Radio Catskill

Listen Now!

Posted on Saturday, April 09, 2005

11 April 2005, Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Monday, Noon to 2:00PM, streaming on line at www.wjffradio.org
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 11 April 2005

050411

Martin Berkofsky: Cell: 1-703-508-3438
Home: 1-703-788-3356


Good Afternoon, Lovers of Fine Music, and welcome to Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, where we will hear the best of 20th and 21st century classical music as well as interviews with occasional guests. Before we begin our program, let’s hear what Liberty Green has to tell us on her weekly Arts and Culture Calendar.

As always, Liberty, we all thank you for the time and effort you have put into producing the WJFF Arts and Culture calendar.


Our guest during the first part of today's program is Martin Berkofsky, the president of the Cristofori Foundation, who in March, 2004, recorded a performance of Alan Hovhaness’s Concerto for Two Pianos, (Concerto No. 10, Opus 123 No.3,) in Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, a piece of extraordinary beauty, a piece that had never been performed before, much less recorded. Mr. Berkofsky and pianist Atakan Sari performed this concerto with the Globalis symphony Orchestra, which was conducted by Konstantin Krimets.

Martin Berkofsky, welcome to Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Thank you for agreeing to join us today on such short notice.

1. Let’s begin with a short biographical sketch. Martin, please tell us something about yourself.

2. What is the Cristofori Foundation all about? How did it get its name?

3. You’ve told me that you are devoted to the works of Alan Hovhaness. Please tell us something about Hovhaness, who was born in 1911 in Somerville, MA, not far from where I grew up, and who died in Seattle in 2000.

4. The piece we’ll begin today’s program with, Alan Hovhaness’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (Concerto No. 10, Opus 123 No. 3) has a history of its own that is quite fascinating. When was it written, for whom, and why did it take until last spring to experience its premiere performance?

5. Martin, what might we be listening for during the performance of Hovhaness’s Concerto for Two Pianos?

6. About two minutes before the end of the performance, I will call you again so that you can provide us with a few afterwords.

CD 1: Bands 3,4,5: Alan Hovhaness (1911, Somerville, MA – 2000, Seattle, WA): Concerto No. 10, Op. 123 No.3): Martin Berkofsky and Atakan Sari, pianists; The Globalis Symphony Orchestra, Konstantin Krimets, conductor. Private CD.

Time: 3. Andante 09’09
4. Largo 04’22
5. Moderato 09’08

Total time: 22’39

Martin, I will call you back in about 20 minutes if that’s OK.

7. We have just heard Alan Hovhaness’s Concerto No. 10, Op. 123 No. 3, performed on two pianos by our guest Martin Berkofsky and by Atakan Sari, with The Globalis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Konstantin Krimets. Alan, I am just becoming familiar with Alan Hovhaness’s music, and I am beginning to understand your passion for it, which I admire you for leading you to an important part of your life’s work.

8. Martin, you have mentioned that you are busy recording other works by Alan Hovhaness and other composers. Talk to us about what you are up to there, please.

9. Our guest this morning has been Martin Berkofsky, President of the Cristofori Foundation, one of the two performing pianists of the premiere of Alan Hovhaness’s Concerto No. 10, Op. 123 No. 3, and a very engaging guest indeed! Alan, as I promised you during our preliminary phone call, I am inviting you to be our guest again this summer, when we will have much more music to play! Thanks for taking the time to be with us today!

Some useful links:

Alan Hovhaness: http://www.hovhaness.com

Martin Berkofsky: http://www.celebrateliferun.com

Related Links: http://www.cristofori.org; http://cristoforifund.tripod.com/

CD 2: Bands 1-5: 1. Sandeep Das and Indrajit, 2. Ensemble improvisation; 3. Zhao Jiping and Shao Lin; 4. Georgian/Armenian Traditional; 5. Zhao Jiping: Enchantment: Yo-Yo Ma, ‘cello, et al: Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon. SONY Classical CD SK 93962.

Several years ago, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble recorded their first CD dedicated to investigating the musical cultures that flourished along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the West. They have now produced their second CD, Beyond the Horizon, which they have been performing in various cities since the beginning of April. I am sorry that I did not have the time to get to this CD before they played in the city yesterday. They will be performing tonight at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, April 12.

We’ll listen to the first section of the CD this morning, “Enchantment,” containing 5 selections, “Moline,” written by Sandeep Das and Indrajit Dey, and arranged by Ljova; “Oasis,” which is an ensemble improvisation; “Distant Green Valley,” composed by Zhao Jiping and Zhao Lin; “Akhalqalaqi Dance,” a Georgian/Armenian traditional piece arranged by Gevorg Dabaghyan; and “Echoes of a Lost City,” by Zhao Jiping.

