BBC commission); In the Same Space, nine poems of Constantin Cavafy, written for Stephen Varcoe; Lines of Life, lyric episodes for ensemble, written for Lontano (BBC commission); and Casidas y Sonetos — del amor oscuro, for solo guitar (Arts Council commission) for Charles Ramierez.
Recent commissions include Hamadryad for alto flute, viola and guitar; Stelae, a work for gamelan; and Nightpiece for soprano and two bass viols.
Three Irish Fiddle Tunes
Finnegan's Wake is based on two Irish fiddle tunes, The Green Groves of Erin and The Flowers of Red Hill, and made popular by the Bothy Band, and more recently, the string trio of Edgar Meyer, Mark O'Connor and Yo-Yo Ma. While its four-sectioned, one movement form presents Irish-Appalachia-Texas fiddle music embedded within the context of art music, my intention was to transform the music as feet-stomping dance music through a labyrinth of rhythmic manipulations into a series of playful excursions for both instruments.
Music in the Glen draws upon portions of an Irish fiddle reel of the same name and the opening gesture of Pierre Boulez's Sur Incises, thus reflecting Gompper's interest in combining abstract tonal relationships (here derived from the Boulez) and music that is familiar (the reel). A slow introduction gives over to the two principal sections of the piece; the work is rounded off by a coda.
Star of the County Down is a fantasia, a genre that has a rich heritage of its own. The principal melody is present virtually from the initial to the final measures, and the rhythmic vamping and contrapuntal interplay between violin and piano in the opening strain is but a harbinger of things to come. The two instruments continually trade off portions of the melody and do so in a manner reminiscent of protracted figure/ground exchanges.
David Gompper (b. 1954) has lived and worked professionally as a pianist, a conductor, and a composer in New York, San Diego, London, Nigeria, Michigan, Texas and Iowa. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Jeremy Dale Roberts, Humphrey Searle and Phyllis Sellick. After teaching in Nigeria, he received his doctorate at the University of Michigan, taught at the University of Texas, Arlington, and since 1991 has been Professor of Composition and Director of the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa. In 2002 - 2003 Gompper was in Russia as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching, performing and conducting at the Moscow Conservatory. In 2009 he received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City.
Gompper's compositions have been performed in such venues as Carnegie and Merkin Halls (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), Konzerthaus (Vienna) and the Bolshoi Hall (Moscow). Wolfgang David and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recently recorded his Violin Concerto for a Naxos CD. His song cycle The Animals, based on the poetry of Marvin Bell, will be released on an Albany disc. Currently he is working on a Double Concerto that will be premiered February 2012.