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Program Notes for Vogler Quartet at UW World Series
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  UW World Series would also like to thank thefollowing donors for their supportof this evening’s program: Vogler Quartet The Zimro Project Tim Vogler, violin Frank Reinecke, violinStefan Fehlandt, viola Stephan Forck, cellowith Alexander Fiterstein, clarinetand Jascha Nemtsov, piano P rogram Prokofev Overture on Hebrew Themes , Op. 34Krejn PreludeAchron Selections from Children’s Suite , Op. 57   How Tiresome, What Could I do Now!?Jumping with Tongue Out On the Hobby-HorseThe TopMarch of ToysBirdiesOver a Broken ToyElephant Parade with Presents  Chajes  Hebrew Suite  T’flah (prayer)   In Galilee    Horah (dance)   In Jerusalem Intermission Golijov The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind  for KlezmerClarinet and String Quartet   Prelude: Calmo, SospesoAgitato—Con fuoco—Maestoso—Senza misura—OscilanteTeneramente—Ruvido—PrestoCalmo—Sospeso—Allegro pesantePostlude: Lento, liberamente International Chamber Music Series Wednesday, November 4, 2009  Dr. And Mrs. Ellsworth Alvord  Joseph and Leatrice Ashley Susan Herring and Norman Wolf  Ernest and Elaine Henley Mina B. Person Lee and Judy Talner Special thanks to our Community Partner: UW Department of Germanics  Zimro premiered the new work inJanuary 1920, which turned out to be a rousing success, much to thecomposer’s surprised delight. In 1934, Prokoev recast it in orchestral garb, though in its srcinal guiseit has an immediacy and idiomaticKlezmer-like feel that heightens itsconsiderable charm.From the book of Jewish tunes, Prokoev chose two contrasting themes, one for each of the Overture ’s two sections. The rst heard is a light- hearted dance tune, presented initially by the clarinet over a simple buteffective rhythmic accompaniment. For the second part, Prokoev uses ahymn-like broadly inected melodyentrusted on rst hearing to the high register of the cello. After playing with the rst theme in Klezmer style (i.e., presenting and embellishing fragments of the tune), Prokoev recaps both themes before adding acoda that builds in momentum to acluster of punching chords.An interesting, but sad and alarmingnote: in the 1970s a performance of the work was allowed in the SovietUnion only if the word “Hebrew”were dropped from the title; it wassimply called “Overture, Op. 34.”Still, rumors about the true natureof the piece spread quickly andthe performance at the MoscowConservatory took place in front of a packed house. Prelude g rigori K  rejn   (1879-1957) G rigori Krejn studied violinand composition at theMoscow Conservatory before moving to Leipzig for further work with that devotedcontrapuntalist Max Reger. Krejn’smusicality was a family affair; his brother Alexander and his son Julianwere also talented musicians. In 1913,the two brothers played an activerole in the founding of a chapter of the Society for Jewish Folk Music inMoscow. Grigori eventually taughtat the Moscow Conservatory andspent eight years living with his sonin Vienna, Paris and Berlin beforereturning to the Soviet Union in 1934.Krejn’s Prelude opens quietly inthe strings, sweetly and with justa  soupçon of Impressionist quasi-dissonance. The clarinet provides anactive, serpentine melodic line againstthe primarily chordal accompanimentof its partners. A few minutes intothe music, a feeling of heighteningagitation overcomes the earlier calm.Impelled by forceful chords fromthe piano, the strings and clarinetcomment anxiously. Midway throughthe roughly 12-minute work thedynamic level drops, but obsessivetrills from the clarinet and stringsmaintain the feeling of unease. Thechromaticism of Alexander Scriabininfuses Krejn’s harmonic language,with a dose of Debussyian dreaminessattendant as well. The themes alsosuggest intimate familiarity withJewish liturgical melody withoutquoting actual traditional material. Selections from Children’s Suite ,Op. 57 (ca. 1925-cl., str. Qt., pno.) j osePh a chron   (1886-1943) P olish-born Joseph Achronstudied violin with LeopoldAuer (teacher of JaschaHeifetz) and composition with thegifted but notoriously procrastinating a bout   the P rogram T he Zimro Project derivesits name from the ensembleformed following WorldWar I. A blurb in the April 25, 1920  New York Times notes that “ZimroEnsemble gave Carnegie Hall concertfor a Hebrew musical institute inJerusalem as a memorial to Jewishsoldiers killed in the war. The sextetof players, formerly members of