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CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862–1918)
Danse Sacrée et Profane
- Danse sacrée. Très modéré
- Danse profane. Modéré
Kayla Bryan*, Daniel Dastoor*, violin • Kirsten Docter, viola • Camden Michael Archambeau*, cello • Anthony Manzo, bass • June Han, harp
ROBERT HONSTEIN (b. 1980)
Julimar Gonzalez* violin • Camden Archambeau*, cello • Luke Rinderknecht, percussion
DORA PEJAČEVIĆ (1885–1923)
Sonata for Cello and Piano in E Minor, Op. 35
- Allegro moderato
- Scherzo. Allegro
- Adagio sostenuto
- Allegro comodo
Amir Eldan, cello • Tao Lin, piano
— Intermission —
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756–1791)
Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581
- Menuetto — Trio I — Trio II
- Allegretto con varizioni
Ricardo Morales, clarinet • Robin Scott, Renée Jolles, violin • Che-Yen Chen, viola • Ahrim Kim, cello
Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane (1904)
At once radical and traditionalist, Debussy rebelled against the French Wagner cult and the ponderous academic style of establishment composers like Saint-Saëns and d’Indy. At the same time, he urged his compatriots to return to the “pure French tradition” that he admired in the music of 18th-century composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. Debussy first made his mark in the early 1890s with a series of boldly unconventional and quintessentially Gallic works — the String Quartet, La damoiselle élue, and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. Over the next quarter-century, he produced the opera Pelléas et Mélisande and the great piano and orchestral pieces that came to define musical impressionism in the popular mind.
In 1904, around the time he wrote his sumptuous tone poem La mer, Debussy accepted an invitation from the Pleyel Company, a leading French manufacturer of harps and pianos, to write a piece advertising their recently invented chromatic harp. (A year later, Erard, Pleyel’s principal competitor, would commission Ravel to compose a similar showpiece for their new double-action pedal harp.) Although Debussy’s entry in the battle of the harps has stood the test of time, Pleyel’s instrument had significant limitations that impeded its success in the marketplace. As a result, the Danse sacrée et danse profane (Sacred Dance and Secular Dance) is almost always played on a pedal harp. In place of swirling glissandi (which the chromatic harp, with its two ranks of cross-strung strings, effectively ruled out), Debussy’s score features intricate chromatic figurations, couched in whole-tone scales and free-floating, faintly archaic harmonies. The ritualistic solemnity of the Danse sacrée contrasts with the waltzlike lilt of the Danse profane.
Program Note by Harry Haskell for Carnegie Hall
A quick succession of light soft tapping sounds: the patter of rain on the rooftops. To move with light, softly audible steps: the patter of little feet around the house. A conversation heard faintly, through the door or the floor: the patter of sisters, friends or neighbors speaking quietly.
Originally a commission from my friend Leanne Zacharias, this piece was written for a tour of West Texas featuring Leanne, violinist Cristina Zacharias and percussionist Ed Reifel. In the winter of 2010 we all joined forces with Christine Fellows and John K. Samson to form the Correction Line Ensemble, presenting a series of concerts in Winnipeg and Brandon, Manitoba. For these shows I revised Patter, and finally I revised it once more for a show at LPR in April 2010.
Program Note by Robert Honstein
Sonata for Cello and Piano in E Minor, Op. 35 (1913)
Dora Pejačević hailed from an imposing lineage of Hungarian and Croatian nobility. Her mother, a Baroness and talented pianist, was her first music teacher. Although she received intermittent lessons from professors across Croatia and Germany, her compositional training was largely self-directed, stimulated by the artistic and intellectual atmospheres of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna — major Austro-Hungarian cities in which she and her family spent significant time — as well as Munich, where she eventually settled. Her substantial œuvre spans the range of instrumental genres, from salon works for piano and/or voice to large-scale orchestral works. Her symphony — written during the war and widely considered the first modern symphony by a Croatian composer — was premiered in Dresden in 1920 to widespread critical acclaim. Plans for an opera were in development, though remained unfinished. Despite growing up in a situation of great social privilege, the headstrong Pejačević grew increasingly ashamed of her aristocratic status. She confided to a friend: “I simply
cannot understand how people can live without working — and how many of them do, especially the higher aristocracy… I despise them for it.” With the outbreak of World War I (the year after she wrote her cello sonata), she volunteered to serve as a nurse, and wrote with even deeper unease about her family’s apathy toward the conflict: “They are devoid of all higher feelings, far from all big ideas, any kind of humanity, or any social progress […] I cannot continue to associate with members of my own class.” She found solace and success in composition, and, after the war, in settling down to form her own family. She wrote touchingly to her husband during her pregnancy: “I hope that our child should become a true, open, and great human being. If they have talent, encourage them…whether they are a boy or girl; every talent, every genius, requires equal consideration, and gender cannot be allowed to enter into it.” She died a month after giving birth, having contracted sepsis.
Pejačević’s cello sonata is part of a rich chamber music output that also includes two piano trios, a piano quartet and quintet; a string quartet, and two sonatas for violin and piano. It is a work of maturity and confidence, its lexicon of late Romantic lyricism laced with piquant harmonic detours that enrich but never disrupt the color palate. Though not a cellist (she had learned violin and piano as a child), her writing for both instruments is idiomatic and virtuosic. The dedicatees, Olga and Ernst Schulz, friends of Pejačević’s and part of Zagreb’s Jewish community, would both be killed during World War II.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581
Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet exhibits the seemingly magical synergy that can occur when a composer writes with an outstanding instrumentalist in mind. In this case, it was the clarinetist and basset hornist Anton Stadler, one of Mozart’s earliest musical contacts following his arrival to Vienna in 1781. Over the years, the two grew to be close comrades: both became Freemasons, and even hatched plans to form their own secret society (called Die Grotte, or “The Grotto”), although this never came to fruition. Their friendship brought about a large number of works, including a handful of Masonic compositions for basset horn, little remembered today. Stadler’s lasting artistic legacy came through his contributions to clarinet performance. At a time when the clarinet was mostly heard as a component in a “harmonie” (a wind ensemble used for light or ceremonial music), Stadler distinguished himself as an exceptional soloist. As Mozart wrote to his friend, “Never could I have imagined that a clarinet could imitate the human voice as you did. Indeed, your instrument has so soft and lovely a tone that nobody can resist it.”
Mozart made the most of Stadler’s skill. His so-called “Kegelstatt” Trio, K. 498 for piano, clarinet, and viola, composed in 1786, was among the first chamber works composed for the instrument. The publisher, aware of the peculiarity of the configuration, indicated that the clarinet part could be performed by a violinist instead. By the time Mozart composed the clarinet quintet in 1789, there was no doubt: this was “Stadler’s Quintet,” and a new paradigm of clarinet performance was in place. Two years after the quintet, Mozart followed up with another clarinet masterpiece for Stadler: his concerto, K. 622‚ completed a few weeks before his death.
While the quintet was composed originally for the “basset clarinet,” a woodwind of Stadler’s invention combining his two instruments of choice and featuring an extended lower register, today it is typically performed using a standard clarinet in A.
Program Notes by Peter Asimov