conducts strauss, berio & prokofiev ... luciano berio, composer, conductor, editor, linguist,...
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2 ONE HUNDR ED FIRST SE A S ON
The 2019–20 Civic Orchestra of Chicago season is generously sponsored by
The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation.
C S O.ORG/IN STIT U TE 3
ONE HUNDR ED FIRST SE A S ON CIVIC ORCHESTRA OF CHICAGO KEN-DAVID MASUR Principal Conductor
Sunday, December 8 2019, at 8:00
Erina Yashima Conductor Annie Rosen Mezzo-soprano
strauss Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
berio Folk Songs Black is the color I wonder as I wander Loosin yelav Rossignolet du bois A la femminisca La donna ideale Ballo Motettu de tristura Malurous qu’o uno fenno Lo fiolaire Azerbaijan Love Song annie rosen
prokofiev Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 100 Andante Allegro moderato Adagio Allegro giocoso
The 2019–20 Civic Orchestra of Chicago season is generously sponsored by The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. Additional sponsorship support for this performance is provided by the Julian Family Foundation. The Centennial Campaign for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerts for Young People is supported by a generous lead gift from the Julian Family Foundation. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
4 ONE HUNDR ED FIRST SE A S ON
comments by phillip huscher | richard e. rodda
richard str auss Born June 11, 1864; Munich, Germany Died September 8, 1949; Garmisch, Germany
Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
c o m p o s e d 1894–95
f i r s t p e r f o r m a n c e November 5, 1895; Cologne, Germany
i n s t r u m e n tat i o n three flutes and piccolo, three oboes and english horn, two clarinets, clarinet in D and bass clarinet, three bassoons and contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, large rattle, strings
a p p r ox i m at e p e r f o r m a n c e t i m e 16 minutes
Had Strauss’s first opera, Guntram, succeeded as he hoped, he surely would have gone ahead with his plan to make Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks his second. But Guntram was a major disappointment and Strauss reconsid- ered. We’ll never know what sort of opera Till Eulenspiegel might have been—the unfin- ished libretto isn’t promising—but as a tone poem it’s close to perfection.
The failure of Guntram hurt—Strauss wasn’t used to bad reviews or public indifference. Now, more than ever, he refused to give up on his hero, Till Eulenspiegel, an incorrigible prank- ster with a certain contempt for humanity, who sets out to get even with society. (There was a real Till Eulenspiegel who lived in the fourteenth century.) But Strauss was no longer certain that the opera stage was the best place to tell this story—“the figure of Master Till Eulenspiegel does not quite appear before my eyes,” he finally confessed—and he returned to the vehicle of his great- est past successes, the orchestral tone poem. Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks is arguably his greatest achievement in the form.
Ferruccio Busoni once said that in Till Eulenspiegel Strauss reached a mastery of lightness and humor unrivaled in German music since Haydn. The humor wasn’t so surprising—although some listeners had found the deep seriousness of Death and Transfiguration, Strauss’s previous tone poem, worrisome—but to achieve such transparency with an orchestra of unparalleled size seemed miraculous.
At the time of the premiere of Till Eulenspiegel, Strauss resisted fitting a narrative to his music, but he later admitted a few points of reference. He begins by beckoning us to gather round, setting a warm “once-upon-a-time” mood into which the horn jumps with one of the most famous themes in all music—the daring, teasing, cartwheeling tune that characterizes this roguish hero better than any well-chosen words ever could. The portrait is rounded off by the nose-thumbing pranks of the clarinet.
From there the music simply explodes, as the orchestra responds to Till’s every move. When he dons the frock of a priest, the music turns mock-serious; when he escapes, down a handy violin glissando, in search of love, Strauss supplies sumptuous string harmonies Don Juan would envy. Rejected in love, Till
a b ov e : Strauss, postcard photograph, 1910
C S O.ORG/IN STIT U TE 5
takes on academia, but his cavalier remarks and the professors’ ponderous deliberations (intoned by the bassoons and bass clarinet) find no com- mon ground. Till departs with a Grosse Grimasse (Strauss’s term) that rattles the entire orchestra, and then slips out the back way, whistling as he goes.