the Petrograd Opera, volunteeredtheir services in characteristic worksin chamber music out of the usualorder…under auspices of the JewishVeterans of the World War, organizedat St. Mihiel and the Argonne.” Overture on Hebrew Themes , Op.34 s ergey P roKofiev   (1891-1953) A fter the Russian Revolution in 1917, Sergey Prokoev decided to “go West” (thank you, Horace Greeley!), naivelythinking he’d have an easier timeestablishing himself away fromhome. While living in New York in1919, he was approached by a groupof former classmates from the St.Petersburg Conservatory. They hadformed a chamber ensemble calledZimro, which consisted of a stringquartet, clarinet and piano, and calledupon their friend to compose a work for them based on Jewish themes. Demurring at rst, the composer  acquiesced to their request, but pledthat he didn’t know any Jewish music.The ensemble lent him a book of  Jewish folk songs, which Prokoev  perused with increasing interest—heeven asked to keep the book.In two weeks, the Overture on Hebrew Themes emerged, writtenfor the entire sextet of musicians.  Anatoly Liadov. Following WorldWar I, Achron achieved success asa widely-touring violinist in Europe before immigrating to the UnitedStates in 1925. As a composer he is probably best known for the GolemSuite (1932),   a musical evocation of the legend of the humanoid monster made from clay. The tale, created byRabbi Löw of the famed Old-NewSynagogue in Prague (the oldestextant synagogue in Europe, spared by the Nazis because Hitler wantedit to serve as a museum for extinctreligions!), still shows up from timeto time in its silent movie incarnation.In 1925, Achron composed Children’sSuite , scoring the chamber work for string quartet, clarinet and piano.Predominantly and comfortably tonal,the nine brief movements conveythe innocent enthusiasms, occasionalsorrows and “magical thinking” of childhood. Led by the clarinet, “HowTiresome, What Could I do Now”muses sweet and nostalgic. “Jumpingwith Tongue Out” is aptly boisterous.In “On the Hobby-Horse” animatedstring pizzicatos support skittishmelodies from the clarinet and piano.The fourth movement, “The Top,”opens with bubbly piano trills followed by a uid clarinet tune redolent of Debussy. “March of theToys” is a mock march-like ditty,initiated by the strings before theclarinet and piano add color and heft.Quiet piano trills infuse “Birdies,”a quiet and tender evocation of our feathered friends; do the barely audible high string gures suggest high avian wafting on thermals? Anelement of young grieving is soundedin “Over a Broken Toy,” a sensitivechild’s lament.The big, bold piano chords thatlaunch “Elephant” throw asidethe brief sadness that precedes it.Insistent commentary from thestrings enhances the illusion of the pachyderm’s massive plodding. The Childrens’ Suite ends with another march-like number, “Parade with Presents,” a tting happy ending replete with jestingly dissonantassertiveness.  Hebrew Suite   j ulius c hajes   (1910-1985) J ulius Chajes enjoyed a variedcareer as piano virtuoso,conductor, and composer. Likemany other Jewish artists (thoughsadly, by no means enough), he wasfortunate to escape the tentacles of theThird Reich. He spent the years 1934– 36 in Palestine researching ancientHebrew music. Shortly thereafter,he came to the United States wherehe became known for music hecomposed for Jewish synagogue use,especially though not exclusivelyfor those of Reformist persuasion. In1940, he settled in Detroit, servingas music director at that city’s JewishCommunity Center and as chairmanof Hashofar, an organization that promoted Jewish music. In 1950, he joined the faculty of Wayne StateUniversity and performed his own piano concerto with the DetroitSymphony in collaboration with theorchestra’s long-time music director Paul Paray. The rst movement of   HebrewSuite , “T’lah,” opens with a quiet tremolo in the strings, setting themood for the entrance of the clarinet’sslow melismatic and touchinglysad melody. The harmony has aminor-key/modal feel that evokes both antiquity and timelessness. Theentry of the piano raises the dynamiclevel. Overall the entire work has adistinctly Eastern European sound.With “In Galilee,” the piano opensquietly before being joined by thestrings and clarinet. Also luxuriatingin minor-key color and mood,the main harmonic movement isof a rising fourth (e.g., the jumpfrom C to F). Its prevailing moodof introspection is broken mid-movement as the tempo picks up witha brief, dance-like gesture, thoughstill in the minor. The