All these pieces, as well as 10 more that appear on the CD, were put together in the fall of 2004, to be heard on the soundtrack of a television series about the Silk Road, created by the Japanese Network NHK. During the next few months, we’ll sample the rest of this glorious music. Anyone who still thinks that the music of the past 105 years is atonal has been asleep at the switch!

Time: 1. Mohini 01’47
2. Oasis 03’00
3. Distant Green Valley 07’06
4. Akhalqalaqi Dance 01’22
5. Echoes of a Lost City 01’18

Total time: 14’13

Running time: 36’52

Some useful links: Yo-Yo Ma: http://yo-yoma.com

Silk Road Project: http://www.silkroadproject.org/

SONY Classical: http://sonyclassical.com/

CD 3: Bands 1,2: Osvaldo Golijov (*1960, La Plata, Argentina): Last Round (1996). The St. Lawrence string Quartet: Geoff Nuttall and Barry Shiffman, violins; Lesley Robertson, viola; Marina Hoover, ‘cello; Timothy Ying and Janet Ying, violins; Phillip Ying, viola; David Ying, ‘cello; Mark Dresser, double bass. EMI Classics CD 7243 5 57356 2 1.

Osvaldo Golijov is one of my personal favorite contemporary classical composers. I had the great pleasure of interviewing him a couple of years ago and hope to do so again one of these weeks. He writes in the liner notes that he “composed Last Round in 1996, prompted by The St. Lawrence Quartet violinists, Geoff Nuttall and Barry Shiffman, [who had] heard a sketch of the second movement, which [he] had written in 1991 on hearing news of [Astor ] Piazolla’s stroke, and encouraged [him] to finish it and write another movement to complement it.” Golijov goes on to explain that the “title is borrowed from a short story on boxing by Julio Cortázar; the idea was to give Piazzolla’ spirit an imaginary chance to fight one more time (he used to get into fistfights throughout his life). The piece is conceived as an idealized bandoneon. The first movement represents a violent compression of the instrument and the second a final, seemingly endless, opening sigh (it is actually a fantasy over the refrain of the song ‘My Beloved Buenos Aires,’ composed by the legendary Carlos Gargel in the 1930s). But Last Round is also a sublimated tango dance. Two quartets confront each other, separated by the focal bass, with violins and violas standing up as in the traditional tango orchestras. The bows fly in the air as inverted legs in criss-crossed choreography, always attracting and repelling each other, always in danger of clashing, always avoiding it with the precision that can only be acquired by transforming hot passion into pure pattern.”

Time: 1. Movido urgente – Mache March, cool and dangerous 06’13
2. Lentissimo 06’27

Total time: 12’40

Running time: 49’32

Some useful links: Ozvaldo Golijov: http://www.osvaldogolijov.com/bio.htm

St. Lawrence String Quartet: http://slsq.com/home/index.html

EMI Classics: http://www.emiclassics.ca/

CD 4: Band 1: Isang Yun (1917, Tongyong – 1995, Berlin): Symphony No. 3 (1985). The Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra, Takao Ukigaya, conductor. Isang Yun Symphonies 1 & 3 CPO 999 125-2.

Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer tells us that Yun called his 3rd symphony “philosophical.” “he three parts of this one-movement work follow the sequence fast-slow-fast. . . .”This [unfolding of opposites] occurs in a succession of tonal worlds which, in the name of the Tao, bring heaven, earth, and humanity into relation[ship with one another]. . . . Three musical worlds are juxtaposed; three characters determine the structure. The strings [symbolize heavenly purity]; the brass instruments and timpani . . . symbolize bymbolize the earthly and demonic realms. The mediating . . . human world” is symbolized by the woodwinds.”

Time: 1. Symphony III 23’52

Total running time: 73’24

Some useful links:

Isang Yun http://www.classical-composers.org/cgi-bin/ccd.cgi?comp=yun

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have spoken by telephone with pianist Martin Berkofsky and listened to a performance of Alan Hovhaness’s Concerto for Two Pianos; we have also heard Enchantment, from Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon; Osvaldo Golijov’s Last Round; and Isang Yun’s Symphony III. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today’s program and that you will tune in next week when we will broadcast more great 20th and 21st century “classical” music. Until then. This is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music!
:: :: ::

Posted on Saturday, April 02, 2005

04 April 2005, Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, Monday, Noon to 2:00PM, Streaming online at www.wjffradio.org
Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf
Monday, 04 April 2005

050404



Good Afternoon, Lovers of Fine Music, and welcome to Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf, where we will hear the best of 20th and 21st century classical music as well as interviews with occasional guests. Before we begin our program, let’s hear what Liberty Green has to tell us on her weekly Arts and Culture Calendar.

As always, Liberty, we all thank you for the time and effort you have put into producing the WJFF Arts and Culture calendar.

