Hadleigh Adams Sings Mahler

CLARK SUPRYNOWICZ Red States, Blue States

Red States, Blue States got its first reading through the “Under Construction” series, wherein Berkeley Symphony hosts a small collection of composers to write new music for orchestra. That was in 2008, and the reading at St. John’s Church that I was part of coincided with Joana Carneiro’s guest appearance as conductor, auditioning for her role of music director, a job which she secured and still holds. Leadership of another kind was in the works. 2008 was a presidential election year, as is 2016. I was given the assignment of writing something that was – however tangentially – related to the theme of Democracy In America. And so, “Red States, Blue States.” There is a musical opportunity provided in depicting a binary. The binary has a lot to say and a lot to answer for. In life, in music – and in the political system we enjoy – it seems we can go only so long before we desire a fresh start. In politics our desire for variety may not serve us well. In music things go better. To the point, what happens here is a gentle, insistent, animated figure in the strings that underpins dialogue in the orchestra: the opening material. A Middle Section is heartfelt and romantic (as we Americans can sometimes be). The players of the orchestra are asked to play cantabile, and, later, molto espressivo. This  is the great speechmaking section, where sincerity is heard, and those who carry on may themselves be surprised by the earnestness that takes them over. There are a few punctuation marks. In the last pages of the score, the animated figure in the strings returns. The horns move to the foreground, excoriating us and calling us to action. The whole business is over sooner than you might think. A lot seems to have happened in a short time, and one feels something important has been indicated, even if we can’t say with certainty what it is, what has changed, or why we got so excited there for a while.

~ Notes by Clark Suprynowicz

PAUL JUON Episodes Concertantes in D minor, op.45

Born in Moscow to Swiss parents, Juon entered the Moscow Conservatory, where his teachers included Anton Arensky and Sergei Taneyev. He attended the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He worked for ten years as professor of theory and violin at the Conservatory in Baku. In 1906 Joseph Joachim hired him as composition professor at the Hochschule, where his pupils included Nikos Skalkottas, Stefan Wolpe and Gunnar Johansen. He retired to Switzerland in 1934.

Juon’s works include sonatas for violin, viola, cello, and winds, as well as four symphonies, a chamber symphony, four string quartets, several piano trios, piano quartets and piano quintets, three violin concertos, solo piano works and lieder. His triple concerto for piano trio, titled Episodes Concertantes, was composed in 1910 and first played in Leipzig on March 27, 1919. Arthur Nikisch conducted the Gewandhaus Orchestra, with Franz Wagner, piano; Fritz Schneider, violin and Hans Bottermund, cello.

GUSTAV MAHLER Rückert Lieder

Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866) was an editor and professor of Oriental languages, who wrote poetry imitating Asian and Middle Eastern styles, as well as German lyric poems. Mahler set many of his poems, including a set that has come to be called the Rückert Lieder. Mahler made these five settings during the summers of 1901 and 1902. Not technically a song cycle as they are independent works, they were published together and most often are performed together. The first four songs were premiered on January 29, 1905 in Vienna, with Mahler conducting, together with his Kindertotenlieder (also Rückert settings). The last song was orchestrated by Max Puttmann, an employee of the first publisher.

EDWARD ELGAR In the South Overture, op. 50

Late in 1903 Elgar was vacationing in the town of Alassio in Italy. There he began a concert overture, later titled In the South, which he said was inspired by “thoughts and sensations of one beautiful afternoon in the Vale of Andora.”

The general idea of the work came from Tennyson’s The Daisy:

What hours were thine and mine,

In lands of palm and southern pine;
In lands of palm, of orange blossom,

Of olive, aloe, and maize and vine.

Elgar’s score also quotes from Byron’s Childe Harold:

                 …a land

Which was the mightiest in its old command

And is the loveliest…

Wherein were cast…

           …the men of Rome!

Thou art the garden of the world.

Elgar said the middle section of the work came from viewing ancient Roman ruins, `“the relentless and domineering onward force of the ancient day…the strife and wars, the ‘drums and tramplings’ of a later time.” Again he quoted Tennyson:

What Roman strength Turbia show’d
    In ruin, by the mountain road!

“In a flash it all came to me,” he said, “the conflict of the armies on that very spot long ago, where now I stood–the contrast of the ruin and the shepherd, and then, all of a sudden, I came back to reality. In that time I had composed the overture–the rest was merely writing it down.”

The first performance took place on March 16, 1905 in London at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on the third night of an Elgar Festival, with the composer conducting the Hallé Orchestra. After the rehearsals Elgar reported: “That Overture is good & the Roman section absolutely knocking over. They [the Halle Orchestra] read it like angels and the thing goes with tremendous energy & life.”

In his book on Elgar, Michael Kennedy writes: “Nothing in Elgar is more thrilling and uplifting than the leaping opening…divided strings and brass crowning all. This effervescent start is followed by a reflective pastoral episode in which the shepherd’s piping (clarinet) is answered by an espressivo phrase suggested to him by the name of the town Moglio…. Then follows the agitated, lumbering episode of the ancient Romans…containing some of Elgar’s boldest harmonic excursions as he recalls past grandeur together with the ‘drums and tramplings.’ Elgar builds a very brilliant passage in this striding theme before it merges, on muted strings, into the Canto popolare episode. This haunting melody (original and so Elgarian, but Italian in spirit) is given to the solo viola as a salute to Berlioz from `Edward in Italy.’  It sounds even more romantic as a horn solo before its return, over a drumroll, on the viola. But it is suddenly cut off as the brilliance of the opening returns. The end is sheer poetry. The nobilmente theme from the introduction is transformed into a moving 6/4 melody and gradually grows more impassioned until it is worked up to a final climax on strings, brass and glockenspiel in the ascendant, crowned by triumphant brass.”

-Notes by Charley Samson, copyright 2016