PROGRAM NOTES Jacques Ibert Deux Interludes This program of intimate stories, poems and otherworldly evocations richly starts with a set of two magical interludes by French composer Jacques Ibert. Around fifteen years younger than Ravel, Ibert spent his life in Paris where he composed a significant body of music for opera, ballet, orchestra, film, incidental, and chamber music. While his style is wide ranging, particularly in the Deux Interludes, Ibert displays an utterly French sensibility with clarity, poise, color and vivid impression.
The two interludes come from Ibert's incidental music for Suzanne Lilar's play Le Burlador (The Seducer), apparently a feminist take on the iconic Don Juan story. The interludes comprise an eloquent music pair using a time honored slow-fast pattern and a stylistic projection of first France then Spain, a perfect representative of the Franco-Iberian mélange found throughout the music of Massenet, Debussy, Ravel, et. al. The first interlude is a timeless minuet, slow, poised, delicate and slightly wistful. Utterly French in the most topical and poetic way, the three-part form moves from chaste to animated and back, a poignant duet sustained in the rhythmic web of the harp. The second interlude is utterly Spanish, a spicy Andalusian dance alla Gitano. The piano figures prominently with its evocation of flamenco guitar while the melodic and ornamental lines by clarinet and cello evince a vivid Iberian perfume. -Kai Christiansen
Robert Schumann Märchenerzählungen, Op 132: The Märchenerzählungen, Op 132, for clarinet, viola and piano, another of Schumann’s miniature suites, is one of the rare works to replicate the combination of instruments found in Mozart’s ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio, K498. This is one of Schumann’s very last works, composed during October 1853, when his increasing mental fragility and proneness to depression were temporarily alleviated by the visits of Joseph Joachim and the twenty-year-old Johannes Brahms. The four ‘fairy tales’ are testimony to Schumann’s fondness for the picturesque and the fanciful, though as with Op 113 he left no clue as to their content. The opening movement alternates march and dream, with a constant exchange of roles between the three instruments. March rhythms, now with a distinct rustic flavour, dominate the second piece, alleviated by a lyrical central episode, while in the third, marked Ruhiges Tempo, mit zartem Ausdruck (‘In reposeful tempo, with tender expression’), clarinet and viola sing a dulcet love duet against the piano’s rippling semiquavers. The fourth ‘fairy tale’, marked, like No 2, Lebhaft, sehr markiert (‘Lively, with strongly stressed rhythms’), mixes truculence and Schumannesque caprice. As in the second piece, too, there is a songful interlude for duetting clarinet and viola in a remote key. With his love of cyclic forms, Schumann then brings the work full circle by quoting a prominent theme (beginning with a rising arpeggio) from the opening piece. -Richard Wigmore
Brahms Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 119, No. 2: Johannes Brahms’ Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118, No. 2 pulls us into a world of dreamy nostalgia, quiet longing, and majestic, serene beauty. It comes from the set of Six Piano Pieces (Klavierstücke), Op. 118 from Brahms’ “autumnal” late period. Listen to the way those unlikely first three notes set the entire piece in motion. As it unfolds and develops, you may sense that the music is “searching” for a way forward, attempting to find just the “right” note. Around the 1:06 mark, you’ll hear the opening motive return in the bass. The expansive middle section offers new adventures. As this section fades away, listen to the magical way we find our way back home to the original music. -Timothy Judd
Nathan Lincoln-Decusatis The Chopin Syndrome: The Chopin Syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion, and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to Chopin, usually when is music is particularly beautiful or a large amount of it is experienced at one time.
The idea for The Chopin Syndrome goes back to the summer of 2010 when I attempted to learn Chopin's Ballade No. 1 note for note. My particular motivation to learn this piece was singular: an eight measure passage (mm. 36-43) standing in a formal no-man's-land between two main themes. this short transition, poised on the border between melody and figuration, is a poignant tangle of diatonic dissonance and suspensions resolving in different registers at different times. When pedaled, these dissonances, as so often happens chez Chopin, take on a bold harmonic richness that seems to come from the world of Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock rather than the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, the transitional nature of this passage condemns it to a one-time-only appearance, never developed further. The Chopin Syndrome rectifies this situation. The opening "Theme-Prelude" presents my own mashed up version of these fleeting eight measures (condensed into one 5/8 measure, that repeats throughout the section) that will then be spun through a variety of musical landscapes (scherzo, chorale, nocturne, etc). The original figure, as Chopin wrote it, does make a final appearance at the very end, but orchestrated clumsily and unwinding into a series of "wrong notes." This is perhaps an evocation of my own early, strained attempted to stumble through this beautiful passage, slightly under tempo, and sacrificing accuracy for melodramatic effect. The Chopin Syndrome is, in a way, yet another side-effect of this uncurable affliction (see definition above). -Nathan Lincoln-Decusatis
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