Sunday, March 20th, 2011
For several months I have been pleased to be working with a group of fine musicians on the debut performance of our newly formed Meiravi String Quartet. The ensemble, all long time friends, consists of Igor Szwec and Greg Teperman on violin, Vivian Barton Dozor on cello, and me on viola. The concert is at 8pm, Saturday, April 9, 2011 in the Hall of the Flags, Houston Hall, UPENN, 3417 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA.
We have had the good fortune to coordinate our program with the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) which, likewise, is commencing its premier season this year from April 7 to May 3. PIFA’s theme this year is PARIS: 1910-1920. After consultation with PIFA’s Artistic Director, Barbara Silverstein, we were inspired to program our concert in the following manner:
A) We open the concert with Anton Rubinstein’s lovely Kammenoi Ostrow, Opus 10, #22. We say this is how music was in the late 19th century: Dreamy, melodic, a beautiful phantasy of life as it never was.
B) Then, we play Stravinsky’s Concertino for String Quartet: Brutal, rhythmic, mechanistic. We say that Stravinsky’s music explodes with reality as it was, expressive of tensions that are a result of the industrial revolution and also of an increasingly smaller world with nationalities and cultures increasingly in contact and conflict. Plus, add into the mix an expanding human consciousness of, and reaction to, internal and cultural conflict, and you might have the essential ingredients for the looming World War.
C) After the Stravinsky we discuss the interesting developments in the music of other composers in Paris at the time.
Satie – Six Gnossiennes: #1 and #3: In stark contrast to the music of Wagner, Strauss, Mahler, and other more prominent composers, Eric Satie’s music has a remarkable simplicity endowed with an unusual harmonic sophistication within an almost surrealist emotional attitude.
Debussy – Golliwog’s Cake Walk: Debussy takes off from Wagner but moves in an entirely unexpected direction. Musical “insiders” will note the little Wagnerian “joke” Debussy plays quoting from Tristan and Isolde in the middle section of the work.
Ravel – Pavane pour une Infante Defunte: Ravel often displays a beautiful, but reserved melodic quality in his lovingly constructed works.
D) After the trio of French composers, we say that during the musical and cultural revolution of Paris, another musical revolution was occurring across the ocean in America. While not as explosive as the Parisian revolution, the American musical revolution was maybe more raucous, equally as deep, and perhaps broader and more comprehensive. The musical revolution to which I am referring, of course, is Jazz. We then say that the music of George Gershwin perfectly illustrates the rhythmic energy of jazz and the high spirits of the American cultural revolution. We then play:
Gershwin: 3 Preludes
E) My own String Quartet #1 in Blue is based on a three note motive from Arnold Schoenberg’s seminal 1912 chamber work, Pierrot Lunaire. Simply stated, the many facets of the motive are comprehensively transformed in each of the work’s four movements. An apt summary description of the work might be to imagine that, one fine day, composer Nocella happens to meet composers Arnold Schoenberg and Duke Ellington, film director Frederico Fellini, and they all sit down together to have a musical party.
F) To close the program, we perform Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango, a fitting tribute to musical and personal freedom.
For tickets go to Meiravi Quartet on this website or go to www.meiraviquartet.com. For further information: (email) firstname.lastname@example.org or (phone) 610-662-7000 or (address) Meiravi Quartet, Box 893, Narberth, PA 19072