CD1:Entire:Witold Lutoslawski (1913, Warsaw – 1994, Warsaw) String Quarter (1964): Kronos Quartet: David Harrington and John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; Joan Jeanrenaud, ‘cello. Witold Litoslawski Elektra Nonesuch CD 979255-2 .

Witold Lutoslawski, we are told, found the Bartókian approach to composition that he had been developing “an increasingly restrictive approach. (Liner Notes, Mark Swed). He became more and more interested in what is called aleatory music – “[m]usic in which deliberate use is made of chance or indeterminacy” (The Harvard Dictionary of Music, 2003, p. 32), which owes much of its influence in western music to John Cage. Hugo Cole, in The Musical Companion, quotes an unnamed source who describes Lutoslawski’s quartet as “a sequence of mobiles to be played one after the other.” Ole continues, [The composer] specifies normal playing techniques and notates them, in the parts, in normal ways; but there is often no strict co-ordination between parts: ‘each particular player is supposed not to know what the others are doing, or at least to perform his part as if he knew nothing of what the others are doing.’” (578-9)

This, of course, sounds like a recipe for a surrealistic musical form of Dadaism, parts played randomly as the piece approaches a kind of chaos. Of course, Lutoslawski was creating nothing of the sort. As Swed writes, he “has managed to create phrases that have a dramatic immediacy to their shapes.” (Liner Notes) In addition, of course, one is aware of the fact that the performers are seasoned professionals who are quite capable of determining how to carry out the composer’s instructions.

Swed adds, “one can hear Lutoslawski’s quartet as a representation of heroic death and transfiguration, of personal crisis and resolution, or even sexual climax and spent passion. One can hear it in modern science – Lutoslawski’s free-roaming individual parts are like elementary particles that cannot be pinned down in time and space, producing probabilistic force fields instead.” Fortunately, the writer adds, “But abstract music’s greatest power is its ability to communicate beyond metaphor, Lutoslawski’s meaningful abstraction becoming an eloquent expression of the inexpressible.”

Let’s listen to the wonderful Kronos Quartet perform Witold Lutoslawski’s 1964 String Quartet. The piece is written in two movements.

Time: 1. Introductory Movement 08’33
2. Main Movement 15’14

Total time: 23’47

CD 2: Band 2: Benjamin Britten (1913, Lowestoft, Suffolk – 1976, Aldeburgh) : Lachrymae, Op. 48a: Kim Kashkashian, viola; Stuttgarter Kammerorchester; Dennis Russell Davies, conductor. Lachrymae, ECM New series78118-20002-2.

Our next selection, Benjamin Britten’s Lachrymae, which, we are told, are “reflections on a song of John Dowland,” (Liner Notes) charms – and disturbs – us, I think, in ways that are quite different from the Lutoslawski we have just heard. Oliver Knussen, conductor and composer of the children’s opera Where the Wild Things Are, writes : “For me, Britten is one of those composers who, rather than trying to do something new and different for its own sake, says something important with means that can communicate very directly. He deals with imponderables in a very commonsensical way.” (Composers on Music, Ed. By Josiah Fisk, 1997, p. 476.) Knussen also refers to Britten’s methods as “an attractive counterpole, in some ways, to Schoenberg’s.” (475)

Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich (translated by Catherine Schelbert) places Britten’s Lachrymae under the rubric of the question “Mind or matter? – which is the determining factor, which the derivative one?” (Liner Notes). He continues, “Mind and matter are united through the grieving gesture of tears into a physical manifestation of spirituality – the experience of loss, of the ephemeral, of death (we always feel and foresee our own death in that of those who are dear to us. . . . The dark sides of life, grief and death, are perhaps all that is left that has not yet been absorbed by brash and brainless entertainment. They simply don’t ‘sell’ enough, which leaves a bit of leeway after all for genuine artistic endeavor. No wonder,” he concludes, “that music ‘of note’ has become music ‘of need’ and less ‘beautiful’ than it once was.” (Liner Notes)

We’ll hear Benjamin Britten’s Lachrymae performed by violist Kim Kashkashian and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies. The piece is written in 10 movements;

Time : 2. Lachrymae 15’50

Running time: 39’37

CD3:Bands8,9,10ArnoldRosner(1945,NY)
: Nightstone, Three Settings from The Song of Songs 1979. Randolph Lacy, tenor; Timothy Hester, piano. Music of Arnold Rosner, Albany Records, Troy 163.

