Zuill Bailey, cello
Robert Koenig, piano

Saturday, August 24, 2013, 6:30 pm

“Ben and Slava: the Britten/Rostropovich Connection”

program

Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano (ca. 1730)
Henry Eccles (ca. 1680–ca. 1740)

Largo
Courante: Allegro con spirito
Adagio
Vivace

Sonata in C Major for Cello and Piano, Op. 65 (1961) Benjamin Britten (1913–1976)

Dialogo
Scherzo — Pizzicato
Elegia
Marcia
Moto perpetuo

intermission

Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A Minor, D. 821 (1824)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Allegro moderato
Adagio
Allegretto

Capriccio for cello and piano (1948)
Lukas Foss (1922-2009)

 

Yamaha is the Official Piano of Maverick Concerts.
The C7 grand piano in the Maverick Concert Hall is a generous loan from Yamaha Artists Services.

 

tomorrow

Sunday, August 25, 4 pm
Ensō String Quartet

Music of Mozart, Britten, and Verdi

next week

Saturday, August 31, 4 pm

Annual Concert for the Friends of Maverick
Pedja Muzijevic,
piano
Chopin, complete Preludes, Op. 28; Haydn, Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI:50

Saturday, August 31, 8:30 pm

Marc Black, vocals and guitar,
and Warren Bernhardt,
keyboard

Sunday, September 1, 4 pm

Daedalus String Quartet with Rufus Müller, tenor
Music of Schubert and Smetana, and Britten's Winter Words for tenor and string quartet

 


LOGO
Program Notes © 2013 by Miriam Villchur Berg*

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Zuill Bailey is widely considered one of the premier cellists in the world. His rare combination of celebrated artistry, technical wizardry, and engaging personality has secured his place as one of the most sought after and active cellists today. Mr. Bailey has been featured with the symphony orchestras of major cities around the United States. He has collaborated with such conductors as Itzhak Perlman and James DePriest, and has been featured with musical luminaries Leon Fleisher, Jaime Laredo, the Juilliard String Quartet, Lynn Harrell, and Janos Starker.

Mr. Bailey has appeared at most of the major venues in this country and overseas. He performed with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra during their fiftieth anniversary tour. Festival appearances have included Ravinia, Interlochen, and major festivals throughout the United States and Europe.

Zuill Bailey was awarded the Classical Recording Foundation Award for 2006 and 2007 for a two-disc set of Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano. Kalmus Music Masters is releasing a series of Zuill Bailey Performance Editions, which will encompass the core repertoire of cello literature.

Bailey had a recurring role on the HBO series Oz, and appeared on NBC’s Homicide, A&E, NHK TV in Japan, and a performance in Tel Aviv with Itzhak Perlman conducting the Israel Philharmonic. He has also been heard on many NPR radio programs.

Mr. Bailey received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and the Juilliard School. He performs on a 1693 Matteo Gofriller cello formerly owned by Mischa Schneider of the Budapest String Quartet. He is the artistic director of El Paso Pro Musica (Texas), artistic director of the Sitka Summer Music Festival and Series (Alaska), and professor of cello at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Pianist Robert Koenig has established a reputation as a much sought-after collaborative pianist and chamber musician. Recent engagements have included performances at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Louvre Museum in Paris. He has performed with Sarah Chang, Hilary Hahn, Pamela Frank, Roberto Diaz, Elmar Oliveira, and Aaron Rosand.

Mr. Koenig has appeared at many festivals including Aspen, Ravinia, Banff, and others. He is frequently heard on radio and television, including ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS This Morning. Mr. Koenig was staff pianist at both The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music, and from 2000-2007 he served as professor of piano and piano chamber music at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. With the assistance of the University of Kansas Center for Research, Mr. Koenig commissioned Lowell Liebermann to write a new trio for flute, cello and piano. He is professor and head of the collaborative piano program at the University of California in Santa Barbara.

Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Mr. Koenig studied at the Vancouver Academy of Music, the Banff School of Fine Arts, and the Accademia Musicale di Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accompanying at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

 


 


 


ABOUT THE MUSIC

Little is known about British Baroque composer Henry Eccles. Some sources place him in the court of William and Mary (1689–1701) and their successor Queen Anne (1701–1714), and others say he then moved to Paris and became a member of the band of Louis XIV. None of these claims can be verified, since his name does not appear in those monarchs' lists of musicians. We do know that he published two books of sonatas in France, in 1720 and 1723, but that some of the movements were “borrowed” from an Italian composer of the time. Nevertheless, we have him to thank for the well-known Sonata in G Minor, originally for viola da gamba and continuo, now found in arrangement for nearly every stringed instrument with piano accompaniment. The slow first and third movements (Largo and Adagio) offer mellifluous songs, while the fast second and fourth movements (Courante and Vivace) provide lively and exciting dances.

