The August 10 Chamber Music Performances: From Shakespeare to Smetana

WheelertheaterExperience the living tradition of chamber music with favorites from Prokofiev and Smetana, and hear Paul Moravec’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composition Tempest Fantasy, played by the very trio for which it was written: Trio Solisti. Reserved seating is available by calling Centrum at 360.385.3102, x117 or by ordering online on our secure Acteva site.

Listen to an interview with Paul Moravec here. In this next link, listen to Paul Moravec and violinist Maria Bachmann talk about Tempest Fantasy. Paul Moravec is composer-in-residence at the Port Townsend Chamber Music Festival, and will be at the performance.

Friday, Aug 10, 7:30 pm
“From Shakespeare to Smetana”
Joseph F. Wheeler Theater
Reserved seats: $19/22

Romeo and Juliet Suite                Sergei Prokofiev
I. Introduction
II. The Young Juliet
III. Dance of the Knights
IV. Balcony Scene
V. Mercutio

                                     Helen Callus, viola; Robert Koenig, piano

Tempest Fantasy                Paul Moravec
I. Ariel
II. Prospero
III. Caliban
IV. Sweet Airs
V. Fantasia

                        Trio Solisti: Maria Bachmann, violin; Jon Klibonoff, piano; Alexis Pia Gerlach, cello
                                     with Alan Kay, clarinet


Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 15                 Bedrich Smetana
I. Moderato assai
II. Allegro, ma non agitato
III. Finale: Presto

                                Hal Grossman, violin; Antonio Lysy, cello; Robert Koenig, piano


Callus2 Helen Callus, Artistic Director of the Port Townsend Chamber Music Festival, is an international recording artist and the first elected female president of the American Viola Society. Her debut recording, Portrait of the Viola, and her subsequent recordings met with wide critical acclaim. Callus is Associate Professor of Viola at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Maria Bachmann, Alexis Pia Gerlach, and Jon Klibonoff join together as Trio Solisti to create performances that thrill audiences across Canada, Europe, and the United States. The New York Times describes Trio Solisti as “compelling and consistently brilliant,” and the Trio has been featured on national radio shows around the country. The Trio has released many recordings.

Hal Grossman is a professor of violin at the Interlochen Academy, and has served as Associate Professor of Music at Miami University. He is the winner of the International Cleveland Quartet and National Fischoff Chamber Music competitions, and has served as first violinist of the Oxford String Quartet.

Clarinetist Alan Kay appears frequently with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and has been featured at the Vail Valley Music Festival and the Yellow Barn Festival. He has performed with the award-winning ensemble Hexagon, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and the Da Camera of Houston.

Pianist Robert Koenig has established a reputation as a much sought-after collaborative artist and chamber musician. Recent engagements have included performances at Alice Tully Hall in New York and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. He is currently Assistant Professor of Piano and Chamber Music at the University of Kansas.

Cellist Antonio Lysy has performed worldwide in major concert halls, including the Royal Festival Hall, the Concertgebouw, and Teatro Colón. He has also appeared extensively as soloist with such orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras of London. He is currently Professor of Cello at UCLA.

Paul Moravec, recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his work Tempest Fantasy, composes Paul_moravec orchestral, chamber, choral, and lyric compositions, as well as film scores and electro-acoustic pieces. His many awards and fellowships include the Rome Prize, an NEA Composer Fellowship, and Rockefeller Foundation fellowship. Moravec is University Professor at Adelphi University.


Romeo and Juliet Suite

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) composed the ballet score Romeo and Juliet Suite between 1935 and 1936. Then in his mid-forties, Prokofiev was reaching the height of his artistic powers, as evidenced in the incredibly rich and varied textures, dramatic settings, and soaring melodies.

The “Introduction” establishes the big melodic themes that will permeate the entire ballet score and return again and again.

“Young Juliet” features three melodic character sketches associated with the character. The first is an energetic, scampering melody. The second is the graceful melody heard in the first movement. The third is a brief glimpse into the tragic melody which, in the ballet score, is the music to which Juliet will discover her fallen lover and then, heartbroken, take her own life.

“Dance of the Knights” is perhaps the most famous movement of the piece. The material is taken from the scene in which Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio have sneaked into the masked ball of their sworn enemies, the Capulets. The more gentle music that interrupts is the ladies’ dance during which, once again, we hear the familiar music from the “Introduction,” and where Romeo first sees Juliet dancing with a suitor and becomes intoxicated by her beauty. The movement ends with a return to the knights’ music.

“The Balcony Scene” is one of the most famous passages in all of dramatic literature. This movement is one almost unending melodic line filled with dramatic leaps of register.

“Mercutio” musically describes Romeo’s friend entertaining the unsuspecting company at the masked ball with his humor and wit. The music is lively and devilishly virtuosic, full of fast runs and challenging double stops.  —Michael Lieberman

Tempest Fantasy (note by Paul Moravec)

Tempest Fantasy is a musical meditation on various characters, moods, situations, and lines of text from my favorite Shakespeare play, The Tempest. Rather than depicting these elements in literal, programmatic terms, the music uses them as points of departure for flights of purely musical fancy.
The first three movements spring from the nature and selected speeches of the three eponymous characters: Ariel, Prospero, and Caliban. The fourth movement, “Sweet Airs,” arises out of Caliban’s uncharacteristically elegant speech from Act III, Scene 2: “Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises/Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.”

The fifth movement, “Fantasia,” is the most “fantastic” flight of all, elaborating on the various musical elements of the previous movements and drawing them together into a convivial finale.

Tempest Fantasy was begun at the MacDowell Colony in the summer of 2001, and completed at Yaddo in the summer of 2002. It is dedicated with great admiration and affection to David Krakauer and the members of the Trio Solisti (Maria Bachmann, Alexis Pia Gerlach, and Jon Klibonoff)—who gave its premiere at The Morgan Library in New York City on May 2, 2003. —Paul Moravec

Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 15

Chamber music played a very small part in the works of Czech composer Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884). Though few in number, however, his three chamber music compositions played an important role in his musical output. His two string quartets and the piano trio all held extra-musical significance for Smetana.
The Piano Trio evokes a poignant and tragic time in the composer’s life. The death of his oldest daughter, then only five years old, caused the composer to give vent to his grief through the intimacy of chamber music.

Smetana completed the Piano Trio in just two months. The premiere performance took place December 3, 1855, in the Prague Konvict Hall, with Smetana himself as pianist. The first movement, “Moderato assai,” is by turns turbulent and grief-filled, and contains a lovely cadenza for piano. Smetana departs from the usual three-movement format in that the second movement, “Allegro ma non agitato,” is not the usual slow movement, although it contains two sub-sections marked Alternativo I and Alternativo II, which serve as introspective interludes. The third movement’s principle theme is derived from the tune “S’il Jsem Proso Na Souvrait” (“I Was Sowing Millet”), a protest song associated with the Rebellion of the eighteen-forties. This movement eventually slows down to a funeral march marked “Grave, quasi-marcia,” followed by an impassioned song and finally a return to the Presto.   —Sierra Chamber Music Society