leila josefowicz john novacek - san francisco … · 2017-10-24 · leila josefowicz | violin john...
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LEILA JOSEFOWICZ | Violin JOHN NOVACEK | Piano
Tuesday, November 7, 2017 | 7:30pmHerbst Theatre
SIBELIUS Valse triste, Opus 44 arr. Friedrich Hermann
PROKOFIEV Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Opus 80 Andante assai Allegro brusco Andante Allegrissimo
ZIMMERMANN Sonata for Violin and Piano Sonata: Allegro moderato, rubato Fantasia: Andante sostenuto Rondo: Allegro con brio
ADAMS Road Movies First movement: relaxed groove Second movement: meditative Third movement: 40% swing
San Francisco Performances acknowledges the generosity of Concert Partners: Mr. Victor Penico; Wylie and Judith Sheldon; David Shepherd and Albert Hoffman; Ms. Françoise Stone.
This presentation is made possible, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Leila Josefowicz is represented by Harrison/ Parrott Ltd., 5-6 Albion Court, Albion Place, London W6 0QT harrisonparrott.co.uk
John Novacek is represented by Parker Artists, 382 Central Park West #9G, New York, NY 10025 parkerartists.com
Hamburg Steinway Model D, Pro Piano, San Francisco.
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San Francisco Performances presents Leila Josefowicz and John Novacek for the fourth time. They made their SF Performances’ debut in 1996. Ms. Josefowicz also performed in the 20th Anniversary Season Gala in 1999.
Leila Josefowicz’s passionate advocacy of contemporary music for the violin is re-flected in her diverse programs and enthu-siasm to perform new works. She frequent-ly collaborates with leading composers and works with orchestras and conductors at the highest level around the world. In 2008 she was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, joining prominent scientists, writers and musicians who have made unique contributions to contemporary life.
Highlights of Josefowicz’s 2017–18 sea-son include concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orches-tra, and Iceland, Boston, Lahti and Finn-ish Radio symphony orchestras, as well as Washington’s National Symphony Or-chestra. Alongside pianist John Novacek, with whom Josefowicz has enjoyed a close collaboration since 1985, she performs re-citals in Reykjavik, Leeds, Chicago, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Halifax (Nova Scotia) and has appeared recently at world-renowned venues such as New York’s Zankel Hall and London’s Wigmore Hall, where she returns in autumn 2017.
Composers including John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Colin Matthews and Ste-ven Mackey have written violin concertos especially for Leila Josefowicz. Schehe-razade.2 (Dramatic Symphony for Violin and
Orchestra) by Adams was given its world premiere by Josefowicz in 2015 with the New York Philharmonic. She gave Luca Francesconi’s concerto Duende—The Dark Notes, also written for Josefowicz, in 2014 with Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Susanna Mälkki, before performing it with Mälkki and the BBC Symphony Or-chestra at the BBC Proms in 2015.
Recent highlights include engagements with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Ton-halle-Orchester Zürich, Helsinki Philhar-monic and Tokyo Metropolitan, St. Louis, San Francisco and Minnesota symphony orchestras. In summer 2017, Josefowicz ap-peared at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall at the BBC Proms with City of Birmingham Sympho-ny Orchestra. She returned to the London Symphony Orchestra in December 2016, performing John Adams’ Scheherazade.2 in London, Paris and Dijon.
Josefowicz has released several record-ings, notably for Deutsche Grammophon, Philips/Universal and Warner Classics and was featured on Touch Press’ acclaimed iPad app, The Orchestra. Her latest record-ing, featuring Scheherazade.2 with the St Louis Symphony conducted by David Robertson, was released in 2016 and nomi-nated for a Grammy Award. Josefowicz’s recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto with the Finnish Radio Sympho-ny Orchestra conducted by the composer was also nominated for a Grammy Award in 2014.
Pianist John Novacek regularly tours the Americas, Europe and Asia as solo recital-ist, chamber musician and concerto soloist; in the latter capacity he has presented over thirty concerti with dozens of orchestras.
