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Christian Tetzlaff’s playing was sheer, explosive virtuosity.” —The New York Times

Christian Tetzlaff, violin / viola
Tanja Tetzlaff, cello
Jörg Widmann, clarinet
Alexander Lonquich, piano
Cristina Barbuti, piano

MOZART: Fantasia for Piano in C minor, K. 475
WIDMANN: 24 Duos for Violin and Cello, Book II
MOZART: Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major, K. 379
MOZART: Variations for Piano Four Hands in G major, K. 501
WIDMANN: Nachtstück for Clarinet, Cello and Piano
MOZART: Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano in E-flat major, K. 498, “Kegelstatt”

This concert is approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes in duration.

Please note all weekday concerts now begin at 7:30 pm.

 

The Contrasts series is supported by an endowment gift from Joan L. and Dr. Julius H. Jacobson, II.

Jörg Widmann, Jan Vogler & Ewa Kupiec
WIDMANN: Nachtstück for clarinet, cello & piano
(Edel Classics)

Alexander Lonquich
MOZART: Fantasia in D minor, K. 397
(EMI)

Explore The Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

Contrasts, an Introduction

by Christopher Cerrone

The music of Mozart, endlessly imaginative and foundational in the Western art canon, plays a prominent role in this series of three concerts which 92nd Street Y has appropriately named Contrasts. The series showcases a musically rich and diverse array of composers with Mozart as the palliative to the other more piquant musical flavors; these other flavors are the music of Bela Bartók, Olivier Messiaen, and the German composer Jörg Widmann. The joy of Mozart’s musical world is that it can easily tease out connections between these other musics. For example, Mozart was obsessed with the clarinet, which is featured throughout the Contrasts series. In addition to the “Kegelstatt” Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano heard on April 18, he composed his clarinet concerto, a clarinet quintet, and prominently featured the clarinet the “Gran Partita” Serenade and the Requiem. He even wrote a piece for five clarinets alone!

The clarinet features prominently in the Bartók, Widmann and Messiaen pieces in the series. In Bartók’s Contrasts (originally written for Benny Goodman) on April 16, the clarinet plays a demanding and soloistic role. Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time) on April 20, features a 9-minute-long solo clarinet movement, entitled “Abîme des oiseaux” (“Abyss of the Birds”). And Widmann is a world class clarinetist whose works often feature highly idiomatic and virtuosic clarinet writing. In Widmann’s works he often explores the fantastic technical resources of the instrument: the ability to play fast runs, enormous dynamic range from nearly inaudible to loud and strident, and a chameleon-like quality which allows the instrument to blend with any other instrument, as Widmann does to such powerful effect in his Nachtstück for Clarinet, Cello and Piano on April 18.

In between these works are duos by Mozart and Widmann which are chamber music in the truest sense of the word. Mozart’s works for piano four-hands, which will be heard on April 16 and 18, were often performed in small salons among music lovers, doubtlessly with the composer at piano. Widmann’s 24 Duos for Violin and Cello, likewise heard on April 16 and 18, have a similar quality; despite their sometimes (in his words) “brittle” exterior, the works often also display the quality of a conversation among old friends, sometimes amiable, sometimes argumentative, but always intimate.

© 2013 Christopher Cerrone

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MOZART Works 

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART

Born Salzburg, January 27, 1756; died Vienna, December 5, 1791
Fantasia for Piano in C minor, K. 475
Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major, K. 379
Variations for Piano Four Hands in G major, K. 501
Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano in E-flat major, K. 498, “Kegelstatt”


The Mozart works on this program reveal his remarkable ability to both inhabit and reinvent the forms of his day. Each of the four pieces heard tonight are cast in either Sonata or Variations form, but Mozart carefully and keenly manipulates these forms to create to serve his own musical motives.

