The Composer's Palette
- Saturday, September 21 – Cascade Theatre, Redding, 7:30pm
Sunday, September 22 - Laxson Auditorium, Chico, 2:00pm
- Falla – Three Cornered Hat – Scenes and Dances from Part I
Ravel - Le Tombeau de Couperin
Tchaikovsky – Violin Concerto
- Yevgeny Kutik, Violin
Margaret B. Brennan
and Robert L. Maxey
Conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett will give a free pre-concert talk one hour before the concerts begin.
From the corners of the European continent come three bright, beautiful and bold pieces. Each is quite different yet each one shows the amazing variety of color in the orchestral sound. Spanish music with the color and rhythm of Andalusian folk dance, then a 20th Century homage to the stately 17th Century, the France of Versailles. Climactically, the most passionate and beautiful of all violin concertos, that of Peter Tchaikovsky.
Yevgeny Kutik, violin
The Russian-American artist Yevgeny Kutik is hailed for his dazzling command of the violin and its repertoire, as well as a communicative immediacy that harkens back to the legendary Romantic masters.
Yevgeny made his debut with Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops in 2003 as the 1st Prize recipient of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition. He was also awarded a 2006 Salon de Virtuosi Grant as well as the 2006 Tanglewood Music Center Jules Reiner Violin Prize.
A native of Minsk, Belarus, Yevgeny immigrated to the United States at the age of five. Shortly thereafter, he began violin lessons with his mother, Alla Zernitskaya, and continued with the late Zinaida Gilels. His other principal teachers have included Shirley Givens, Roman Totenberg and Donald Weilerstein. Mr. Kutik holds a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) from Boston University and a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory.
Yevgeny’s current season is highlighted by engagements as guest soloist with the symphony orchestras of Lima, Mankato, Springfield (MA) and Traverse City, as well as California’s North State Symphony.
In 2012, Marquis Classics released Yevgeny Kutik’s debut CD - "Sounds of Defiance," featuring the music of Shostakovich, Schnittke, Pärt and Achron, selected nine months later as one of the best violin albums of the year in “The 2012 Violinist.com Holiday Gift Guide.” A limited quantity of copies of the CD will be on sale at today's performance intermission.
During the same year, he was the featured soloist with the newly formed All-Star Orchestra, recording Joseph Schwantner’s Soliloquy for Violin and Orchestra - The Poet’s Hour for a national broadcast on PBS.
Of special note, Yevgeny Kutik continues his close association with the United Jewish Federations of North America Speakers Bureau, annually performing throughout the United States to raise awareness and promote the assistance of refugees from around the world.
Recent performances include guest appearances with orchestras and in recitals from Wyoming to Juneau to Montenegro. With the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Yevgeny Kutik gave the 2006 world-premiere performance of Ron Ford’s Versus, receiving praise from The New York Times and The Boston Globe. He has also returned to The Boston Pops.
Of special, personal significance, he participated in performances at the Krakow Opera House and Auschwitz-Birkenau for the 2012 annual International March of the Living observances.
The Three-Cornered Hat – Scenes and Dances
from Part I
Manuel de Falla (1876 - 1946)
Manuel de Falla was a Spanish composer. With Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados he is one of Spain's most important musicians of the 20th century. Falla was born in Cádiz as Manuel María de los Dolores Falla y Matheu. His early teachers in music were his mother and grandfather. In 1893 he was inspired by a concert of Edvard Grieg's works, later saying that at the time he felt that "my definitive vocation is music".
In 1896 he moved to Madrid and attended the Real Conservatorio, studiying piano and composition. Even in early works for piano and string instruments, Spanish folk influence is heard. Falla was interested in native Andalusian music, particularly Andalusian flamenco. Among his early pieces are a number of zarzuelas (folk opera). His first important work was the one-act opera La vida breve (Life is Short), written in 1905.
In 1907 Falla moved to Paris, and met composers who influenced his style, including Ravel, Debussy and Dukas. In 1908 King Alfonso XIII awarded him a royal grant. In 1910 Falla met Igor Stravinsky and traveled briefly to London. When World War I began, Falla returned to Madrid.
In Madrid he composed several of his best known pieces, including the
nocturne for piano and orchestra Nights in the Gardens of Spain (Noches
en los jardines de España, 1916); the ballet El amor brujo (Wicked
Love, 1915);and the ballet The Magistrate and the Miller's Wife (El
corregidor y la molinera) which, after revision, became The Three-Cornered
Hat (El sombrero de tres picos, 1917) and was produced by Serge
Diaghilev with set design and costumes by Pablo Picasso.
Following Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War, Falla went into exile in Argentina. In 1940, he was named a Knight of the Order of King Alfonso X of Castile. Franco's government offered him a large pension if he would return to Spain, but he refused. He died of cardiac arrest in 1946 in the Argentine province of Córdoba. In 1947 his remains were brought back to Spain and entombed in the cathedral at Cádiz.
The Three-Cornered Hat, Synopsis of the Ballet
After a fanfare the curtain rises, revealing a mill in Andalusia, the miller, his wife, a pet bird and a scene of domesticity. Soon the magistrate, his wife, and a bodyguard pass by, and then the lecherous magistrate is heard coming back. The miller tells his wife that he will hide and that they will play a trick on the magistrate.