John Novacek’s major American per-formances have been heard in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Av-
ery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall, 92nd Street Y, Columbia University’s Miller The-ater, Merkin Concert Hall, The Metropoli-tan Museum of Art and Symphony Space, Washington’s The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Center and Los An-geles’ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Holly-wood Bowl and Royce Hall. International venues include Paris’ Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Salle Gaveau and Musée du Lou-vre, London’s Wigmore Hall and Barbican Centre, and most of the major concert halls of Japan. Mr. Novacek’s current season is highlighted by his debut with the Orquesta Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México.
John Novacek is a much sought-after col-laborative artist and has performed with Joshua Bell, Matt Haimovitz, Leila Josefo-wicz, Cho-Liang Lin, Yo-Yo Ma, Truls Mork, Elmar Oliveira and Emmanuel Pahud, and, as well as the Colorado, Harrington, Jupi-ter, New Hollywood, St. Lawrence, Super-Nova and Ying string quartets. He tours widely as a member of Intersection, a pia-no trio that includes violinist Laura Frauts-chi and cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper. Mr. Novacek has given numerous world pre-mieres and worked closely with composers John Adams, John Harbison, Jennifer Hig-don, George Rochberg, John Williams and John Zorn.
John Novacek took top prizes at the Le-schetizky and Joanna Hodges internation-al piano competitions, among many oth-ers. He studied piano with Polish virtuoso Jakob Gimpel at California State Universi-ty, Northridge, earning a Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude. Subsequently, he earned a Master of Music degree from New York City’s Mannes College of Music.
John Novacek’s compositions and ar-rangements have been performed by the Pacific Symphony, The 5 Browns, Concer-tante, Manasse/Nakamatsu Duo, Har-rington String Quartet, Ying Quartet, Millennium, Quattro Mani and The Three Tenors. He has recorded over 30 CDs, en-compassing solo and chamber music from Bach to Bartók, to many contemporary and original scores. Mr. Novacek records for Philips, Nonesuch, Arabesque, Warner Classics, Sony/BMG, Koch International, Universal Classics, Ambassador, Pony Canyon, Four Winds, Arkay, Virtuoso and EMI Classics. CD titles include Road Mov-ies (2004 Grammy nomination as “Best Chamber Music Performance”), Great Mozart Piano Works, Spanish Rhapsody, Novarags (original ragtime composi-tions), and, with Leila Josefowicz, Ameri-
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cana (Grampophone: “Editor’s Choice”), For the End of Time, Shostakovich and Recit-al (BBC Music Magazine: 5 stars/June 2005’s chamber choice).
John Novacek is a Steinway Artist.
Valse triste, Opus 44
JEAN SIBELIUSBorn December 8, 1865, HämeenlinnaDied September 20, 1957, Ainola
In the first years of the twentieth cen-tury, Jean Sibelius—then in his late thir-ties—began to achieve success as a com-poser: his Second Symphony of 1902 and Violin Concerto of 1905 finally brought him the performances and international fame he had long sought. Between these two works, Sibelius was asked to provide inci-dental music to the play Kuolema (”Death”) by his brother-in-law, the distinguished Finnish writer Arvid Järnefelt. For the first production of the play, Sibelius wrote a suite of six numbers and then added two more when the play was revived in 1911.
In 1904, the year after the first produc-tion, Sibelius pulled out some of this music and revised it for independent publication, and by far the most successful of these pieces was the brief Valse triste. In Järne-felt’s play, a son attends a dying woman and falls asleep at her bedside. Distant music is heard and the frail woman rises and begins to dance, her trailing bedclothes taking on the aspect of a ball gown. Memories from her past intrude upon this ghostly dance, and she recalls dancing with her late hus-band. Suddenly a knock on the door rings out, the music fades, the dream-dancers around her vanish, and Death is at the door. Sibelius’ “Sad Waltz” is not a literal depic-tion of this but instead a remembrance of that waltz long ago, as phantom figures flit past in the woman’s misty memories.
Valse triste itself seems to emerge from the mists of memory. It begins with mere fragments that gradually coalesce into the waltz rhythm, and then the violin sings the wistful waltz tune. The dance ebbs and flows, sometimes rushing ahead, some-times falling back, until it reaches a turbu-lent climax, then fades into silence.