After a quick review of recent escapades—a recapitulation of sorts—Till is brought before a jury (the pounding of the gavel is provided by the
fff roll of the side drum). The judge’s repeated pro- nouncements do not quiet Till’s insolent remarks. But the death sentence—announced by the brass, falling the interval of a major seventh, the widest possible drop short of an octave—silences him for good. It’s over in a flash.
Then Strauss turns the page, draws us round him once again, and reminds us that this is only a tone poem. And with a smile, he closes the book.
luciano berio Born October 24, 1925; Oneglia, Italy Died May 26, 2003; Rome, Italy
c o m p o s e d 1964; 1974
f i r s t p e r f o r m a n c e 1964 in Oakland, California, with Cathy Berberian as soloist
i n s t r u m e n tat i o n two flutes, oboe, two clarinets, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, percussion, harp, and strings
a p p r ox i m at e p e r f o r m a n c e t i m e 24 minutes
Luciano Berio, composer, conductor, editor, linguist, author, and champion of modern music, was one of the outstanding creative figures of the late twentieth century and perhaps the best-known and most fre- quently performed Italian composer after Puccini. Berio was born in 1925 into a family of church musicians in a small town on the Italian Riviera not far from Monaco. After
high school, he briefly studied law in Milan but found his true vocation as a composer when the postwar musical revival allowed him to hear the works of Bartók, Stravinsky, Webern, and other modernists. Study with Giorgio Ghedini in composition and Carlo Maria Giulini in conducting at the Milan Conservatory followed; he spent the summer of 1952 at the Tanglewood Music Festival as a student of Luigi Dallapiccola on a Koussevitzky Foundation Fellowship. In 1955, Berio established the Studio di Fonologia in Milan, an electronic music laboratory founded under the auspices of the Italian Radio, where his duties included editing the new music journal Incontri Musicali (Musical encounters) and running a concert series with Bruno Maderna. Berio lived in the United States from 1963 to 1971, holding teaching positions at Mills College, Harvard, and Juilliard while producing many original compositions, including the eclectic but widely praised Sinfonia in 1968. He returned to Europe in 1971 to join his musical ally Pierre Boulez in the new Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in
a b ov e : Berio, photo by Eric Marinitisch, Universal Edition
6 ONE HUNDR ED FIRST SE A S ON
Paris, a daring venture to study acoustical, scientific, and computer technology as related to music. After providing an artistic direction for the program at IRCAM, Berio saw his job there as completed, and he returned to Italy in 1977, devoting his creative energies thereafter princi- pally to large-scale concert and music-theater works. He died in Rome in May 2003.
O ne of the most fruitfully symbiotic twentieth-century creative relationships between composer and performer was that forged by Berio with the Armenian American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian. During their marriage, from 1950 to 1968 (she remained devoted to his music, however, until her death in 1983), together they evolved an unprece- dented style of extended vocal performance that embraced such innovations as fragmented words, elongated syllables, aspirations, clicking, laughter, and other non-verbal sounds as well as conventional lyrical singing, a development that culminated with the remarkable Sequenza III for unaccompanied voice of 1966. Complementing Berio’s daring writing for Berberian are the straightforward “arrangements” (his word) of eleven folk songs from various countries that he created in 1964, while he was teaching at Mills College. Berio retained the original melodies, but embedded them within instrumental accompani- ments that provided his commentaries on the tra- ditional tunes. “It is not my intention to preserve
the authenticity of a folk song,” Berio explained in an interview in 1985.
My transcriptions are analyses. . . . I have always felt a strong sense of uneasiness listen- ing to folk songs with piano accompaniment. It is for this reason, and especially to pay tribute to the artistry and vocal intelligence of Cathy Berberian that, in 1964, I wrote Folk Songs for voice and seven instruments, and later arranged the work for voice and cham- ber orchestra. This is essentially an anthology of eleven f