Symphony Center Presents - Chicago Symphony Orchestra ?· PROGRAM EIGHTY-SIXTH SEASON Symphony Center…

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<ul><li><p>PROGRAM</p><p>EIGHTY-SIXTH SEASON</p><p>Symphony Center Presents</p><p>Sunday, June 11, 2017, at 3:00</p><p>Piano Series</p><p>KIRILL GERSTEIN</p><p>J.S. BachFour Duets, BWV 802805No. 1 in E MinorNo. 2 in F MajorNo. 3 in G MajorNo. 4 in A Minor</p><p>BrahmsSonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 2Allegro non troppo, ma energicoAndante con espressioneScherzo: AllegroFinale: SostenutoAllegro non troppo e rubato</p><p>INTERMISSION</p><p>LisztTranscendental Etudes, S. 139PreludioMolto vivacePaysageMazeppaFeux folletsVisionEroicaWilde JagdRicordanzaAllegro agitato moltoHarmonies du soirChasse-neige</p><p>This performance is made possible by a generous gift from Richard and Mary L. Gray.</p></li><li><p>2 </p><p>COMMENTS by Richard E. Rodda</p><p>Johann Sebastian BachBorn March 21, 1688; Eisenach, GermanyDied July 28, 1750; Leipzig, Germany</p><p>Four Duets from Clavier-bung, Part 3, BWV802805</p><p>COMPOSEDca. 1739</p><p>Much of Bachs activity after taking over the direction of music in Leipzigs churches in 1723 was carried out under the shadow of the memory of his predecessor, Johann </p><p>Kuhnau, a respected musician and scholar who published masterly translations of Greek and Hebrew, practiced as a lawyer, and won wide fame for his keyboard music. In 1726, probably the ear-liest date allowed by the enormous demands of his official position for new sacred vocal music, Bach began a series of keyboard suites that were appar-ently intended to compete with those of Kuhnau.</p><p>In addition to helping establish his reputation in Leipzig, these pieces also would provide useful teaching material for the private students he was beginning to draw from among the local univer-sitys scholars. Bach published his Partita no. 1 in B-flat major (BWV825) in 1726 and issued one additional such composition every year or so until 1731, when he gathered together these six works and issued them collectively in a volume entitled Clavier-bung (Keyboard practice), a term he borrowed from the name of Kuhnaus keyboard suites published in 1689 and 1692. The Clavier-bung was well received, and Bach </p><p>continued his instructional series in 1735 with the Clavier-bung, part2.</p><p>In 1739, Bach published part3 of his Clavier-bung as a handbook for Lutheran organists to suggest appropriate ways to adapt certain chorales to Luthers longer and shorter versions of the Catechism. He filled out this vade mecum of chorale preludes with an opening prelude and a closing fugue (which have come to be known together as the St. Anne) and four pieces in strict two-part counterpoint that he labeled simply duets (BWV802805).</p><p>The duets are written for keyboards only, without pedals, and so may be played on organ, harpsichord, or piano. It has been suggested that they may have been included in the Clavier-bung to satisfy some Trinitarian function (i.e., to make a total of twenty-seven pieces in the collection, or 3 3 3), or to serve as models for imitative interpretations of chorale motives, or even to round out the number of pages for printing purposes. Generations of Bach scholars have entertained themselves variously supporting or debunking these theories.</p><p>What is certain about the duets is that they are examples of the most pure, masterful, and profound plane that the art of counterpoint has ever reached, exciting more pleasures in the mind and more resonances in the heart than it seems possible to capture in just two unadorned ribbonsof notes. </p></li><li><p>3 </p><p>Johannes BrahmsBorn May 7, 1833; Hamburg, GermanyDied April 3, 1897; Vienna, Austria</p><p>Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 2</p><p>COMPOSED1852</p><p>His ability as a pianist brought Johannes Brahms his earliest fame. His father, Jakob, a double bass player of meager success in Hamburg, early on recognized the </p><p>boys musical talents and started him with piano lessons when he was seven years old. Just three years later, Johannes was playing well enough to be offered a tour of America as a prodigy, but he instead chose to receive further training (at no cost) from Eduard Marxsen, a musician whose excellent taste and thorough discipline helped form his students elevated view of the art.</p><p>Marxsen guided Brahmss earliest attempts at composition and prepared him for his first public recital, given in Hamburg in 1848, when he was fifteen. Significantly, the program included a fugue by Bach. A year later, Brahms presented a second concert that featured another selection by Bach as well as Beethovens Waldstein Sonata.</p><p>The first evidence of Brahmss creative talents presented itself soon after he began studying with Marxsen in the form of piano improvisa-tions, potpourris of popular melodies, and vari-ations on folk songs. He was making attempts at large, formal pieces by 1849, and within two years, he had composed the Scherzo in E-flat minor (op. 4), the earliest piece he allowed to reach publication. There also seem to have been at least two piano sonatas and some chamber pieces from his teenage years, but those have disappeared; Brahms was almost pathologically secretive about his sketches and unpublished works. The Sonata in F-sharp minor (op. 2) followed in 1852 and the C major sonata (op. 1) a year later. These three early piano works helped set the course for the rest of Brahmss life.