David & Vadim
Paul Neubauer, viola
David Danzmayr, conductor
David and Vadim return, together onstage for a powerful finale to ProMusica’s season. Joined by acclaimed violist Paul Neubauer, the orchestra performs works by Bartók, Piazzolla and Mozart— for a dynamic conclusion to our 38th season.
Bartók – Romanian Folk Dances
Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra
Piazzolla (arr. Caffi) – Coral, arranged for String Orchestra
Mozart – Symphony No. 29 in A Major
Vadim Gluzman’s extraordinary artistry brings to life the glorious violinistic tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries. Gluzman’s wide repertoire embraces new music and his performances are heard around the world through live broadcasts and a striking catalogue of award-winning recordings exclusively for the BIS label.
The Israeli violinist appears regularly with major orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, London Symphony, and Leipzig Gewandhaus. Gluzman has enjoyed collaborations with many of today’s leading conductors, including Christoph von Dohnányi, Tugan Sokhiev, Sir Andrew Davis, Neeme Järvi, Michael Tilson Thomas, Semyon Bychkov, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Paavo Järvi, Hannu Lintu and Peter Oundjian. His festival appearances include performances at Verbier, Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Lockenhaus, as well as the North Shore Chamber Music Festival in Chicago, Illinois, which was founded by Gluzman and pianist Angela Yoffe, his wife and recital partner.
Highlights of his 2016-17 season include appearances in London at The Proms with the BBC Symphony and Edward Gardner, with the Chicago Symphony under Neeme Järvi, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra Hamburg under Christoph von Dohnányi, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Tugan Sokhiev, and with the Orchestre de Paris under Juraj Valčuha. He will tour the United States with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, including an engagement in New York at Carnegie Hall, and perform with Baltimore Symphony, NHK Orchestra in Tokyo, and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in Paris, among other engagements. Gluzman will lead performances with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio, where he continues in his third year as Creative Partner and Principal Guest Artist.
This season Mr. Gluzman will give the world premiere performances of new concertos written for him by two of today’s most important composers: Sofia Gubaidulina’s Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Bayan with Elsbeth Moser, Nicolas Altstaedt and the NDR Radio Philhamonic in Hannover under Andrew Manze; and Elena Firsova’s Concerto for Violin and Cello with Johannes Moser and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Tugan Sokhiev. Gluzman has given live and recorded premieres of other works by Gubaidulina, as well as Giya Kancheli, Peteris Vasks, Michael Daugherty, and most recently, Lera Auerbach.
Vadim Gluzman’s latest CD for the BIS label features Sergey Prokofiev’s Violin Concertos No. 1 and 2, as well as the composer’s Sonata for Violin Solo, with Estonian National Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi. Accolades for his extensive discography on BIS include the Diapason d’Or of the Year, Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice, Classica Magazine’s esteemed Choc de Classica award, and Disc of the Month by The Strad, BBC Music Magazine, ClassicFM, and others.
Born in the former Soviet Union in 1973, Gluzman began violin studies at age 7. He studied with Roman Sne in Latvia and Zakhar Bron in Russia before moving to Israel in 1990, where he became a student of Yair Kless. In the United States, he studied with Arkady Fomin in Dallas and at the Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay and Masao Kawasaki. Early in his career, Gluzman enjoyed the encouragement and mentorship of Isaac Stern which continued until the Stern’s passing in 2001. In 1994 he received the prestigious Henryk Szeryng Foundation Career Award.
Vadim Gluzman plays the legendary 1690 ‘ex-Leopold Auer’ Stradivari on extended loan to him through the generosity of the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
Violist Paul Neubauer‘s exceptional musicality and effortless playing led the New York Times to call him “a master musician”. In 2016 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Mostly Music series in New Jersey. This season he will be featured in a Live from Lincoln Center broadcast with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He also premieres a new work for viola and piano by Liliya Ugay, performs with his trio with soprano Susanna Phillips and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott which performs a wide range of repertoire including salon style songs for voice, viola and piano, and appears as soloist with orchestras. His recording of the Aaron Kernis Viola Concerto with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, a work he premiered with the St. Paul Chamber, Los Angeles Chamber, and Idyllwild Arts orchestras and the Chautauqua Symphony will be released on Signum Records.