Benjamin Britten had admired the music of Dmitri Shostakovich since his student days. He attended the premiere of Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto, and met both the composer and the cellist, Mstislav “Slava” Rostropovich. Ben and Slava struck up a friendship immediately, despite the fact that neither spoke a word of the other’s language. Each spoke halting German, and that, combined with their mutual admiration, was enough for a deep and lasting connection. They invented their own language, which they dubbed “Aldeburgh-Deutsch.” Britten also became good friends with Rostropovich’s wife, the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, and later wrote settings of Pushkin poems for her to sing. The Rostropoviches spent the Christmas of 1965 with Britten and Peter Pears at their home near Aldeburgh.

The Sonata in C for Cello and Piano, Op. 65 was premiered by Rostropovich, with Britten at the piano, at the Aldeburgh festival of 1961. Britten wrote this analysis of the Sonata:Dialogo (Allegro): This movement is throughout the discussion of a tiny motive of a rising or falling second. The motive is lengthened to make a lyrical second subject which rises towards and falls from a pianissimo harmonic. Scherzo–pizzicato (Allegretto): A study in pizzicato, sometimes almost guitar-like in its elaborate right-hand technique. Elegia (Lento): Against a sombre piano background, the cello sings a long tune. This tune is developed, by means of double, triple, and quadruple stopping, to a big climax, and sinks away to a soft conclusion. A brief Marcia (Energico): The cello plays a rumbustious bass to the jerky tune in the piano. The trio has horn-like calls over a repeated triplet bass. The march returns very softly, with the bass (now in the treble) in harmonics. Moto perpetuo (Poco presto): The 6/8 saltando theme dominates the entire movement, frequently changing its character, now low and grumbling, now gay and carefree.”

Schubert wrote the Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A Minor at the request of an acquaintance who was an enthusiast for this new instrument. The arpeggione, invented by the prominent luthier Johann Georg Stauffer (1778-1853), was essentially an enlarged guitar, held between the legs like a viola da gamba and played with a bow. It was tuned like a guitar, and its six strings gave it a greater range of pitches within one fingering placement on the fretboard. The instrument never caught on, however, and was virtually extinct within ten years of its invention.

The two main themes of the opening Allegro moderato offer a contrast between a sad, flowing melody and a lively dance. The tunes may be familiar even to those who have not heard of the Arpeggione Sonata. Despite the instrument’s demise, these melodies, like so many of Schubert’s tunes, have endured, and this piece has been transcribed for instruments as far afield as flute, clarinet, and euphonium as well as cello and double bass.

In the slow central movement (Adagio), the cello sings an air that is reminiscent of Schubert’s lieder (art songs) while the piano provides a gentle accompaniment. One important difference between this piece and a vocal work is the much greater range of the stringed instrument, which can reach the treble, the bass, and everything in between. The movement ends with a cello cadenza that leads directly into the finale.

The last movement (Allegretto) is once again filled with an abundance of tunes in a variety of moods, from wistful to sprightly. For the first time, the piano gets its moment to shine, as the cello provides pizzicato (plucked) accompaniment. The piece ends with a flourish that takes the cello to its highest ranges and then to a low chord—the specialty of the arpeggione.

Lukas Foss was born in Berlin, but moved with his family to Paris at age eleven and to the United States at age fifteen. He acknowledged the strong influence of American musical style, and became one of the composers that put American music on the world map. Foss was the youngest composer ever to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. He studied conducting with Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood, and went on to become a world-renowned conductor of major orchestras (including those in Brooklyn, Buffalo, Milwaukee, and Jerusalem). He was a lifelong friend of Leonard Bernstein—each premiered major works by the other. Foss was the composer-in-residence at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1987.

In the later part of his career, Foss created works using what he called “system and chance music,” based on controlled group improvisation. He also experimented with surrealism, serialism, and minimalism, finally returning to neoclassicism but with avant-garde techniques. He was known for his musical wit (spelling out J. S. Bach in Morse code on the xylophone, ending an ominous percussion countdown with a toy popgun, etc.). The Capriccio for cello and piano dates from his earlier neoclassical period. It was written while Foss was the pianist for the Boston Symphony under Koussevitsky and premiered by Foss and Gregor Piatigorsky at Tanglewood in 1948.

An opening jaunty theme displays the American, Western, and Copland influences. The theme is broken up and developed by both instruments in playful dialogue, changing in texture and tempo, but always maintaining its powerful forward motion. A pizzicato section and a lyrical cello passage—based on fragments of the theme—interrupt the action, after which the piece builds up again to a gentler version of the original galloping rhythm, then comes to a simple close.

All program notes are copyright Miriam Villchur Berg. It is permissible to quote short excerpts for reviews. For permission to quote more extensive portions, or to copy,  publish, or make other use of these program notes, please contact her at miriam@hvc.rr.com