</p><p>In April 1853, the twenty-year-old Brahms set out from his native Hamburg for a concert tour of Germany with the Hungarian violinist Eduard </p><p>Remnyi. The following month in Hanover, they met the violinist Joseph Joachim, whom Brahms had heard give an inspiring performance of Beethovens Violin Concerto five years earlier in Hamburg. Brahms was at first somewhat shy in the presence of the celebrated virtuoso, but the two men warmed to each other when the young composer began to play some of his recent music at the piano.</p><p>That summer Brahms and Joachim spent eight weeks together at Gttingen, discussing music, studying scores, playing chamber works, and setting the foundation for a creative friendship that would last for almost half a century. Joachim learned of Brahmss desire to take a walking tour through the Rhine Valley, and he arranged a joint recital to raise enough money to finance the trip. Along with the proceeds of the gate, Joachim gave Brahms as a parting gift several letters of introduction, including one to Robert and Clara Schumann in Dsseldorf.</p><p>On the last day of September 1853, Brahms met the Schumanns for the first time, and played for them his scherzo and the two sonatas. They were overwhelmed. Here is one who comes as if sent straight from God, Clara recorded in her diary. Brahms spent a delightful month in Dsseldorf, seeing the Schumanns almost every day, sharing meals, talking, joining their family walks, and playing music with them. Robert was in awe of Brahmss talent, a conviction he shared with the musical world in his famous article New Paths, which appeared in the October 23 edition of his journal Neue Zeitschrift fr Musik:</p><p>It seemed to me that there would and indeed must suddenly appear one man who would be singled out to articulate and give the ideal expression to the tendencies of our time, one man who would show us his mastery, not through a gradual process, but, like Athene, spring fully armed from the head of Zeus. And he has come, a young man over whose cradle Graces and Heroes stood guard. His name is Johannes Brahms.</p></li><li><p>4 </p><p>Brahms was duly inspired by Schumanns unstinting advocacy, and he threw himself into the composition of a new F minor piano sonata, his third work in the form in two years, which he played for Robert and Clara from his head on November 2, the eve of his departure from Dsseldorf. Brahms then made his way to Leipzig, the center of European music publish-ing, where, with Schumanns blessing and the instant renown bestowed by the Neue Zeitschrift article, his first two piano sonatas, a set of six songs, and the Scherzo in E-flat minor were accepted by the prestigious firm of Breitkopf and Hrtel. The Sonata in F-sharp minor, op. 2, was dedicated to Clara as a small mark of esteem and gratitude. Brahms devoted the rest of his life to the highest ideals of German music as advocated by Schumann.</p><p>A key to the mood and expressive intent of the F-sharp minor sonata (op. 2) is given by words from its movement titles: energicoespressionerubato. Brahms was only nineteen when he wrote this work in 1852. The impetuosity of his youth is evident throughout, as is the flamboyantly emotional spirit of that mid-passage of musical romanticismRigoletto and Lohengrin had just had their premieres. Recently retired from the concert circuit to become music director at Weimar, Liszt was beginning his B minor sonata and cycle of tone poems; Schumanns incidental music to Byrons hallucinatory dramatic poem Manfred was heard for the first time; Gounod was mooting an adap-tation of Goethes visionary Faust for the opera stage. Brahms, not yet fully formed as a creative being, could hardly have escaped the questing and the yearning and the transcendence of that ageechoes of Liszts influence abound in the F-sharp minor sonatas transformation of themes, harmonic progressions, and fiery pianismbut </p><p>it is remarkable and prophetic how he attempted to harness these strong passions through the masterful control of form and motivic develop-ment that was soon to become the hallmark of his work.</p><p>The opening Allegro ma non troppo ma energico is based on a turbulent main theme and a vaulting subsidiary subject in triplet rhythms set, rather discursively, into contention through-out the movements sonata form. This movement is a fascinating study of genius in the making, with good ideas, superb instincts about form and expression, fearlessness, and a thorough under-standing of the compositions sound medium needing only the purifying effect of work and experience to elevate, deepen, compress, and distill them into creative mastery.