Appointed principal violist of the New York Philharmonic at age 21, a position he held for six years, he has appeared as soloist with over 100 orchestras including the New York, Los Angeles, Helsinki and Hong Kong philharmonics; National, St. Louis, Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco, and Bournemouth symphonies; and Santa Cecilia, English Chamber, National Symphony (Taiwan), and Beethovenhalle orchestras. He has premiered viola concertos by Béla Bartók (revised version of Viola Concerto), Joel Phillip Friedman, Rinehold Glière, Gordon Jacob, Aaron Jay Kernis, Henri Lazarof, Detlev Müller-Siemens, David Ott, Krzysztof Penderecki, Tobias Picker, Robert Suter, and Joan Tower, and has been featured on CBS’s Sunday Morning, A Prairie Home Companion, and in Strad, Strings, and People magazines.
A two-time Grammy nominee, he recorded works by Schumann with Ms. McDermott as well as numerous pieces that were composed for him: Joan Tower’s Purple Rhapsody for viola and orchestra (with Timothy Russsell and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra), and Wild Purple for solo viola; Viola Rhapsody, a concerto by Henri Lazarof; and Soul Garden for viola and chamber ensemble by Derek Bermel. His recording of the Walton Viola Concerto was recently re-released on Decca. He has also recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, RCA Red Seal and Sony Classical and in 2016, he released a solo album of music recorded at Music@Menlo.
Neubauer has collaborated with Andre Watts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; with Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis at London’s Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Hall’s; and with Pinchas Zukerman, James Galway, Vladimir Spivakov and Alicia de Larrocha at the Mostly Mozart Festival. He has also appeared with the Emerson, Shanghai, Juilliard, Cleveland, Miró, Fine Arts, Orion, Calder, Borromeo, Miami, and Brentano quartets. He has performed at the festivals of Verbier, Ravinia, Stavanger, Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart, and Marlboro and was an Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient and the first prizewinner of the Whitaker, D’Angelo and Lionel Tertis International Competitions.
He is on the faculty of The Juilliard School and Mannes College and performs with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Mr. Neubauer was born in Los Angeles and currently lives in New York City.
The music of our final program of the season features the orchestra’s string section, either alone or in consort with supporting winds. We open with the six Romanian Folk Dances of Bela Bartók, a work awash in Eastern melodies and rhythms that brings to life the countryside as experienced by the composer. We follow with Mozart’s engaging double concerto for violin and viola, the soaring Sinfonia Concertante, featuring two world class soloists, Vadim Gluzman and Paul Neubauer. And after a suave arrangement for strings of music by Argentinian tango master Astor Piazzolla, we will close out the season with Mozart’s Symphony No. 29, an intimate and captivating chamber work that set the tone for the composer’s future symphonic masterpieces.
Bela Bartók (1881-1945): Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56
Scored for string orchestra. Duration is 6 minutes.
Joc cu bâtă (Stick Dance)
Brâul (Sash Dance)
Pe loc (In One Spot)
Buciumeana (Dance from Bucsum)
Poarga Românească (Romanian Polka)
Mărunțel (Fast Dance)
Like many would-be composers, Hungarian-born Bela Bartók demonstrated prodigious ability at an early age. Though small and sickly, by four he could already play dozens of pieces on the piano, an instrument he began to learn under his mother’s tutelage. His early formal influences included both Claude Debussy and Richard Strauss, household names today but composers regarded as modernists at the close of the 19th century. Though his early professional career saw Bartók concertizing as a pianist, a teaching position soon allowed for a more settled life, with time for composing. It was Bartók’s interest in folk music, and his successful incorporation of that language into his modernist style, that would eventually secure his position as one of the most distinct and important composers of his day. His passion remained the music of the folk and like Vaughan Williams in England, Bártok made his way throughout the eastern European countryside (Hungary, Transylvania, etc), collecting folk tunes—in this case on wax cylinder—which he later transcribed and frequently incorporated into his own compositions.
The music of Romania proved every bit as important to Bartók as that of his native Hungary and in time he would assemble some 3,400 Romanian melodies later catalogued in one huge volume. His Romanian Folk Dances were originally conceived of as a set of short pieces for piano, miniatures incorporating folk tunes from a variety of Romanian districts. The work was since orchestrated for full orchestra as well as for strings alone, in addition to various other combinations, including violin-piano and four cellos! The outset of “Stick Game” (which the composer originally heard played by two gypsy violinists, one playing the melody, the other a chordal accompaniment) sets the tone—we can clearly note the folk element both in the downbeat accents (also common to the Hungarian language) and the sustained drone accompaniment. The captivating third dance, “In One Spot,” derives its name from the dance itself (a dancing couple remains rooted in one place, his hands on his hips, hers on his shoulders), and reflects the ancient, almost eerie modality that typifies the set as a whole. The lovely fourth dance was again presented to the composer by a violinist and the work concludes with a series of lively dances driven ever forward by a series of energized, captivating rhythms.