The miller hides and the magistrate sees the miller's wife dancing. She offers him some grapes, then runs away with the magistrate following her. He catches her, but the miller jumps out of a bush with a stick. The miller chases the magistrate away.
That night, the miller dances to entertain guests, but his dance is interrupted by the magistrate's bodyguard. The miller is arrested, and the guests leave. The miller's wife goes to sleep and the magistrate comes to the mill, but he trips and falls in the river. The miller's wife wakes up and runs away again.
The magistrate undresses, hangs his clothes on a tree, and goes to sleep in the miller's bed. The miller has escaped from prison and sees the magistrate in his bed. Thinking that the magistrate is sleeping with his wife, the miller plans to switch clothes with the magistrate, and avenge himself by seducing the magistrate's wife.
The miller leaves, dressed as the magistrate, and the magistrate wakes up. He sees that his clothes are gone, so he dresses in the miller's clothes. The bodyguard comes, sees the magistrate dressed as the miller, and tries to arrest him. The miller's wife sees the bodyguard fighting with what looks like her husband and joins in the fight. The miller comes back, sees his wife in the fight and joins in to protect her. The magistrate explains the mix-up, and the ballet ends with the miller's guests tossing the magistrate up and down in a blanket.
Le tombeau de Couperin
Joseph-Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known for his melodies and instrumental textures. Along with Debussy, he was one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music. Much of his piano, chamber, vocal and orchestral music has entered the standard concert repertoire.
Le tombeau de Couperin is a suite for solo piano by Maurice Ravel, composed between 1914 and 1917, based on a Baroque suite. Each movement is dedicated to the memory of a friend (or in one case, two brothers) who had died fighting in World War I. Ravel also produced the orchestral version of the work in 1919.
Tombeau is a musical term from the 17th century, meaning "a piece written as a memorial." François Couperin "the Great" (1668-1733) was one among a family noted as musicians. Ravel stated that his intention was not to imitate Couperin, but to pay homage to the Baroque French keyboard suite. This is reflected in the structure of contrasting dances, a la a Baroque dance suite. However, neoclassicism also shines through, with twentieth-century chromatic melody and piquant harmonies, particularly in the Forlane.
Despite the emotion Ravel felt both after the death of his friends in the war, and of his mother in 1917, Le tombeau de Couperin retains a light-hearted flavor. When criticised for composing a light-hearted work for such a sombre topic, Ravel replied: "The dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence."
The first performance of the original piano version was given in 1919 by Marguerite Long, the widow of Joseph de Marliave, who was one of Ravel's friends memorialized in the work. Also In 1919 Ravel orchestrated four of the six movements of the work. This version was premiered in February 1920, and has remained popular. Ravel’s orchestration skills turned a very pianistic piece into an effective orchestral suite. The orchestral version clarifies the harmonic language of the suite and brings sharpness to its dance rhythms.
The orchestra version is scored for two flutes (one doubling piccolo), two oboes (one doubling cor anglais), two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, trumpet, harp, and strings. The orchestra requires an oboe soloist of virtuosic skill, who takes the melody both in the Menuet and for the pastoral C minor section of the Rigaudon.
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer whose works include symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, chamber music, and choral music. Some of these are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, which he bolstered with appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. One of these appearances was at the inaugural concert of Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1891.
The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, written in 1878, is one of the best known of all violin works. It is also among the most technically difficult works for violin. The concerto is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings. As with most concertos, the piece is in three movements; there is no pause between the second and third movements.
The piece was written in Clarens, a Swiss resort on Lake Geneva, where Tchaikovsky had gone to recover from depression brought on by his disastrous marriage to Antonina Miliukova. He was joined there by his composition pupil, the violinist Iosif Kotek. A violin-and-piano arrangement of Édouard Lalo's Symphonie espagnole, played the day after Kotek's arrival, may have been the catalyst for the composition of the concerto. The composer wrote to his patroness, "[The Symphonie espagnole] has a lot of freshness, lightness, of piquant rhythms, of beautiful and excellently harmonized melodies.... [Lalo] does not strive after profundity, but he carefully avoids routine, seeks out new forms, and thinks more about musical beauty than about observing established traditions." Tchaikovsky authority Dr. David Brown writes Tchaikovsky "might almost have been writing the prescription for the violin concerto he himself was about to compose."
The work was completed within a month despite the middle movement getting a complete rewrite. Since Tchaikovsky was not a violinist, he sought the advice of Kotek on the solo part. Tchaikovsky wanted to dedicate the concerto to Kotek, but felt constrained by the gossip this would cause about his relationship with the younger man.
Tchaikovsky intended the first performance to be given by Leopold Auer, and accordingly dedicated the work to him. Auer refused, however, and a planned premiere for March 1879 had to be cancelled and a new soloist found. The first performance was eventually given by Adolph Brodsky on December 4, 1881 in Vienna, under the baton of Hans Richter, and Tchaikovsky changed the dedication to Brodsky.
Since it has since become the world's favorite Violin Concerto, it is interesting how mixed were the first impressions. The influential critic Eduard Hanslick called it "long and pretentious" and said that it "brought us face to face with the revolting thought that music can exist which stinks to the ear". Hanslick also wrote that "the violin was not played but beaten black and blue", and labeled the last movement "odorously Russian".
Fortunately other opinions prevailed, and even Leopold Auer, wrote, years later: "The concerto has made its way in the world, and…that is the most important thing. It is impossible to please everybody."