Explore The Music
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A Letter from 92Y
Tonight, as you enjoy the last concert in the Chamber Music at 92Y series, we know you’ll join us in paying tribute to the man who’s been its driving force for forty seasons. Jaime Laredo, the series’ artistic director, has permanently enriched the musical life of New York. His dedication to chamber music has brought us deeply felt performances—from the great classics to new works by Ned Rorem, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Stanley Silverman. Not only has he thrilled us with his superb performances, but he has also brought together a community of musical friends and colleagues: Isaac Stern, the Guarneri Quartet, Alexander Schneider, Eugene Istomin, Leonard Rose, Rudolf Firkušný, the Cleveland Quartet, Leon Fleisher, the Emerson String Quartet, Claire Bloom and Alan Alda are just a few of the artists with whom he was worked over the years on our stage.
Few artists have had such a nurturing effect on his students as Jaime. He treats each of them as an artistic individual, enabling them to draw out the deepest of interpretations. At a recent concert celebrating Jaime’s 70th birthday, he was joined on stage by five of his students: Pamela Frank, Bella Hristova, Soovin Kim, Susie Park and Jennifer Koh.
Even sitting in the audience, one could feel the mutual love of music-making and admiration for the master emanating from the stage. Please join us in honoring this towering musician, for his achievements, his friendship, and for his enormous contribution to our institution and our city. His influence will be deeply felt for years to come.
Stuart J. Ellman
Executive Director, 92Y
Director, 92Y Tisch Center for the Arts
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DVOŘÁK: Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 75a
Born Nelahozeves, north of Prague, September 8, 1841; died Prague, May 1, 1904
Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 75a
Composed in 1887; 14 minutes
The music of young Antonín Dvořák tended to follow the model of his mentor, Bedřich Smetana, with its predominantly classical forms flavored by generalized “folkish” themes. As his nationalistic leanings became more pronounced in works like the Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, Dvořák began to be regarded as something of a romantic exotic, a kind of Czech Chopin, in whose compositions the hometown folk tradition was equally matched with the common musical vocabulary of the day.
Dvořák was a prolific composer of chamber music, with 14 string quartets and a variety of trios, miniatures and character pieces to his name. But his Drobnosti (Miniatures) for two violins and viola are somewhat unusual in his oeuvre, with an instrumentation that calls for additional explication. At the time of their composition in the late 1880s, the composer and his family were living in the same house as his mother-in-law, who had rented one of her rooms to a university student. This young student happened also to be an amateur violinist studying with Jan Pelikán, a member of the orchestra at the National Theatre in Prague where Dvořák himself had played viola. Wanting to write something for the three of them to play together in the evenings, Dvořák produced a trio for two violins and viola (published as Op. 74), and then he worked on a suite of short miniatures for the same ensemble, reporting to his publisher that he was enjoying it as much as if he were writing a large symphony.
Almost immediately, Dvořák arranged this suite for solo violin and piano titled Romantic Pieces, which was published in 1887. But the manuscript score for the trio version was lost until 1938, and it was eventually published in 1945. Though the four-movement format might imply a single unified chamber work, the movements are (as the title suggests) unrelated, and are often performed individually. Dvořák actually began a fifth movement—there are eight measures of sketches—but never completed it.
The first movement (Cavatina) opens with a long-breathed singing line in the first violin, accompanied by the second violin as the viola plays the bass line. The second section is more impassioned, before a return of the main theme. In the lively (Capriccio) second movement, Dvořák’s folk leanings emerge through the energy of a rural folk dance. The third movement (Romanza) repeats the texture of the opening movement—an untroubled duet between first violin and viola with the second violin filling the inner voices with accompaniment. Only the haunting central section disturbs the calm. Then the elegiac quality of the fourth movement (Elegia) develops from the opening passage, a series of halting sighs that sets the mood through to the suite’s conclusion.
