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Concert 2 - August 5, 2021, 7:30 p.m. Program Notes
Festival Booklet
with complete notes (pdf)
Cesar Cui: Trio for Flute, Violin, and Piano (1897), John McMurtery, flute; Gregory Maytan, violin; Maeve Brophy, piano
Cesar Cui was a member of Russia’s “Mighty Handful,” also known as “The Five.” These five Russian composers, also including Balakirev, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin, were a composer’s alliance operating from 1856 to 1870. Their mission was to create a distinctly Russian sound in the classical repertoire, with condescension thrown to the traditional formalists, such as Mozart and Bach, and praise granted to the composers, Glinka and Berlioz. It is all the more surprising that, in light of this lifelong mission, Cui would return to this very relaxed parlor style in the later year of 1897. It seems as though here, in the chamber setting, he found respite from the exhausting labor of reinventing a musical culture, which he attempted in his massive and mighty operas. www.auroracollaborative.com/blog/category/Program+Notes
Jenni Brandon: Sequoia Trio (2009)
Nobuko Igarashi, clarinet; Michelle Vigneau, oboe; Susanna Whitney, bassoon

Each movement of The Sequoia Trio (oboe, clarinet, bassoon) takes a quote about Sequoia trees from John Muir’s book The Yosemite and uses it to inspire the music. The opening waving pattern creates the gentle breeze as the growth of the tree starts in the bassoon, moving through the clarinet and is carried all the way to the top of the tree through the oboe. Movement two is sassy and jazzy, describing the kind of resilient attitude that young trees must maintain in order to survive. “The Three Graces” plays on the idea of the three instruments in the ensemble and Muir’s own reference to Greek mythology. Finally, in “The Noble Trees” the instruments play a hymn-like tribute to the largest living things on earth. The two “Tree Interludes” represent the individual voice of a tree and its story. –Jenni Brandon
Leoš Janacek: In the Mists (1912)
Brian Ray, piano

Janacek’s piano cycle from 1912 presents an intimate, personal and emotionally immediate music that stands stylistically on the border between eastern and western Europe. Its sound world is that of the fiddles and cimbalom (hammered dulcimer) of Moravian folk music. Equally folk-like is its use of small melodic fragments, repeated and transformed in various ways. In the composer’s use of harmonic color. However, there is more than a mist of French impressionism, à la Debussy, but an impressionism as heard through Czech ears. The Andante sets the tone of introspection with its dreamlike repetitions of a tonally ambivalent 5-note melody, set against non-committal harmonies in the left-hand ostinato. A contrasting middle section brings in a less troubled chorale melody that alternates with, and then struggles against, a cascade of cimbalom-like runs, before the nostalgic return of its melancholy opening theme. The Andantino is similarly fixated on a single idea, presenting the gracious opening phrase in a number of different keys until it is interrupted by an impetuous development of its accompaniment figure, and then ends exactly as it begins. The last movement, Presto, with its many changes of meter, is reminiscent of the rhapsodic improvisational style of the gypsy violin. The cimbalom of Moravian folk music can be heard most clearly in the thrumming drones of the left-hand accompaniment and in the occasional washes of metallic tone color in the right hand. vanrecital.com/2013/11/program-notes-kuok-wai-lio/

Dmitri Shostakovich: Five Pieces for Two Violins and Piano
Marisa Polesky, violin; Gregory Maytan, violin; Maeve Brophy, piano

In contrast to the brooding colors and sardonic motifs that characterize much of Shostakovich’s works, his Five Pieces, for two violins and piano, is a delightful suite of music (taking inspiration from many of Shostakovich’s incidental music) laden with melodic charm and lyrical warmth. The work opens with a nostalgic duet yearning with every phrase that flows with delicacy. The Gavotte and Elegy are unapologetic in rhythmic sunshine and genial melodies in close harmony. The Waltz dances in the same ballroom as his famous Jazz Suites, before the Polka cranks up the festival atmosphere with jolly fiddle playing and hopping chords on the piano.

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