Monday, June 15, 2015

University of Wisconsin New Music Ensemble

Clapp Recital Hall
Friday, April 27, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.


Pentagram (1991)   Michael ECKERT
    Andante, con espressione parlante
    Allegro giocoso
    Andante, con espressione
    Con slancio
  Ben Irwin, clarinet  
Premiére Sonata (1946)   Pierre BOULEZ
    Lent-Beaucoup plus allant
    Assez Large-Rapide
  Stacey Barelos, piano  
Sonata for solo Violin (1995)   Laura SCHWENDINGER
  Katie Wolfe, violin  
Private Game (1979)   Shulamit RAN
  Ben Irwin, clarinet
Laura Ewing, cello
Notturno (1973)   Donald MARTINO
  Laura Hogberg, flute
Ben Irwin, clarinet
Amber Dolphin, violin
Gwen Miller, viola
James Waldo, violoncello
Stacey Barelos, piano
Dustin Donahue, percussion
Michael Bailly, percussion
Les Thimmig, conductor


Notes & Bios


Pentagram (1991)

Pentagram consists of five short movements for solo clarinet. Movement IV repeats the music of II, but in contrary motion. The piece was written during the summer of 1991 for Maurita Mead, Professor of Clarinet at the University of Iowa, who gave the first performance that September at the Iowa Composers Forum 3rd Annual Festival at Cornell College.

Michael Eckert has been on the composition and theory faculty at the UI School of Music since 1985. In 2006 Eckert's parodistic miniature Vamp for string orchestra was a first-round selection in the "International blitz-competition for composers 'Homage to Mozart'" in Moscow, where it was performed and broadcast by Chamber Orchestra Kremlin in January; the same orchestra played it in New York in October. The All-University String Orchestra will perform it April 29 at 3:00 in Clapp Recital Hall under its original title, Moment of Zen.  


Premiere Sonate (1946)

Boulez originally dedicated the piece to his teacher Rene Leibowitz, but when Leibowitz tried to make "corrections" to the score their friendship ended. When editing the sonata for print, the publisher asked Boulez if the dedication should remain. Boulez shouted "Non!," tore the score to shreds with a letter opener and afterwards, both sat on the floor and glued it back together.
    Stacey Barelos

Boulez wrote his first sonata in 1946 at the age of 21. Along with the Sonatine for flute and piano, it is his first serial work. In composing the piece, Boulez took inspiration from the piano music of Schoenberg, particularly the pieces of Op. 11 and Op. 23. He said, "[These pieces] introduced me to a style of piano writing that was different from anything I had known. There is a great density of texture and a violence of expression that conveys a kind of delirium." Boulez conveys many of the same ideas in this work. The piece makes use of extreme registral shifts and dynamic contrasts as well as constant rhythmic variation and tempo changes. This sonata is certainly violent, if not delirious. The 1st movement devotes much time to developing the first four germ motives: 1 - a melodic interval, 2 - a grace note/held note combination, 3 - an isolated pitch and 4 - a rapid flurry ending with a sforzando. After the introduction, the 2nd movement focuses on the contrast between the toccata-like rapide section and the dizzying modere sections that follow.  


Private Game (1979)

Private Game was commissioned for the Da Capo Chamber Players in 1979. The Composer's program notes for the work are as follows: "The Da Capo Chamber Players' invitation to write a short piece incorporating, in any way I desired, the group's name into its format, turned out to be an interesting challenge. Repetition is the essence of comprehensibility. But --Da Capo, today? While the initial temptation was to use the term loosely, I found myself intrigued by the idea of having strict repetition, without giving the appearance of arbitrary formalism. My solution: there are three brief Da Capo sections interlaced into the piece in a 1-2-3-2-3 sequence. 1 and 2 appear at key points structurally. 3 is more transitory and ornamental. They are essential, for they give the piece coherence, but they may or may not be consciously perceived as repetitions on first hearing. They are my private game. Enough said."
    Yi-Cheng Lin

Israeli-born Shulamit Ran received her training in Tel Aviv and later at the Mannes College of Music in New York. In addition to being a world renowned composer she has also been a concert pianist. Her music is performed by great orchestras and ensembles internationally as well as in her native Israel. Ran's Symphony earned the 1991 Pulitzer Prize in Music and the 1992 Kennedy Center Friedheim Award. Among her awards, fellowships, and commissions are those from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund, Ford Foundation, NEA, Guggenheim Foundation, Chamber Music America, American Composers Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, among many others. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992 and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1993. She is currently Distinguished Service Professor of Music-Composition at the University of Chicago.  


Notturno (1973)

Notturno, composed in 1973 on a commission from the Naumburg Foundation for the new music ensemble Speculum Musicae and awarded the Pulitzer Prize the following year, is composed in nineteen parts. The individual parts are grouped into three larger sections which can be regarded as movements, acts in a play, or chapters in a book. But Martino envisioned the work as an uninterrupted continuity, descriptive of the moments before sleep reviewing the day's "miseries and the beauties" which come together in a "chaotic swirl without pattern." The first and last movements each contain nine highly contrasting parts, representative of this chaos. The central movement, then, is a time for pause and reflection, but contains a sudden revelation as represented by a sudden musical climax. Martino was very pleased to hear Michael Steinberg of The Boston Globe describe Notturno as "Nocturnal Theater of the Soul."

His struggle to incorporate percussion in the work--a requirement of the commission--to reconcile, as Martino commented, "drums with violins," was the impetus for the second movement. His initial attempt was to utilize mallet instruments alone in an attempt to "eschew most of that families' [sic] noise-makers." However, even the sharp attacks of these instruments began to influence his writing. In addition to adding non-pitched percussion, he also employed extended techniques in the winds and strings with clicking keys, plucking piano strings, and tapping on the bodies of the instruments. Indeed, these sounds become evocative of the "noises" in the night.

Perhaps not immediately comprehensible on a first listening, the third movement is a mirror of the first; in fact, they are pitch permutations of each other. Martino himself suggested that this structural element is not necessarily to be heard but felt. The first movement, however, presents its nine sections quite dis-junctly while the third more conjunctly. The effect is that of distinct discussions in one movement and related conversations in the later, as if influenced by the reflective nature of the middle movement. Tom Lang

Donald Martino (1931-2005), whose life is celebrated in memoriam for this concert, studied composition with Bacon, Sessions, Babbitt, and Dallapiccola. He taught at the Third Street Settlement in New York, Princeton University, Yale University and Harvard University where he eventually retired as Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor Emeritus. Martino also served as chair of the composition department at the New England Conservatory as well as Irving Fine Professor of Music at Brandeis, and during summers lectured on contemporary music at the Berkshire Music Center. Martino's honors include awards from BMI, the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the NEA, a Brandeis University Creative Arts Award, three Guggenheim fellowships, a Fulbright scholarship, the Classical Critics Citation, and a Kennedy Center Friedham Award. He was commissioned by such organizations as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Koussevitzky Foundation, and the Coolidge Foundation.