A sad footnote: needing cash, Sibelius sold all rights to Valse triste to his publish-
er for the trifling sum of 300 marks. To his astonishment, this little waltz instantly became an international sensation and was performed around in the world in a va-riety of arrangements that made the pub-lisher an extraordinary amount of money. Sibelius never received a penny of this.
On this recital Valse triste is performed in an arrangement for violin and piano by Friedrich Hermann.
Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Opus 80SERGEI PROKOFIEVBorn April 23, 1891, SontsovkaDied March 5, 1953, Moscow
Prokofiev’s First Violin Sonata had a dif-ficult genesis. Prokofiev began work on it in 1938 during one of the most horrifying moments in Soviet history—the period of Stalin’s purges—but found that he could not complete it. He set the score aside, but before he could return to it, another of the most traumatic events in Russian histo-ry—the Second World War—occurred. In response to the war Prokofiev wrote some of his greatest scores, including the opera War and Peace and the mighty Fifth Sym-phony. Only after the war was over did he return to complete this sonata, eight years after it was begun. This made for problems with numbering: during the war, Proko-fiev had written another violin sonata; he called that his Second, even though it was completed before the First. Violinist Da-vid Oistrakh, dedicatee of the First Sonata, gave the premiere performance in Moscow on October 23, 1946.
While the Second Sonata is one of Pro-kofiev’s sunniest scores (it shows no trace of the war that raged during its creation), the First is grim, and Soviet commentators were quick to put the politically-correct interpretation on such dark music: some heard it as resistance to the Nazis, others as a portrait of oppressed Russia, and so on. Seventy years after the completion of this sonata, it is far better to let the music speak for itself than to impose extraneous interpretations on it.
Beneath the lyric surface of this music, the mood is often icy and dark—even bru-tal. Some of this unsettling quality comes from Prokofiev’s extremely fluid metrical sense: in this score, the meter sometimes changes every measure. The marking for the opening Andante assai is 3/4 4/4, and Prokofiev alternates those two meters, though he will sometimes fall into just one
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2017–18 Salon Series
October 18Adam Shulman Trio
November 1Toni Marie Palmertree
Soprano Ronnie Michael Greenberg
November 15Jennifer Kloetzel
January 31Alexander String Quartet
Meraki String Quartet
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of them for extended passages. The somber first movement opens with an ostinato-like piano passage over which the violin makes its muttering, tentative entrance. Much of the main section is double-stopped, and in the final moments come quietly rac-ing runs for muted violin; Prokofiev said that these should sound “like the wind in a graveyard,” and he marks the violinist’s part freddo: “cold.”
The second movement, Allegro brusco (“brusque”) is in sonata form. The pound-ing opening subject gives way to a soaring second theme marked eroico; the brusque and the lyric alternate throughout this movement, which ends with the violin rocketing upward to the concluding high C. Prokofiev began the Andante—which he described as “slow, gentle, and tender”—before the war, but did not complete it until 1946. Muted throughout, the violin has the main subject over rippling triplets from the piano. The concluding Allegris-simo brings back the metrical freedom of the opening movement: Prokofiev’s met-ric indication is 5/8 7/8 8/8. The alternat-ing meters give the music an asymmetric feel, which is intensified by the aggressive quality of the thematic material. The cold winds from the first movement return to blow icily through the sonata’s final pages and to bring this music to its somber close.
Sonata for Violin and Piano
BERND ALOIS ZIMMERMANNBorn March 20, 1918, BliesheimDied August 10, 1970, Königsdorf
Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s life was intense, and it was relatively brief. He at-tended a Catholic secondary school and be-gan his musical studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne but was drafted into the German army shortly after the war began. Discharged for medical reasons in 1942, he was unable to complete his stud-ies until 1947. He attended the Darmstadt summer courses in 1948 and studied with Wolfgang Fortner and René Leibowitz. Zimmermann first supported himself by working as an arranger and a radio com-poser, and later he taught composition in Cologne. Gradually he forged a style of his own and composed prolifically (if with difficulty) over the next two decades. Zim-mermann’s Catholic faith remained strong throughout his life, and he once described himself as “a Rhenish mixture of monk and Dionysian.” By his early fifties, how-ever, Zimmermann was suffering from de-
teriorating vision, depression, and illness; he took his own life in the summer of 1970.