A perfect example of this remarkable ability is the Fantasia for Piano in C major (composed in 1785; 13 minutes). Many classical works start with a slow introduction before moving to a peppy Allegro, then slowing down in a central movement and closing with an upbeat Finale, but in Mozart’s Fantasia, the proportions are completely transformed. The slow “introduction”—a murky and angst filled Adagio—is almost half the length of the piece. Only after five full minutes do we get the proper Allegro that should start the sonata. But now that Allegro is far too short—just over a minute long. Mozart then jumps—without a customary repetition of themes—to a minuet-like Andantino in 3/4 time. The minuet is also quite short and succeeded by another brief Allegro, which leads us to a recap of the opening Adagio. The brilliance here is that this unusual and new structure maintains the veneer of a classical sonata, which allowed an 18th-century audience to comprehend and follow the work.

The Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major (composed in 1781; 20 minutes) has a similarly unique approach to the sonata form. In this work, Mozart eschews the fast—slow—fast structure of the classical sonata altogether. Instead, he begins the work with a lyrical and almost romantic first movement. The gentle arpeggiated chords that open the movement are unlike any other sonata at the time. The second movement is cast in the parallel key of G minor, which is far more customary in Bach’s suites than in a classical sonata. Each of these movements harkens back to the Baroque world of Scarlatti’s two-part sonatas. This results in a much shorter than usual first and second movement, which allows Mozart to move quickly to the heart of the piece—a theme and variations that are as long as the first two movements put together. This emphasis on the final movement is something that composers like Beethoven would follow by when creating masterpieces like his Ninth Symphony.

Mozart’s love for the variation form is also on display in the Variations for Piano Four Hands in G major (composed in 1786; 6 minutes). This short and gentle piece, a stately Andante theme originally written for the claivichord, is taken through five variations: a simple elaboration, a flowing baroque dance, a fast toccata that flows into a slow minor movement then at last an exuberant finale.

The Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, nicknamed “Kegelstatt” (composed in 1786; 21 minutes) is a truly unique work in Mozart’s catalog. In addition to being the first work ever composed for clarinet, viola, and piano, its structure is also full of intrigue. The first movement is neither fast, nor is it cast in 4/4 time. Instead we are given an elegant and lyrical Andante in 6/8 time. Perhaps Mozart chose to compose the first movement in this manner because he wanted to feature the clarinet’s lyric and vocal qualities, which would be less possible in a jaunty fast movement. This movement also includes the earthy accompaniment of the viola, which perfectly balances the clear and pure sound of the clarinet. The second movement begins as an elegant minuet, but as it develops Mozart introduces heavy bass rhythms and dissonances that seem to undermine the graceful nature of the minuet and turn it into something more serious and sinister. The central trio confirms this shift in tone with its churning triplet rhythms and chromaticism. The finale is a Rondo where the central theme—drawn from the first movement—is presented against three contrasting sections before coming to a grand close.

© 2013 Christopher Cerrone

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WIDMANN: 24 Duos for Violin and Cello, Book II

JÖRG WIDMANN

Born Munich, June 19, 1973
24 Duos for Violin and Cello, Book II
Composed in 2008; 16 minutes

The pieces in the second book of Widmann Duos are more elaborate than the first. He notes that in the first book he “was somehow only able to produce a small number of scattered and tonally extremely brittle and sparse tonal constellations.” But in the second book, Widmann explores a broader range of themes, including a Bavarian Waltz, an English Toccata and a “Petit ballet mécanique.”

The first duo, “Capriccio,” juxtaposes fragmented melodies, quiet drones and Bartók-like folk melodies before jumping immediately into the second duo, “Canto,” a lyric piece with long and expressive lines. The third duo, the “Petit ballet mécanique” is a jittery and stilted dance. The fourth, “Choral,” is a dissonant and distant hymn that builds to a sudden climax before fading away. The fifth duo is reminiscent of Schoenberg’s Suite; it mixes baroque dance rhythms with acerbic and modern harmonies.

The sixth duo, “Tanz”, is a dance that is articulated by the subtle swells of dynamics rather than strong rhythms. The seventh duo, marked “Ängstlich, zögernd”—translated to “fearfully, hesitating”—outdoes even a composer like Ligeti in its violent textural extremes. This makes the successive, gentle waltz, the Valse Bavaroise, a gentle and pleasurable change of pace. The ninth duo is a “lamento”—a desolate cry where the instruments shift in and out of tune to emphasize their expressive lines. The tenth duo is a brief burst before the eleventh duo—the virtuosic and powerful “Toccatina all’inglese”—closes the work.