© 2012 Luke Howard
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BRAHMS: Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Cello in A minor, Op. 114
Born Hamburg, May 7, 1833; died Vienna, April 3, 1897
Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Cello in A minor, Op. 114
Composed in 1891; 26 minutes
By 1890, the aging Johannes Brahms had decided he would not begin any new compositions; he would simply finish off those he had already started. He was nothing if not methodical, and the organizational neatness of tidying up unfinished compositional threads near the end of his career appealed to Brahms’s sensibilities. But in March 1891, he heard a performance by Richard Mühlfeld (1856-1907), principal clarinetist of the court orchestra in Meiningen, and was thoroughly captivated by Mühlfeld’s playing. Brahms proclaimed him “the greatest wind player alive” and immediately began work on a series of new compositions for clarinet inspired by, and intended for, Mühlfeld. In rapid succession he penned a Clarinet Trio (Op. 114), the famous Clarinet Quintet (Op. 115) and two Clarinet Sonatas published together as Op. 120.
Although subsequent audiences have favored the Quintet among these late clarinet works, Brahms himself thought very highly of his Op. 114 Trio and considered it the equal of the Quintet in substance and craftsmanship. The Trio is a somewhat somber and serious work, more so than most of the others Brahms was writing at the time. All four movements share a considerable degree of musical materials, as they are based primarily on the juxtaposition of triadic and scalar passages.
Although written with the clarinet in mind, there are passages in this Trio where the cello assumes such a dominant role that the work begins to resemble a cello sonata with added obbligato. In the first movement(Allegro), the cello introduces both themes, the second merely an inverted variant of the first. Both themes become increasingly disjunct during a terse development section. Then the recapitulation of both themes is given to the viola.
In the intimate second movement (Adagio), the instrumental exchanges are much more fluid. Both melodic instruments are taken to their extremes of pitch, while the piano continues to provide support. As evidence of Brahms’s economy of means, the motivic gestures in this movement are nearly identical to those of the first, and there is unusual musical wealth for a movement of only 54 measures.
Many critics consider the third movement (Andante grazioso) the most appealing of this Trio. It is a leisurely Viennese waltz, with occasional hints of the Austrian ländler in the middle sections. The opening melody is profoundly simple, even commonplace, yet with nods and knowing winks to the listeners who comprehend in it the composer’s self-mockery.
In the finale (Allegro) the rhythmic first theme is counterbalanced by a more sustained second theme in a sonata-allegro format. The development section is noted for its chains of modulations by thirds—a favorite Brahms device. The metric games of the previous movement continue here as well, as the meter wavers between 2/4 and 6/8 creating a rhythmic uncertainty that persists into the bravura coda.
© 2012 Luke Howard
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FRANCK: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor
Born Liège, December 10, 1822; died Paris, November 8, 1890
Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor
Composed in 1879; 36 minutes
César Franck’s music—full of individuality, passion and innovation—is somewhat at odds with the public image of a quaint, aging and conservative organist at the church of St. Clotilde in Paris. Though not a prolific composer, the intensity of Franck’s vision set French music on a new path in the last quarter of the 19th century.
Like Beethoven, Franck’s first published chamber works were a set of piano trios. His last major work was the String Quartet in D major, and in between he wrote what has become one of the most popular piano quintets in the repertoire. Franck completed his Piano Quintet in 1879 and dedicated it to Camille Saint-Saëns, an old friend and colleague who played the piano part at the work’s premiere in 1880. Saint-Saëns was not impressed with the piece (he had written two piano quintets of his own by this time), and after Franck gave him the manuscript in gratitude for his performance, Saint-Saëns intentionally left it behind. It was later found in a pile of trash.
The renowned 20th-century pedagogue Nadia Boulanger once claimed that this passionate quintet contained more pianissimo and fortissimo markings than any other chamber piece. The powerful emotions expressed in it were possibly inspired by Franck’s infatuation with one of his students, Augusta Holmes, which, if true, may also explain why his wife was not fond of the work. She declared, “His organ pieces are everything that is admirable; but that quintet! Ugh!"
The extremes of musical expression appear early in the first movement. The introduction pits a rather severe descending figure in the first violin against flowing triplets in the piano. In the Allegro that follows, the violin’s dotted-figure seems to triumph as it leads into ardent dialogues with the piano. A sighing second theme continues the intensity, yet gentle motifs by the piano restore occasional calm throughout the movement. The main theme returns in a furious fortissimo at the start of the recapitulation and again in the coda, but the movement ends with a resigned murmur.