W.A. Mozart (1756-1791): Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major, K. 364
Scored for solo violin and solo viola, two oboes, two horns and strings. Duration is 30 minutes.
In 1777, a twenty-one-year-old Mozart left the relative security of Salzburg, the city of his birth, in search of employment elsewhere. Traveling with his mother, the pair first visited Mannheim, where the young man became acquainted with the musicians in one of Europe’s finest and most disciplined orchestras, those of the Mannheim court. Here Mozart also fell in love with Aloysia Weber, though he would later marry her sister Constanze. When no employment opportunities materialized, mother and son ventured further south, to Paris, where matters for Mozart went still further south—no work here either. Mozart was soon reduced to pawning his valuables for money. And then his mother died. Returning home alone, he traveled back through Mannheim and Munich, were he again encountered Aloysia. Frauline Weber’s singing career had since blossomed, however, and she was no longer interested in an “unsuccessful” composer. Back in Salzburg he took up a new appointment, one secured by his father during Mozart’s travels, but the latter’s feelings about his city’s provincialism—no doubt colored by his own current frame of mind—remained as bleak as ever. Mozart, of course, would soon look to Vienna for other opportunities.
The Sinfonia Concertante sprang from the period of these aforementioned travels. Indeed, the idea of the sinfonia concertante—literally a combination of symphony and solo concerto—was popular both in Mannheim and Paris, since the orchestras of both boasted virtuoso performers. The precise conditions that gave rise to this work remains unknown, as does information about its first performance, but certainly Mozart’s own training as a violinist and violist (not to mention pianist) played into his conception. Indeed, so talented was Mozart, that we can almost envision him having performed both parts at once, perhaps conducting the orchestra as well! The beautifully crafted work is a gem, full of vintage Mozartean themes and featuring a sophisticated balance between the soloists and with the orchestra. Typically, Mozart introduces his material first with violin, which is then taken up by the viola, the latter often steering the music in different directions, and the pair often coming together thereafter. However, following the Allegro maestoso’s orchestral introduction (which sports a Mannheim-inspired orchestral crescendo, by our time hardly a surprising effect but which made a tremendous impression on audiences of the day), Mozart introduces his soloists in unison. The result, subtle yet effective, allows the curtain to rise on both players. It is really with the second theme group, a playful figure that thrice reaches upward, that the virtuoso element truly comes into play. Note the swing of the syncopated orchestral accompaniment that ushers in the development section; this idea was most certainly gleaned from one—or perhaps both—of the orchestras Mozart encountered while traveling.
Mozart scored his 3/4 Andante in C minor, yielding a gravitas far removed from what is otherwise a rather lighthearted work. We are left to wonder if some less-than-happy event might have influenced Mozart’s writing (and as we have seen, there were several from which to choose). The Presto finale returns us to a more playful vein, featuring spirited and often virtuosic exchanges between the soloists, a carefree style far more common to the concerto of Mozart’s day.
Two final thoughts about the Sinfonia Concertante are worth noting. First, the viola part was originally written in D major, a half step lower than the overall key of the work. In practice, the violist would tune the instrument up a half step (known as scordatura), giving it a far more brilliant tone than possible with normal tuning, though most violists today simply perform from a transcribed part. Second, Mozart wrote out the cadenzas at the close of the first two movements himself. While soloists in the eighteenth and nineteenth century would have been expected to extemporize cadenzas in performance, a work for two soloists clearly created difficulties in this respect. And while talented soloists could certainly have “played off” each other’s ideas, much as jazz musicians do today, Mozart obviously didn’t want to take any chances, evidently seeking to avoid compromising the integrity of his composition by filling in the “empty spaces” himself.
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992): Coral
Scored for string orchestra. Duration is 5 minutes.