© 2013 Christopher Cerrone

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WIDMANN: Nachtstück for Clarinet, Cello and Piano

JÖRG WIDMANN

Nachtstück for Clarinet, Cello and Piano
Composed in 1998; 9 minutes

Widmann’s Nachtstück is a careful play of timbres that owes much to Bartók’s “night music,” a theme he explores in pieces like Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta and the Fourth String Quartet. In Widmann’s Nachtstück (Night Piece), the work begins with a haunting blend of clarinet and cello before the piano overtakes the ensemble with a powerful roll in its low range. The work advances as a series of undulating drones, where sounds merge into one another as do a succession of dreams in the night.

Throughout the work, Widmann takes special care to blend and transform the timbres of instruments seamlessly, often by alternating vibrato and non-vibrato playing styles to hide and reveal which instrument is playing what sounds. Sudden interruptions in the piano and clarinet keep the tension high, and the mood throughout is sinister. As the piece develops it becomes dominated by violent tremolandi in the cello, high trills in the clarinet and swoops inside the piano before an obsessive ostinato in the piano closes the piece.

© 2013 Christopher Cerrone

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Artist Bios

Christian Tetzlaff

Christian Tetzlaff is internationally recognized for his musical integrity, technical assurance and intelligent, compelling interpretations who gives 100 concerts a year.

Mr. Tetzlaff began his 2012/13 season in August performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with David Zinman and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, where he is artist in residence. He returned there earlier this month for a chamber music concert and performances of the Berg and Sibelius concertos.

His other recent and upcoming activities include concerts with the Berlin and New York philharmonics and the New World, London and Pittsburgh symphonies; a European tour with the Tetzlaff Quartet, which he co-founded; an Asian tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, recitals and chamber concerts in Berkeley, London, Miami, and Santa Barbara, and a performance of the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin at the Vienna Konzerthaus.

Mr. Tetzlaff's discography includes solo works, chamber music and concertos. His recent recordings include Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Vienna Philharmonic and Pierre Boulez for Deutsche Grammophon; and Schumann’s complete music for piano trio with cellist Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes for EMI. Mr. Tetzlaff plays a violin by German violinmaker Peter Greiner. His website is christian-tetzlaff.com.

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Tanja Tetzlaff 

As a successful chamber musician and concerto soloist, cellist Tanja Tetzlaff has built an extensive repertoire reaching into the 21st century. She has played with many worldrenowned orchestras, among them the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, the Orquesta Nacional de España, the Orchestre de Paris and the Cincinnati Symphony.

Ms. Tetzlaff also frequently gives recitals in such concert series and music festivals as the Heidelberger Frühling and the festivals of Bergen und Edinburgh, and she is a regular guest at the Heimbach Festival. Together with violinist Florian Donderer, she organizes a concert series at the Sendesaal Bremen and with her brother Christian she formed the Tetzlaff Quartet.

Ms. Tetzlaff opened her 2012/13 season with festival appearances that included the Grant Park Festival in Chicago, and a performance with the Montreal Symphony and Kent Nagano. Earlier this year the Tetzlaff Quartet toured the cities of Berlin, Cologne, Freiburg, London, Oslo, Paris and Zurich. In June she will perform the Brahms Double Concerto with her brother in Münster.

Among Ms. Tetzlaff’s growing list of recordings is a disc of cello concertos by Rihm and Toch with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Mr. Donderer. She has also participated in chamber music recordings by Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Sibelius, Schoenberg, Enescu and others. Ms. Tetzlaff plays a cello by Giovanni Baptista Guadagnini made in 1776.

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Jörg Widmann 

Jörg Widmann is both one of today’s most sought-after composers whose award-winning works range from solo pieces to operas, and a virtuoso clarinetist who is highly regarded as a chamber music partner and who has had several works dedicated to and premiered by him.