Though the tempo marking for the A-minor second movement (Lento) and the softer dynamic level suggest a change of emotional temperature, the contrast is not as great as one might expect. The strings continue to play a fervent descending motif while the piano accompanies with triplet chords. As he develops and varies these themes, Franck makes subtle reference to materials from the first movement and foreshadows a theme that will appear in the finale. A lyrical D-flat passage provides sporadic respite from the sighing motifs, but it eventually cadences back into a halting A-minor.
The Finale is written with the key signature of F-minor, but persistent G-flats and A-naturals suggest a kind of “gypsy” scale rather than the minor mode, lending the movement an exotic touch. The second violin opens with a bustling chromatic pattern, juxtaposed with piano octaves. Gradually the piano theme gathers strength until all strings join in a unison statement while the piano takes over the moto perpetuo passage-work. Melodic snatches from previous movements are recalled in a passionate dialogue that leads to powerfully conclusive octaves on the tonic F.
© 2012 Luke Howard
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With these concerts, the Chamber Music at 92Y series, under the artistic direction of Jaime Laredo, draws to a close. For 40 seasons Mr. Laredo has made the series a preeminent presenter of chamber music in New York City, hosting renowned artists and ensembles, encouraging rising musicians and actively cultivating new works.
The series has reflected Mr. Laredo’s commitment to artistic excellence that has endured throughout a 50-year-long career as soloist, conductor, recitalist, pedagogue and chamber musician. Born in Bolivia, he won the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition at the age of 17. He currently serves as music director of the Vermont Symphony, artistic director of the Brandenburg Ensemble and leader of the annual New York String Orchestra Seminar at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Laredo is also violinist for The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, a mainstay of the Chamber Music at 92Y series, and the Laredo-Robinson Duo with his wife, cellist Sharon Robinson.
Mr. Laredo has recorded nearly 100 discs, which have received the Deutsche Schallplatten Prize, one Grammy Award and seven Grammy nominations. Last year, both Mr. Laredo and Ms. Robinson assumed chairs at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and since 2009 they have been artistic directors of the Linton Chamber Music Series in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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A native of Sydney, Australia, Susie Park has concertized around the world. Among her many honors, she was a top prize winner of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. She has appeared as soloist with orchestras including the San Francisco and Pittsburgh symphonies, the Royal Philharmonic and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s with conductors including Hans Vonk, Alan Gilbert, Fabio Luisi and Yehudi Menuhin. She is a founding member of ECCO—the East Coast Chamber Orchestra—and she was concertmaster of the New York String Orchestra in Carnegie Hall.
A passionate chamber musician, Ms. Park was the violinist of the renowned Eroica Trio from 2006 to 2012, which earned a Grammy nomination for its eighth CD, An American Journey (EMI). Her collaborations include the Guarneri, Juilliard, Emerson and Cleveland quartets, Kim Kashkashian and Jaime Laredo. Her festival appearances include Caramoor, Ravinia, Aspen and Open Chamber Music at Prussia Cove, England. She has given recitals throughout the US and Australia, and she was a member of Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two, a three-year residency program for young emerging artists. In December 2009, Ms. Park performed with trumpeter Chris Botti in 41 consecutive shows at New York’s Blue Note jazz club.
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Violinist/violist Ida Kavafian is one of the most active and versatile musicians performing today. Artistmember of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and former violinist of the renowned Beaux Arts Trio, she performs as a soloist; in recital with her sister, Ani, in the Kavafian Duo; and as a member of the Trio Valtorna and the Opus One piano quartet.
Ms. Kavafian made her Chamber Music at 92Y debut in 1979 and has returned nearly two dozen times. An original member of the innovative group TASHI, she appears as guest violist with ensembles such as the Guarneri, Orion and American string quartets. She is founder of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, and for nearly 30 years she has been artistic director of the renowned festival Music from Angel Fire. She made her New York recital debut at 92Y under the auspices of Young Concert Artists.
