As my New York super used to say, “Feeneesh!”
This post is the conclusion of my earlier article about choosing music for this 2010-2011 season.
Apparently things cooked nicely in the back of my brain during my week off. That’s a surprise, since I haven’t read through any of the pieces completely yet.
Bach, WTC I, Prelude & Fugue no. 5 in D Major
Individual parts are making more sense than they did two weeks ago. And it’s fun to try two parts at a time for brief passages. Hearing the harmonies and dissonances (and overtones!) close up for the first or second time provides the same element of surprise that audiences will hear.
Fingerings continue to demand attention. Whenever that goes into auto-pilot, sightreading takes over. Allowing that to happen ensures the reinforcement of unwanted accents and flow problems due to bad fingering.
Katerina Stamatelos, Variations and Invocation Upon a ’Kyrie Eleison’ and an Anathema
Katerina is a composer I met on Twitter! Several of her works are available in print and as audio files on her web site. I became interested in her music upon listening to some of these and reading her bio. She majored in composition at the University of Iowa! So I feel a connection.
The Variations are wonderfully inventive. In addition to melodic and harmonic considerations, they surprise when each variation proceeds to the next one. Just as the listener expects a phrase to continue a certain way, perhaps, the music is already into the next section!
This piece is accessible to audiences, including those unaccustomed to contemporary music, largely due to the melody of the Kyrie, easily heard throughout. I can’t wait to perform these pieces!
I’ve loved these pieces for a long time, but never thought of performing them. Learning them for the first time is an excellent opportunity to use my imagination like a child! (If I had a hobby horse…)
This set of character songs will be the center of my program.
Messiaen, Fantaisie Burlesque
This piece is so unusual for Messiaen, it’s going to be a great programming choice. No one will know what to expect. The harmonic and rhythmic language fit his style, but what about a burlesque fits his spiritual M.O.?
A customer review at Amazon says Messiaen wanted to write a “funny” piece.
The score has Messiaen’s extra staves above and below the staff, as usual. But this time, only one hand has to move up or down. So I’m thinking this is going to be easy! Most of the time, Messiaen has so much going on that you could get dizzy. When he has more to say and has run out of room, he just adds layers.
This piece has repetitions, both of melody and chord groups within sections, and whole reiterated sections. There are several sections, and it’s a rather long piece.
“Sleepless Night” and “Spanish Prelude,” and possibly “Novelette in Fourths,” probably not in that order. “Spanish Prelude” would end the group more impressively, with energy.
An additional word about Gershwin
I feel compelled to play Gershwin. There are three reasons for this:
- Gershwin was a very inventive and talented composer (so I don’t see programming his music as “dumbing down”
- I have been told that I play Gershwin well (Norman Luboff hired me based on his hearing me play “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess)
- Last Sunday’s performance of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto by the BSO was disappointing to me, giving me all the more reason to perform his music well.
Sunday’s performance was part of the Boston Symphony concert broadcast from Tanglewood. The soloist, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, was wonderful. His playing sounded jazzy and free. The BSO, though, was playing straight 8th notes! Why? That would be appropriate to Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and many other composers, but certainly not to this one!
Had Bernstein been conducting, the BSO probably would have sounded great. Why wasn’t the orchestra listening to the soloist?