</p><p>The second movement (Andante con espres-sione), Brahmss earliest surviving set of vari-ations, takes as its theme the song Mir ist leide, attributed to Kraft von Toggenburg, a minnesinger (love singer), the German medieval counterparts to the French troubadours. The theme of the scherzo is fashioned from the open-ing notes of Mir ist leide, evidence of Brahmss interest in unifying his large forms even at that early stage in his career; a lilting central trio pro-vides formal contrast and expressive balance. A phrase in gaunt octaves and florid passages of runs and trills provide the introduction to the finale.</p><p>The movements principal theme is a graceful transformation of the introductory motive; a showy bit of imitative writing is the first of sev-eral ideas comprising the second theme group. A diffuse development of the movements thematic components, a somewhat truncated recapitu-lation, and a cadenza-like coda recalling the movements introduction round out this sonata, which already proclaims a composer of unusual quality, wrote Malcolm MacDonald in his study of Brahms. </p></li><li><p>5 </p><p>Franz LisztBorn October 22, 1811; Doborjn, Hungary (now Raiding, Austria)Died July 31, 1886; Bayreuth, Germany</p><p>Transcendental Etudes, S. 139</p><p>COMPOSED1826, 183738; revised, 1851</p><p>In 1826, when, at the age of fifteen, Franz Liszt was being presented in Paris as a prodigy by his father, he composed a set of twelve etudes. The pieces were published in </p><p>Marseilles as his op. 1 the following year with a dedication to Lydie Garella, then one of his most favored piano duet partners.</p><p>Five years later, in Paris in 1831, Liszt heard Paganini play for the first time, and he spent the next several years trying to find keyboard equiv-alents for the dazzling feats that the legendary violinist accomplished on his instrument. To that end, Liszt undertook a thorough transformation of his old op. 1 etudes in 1837, and produced one of the most awesome documents of instrumental virtuosity of the romantic centurythe twelve Transcendental Etudes.</p><p>Liszts op. 1 etudes found their principal influences in the finger-exercising teaching pieces of his teacher Carl Czerny and the lyrical effusions of fashionable Italian opera. (Liszts dozens of arrangements, paraphrases, fantasias, and reminiscences on operatic themes were among the most popular numbers on his recitals.) He had originally intended to produce a cycle of forty-eight numbers, which, like the two books of Bachs Well-Tempered Clavier, would include two pieces in each of the major and minor keys (C major, A minor; F major, D minor; B-flat major, G minor, etc.), but he completed only twelve movements, giving them no titles, except for their tempo markings.</p><p>He took up the etudes again in 1837, by which time his affair with the Countess Marie dAgoult, wife of the equerry to the dauphin of France, had progressed to the point of the immi-nent birth of their second child, an event that they chose to await among the Italian lakesCosima, later the wife of both Hans von Blow </p><p>and Richard Wagner, was born at Bellagio on Lake Como on Christmas Eve. In addition to the inspiration provided by the enrichment of his family life and the spectacular northern Italian scenery, Liszt also may have returned to the genre of the etude out of a certain sense of professional pride and one-upmanship, since Frdric Chopin had issued his op.25 etudes earlier that year with a dedication to none other than Countess dAgoult.</p><p>Liszt retained the thematic materials and key structures of his earlier pieces (he added a title to only oneMazeppa, associated with Victor Hugos swashbuckling poem about the sixteenth-century Polish hero), but created in his tudes dexcution transcendante piano works of almost symphonic breadth whose difficulty of performance led Robert Schumann to call them Sturm- und Graus Etden (Studies of storm and dread), suitable for perhaps only ten or twelve players in the whole world.</p><p>Hector Berlioz believed that no one else in the world could flatter himself that he could approach being able to perform them. Liszt returned yet again to the Transcendental Etudes in 1851, when he alleviated some of their techni-cal difficulties, tightened their formal structures, and added poetic titles to all but two of them. (Both the 1837 and 1851 versions were dedicated to Czerny.) Even in this simplified final form, the version usually heard today in the concert hall, the Transcendental Etudes remain among the most imposing technical and interpretative challenges in the pianos realm.</p><p>The brief Preludio is a kind of warm-up, a chance to flex the fingers and test the sonori-ties across the entire range of the keyboard. The untitled second movement reflects the flamboyant brilliance of Paganinis playing in terms of the keyboard. Paysage (Landscape) is calm and lyrical, a halcyon musical evoca-tion of a pastoral scene. Mazeppa is associated with the Polish nobleman Ivan Stepanovich Mazeppa (16441709), who served during his younger years as a page at the court of King </p></li><li><p>6 </p><p>John Casimir of Poland, where he had an affair with the wife of an older courtier. The furious count had Mazeppa tied naked to a wild horse, which was sent racing into Ukraine. For three days, the horse galloped across th...</p></li></ul>


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