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Concert 6 - August 7, 2021, 7:30 p.m. Program Notes
Festival Booklet
with complete notes (pdf)

Dan Lazarescou: Baba Dochia (2020)
World Premiere
Gregory Maytan, violin; Nobuko Igarashi, clarinet; John McMurtery, flute; Susanna Whitney, bassoon; Caroline Kinsey, horn; Craig Hultgren, cello; Perry Mears, piano; Robert Patterson, conductor

I. Thaw at Toaca
II. The Lark
III. Baba Dochia Climbing Up the Mountain
IV. Ceahlau - The Mountain King
(The four sections are performed without interruption.)
Baba Dochia celebrates the legendary mountain Ceahlau, the "king" of the Carpathian Mountains in Romanian Moldova. In Romanian mythology, Baba Dochia is an old woman associated with the return of Spring. Spring is coming with thaw and freeze, hope and loss, joy and heartbreak, life and death.
Thaw at Toaca begins with the compelling beats of the "toaca," a wooden board struck with wood mallets. The toaca is still used in Romanian monasteries for the call to prayer. Toaca is also the name of the majestic peak of Ceahlau.
The Lark is inspired by the Romanian folk song Lie-Ciocarlie, a heartbreaking song about loss.

There are several versions of the legend of Baba Dochia. I remember a sorrowful version of The Story of Baba Dochia told by a writer from Moldova.Disillusioned by her foster daughter, who chose life among the valley people instead of isolation, Baba Dochia [is] Climbing Up the Mountain , in the dark and freezing cold, back towards her lonely cabin on top of the mountain. Finally, after loss and death, the last section resumes the thaw and celebrates the crowning return of Spring on Ceahlau - The Mountain King. – Dan Lazarescou, composed for Luna Nova, 2020

Francis Poulenc: Flute Sonata (1956)
Kelly Herrmann, flute
Brian Ray, piano

I. Allegretto
II. Cantilena
III. Presto giocoso

The flute sonata was written in the winter of 1956-57 on commission from the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation at the U.S. Library of Congress. It was first performed at the Scarborough Festival in June 1957, by flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and Poulenc, and they played it frequently until Poulenc’s death six years later. In 1959, in fact, Poulenc selected the sonata for a 60th birthday concert of his favorite compositions. The sonata reflects Poulenc’s contrasting moods of melancholy and joy; the first movement is appropriately titled Allegro malinconico and the mood is mournful. But the melancholy is intermittent and offset by a middle section in better humor. Note at the outset the little rhythmic pattern of four 32nd notes followed by a quarter note; this pattern is repeated again and again, giving the music a flowing character. The slow movement is an extended song for the flute — slow in tempo but more introspective than depressed. The third movement is completely lively and spirited, with references to the main theme of the first movement and its rhythmic figure. – William J. Herz

Mark Volker: Dragons of Memory
John McMurtery, flute
Mark Volker, guitar

Memories can be elusive things.  When we experience fleeting thoughts of the past, we often have to consider how real they are.  That first sunset over water I saw as a child - was it really as magically stunning as it is in my memory?  Was the rock wall I climbed as a 12-year-old really as high as I remember?  Did the Halle-Bopp comet really fill the sky when I proposed to my wife? Are these merely things that we choose to remember? Are they nostalgic reinterpretations of a more prosaic reality?  As far as our inner life and creative vision is concerned, it really does not matter.  Authentic history or reinterpretation, the memory is real, and the impact on our thoughts an lives is real.  As our personal memory, we can continue to experience these things, regardless of the objective reality.  Just like dragons, they may be a myth, or a remaining of a truth.  Regardless, they are powerful images and concepts that effect our creative vision and how we continue to experience the pasts that make us who we are. Dragons of Memory was inspired by this concept.  The whimsical guitar "memory" at the opening is transformed into various "dragons" throughout the piece.  The relatively light character of the original idea is reinterpreted variously into bold, sweeping statements, a serious, constrained melody, and an agile dialogue between the instruments.  Depending on how you view it, the transformations either alter the memory theme to become more serious and significant, or they reveal the idea's rich, intrinsic value, present from the beginning. – Mark Volker

Florence Price: Piano Sonata in e minor (1932)
Adam Bowles, piano
Florence Beatrice Price (née Smith 1887–1953) was an American classical composer, pianist, organist and music teacher. Price is noted as the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra. Price composed numerous works: four symphonies, four concertos, as well as choral works, plus art songs, and music for chamber and solo instruments. Even though her training was steeped in European tradition, Price's music consists of mostly the American idiom and reveals her Southern roots. She wrote with a vernacular style, using sounds and ideas that fit the reality of urban society. Being a committed Christian, she frequently used the music of the African-American church as material for her arrangements. At the urging of her mentor George Whitefield Chadwick, Price began to incorporate elements of African-American spirituals, emphasizing the rhythm and syncopation of the spirituals rather than just using the text. Her melodies were blues-inspired and mixed with more traditional, European Romantic techniques. The weaving of tradition and modernism reflected the way life was for African Americans in large cities at the time. – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Price ­

Bohuslav Martinu:
Duo for Violin and Cello No. 1 H157 (1927)
I. Andante
II. Rondo
Gregory Maytan, violin; Craig Hultgren, cello
Although the Czech composer Bohuslav Martin? spent much of his creative career away from his homeland, he retained his national identity through his music. Paris became Martin?'s home in the 1920s and 1930s where he studied with Albert Roussel and also encountered the music of Stravinsky, Les Six, and jazz. The music of past centuries fascinated him, especially the English Renaissance madrigal and the Baroque concerto grosso. Later, after relocating to the United States, the symphonic output of Beethoven was his ideal in crafting his own cycle of symphonies at the behest of Koussevitzky. Martinu? composed his Duo for violin and cello in 1927, four years after settling in Paris. It was written over the span of a mere few days to be played by his friends and colleagues, violinist Stanislav Novāk and cellist Mauritz Frank. With their quartet, Novāk and Frank had given the premiere of Martinu?’s First String Quartet in Prague and had been asked to repeat its performance in Paris. Novāk and Frank would include the new Duo on this concert of March 17, 1927. The Duo is in two movements, the first a Preludium marked Andante moderato and the second a Rondo with the tempo marking Allegro con brio. It is a format familiar from Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies as well as the final movement of the Duo for violin and cello by another Hungarian composer, Zoltán Kodály, which had been premiered a few years prior in 1924. Borrowed by these composers from Hungarian folk music, this movement plan and the accompanying stylistic traits could represent for Martinu? a pan-Eastern European culture suited to the Czech players who would be introducing this music to Parisian audiences. Rather than exaggerate exotic-sounding traits, however, as Liszt might be accused, Martinu? applies these traits as a substructure upon which he can establish a thoroughly cosmopolitan piece. In the Preludium, Martinu? builds intensity through an imitative texture, initiated by the cello. Later, the cello supplies a folkish drone above which the violin can soar freely. The Rondo has all the exuberance and competition of a virtuoso showpiece for two players. – Jackson Harmeyer

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