Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Sunday, October 28, 2012, 2:00 p.m.
Old Capitol Museum Senate Chamber (map)

Guest Artist Michael Norsworthy, clarinet
with David Gompper, piano

|| download program ||


Spiegel im Spiegel (1978)   Arvo PÄRT
(b. 1935)
Charme (1969)   Gerard GRISEY
Bug (1999)   Bruno MANTOVANI
(b. 1974)
Clarinet Sonata (2007)   Michael FINNISSY
(b. 1946)
  — Intermission —  
Tierkreis - Zodiac, Nr. 41 8/9 (1975/1981)




Michael Norsworthy's virtuosity, versatility and musicianship has garnered critical acclaim around the globe. As soloist with numerous orchestras around the USA and abroad, as a captivating recitalist and chamber music performer and as one of the most celebrated champions of the modern repertoire having premiered over 100 new works at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Vienna's Musikverein, Moscow's Tchaikovsky Hall, The Casals Festival and the Aspen Festival, Norsworthy has defied categorization, dazzling critics and audiences alike. He has recorded for Mode, Gasparo, Albany, New World, BMOP/sound, Nonesuch, Canteloupe and Cauchemar records. He is principal clarinet with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, on the artist faculty at The Boston Conservatory, a Selmer Paris Artist and Artistic Advisor and an artist/clinician for Rico Reeds International. For more info, please visit Michael Norsworthy's website www.michaelnorsworthy.com/.



David Gompper (b. 1954) has lived and worked professionally as a pianist, a conductor, and a composer in New York, San Diego, London, Nigeria, Michigan, Texas and Iowa. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Jeremy Dale Roberts, Humphrey Searle and Phyllis Sellick. After teaching in Nigeria, he received his doctorate at the University of Michigan, taught at the University of Texas, Arlington, and since 1991 has been Professor of Composition and Director of the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa. In 2002-2003 Gompper was in Russia as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching, performing and conducting at the Moscow Conservatory. In 2009 he received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City.

Gompper's compositions have been performed in such venues as Carnegie and Merkin Halls (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), Konzerthaus (Vienna) and the Bolshoi Hall (Moscow). Wolfgang David and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recently recorded his Violin Concerto for a Naxos CD. His song cycle The Animals, based on the poetry of Marvin Bell, was released on an Albany disc last June. Currently he is working on a Double Concerto that will be complete for a March 2013 premiere.


Program Notes


Spiegel im Spiegel

written just before the composer's departure from Estonia, is a prime example of his tintinnabular style of composition influenced by his mystical experiences with chant music.

"Tintinnabuli is the mathematically exact connection from one line to another.....tintinnabuli is the rule where the melody and the accompaniment [accompanying voice]...is one. One plus one, it is one - it is not two. This is the secret of this technique."

Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) is Estonia's premiere composer. The majority of his output is known for its contemplative silence using a technique he calls "tintinnabuli" (from the Latin, little bells). Its guiding principle is to create two simultaneous voices as one line. Fratres is a prime example of this style, found in most works written since 1977. Since emigrating from Estonia 1980, Pärt has concentrated on setting religious texts, which have proved popular with choirs and ensembles around the world.



"Charme is a dialogue between two characters, two worlds; between the static and the dynamic, the 'mobile' and the 'stabile'." (Grisey).

Charme represents Grisey's early works of timbral exploration and experimentation with the use of fixed and free material. As in Boulez's Domaines, the score incorporates traditional notation and temporal procedures with interjections of "mobiles," spatially-notated music that requires the performer to define direction, speed and duration of the written pitches. Grisey makes use of the vast spectrum of extended sonorities of the clarinet, resulting in a multi-faceted and rich gestural palette, one that goes far beyond what the title might suggest.

Upon completing his studies at the Paris Conservatory in 1972, having studied with composers Olivier Messiaen and Henri Dutilleux, Gérard Grisey (1946-1998) won the coveted Prix de Rome and founded, with fellow composers Tristan Murail, Michaël Lévinas, Hugues Dufourt, and Roger Tessier, a contemporary music ensemble known as l'Itin&eacuteraire. This ensemble, and the composers associated with it, became the driving force behind the establishment of an attitude towards composition that has come to be known as spectral music.