Zimmermann went his own way as a composer, and this has made him difficult to describe or classify. He refused to iden-tify with any “school” and was willing to incorporate all manner of compositional techniques into his own music, whether it was serial music, jazz, collage, electronics, quotation, or layers of music in different styles; his style has sometimes been de-scribed as “pluralism.” Among the animat-ing forces in his music were his religious faith, a profound sense of history and particularly of time, and an awareness of the suffering around him. Zimmermann’s music is extremely difficult to perform. His opera Die Soldaten, which many regard as his masterpiece, was initially rejected by the Cologne Opera as “unplayable,” and one of his final major works—Requiem for a Young Poet—calls for over 300 perform-ers, including narrator, soprano, bass, two actors, three choirs, jazz ensemble, taped segments, a huge orchestra, and organ.
Zimmermann composed his Sonata for Violin and Piano in 1950, just as the 32-year-old composer began teaching at Cologne University. The first performance was giv-en in November of that year on the Nord-westdeutscher Rundfunk in Hamburg by violinist Lothar Ritterhoff and pianist Hans Richter-Haaser. The sonata, which spans about a quarter of an hour, is in three movements in a (general) fast-slow-fast sequence, but that may be the only traditional thing about this music. This sonata combines a gritty dramatic sense with a virtuosic brilliance in a way that at moments seems more suited to a concerto than a sonata. The first movement gets off to a powerful beginning with the violin’s jagged line over the piano’s great chords. Matters settle almost immediately as the music moves into a passage marked Tran-quillo (frequent tempo changes will char-acterize the entire sonata). Zimmermann specifies that the violinist should play here with “broad strokes,” and this theme is virtually a twelve-tone row, though it incorporates some repetition. After this hyper-energetic opening paragraph, the second theme-group, marked Allegro com-modo (“comfortable”), brings saucy, grace-ful contrast. Zimmermann alternates these two ideas, and the movement hurtles to its close on a unison A stamped out by both instruments.
The central Fantasia takes us into a dif-ferent world entirely, full of trills and arabesques. Zimmermann creates a par-
ticular sonority here by asking that some of the piano’s accompanying chords be ar-peggiated downward, and the movement fades into silence on chords marked quad-ruple piano.
The concluding Rondo brings back the energy and virtuosity of the open-ing movement. One of the alternating episodes is marked Tempo di Rumba. Here Zimmermann re-stresses the 2/4 meter as if it were 3+3+2, and the music dances agreeably along this uneven rhythm. This sonata’s kinship with a concerto is reaf-firmed in its closing moments, when the piano drops out and the violin is given a substantial cadenza. The piano rejoins the violin, and the sonata concludes violently with the fierce superimposition of an F-mi-nor chord atop a B-flat minor chord.
—Program notes by Eric Bromberger
Road Movies, for violin and piano (1995)JOHN ADAMSBorn February 15, 1947, Worcester, MA
The composer has furnished the following program note:
The title Road Movies is total whimsy, probably suggested by the “groove” in the piano part, all of which is required to be played in a “swing” mode (second and fourth of every group of four notes are played slightly late). Movement I is a re-laxed drive down a not unfamiliar road. Material is recirculated in a sequence of recalls that suggest a rondo form. Move-ment II is a simple meditation of several small motives, a solitary figure in an empty desert landscape. Movement III is for four-wheel drives only, a big perpetual-motion machine called “40% Swing.” On mod-ern MIDI sequencers the desired amount of swing can be adjusted with almost ridiculous accuracy. 40% provides a gid-dy, bouncy ride, somewhere between an Ives ragtime and a long rideout by the Goodman Orchestra, circa 1939. It is very difficult for violin and piano to maintain over the seven-minute stretch, especial-ly in the tricky cross-hand style of the piano part. Relax, and leave the driving to us.
Road Movies was commissioned by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.