As a composer, Mr. Widmann’s season began with the premiere of his lavish, epic opera Babylon at the Bavarian State Opera in October. Among his major works is a trilogy for large orchestra based on the principle of transferring vocal forms to orchestral writing. He has served as composer-in-residence for the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin (DSO); the Lucerne, Salzburg and Schleswig-Holstein festivals; the Vienna Konzerthaus and Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Cleveland Orchestra.

As a performer, Mr. Widmann has appeared with the world’s major orchestras.Works that have been written for him include Musik für Klarinette und Orchester by Wolfgang Rihm, Cantus by Aribert Reimann and Rechant by Heinz Holliger. Among his upcoming chamber music activities, he will be the guest of the Hagen and Signum quartets.

Mr. Widmann also continues his role as Principal Guest Conductor of the Irish Chamber Orchestra; this past weekend he led the ensemble in a program of Rossini, Mendelssohn and his own Trumpet Concerto in Limerick and Dublin. Mr. Widmann holds professorships for clarinet and composition at the Freiburg Hochschule für Musik. His website is joergwidmann.com.

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Alexander Lonquich 

Since winning the First Prize at the “Antonio Casagrande“ International Piano Competition in Terni, Italy, at the age of 16, Alexander Lonquich has enjoyed a prolific career around the world. Beginning in the the 2014/15 season, he will be artist in residence of the Musikverein Graz.

Mr. Lonquich has enjoyed successful soloist engagements with the Czech, Royal, Slovenian and Vienna philharmonics; Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and Düsseldorf Symphony, to name a few. His appearances as conductor/soloist have earned critical acclaim, appearing with the Camerata Salzburg, the Frankfurt Symphony and the chamber orchestras of Basel, Bremen, Mantua, Munich and Stuttgart.

Mr. Lonquich’s many chamber music partners include violinist Leonidas Kavakos, violist Veronika Hagen, cellists Steven Isserlis and Heinrich Schiff, oboist Heinz Holliger, clarinettists Sabine Meyer and Jörg Widmann, and the Auryn and Carmina quartets. He last appeared at 92nd Street Y in autumn 2007 for the complete Beethoven sonata cycle with Christian Tetzlaff.

Mr. Lonquich’s recordings have won such awards as the “Diapason d’Or” in France, “Premio Abbiati“ in Italy and Edison Prize in the Netherlands. Last September ECM Records released a CD of Chopin’s Piano Concerto in F minor, together with Noskowski’s The Steppe. In February 2012 ECM produced an all Schubert disc with Mr. Lonquich and violinist Carolin Widmann, sister of Jörg Widmann, and in March 2011 Mr. Lonquich joined Mr. Holliger to record Schumann’s “Kreisleriana“ and Holliger’s own Partita.

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Cristina Barbuti

Pianist Cristina Barbuti excels in multiple arts and disciplines. She attended the music academies of Ferrara and Brescia, the Sándor Végh Academy of Chamber Music in Prague and the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem while simultansously studying classical ballet and modern dance. Parallel to her artistic studies, Ms. Barbuti studied philosophy, psychology and education at the University of Florence, and from 1988–1991 she was a lecturer for the Italian department at UCLA. She is currently on the faculty of Sapienza University of Rome.

As a musician, Ms. Barbuti appears as soloist and chamber music partner across Europe and in Israel and the US. She has joined Alexander Lonquich to form a highly successful piano duo that has toured with orchestras like the Camerata Salzburg and the Mantua and Stuttgart chamber orchestras. She participated in Willy Merz: Dépaysements, a recording of chamber music by the Swiss composer on the label Stradivarius that was awarded four stars by Le Monde de la musique.

Ms. Barbuti has also been working with musicians, actors and young people to create performances that combine theater, music and social research to address societal issues. Known as the Villon Ensemble, in 1999, it premiered Hyle, which examined environmental contamination.

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IN THE NEWS: From The Guardian (UK)—A Guide to Jörg Widmann’s Music

 

IN THE NEWS: Christian Tetzlaff profiled in The New Yorker, 8/27/12

 

 

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