It has been quite a few years since we had the pleasure of interviewing composer Arnold Rosner on Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we present his 1979 Nightstone, Three Settings from The Song of Songs, p. 73. John Proffitt writes in his liner notes, “Rosner’s fascination with the human voice has produced a number of outstanding vocal and choral works, none more immediately appearling, however, than the song-cycle Nightstone: Three Settings from the Song of Songs. Composed in 1979, Nightstone treats the stylized eroticism of the famous texts with exquisite sensitivity, a well-crafted example of the art of the musical caress. Proffitt quotes Rosner as follows: “Hundreds of composers have been moved to set parts of he Song of Songs, but on reading all its beautifully gentle but seductive poetry, I am frankly amazed that there are still thousands who haven’t!” (Liner Notes) We’ll hear tenor Randolph Lacy and pianist Timothy Hester in this Albany Records recording.

Time: 8. Ballad 04’36
9. Evocation 06’42
10. Serenade 04’09

Total time: 15’27

Running time: 55’04

CD 4: Bands 11, 12, 13: William Grant Still (1895, Woodville, MI – 1978, LA) : Suite for Violin and Piano (1946): Portia Shuler Hawkins, piano; Felix Farrar, violin. African-American Sampler. Algood Productions CD (unnumbered).

William Grant Still wrote his Suite for Violin and Piano in 1943. The liner notes tell us that he “was inspired by three works. The first movement, based on Richmond Barthe’s ‘African Dancer,’ has driving rhythms, accents, and several tempo and meter changes. The second movement is very lyrical and expressive, and was inspired by Sargent Johnson’s ‘Mother and Child.’ The third movement, inspired by Augusta Savage’s sculpture “Gamin,” is a sassy dialogue between the violin and piano. Still dedicated this suite to Louis and Annette Kaufman, who played its premiere performance in 1944.

Time: 11. Majestically 04’59
12. Slowly and Expressive 07’17
13. Rhythmically and Humorously 02’29

Total time: 14’45

Running time: 69’49

CD 5: Bands 6,7,8: David Del Tredici (*1937, Cloverdale, CA): 3 Baritone Songs “Quietness,” “Drinking Song,” and “Matthew Shepard” (1999): Chris Pedro Trakas, baritone; David Del Tredici, piano. Secret Music – David Del Tredici – A Songbook. Cri 878.

We’ll end today’s program with my friend David Del Tredici’s 3 Baritone Songs, which he wrote in March and April of 1999. I no longer remember if all three songs were on the program I attended at the Greenwich House that Mother’s Day, but the final one, “Matthew Shepard,” certainly was. David’s program notes are terse and revealing:

“Quietness, by the ancient queer Sufi mystic Rumi [ ], is a tiny poem exhorting the reader to follow a meditative path through surrender to ecstasy. Each line, haiku-like, reveals an insight. Some are paradoxical, others profound.

“New York poet Michael Klein’s Drinking Song is a ‘handful’! In my obstreperous setting, the piano personifies a drunk in action – rough, relentless, seductive,, ‘dangerous.’ Never sure of his safety or whether he’s ‘riding’ a ‘dolphin’ or a ‘shark,’ the poet (like the singer) hangs on for dear life.

“Matthew Shepard, by Jaime Manrique, touched me. The brutal homophobic death of this innocent young man resonated with my own loss through AIDS of a young lover, Paul. To surround with music that moment when the soul leaves the body, that transformation of pain into bliss, was my challenge and my inspiration.”

These are the words of David Del Tredici. This I can vouch for: When the baritone who performed Jaime Manrique’s poem was Matthew Shepard, no one in the audience could breathe. I subsequently heard Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy, discuss her son’s death before a packed house at Amherst College. She made me ashamed of all the whining I’ve done in my life and of how little I put myself out to help make some tiny part of the world better. Do try to concentrate on the words of “Matthew Shepard” in particular.*

We’ll hear Chris Pedro Trakas sing and David Del Tredici play the piano on this Cri CD.

Time: 6. Quietness 07’17
7. Drinking Song 06’29
8. Matthew Shepard 08’42

Total time: 22’28

Total running time: 92’37

 I would like to reproduce these verses here, but I suspect that without permission of the copyright holders, I may not do it. “Quietness” is from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.
 “Drinking Song is by Michael Klein.
 “Matthew Shepard” is from “Blood and Tears, Poem for Matthew Shepard,” by Jaime Manrique, published by Painted Leaf Press.

We have come to the end of another Monday Afternoon Classics with Gandalf. Today we have heard Witold Lutoslawski’s String Quartet; Benjamin Britten’s Lachrymae; Arnold Rosner’s Nightstone; William Grant Still’s Suite for Violin and Piano; and David Del Tredici’s 3 Baritone Songs. I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed today’s selections and that you will tune in next week when we are scheduled to have composer Max Schubel visit us in our studio. His friend, and ours, Mort Malcom will be with us. Until then, this is Gandalf thanking you for listening and wishing you all the joy of New Music!
:: :: ::

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?