Any vibration, according to the work of French mathematician and physicist Joseph Fourier, may be analyzed as the interaction of a number of individual sinusoidal frequencies. In music, this property is evident in the phenomenon of overtones or partials that combine in particular ways to create a sense of timbre. Groups of overtones and their relationships (specifically their relative frequencies and intensities) are known as spectra, and translating these spectra into musical sonorities provides composers with tools for the isolation and manipulation of timbre as the basis for the interaction of musical forces. Spectral composers use these "spectra" along with the refined capabilities of sonic analysis available through modern technology to construct compositional models that are founded on the innate properties of sound.

Due primarily to the use of spectra as compositional models, the term "spectral" has come to be the standard label associated with this music. However, most of its founders have abandoned this term as an overly reductive characterization of a broad aesthetic preoccupation with exploring how the innate properties of sound may be translated into musical processes. Grisey was often at the forefront of this opposition, proposing instead the term "liminal" as a more appropriate label for this attitude towards composition.

Liminality, in the sense of the threshold between two perceptual phenomena, can be seen on every level of a spectral composition. Through its mimetic nature, spectral music in general, and the music of Gerard Grisey in particular, explores the regions between the conception and perception of one-dimensional timbre and multi-dimensional harmony, exact frequency and approximate pitch, precise duration and rhythmic subdivision, and the gradual evolution of musical processes and the precise articulation of musical form.

In order to refine and develop his particular attitude towards composition, Grisey pursued studies in acoustics with Emile Leipp at the Paris VI University in 1974 and further training in acoustic research at IRCAM in 1980. In 1982, Grisey accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley as a professor of music theory and composition. In 1986, he left Berkeley to teach composition at the Paris Conservatory, a post he held until his death on November 11th, 1998 at the age of 52. -Christopher Gainey



The highly virtuoso yet unstable work Bug was given its first performance on 6 February 1999 during Mériel festival by its dedicatee Philippe Soured. It is a musical metaphor of the disarray caused by an imaginary computer break-down (fortunately not predicting what might have happened on 31 December 1999). Although at the outset most of the rhythmic formulas are multiples of a common unity (the semiquaver), the music becomes less regular with the appearance of specific dynamics, which often contradict the melodic profile. Similarly the numerous trills, bisbigliandi and varied articulations all contribute to give a feeling of extreme density to these opening bars. Progressively the music seems to escape from the performer, and rapid passages replace the regular beat of the start of the work. Following a brief moment of calm, virtuosity comes to the fore, leading to a point of no return, a high note played ffff. Everything seems to disintegrate at this point, with disorientating quarter-tones, as if the pitches were melting into one another. The piece concludes with sustained notes, the sole survivors of the micro-tonal melodies.

Bruno Mantovani received five first prizes from the Paris Conservatory and attended the computer music Cursus at Ircam. His works have been performed at many European concerts halls (Concertgebouw, La Scala, Lincoln Center, etc), and collaborates with prestigious soloists (Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Alain Billard, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Antoine Tamestit, Tabea Zimmermann), conductors (Pierre Boulez, Sir Andrew Davis, Peter Eötvös, Laurence Equilbey, Gunter Herbig, Emmanuel Krivine, Susanna Mälkki, Jonathan Nott, Pascal Rophé François-Xavier Roth), ensembles (Accentus, Intercontemporain, TM+) and orchestras (Bamberg Symphony, BBC Cardiff, Chicago Symphony, WDR Cologne, La Chambre Philharmonique, Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, Liège Philharmonic, BBC London, Lucerne Academy, Orchestre de Paris, Paris Opera Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, Sarrebrücken Radio Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, NHK Tokyo, RAI Turin, Sinfonia Varsovia, RSO Vienna). He is the headmaster of the Paris Conservatory since September 2010.


Clarinet Sonata

was written at the suggestion of Michael Norsworthy, and commissioned by "WorldWide Concurrent Premieres". It is one of a set of four works, all 'portraits of' classical sonatas - one for toy piano, looking at Scarlatti; one for bassoon and piano, looking at Schumann's re-working of Bach; one for violin and piano, looking at Brahms; and this one, which takes its template from Beethoven's Op.110. Almost every bar of the right-hand part of Beethoven's piano sonata appears here, though usually in retrograde. The clarinet converses with this material, as one might with a dear friend.

