2021 PROGRAM NOTES
PROGRAM NOTES for the individual concerts will be posted below as they become available.
Date: VIRTUAL CONCERT 24 January at at 2:30 PM - 31 January, 2021 at 2:30 PM
The Neave Trio
Performance Piece: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzolla
“'Neave’ is actually a Gaelic name meaning ‘bright’ and ‘radiant’, both of which certainly apply to this trio’s music making,” said Robert Sherman WQXR Radio when speaking of the Neave piano trio. The ensemble was founded in 2010 and currently holds the position of Faculty Ensemble-in-Residence at the Longy School of Music at Bard College. They will perform Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, inspired at least in part by Vivaldi’s much loved Four Seasons.
The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Las Cuatro Estaciones Portenas} Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
Buenos Aries Spring (Primavera Portena)
Buenos Aries Summer (Verano Porteno )
Buenos Aries Autumn (Otono Porteno )
Buenos Aries Winter (Invierno Porteno )
The songs and dances of tango arose during the second half of the nineteenth century
among the largely Italian and Spanish immigrants in the cities along the Rio de la Plata in
Argentina. Tango cancione was accompanied song, with lyrics of varying character, often
highly sentimental. Instrumental tango milonga encompassed many animated dances.
Tango romanza was a more exalted lyrical style either strictly instrumental or sung with
equal participation of instruments. Many tangos were written for piano solo and for piano
and voice. Tango ensembles were varied as the lead instrumentalist was often the
organizer and composer. The earliest groups were trios of flute, violin and guitar, and later
violin, piano and bandoneon. A quartet of violin, flute, guitar and bandoneon, sometimes
expanded to a sextet with two violins and two bandoneons was another common
configuration. As tango became an international dance hall sensation ensembles grew to
be small orchestras of several bandoneons, string sections and piano.
Astor Piazzolla was born in Argentina but grew up in New York City, learning to play piano and bandoneon and listening to his father’s tango recordings. He composed his first tango at age eleven, and when the family returned to Argentina in the late 1930’s he was soon able to work as a bandoneon player in Buenos Aries tango club ensembles. In the 1940’s he became an arranger, wrote tangos and film scores, took piano and conducting lessons and formed the first of ten different tango ensembles. He studied composition and orchestration with Alberto Ginastera , and in 1953 entered his Buenos Aries Symphony in Three Movements (which included two bandoneons ) in a competition for the Fabian Sevitsky Award. This won him a scholarship to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in 1954. She was able to persuade him not to abandon tango as he had been contemplating.
The Four Seasons of Buenos Aries are fine examples of the concert music Piazzolla later created, fusing tango and jazz with classical composition techniques . Though inspired in concept by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons they were not composed or originally performed as a set. They were commercially recorded and released separately on three albums between 1969 and 1972, with Piazzolla leading on bandoneon. Spring, Autumn and Winter were for a quintet of bandoneon, violin, piano , electric guitar and double bass, Summer for a nonet of bandoneon, string quintet, piano ,electric guitar and percussion. Summer was later rewritten as a quintet, and in that form the four were occasionally performed together. The cellist Jose Bragato played in two of Piazzolla’s ensembles – an octet, and the nonet that recorded Summer. He arranged many of Piazzolla’s works for various chamber music combinations, including the Four Seasons for piano trio.
The music of the Four Seasons is sectional in structure, alternating syncopated, rhythmic dance (tango milonga) with impassioned lyricism (tango romanza), the contrasting passages often linked by cadenzas of improvisational character. The overall impression however, is one of continuous development rather than static formalism. Repetition and recurrence are skillfully treated, always adding new elements of harmony, counterpoint or material. Spring has three sections, fast, slow, fast and a coda. Summer and Autumn are five part forms starting fast, also with dramatic coda endings. Winter has five parts but begins with a serene slow theme . The fourth and fifth sections combine the fast and slow material and the movement concludes with a coda in Baroque style reminiscent of Vivaldi.
Notes by Raymond Zoeckler information drawn from YouTube, Wikipedia, New Grove Dictionary
Performance Piece: Voyager, music inspired by space travel and celestial bodies
Based in Houston, WindSync is an ensemble of five wind musicians whose concerts are performed from memory with the goal of connecting dynamically with their audience. The ensemble is known for its creative and thematic programming. For CMSU’s virtual concert, WindSync will perform Voyager (originally conceived in 2017 to mark NASA’s 40th anniversary), comprised of various space-themed classical music pieces, variously arranged and assembled by bassoonist Kara LaMoure, oboist Emily Tsai and flutist Garrett Hudson.
Music inspired by space travel and celestial bodies
Dieterich Buxtehude (1639-1707): Passacaglia in D minor, BuxWV 161 6’
2 selections from the Voyager Golden Record
Traditional: Tsuru No Sugomori 3’
J. S. Bach (1685-1750): Fugue No. 1 in C major, WTC II, BWV 870 2’
Gustav Holst (1874-1934): “Jupiter” from The Planets 8’
The performers will introduce the different sections of the program within the context of their virtual concert. Here is their script:
Buxtehude: Passacaglia in D minor
With its repeating bass line and subtle unfolding, Dieterich Buxtehude’s Passacaglia in D minor is a great musical meditation for us. Like many musicians in 17th century Europe, Buxtehude’s main employment was as a church musician, and he practiced a spirituality that was influenced by numerology and the cosmos. Originally for organ, this passacaglia is broken up into four different sections, each with its own key. Historians believe that the four sections are inspired by the four phases of the moon, which were depicted on a clock at the back of the church where Buxtehude worked.
Tsuru No Sugomori
Tsuru No Sugomori is a traditional piece for the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute. It depicts the life cycle of cranes, and throughout the piece you can hear imitations of their call. Today I’m happy to share an adaptation of this beautiful music that I created for my modern Western flute. In order to pull it off, I have to use non-traditional techniques like pitch bending and overblown notes, but it’s a fun and rewarding challenge.
J. S. Bach: Fugue No. 1 in C major
One of our patron saints of classical music is J. S. Bach, who is represented with not one, not two, but three of the 31 tracks on the Voyager Golden Record. Bach was seen as a great master of several musical forms, but the one that we chose to share is arguably his best: the fugue. This is the Fugue in C major from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book 2. It’s originally for keyboard, but because it was composed with three musical voices, we took the opportunity to adapt it to the three reed instruments of the wind quintet: oboe, clarinet, and bassoon.
Gustav Holst: “Jupiter” from The Planets
The Planets by Gustav Holst has been the gold standard of space-inspired music for the past 100 years, even influencing John Williams as he wrote the soundtrack for Star Wars. Adapting such a rich piece from full orchestra to the wind quintet challenges us to be quick and light like the strings, stately like the brass, and bombastic like the percussion. This version of the movement “Jupiter” features our lone brass player, Anni on French horn, as a soloist in the hymn-like middle section.