movementconcludes with a return to a slowtempo.The piano launches the brief “Horah,”a spirited dance. Lots of close canonicimitation adds a dose of engagingcounterpoint.The strings open the concluding “InJerusalem” with expressive chordsand a baritonal melody. The clarinetenters against stark punctuatingnotes on the piano. The mood soon  becomes pensive and reective  before changing to a distinctlyenergetic homage to klezmer as theclarinet weaves arabesques above thesupportive textures of the strings andthe piano. The Dreams and Prayers of Isaacthe Blind  for Klezmer Clarinet andString Quartet o svaldo g olijov (  b. 1960) B orn to Jewish parents(Russian father, a physician,and Rumanian mother, a piano teacher) in Argentina, OsvaldoGolijov has lived an ecumenical  father would sit out on the deck with the newspaper, the sports pages, and every once in a whilehe would shout, “There you go!Another Yiddish chord!“Eight centuries ago Isaac theBlind, the great kabbalist rabbi of Provence, dictated a manuscriptin which he asserted that allthings and events in the universeare the product of combinationsof the letters of the Hebrewalphabet. ‘Their root is in a name,for the letters are like branches,which appear in the manner of  ickering ames, mobile, yet nevertheless linked to the coal.’“Isaac’s lifelong devotion to hisart is as striking as that of stringquartets and klezmer musicians.In their search for somethingthat arises from tangibleelements but transcends them,they are all reaching a state of communion. Gershom Scholem,the pre-eminent scholar of Jewishmysticism, says that ‘Isaac and hisdisciples do not speak of ecstasy,’of a unique act of steppingoutside oneself in which humanconsciousness abolishes itself.“The movements of this work sound to me as if they werewritten in three of the differentlanguages spoken by the Jewish people throughout our history. This somehow reects the composition’s epic nature. I hear  the prelude and the rst movement in the most ancient, Aramaic; thesecond movement is in Yiddish,the rich and fragile language of along exile; the third movement and postlude are in sacred Hebrew. “The prelude and the rst movement simultaneouslyexplore two prayers in different ways: the quartet plays the rst  part of the central prayer of theHigh Holidays, ‘We will observethe mighty holiness of this day,’while the clarinet dreams themotifs from Our Father, Our  King  . The second movementis based on The Old Klezmer  Band, ’ a traditional dance tune,which is surrounded here bycontrasting manifestations of itsown halo. The third movementwas written before all the others.It is an instrumental version of   K’vakarat  , a work that I wrotea year earlier than  Dreams and  Prayers for the Kronos Quartetand cantor Misha Alexandrovich.This movement, together withthe postlude, ring to conclusion the prayer left open in the rst movement.”© 2009 Steven Lowe a bout   the v ogler  Q uartet F ormed in East Berlin in 1985and still with its srcinalmembers, the Vogler Quartetquickly established itself as one of  the nest quartets of its generation. and international life virtually since birth. Music of many persuasions  pervaded his household, lling the air with classical chamber music,Jewish liturgical music and klezmer,as well as the irresistible tangos of Astor Piazzolla. After piano studiesat the local conservatory in La Plata(not far from Buenos Aires) and private lessons in composition withGerardo Gandini, Golijov went toIsrael to study with Mark Kopytmanat the Rubin Academy of Jerusalem.Three years later, he moved to theUnited States, earning a Ph.D. at theUniversity of Pennsylvania, studyingwith George Crumb.It did not take long for the immenselygifted composer to establish himself among the young luminaries of the past decade-plus. Such worksas the Yiddishbbuk  (1990-92) andthe klezmer-inspired  Dreams and  Prayers of Isaac the Blind  (1997)quickly attracted a strong followingamong fellow composers and avidaudiences for emotionally rewardingcontemporary music.The composer has written: “The Dreams and Prayers of  Isaac the Blind  is a kind of epic,a history of Judaism. It hasAbraham, exile, and redemption.The movements sound like theyare in three of the languagesspoken in almost 6,000 years of Jewish history: the rst in Aramaic; the second in Yiddish;and the third in Hebrew. I never wrote it with this idea in mind,and only understood it when the work was nished. But while I was composing the secondmovement, for example, my
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