A musical meeting of Johannes Brahms, Astor Piazzolla, Olivier Messiaen, Sergei Prokofiev, Claude Debussy, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Pablo de Sarasate is scheduled for April 25 at Weill Recital Hall, when InterHarmony International Music Festival performs a series of mostly short chamber and solo works by the masters, as well as a world premiere by Nigel Keay. The concert marks InterHarmony’s third and final concert at Weill this year.
The program of diverse works was designed by cellist Misha Quint to challenge the musical versatility of the musicians, a mix of advanced, award-winning young artists and faculty from the InterHarmony Festival, which Quint founded 14 years ago.
The performers, all virtuosic musicians, include InterHarmony artist faculty members Ning An, piano; Eugenia Choi, violin; Svetlana Gorokhovich, piano; Howard Klug, clarinet; and Misha Quint, cello. The upcoming musical stars are Clarice Collins, violin; Carson Hayes, piano; Xiangyuan Huang, violin; and Shu Liu, violin.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM:
Showcasing a lyrical and tender side of Olivier Messiaen, “Theme and Variations” was composed in 1932 as a wedding gift for his first wife, the violinist and composer Claire Delbos. Conventionally based, it is one of the most significant of Messiaen’s early works, representing the compositional techniques he had developed at that point in his career. It provoked Pierre Boulez, coming to the music at a chance hearing, to exclaim: “It was enough to inspire me with an immediate wish to study with him. I felt the force of his attraction immediately, as I say, at a single hearing.”
Brahms’s “Clarinet Trio for clarinet, cello and piano in A minor, Op. 114,” is one of two works inspired by Brahm’s introduction to the musical brilliance of clarinetist Richard Muhlfeld. The trio,
premiered in Berlin in December, 1891, was described by Eusebius Mandyczewski, a scholar and friend of Brahms, as “it is as though the instruments were in love with each other.”
Prokofiev’s “Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 56,” begins with a dark, Slavically lyrical first movement, which transforms to a fast, raw, fiercely dramatic second movement, before turning into a tender and simple third, and concluding with a blazingly fast coda.
The April 25 program includes three works grounded in ethnic dance forms: Pablo de Sarasate’s “Introduction and Tarantella, Op. 43,” during which dancer and instrumentalist demonically challenge each other’s energy, and Astor Piazzolla’s “Tango Suite,” a blend of elements of jazz and classical music. Composer/violist Nigel Keay, a New Zealand native, now living in Paris, created his “Tarantella,” a world premiere, for violin and piano.
A work for solo piano, Debussy’s “Poisson d’Or, “ (Goldfish), composed in 1907, was inspired by a painting of a darting goldfish on a Japanese lacquer panel in the composer’s study. In less than four minutes, the music moves from playful to a darker, more intense, almost violent state of mind. Rachmaninoff’s “Etudes-Tableaux in E Flat minor, Op. 39, No. 5” challenges the virtuosity of its pianist, demanding unconventional hand positions, wide leaps for the fingers and extraordinary technical stamina.