Michael Finnissy was born in London in 1946. He studied at the Royal College of Music, in London, with Bernard Stevens and Humphrey Searle. His work collects very diverse musical materials, editing them together in a way that is, basically, 'jazzing'. He was President of the ISCM from 1990 until 1996, and currently holds a professorship at the University of Southampton.



was originally a composition called Musik im Bauch (Music in the Belly) for six percussionists and music boxes (1975). In 1981, Suzanne Stephens and Majella Stockhausen made themselves a version for clarinet and piano, which found its final form in the course of rehearsals with the composer. It was performed first in 1981 in the Teatro Comunale, Turin (Italy).

Born in the town of Mödrath, located near Cologne, Karlheinz Stockhausen's early life was marred by the violence brought about by the Nazi uprising and the extensive bombing of Germany during World War II. By the end of the war he had lost both his parents -- his father a casualty of the fighting, and his mother executed by Nazi authorities during their purges of mental institutions -- and had himself been forced to endure the horrors of modern warfare as a stretcher-bearer for a field military hospital. As he embarked on a serious study of music, these experiences motivated his rejection of what he and his peers considered the obsolete criteria of Romanticism in favor of finding a new approach that more accurately reflected the world around him.

Following the conclusion of the war Stockhausen returned to Cologne, working various sustenance jobs and playing piano in local bars. Between 1947 and 1951 he attended the Cologne Musikhochschule, but it was his attendance at Darmstadt (1951) and the subsequent years studying under Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire that had the most significant impact upon his musical development. During this period he began his exploration of serialism and made his first ventures into electronic music -- the former first realized in 1951's piano-oriented Kreuzspiel and followed by KontraPunkte in 1952. Although he achieved some recognition with these earlier works, the piece that fully established his reputation on an international scale was the 1956 magnetic tape composition Gesang der Jünglinge, created after the completion of his studies in Paris. This reputation was further reinforced the following year by the three-orchestra composition Gruppen, which elaborated the processes of serialism beyond its pointilistic approach, and by his extensive texts and lectures on music theory.

With his first trip to the States in 1958, Stockhausen made the acquaintance of American composer John Cage -- an association that was to have a noticeable impact upon his subsequent work. Having begun to explore aleatoric/statistical procedures during his studies with physicist Werner Meyer-Eppler in 1954, Cage's utilization of chance operations in composition further reinforced Stockhausen's own interest in these methods, as was reflected in pieces such as Carré (for four orchestras and choirs, 1960) and Kontakte (for piano, percussion and magnetic tape, also 1960). For Carré Stockhausen also enlisted the participation of British avant-garde composer Cornelius Cardew, who later published an article titled Stockhausen Serves Imperialism to critique the fact that the composer continued to maintain a dominant role over the individual players performing his works.

During the 1960s Stockhausen became active in the Fluxus art/performance movement, as well as creating his own "Stockhausen Group", which would perform on primarily electronic devices in response to diagrams or text pieces rather than conventional scores. Inspired by a visit to Japan, his works later in the decade focused on the integration of sounds from various cultures, beginning with the primarily Eastern/African blend of Telemusik (1966) and culminating in the national-anthem montage Hymnen (1967). It was in Japan (at the Osaka World Expo) that the first major retrospective of Stockhausen's music was presented in 1970, utilizing a spherical auditorium designed by the composer specifically for the event and featuring performances of most of his existing works. 1970 also saw a return to more instrument-based compositions, initiated by the piano-and-electronics interplay of Mantra (1970), and continued with Trans, Inori (1974) and Sirius (1977).

After 1977 the majority of Stockhausen's output was in connection with his massive opera-cycle Licht, consisting of a performance for each of the 7 days in the week. The work -- finally completed in December of 2002 and clocking in at nearly 30 hours of material -- has yet to be presented in its entirety, but numerous excerpts from most of the days have been staged around the world since 1981. One of the most unusual sections of Licht, Helikopter Streichquartett (premiered in 1993), required the four string players to perform in helicopters while audio and video of their performance was broadcast to the audience in the hall below.

Unfortunately, most of Stockhausen's notoriety in the '00s was due not to his creative output, but to a piece of media slander attributed to him shortly after the terrorist attacks in New York City in 2001. Having stated at a press conference that he believed the Devil was still an active force in the world and that the destruction of the World Trade Center was his greatest work of art, a German newspaper subsequently twisted the quote to make it appear that Stockhausen had simply considered the event "a great work of art". The false quote was eagerly carried along by the international media, but the later correction was largely ignored.