Ms. Kavafian has premiered many new works by such composers as Tōoru Takemitsu, Michael Daugherty and bluegrass virtuoso Mark O’Connor, and she has toured and recorded with jazz greats Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis. She serves on the faculties of Bard College, The Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School of Music.
Born in Istanbul of Armenian parentage, Ms. Kavafian is married to violist Steven Tenenbom; they breed, raise and show champion Vizsla purebred dogs.
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Winner of the Avery Fisher Recital Award, Piatigorsky Memorial Award and Pro Musicis Award, cellist Sharon Robinson appears around the world as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. Her festival appearances include Prague’s Autumn Festival, where she performed Dvořák’s Cello Concerto at the famous Dvořák Hall. She made her Chamber Music at 92Y series debut in May 1976, and has appeared every season since as chamber musician or member of either the Laredo-Robinson Duo or Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.
Ms. Robinson works closely with many of today’s leading composers, including Richard Danielpour, Ned Rorem, Arvo Pärt, Stanley Silverman and André Previn. She is admired for building consortiums of presenters as co-commissioners of new works. For example, she gathered 12 presenters to commission Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Quintet in honor of The Kalichstein- Laredo-Robinson Trio’s 35th anniversary.
Ms. Robinson’s CDs include the Vivaldi Cello Sonatas on Vox and a Grenadilla disc of solo cello works by Debussy, Fauré and Rorem. Last October the Trio released the complete Schubert piano trios, and the Duo released an album of three double concertos in celebration of their 35th wedding anniversary, both on the Bridge label. Ms. Robinson is also a renowned teacher; last fall she and Mr. Laredo each assumed chairs at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
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One of only two wind players to have ever been awarded the Avery Fisher Prize, David Shifrin is in constant demand as an orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. He has served as principal clarinetist with the Cleveland Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra (under Leopold Stokowski), the Honolulu and Dallas symphonies, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and New York Chamber Symphony.
An artist member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1989, Mr. Shifrin served as its artistic director from 1992 to 2004. He has also been artistic director of Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon, since 1981. He collaborates frequently with such ensembles and artists as the Guarneri, Tokyo, and Emerson string quartets, Wynton Marsalis, and pianists Emanuel Ax and André Watts.
Mr. Shifrin’s recordings have appeared on multiple labels and have received three Grammy Award nominations. His recording of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra was named Record of the Year by Stereo Review. His latest recording, Shifrin Plays Schifrin on Aleph Records, is a collection of clarinet works by composer/conductor Lalo Schifrin.
Mr. Shifrin has been on the faculty of the Yale School of Music since 1987 and has been artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Yale since 2008. In 2007 he was awarded an honorary professorship at China’s Central Conservatory in Beijing.
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Winner of a 2011 Avery Fisher Career Grant, pianist Benjamin Hochman made his highly acclaimed New York recital debut at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2006, which was soon followed by engagements with the New York Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. A native of Jerusalem, he was selected to participate in such prestigious residencies as Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society’s CMS Two, Isaac Stern's International Chamber Music Encounters in Israel and Carnegie Hall's Professional Training Workshops. His numerous engagements at 92nd Street Y have highlighted his penchant for diverse programming.
Mr. Hochman has performed with such orchestras as the Chicago and San Francisco symphonies, the Prague Philharmonia, the Istanbul State Symphony and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada. This season, he makes his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut at the Hollywood Bowl, performs as soloist with the Pittsburgh, Vancouver and Phoenix symphonies and gives solo recitals in Boston, Tel Aviv, Biarritz and Mexico. As a recitalist, he has appeared in such venues as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Louvre, l’Auditori de Barcelona and Suntory Hall in Tokyo. He has been a regular guest at international festivals such as Ravinia, Lucerne, Marlboro, Gilmore and Prussia Cove.
In 2009, Mr. Hochman’s first album was released on Artek. It included solo works by Bach, Berg and Webern. His latest recording project, titled Hommage to Schubert, features two Schubert sonatas alongside Schubert-inspired works by Widmann and Kurtág. It will be released by Avie Records in November 2013. His website is benjaminhochman.com.
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