- Viola, Viola d'Amore, Percussion
Septet was commissioned by the ensemble mosaik with financial assistance from the Canada Council. The world premiere was given in Calgary on February 8, 2017. The musicians were:
Bettina Junge – flute
Simon Strasser – oboe
Christian Vogel – clarinet/bass clarinet
Martin Losert – alto saxophone
Chatschatur Kanajan – violin
Mathis Mayr – cello
Ernst Surberg – piano
Commissioned by Trio ’86
Krista Martynes, Clarinet
Jennifer Thiessen, Viola
Marc Wieser, Piano
with financial assistance from The Manitoba Arts Council
February 28, 2012 – Providence University College, Winnipeg, Canada
2/29/12 – Brandon University
3/1/12 – Canadian Mennonite University
3/2/12 University of Manitoba
The first draft of Into Its Own Shadow was written during February and March of 2008, when I was an invited artist at the Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras in Morelia. The work was completed in Canada in May, and revised slightly in 2010. The title of the work comes from a poem by Theodor Roethke, The Far Field:
The river turns on itself,
The tree retreats into its own shadow.
I feel a weightless change, a moving forward
Into Its Own Shadow is dedicated to Ensamble 3:
Salvador Torre, Fernando Dominguez and Mauricio Nader.
Commissioned by the Mexican Center for Music and Sonic
Arts for Ensamble 3.
First performance: June 29, 2012,
Other performances: July 13, 2012,
This work was commissioned by the the Agassiz Summer Chamber Music Festival for their 10th Anniversary Season. The world premiere performance took place on June 12, 2009, at Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall in Winnipeg; the performers were:
Scott St. John and Laurence Kayeleh, violins
Aaron Au, viola
Paul Marleyn, cello
Katherine Chi, piano
Agassiz International Music Festival is throwing itself a party all this week, celebrating not just its 10th year of music making but also the 200th anniversary of German composer Felix Mendelssohn’s birth. A series of ten concerts are showcasing the 19th century master’s chamber music between June 10-20, performed by a crackerjack ensemble of musicians assembled by the annual festival’s Ottawa-based founding artistic director/cellist Paul Marleyn.
Ironically, it wasn’t birthday boy Mendelssohn who stole the show, but Hungarian interloper Béla Bartók. The 20th century composer’s jazzy Contrasts for clarinet, violin and piano (1938) is a thrilling piece not often heard, remarkably co-commissioned by the King of Swing himself, Benny Goodman.
Clarinetist Fan Lei, violinist Scott St. John, and pianist Katherine Chi’s flawless delivery exhibited bravura technique and ironclad conviction, with St. John so physically engaged with his instrument he fairly leapt out of his chair. Chi — notably, the first prizewinner of the prestigious 2000 Honens International Piano Competition — also added strong backbone to the ensemble while Lei easily handled the virtuosic demands of the
compelling, thoroughly modernistic piece.
The program opened with Serge Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes for clarinet, piano and string quartet, Op. 34 (1919) as an apparent nod to Mendelssohn’s Jewish roots. It’s impossible not to like this captivating work with its buoyant lilt and slinky themes, intently performed by Lei, Chi, St. John, Aaron Au (violin), Sharon Wei (viola) and Marleyn, whose insistent pizzicatos grounded the piece’s rhythmic thrust.
Don’t let a name fool you. Winnipeg-based composer Michael Matthews’ simply titled Piano Quintet began its creative life approximately 12 years ago as a ballet-sketch, Cupid and Psyche, resurrected as two highly contrasting movements: “Mysteriously” and “Agitato.”
The 16-minute world première opened atmospherically, with Matthews’ sensitive ear creating a sonic world of brooding introspection filled with glassy harmonics and sinking low registers. As if a flip side, the work’s second movement teemed with jagged syncopations and rapidly shifting meters, paying tribute to Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich while pitting its players (including added violinist Laurence Kayaleh) against each other with scarcely a few moments’ repose.After hearing a diverse program of (relatively) modern music, Mendelssohn’s Cello and Piano Sonata No. 2 in D, Op. 58 felt like an old romantic warhorse. Nevertheless,
Marleyn and Chi’s brought vibrancy to this classic.
Night Music was composed in Winnipeg between November 2006 and January 2007. The piece was extensively revised in the summer of 2009. The first performance was given in Winnipeg on January 27, 2007, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The performers were John Racaru, violin and Carole Pollard, piano.
The work is approximately nine minute in duration, in a single movement. It begins very softly, with a simple neighboring tone motive in harmonics in the violin, answered by a fleeting and somewhat widely-spaced low register gesture in the piano. These two musical ideas are the kernels from which much of the material in the piece is derived. The music leads to a large climax shortly beyond the halfway point in the piece, and ends with a quiet, lyrical section that is built on a simple three-note motive in the piano.
January 27, 2007, Winnipeg
John Racaru, vn, Carole Pollard, pf
Desde uno de tus patios haber mirado
las antiguas estrellas,
desde el banco de
la sombra haber mirado
esas luces dispersas
que mi ignorancia no ha aprendido a nombrar
ni a ordenar en contelaciones,
haber sentido el circulo del agua
en el secreto aljibe,
el olor del jazmin y la madreselva,
el silencio del pájaro dormido,
el arco del zanguán, la hemedad
–esas cosas, acaso, son el poema.
–Jorge Luis Borges (b. 24 August 1899) (de la edición 1969 de Fervor de Buenos Aires)
To have watched from one of your patios
the ancient stars,
from the bench of shadow to have watched
those scattered lights
that my ignorance has learned no names for
nor their places in constellations,
to have heard the note of water
in the cistern,
known the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle,
the silence of the sleeping bird,
the arch of the entrance, the damp
–these things perhaps are the poem.
Translation by William S. Merwin
From the bench of shadow was commissioned by the Quasar Saxophone Quartet with financial assistance from the Canada Council.
String Quartet No. 3 has had somewhat of a long genesis, with the first sketches dating back to April of 2004. The work that you will hear tonight has gone through many and varied incarnations over the intervening four and a half years to reach it’s current four-movement form. Most of the material from the original sketches has found its way into the 3rd movement. The overall structure of the piece, in broad general terms, is that of two outer fast movements and two inner slow ones. The second movement is fugal in nature and in the third a very simple canonic idea frames a group of lyrical and textural episodes. The first movement focuses on the development two contrasting ideas stated in the opening section. The final movement is somewhat obliquely influenced by Schumann’s quartets, which I was listening to a great deal while composing this work, and more directly by Shostakovich. I would like to thank the Manitoba Arts Council for their financial support during the composition of this work.
The Molinari Quartet gave the world premiere of String Quartet No. 3 on January 23, 2009, in la Chapelle historique de bon Pasteur in Montreal.