Classical concert audiences, including those of ProMusica, are no strangers to the music of Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, whose arrangements have found their way into ensembles of all types, from duos up to symphony orchestras. Born in 1921, Piazzolla spent his life reinventing the tango, infusing it with elements of jazz and classical music. Piazzolla himself was a virtuoso of the bandoneon, a concertina (akin to the accordian) common to South America and often associated with tango, and he wrote for a number of ensembles with which he performed, most often a group of five players.
Some six minutes in length, Coral is characterized by a four-note descent and subsequent phrasing, leading into a series of solos for the band, guitar, bandoneon and violin, before closing again with the initial material (obviously allocated to various strings in the arranged version). In Piazzolla’s original, the bass presides briefly over a traditional tango rhythm, though in this arrangement, by Eduardo García Caffi, that element is absent, lending the work an even greater sense of relaxation than the Piazzolla original. In essence, Coral was written more for the performers than the audience (it was also a favorite of guitarist Oscar López Ruiz, whose solo is played by the cello in tonight’s arrangement—but so lovely is Caffi’s version that we’re certain it will speak to all of you.
W.A. Mozart (1756-1792): Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201
Scored for two oboes, two horns and strings. Duration is 28 minutes.
Among the many impressive traits demonstrated by Mozart, even as a young man, was his ability to boil down the essence of ideas encountered around him. He then incorporated these ideas into his own style, as if the concept sprang from his being all along. Mozart’s twenty-ninth symphony aptly demonstrates that “miracles” are, as often as not, the result of paying attention to the ideas of others and then bettering them. In the winter of 1773-74, Mozart traveled from Salzburg to Vienna with his father (a formidable musician himself), in hopes of the pair finding better employment in the Austrian capital. In the short run, the trip was a failure, for there was no work to be had at the Imperial Court. For the younger Mozart, however, Vienna proved a compositional windfall, particularly as concerned symphonic composition. Once back in provincial Salzburg, he commenced with three symphonies, each demonstrating that a new page had been turned with respect to his musical maturity. As opposed to the Italian-influenced, three-movement form of his earlier symphonies, he newest scores reflected the four-movement form, including a minuet as the third movement, which was the current practice in Vienna. To add this a seriousness of intent, and we find a new chapter being written with respect to Mozart’s symphonic oeuvre.
With no need to shout, Mozart opens his Allegro moderato softly, yet with a striking theme whose idiosyncratic jump of an octave makes it easily recognizable and providing superior grist for the compositional mill. We need almost no time to realize the results—its explosive tutti repetition, now with added horns, makes it clear Mozart had entered symphonic maturity, even at the ripe age of eighteen. The second theme, a delicate Italianate idea tossed off by the violins, is equally distinct, though the repetition of notes at its start links it to what came before (his clear delineation of ideas is yet another sign that Mozart was looking to Vienna for inspiration). A short and tightly knit development, featuring a series of “fetching sequences,” in the words of Edward Downes, leads quickly back into the recapitulation, a restatement of the movement’s opening ideas.
Mozart calls for his strings to play the Andante with mutes, no doubt a look to Haydn, whose middle-period symphonies Mozart encountered in Vienna. This movement, like the first, cast in sonata form, though this one has something of the gallant, Rococo style about it; charming and pleasing, commentators have noted that Mozart’s sparing use of winds lends it a quality far more akin to his early serenades for string quartet. The charming minuet gains interest via contrasts, including its abrupt dynamics and its strings versus winds writing. Note, for example, the closing cadential idea, a tight rhythmic cell of a single note proclaimed by the winds alone, in response to the strings’ opening theme. Mozart then actually seizes this gesture, from which he spins out his complimentary phrase—pure genius! The trio at the center features a lilting theme, an idea no doubt directly inspired by the minuet still danced at court during Mozart’s day.
The symphony rounds out with a blistering Allegro con spirito, propelled forward by its driving eighth-note accompaniment and rocketing upward scales. Themes are again clearly constructed for individuality, though we find a marked connection to those of the first movement, particularly with respect to the repetition of individual notes. Pay close attention to the sophistication with which Mozart develops his ideas, both at the very start and in the development proper—this is easily the richest development section he had so far produced within a symphonic setting. The depth of ideas and inspired orchestration contains the essence of what the composer would achieve years later in his final symphonies and aptly demonstrates just how swiftly Mozart was maturing as a composer, for it left in its wake those symphonies written but a few short months earlier.
© Marc Moskovitz