Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki, head of vocal studies at the University of North Florida, joins Italian concert pianist Laura Nocchiero for a special evening of music and song.
9 Préludes (1er livre)
Danseuse de Delphes (Dancers of Delphi)
Le vens dans la plaine (The Wind across the Plain)
Les collines d'Anacapri (The Hills of Anacapari)
La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair)
Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest (What the West Wind Saw)
La cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral)
La danse de Puck (Puck’s Dance)
Pour le piano
Voyage à Paris--Mazurka--Hôtel--Rosemonde
Pianist Laura Nocchiero graduated from the A. Vivaldi State Music Conservatory in Novara, Italy, and has performed extensively both as a soloist and as guest artist with numerous international ensembles and orchestras. Touring throughout Europe, the Americas and Japan, Ms. Nocchiero has performed at the Valletta Manoel Theatre (Malta), St. Martin in the Fields (London), St. John Smith Square (London), St. Merry (Paris), Cité internationale universitaire (Paris), New York University, Klavierhaus (New York), Steinway Hall (New York), Cleveland State University, Library and Archives Canada Auditorium (Ottawa), Teatro Alfieri (Turin, Italy), Lilia Hall, Yokohama (Japan), Mainichi Culture Center in Osaka (Japan), Sala Baldini (Rome), George Enescu Museum (Bucharest), Linares Andrès Segovia Museum (Spain), Thessaloniki State Music Conservatory (Greece), Salon Dorado de la Prensa (Buenos Aires) and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Montevideo (Uruguay). Some of her concerts have been recorded by State Radio-TV and broadcast in Eurovision. Laura is a member of the Satie Duo, together with the actress Eva Palomares. Since its imception in 2003, the Duo has performed throughout Italy and abroad, winning accolades from audiences and press alike. Mrs. Nocchiero regularly appears as a guest artist and teacher in master classes and as a jurist in international music competitions.
Baritone Krzysztof Biernacki has established a strong reputation as a powerful performer, versatile stage director, and talented teacher. Born and raised in Poland, his professional credits include opera, oratorio, concert, and recital performances in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Dr. Biernacki has sung principal roles with Vancouver Opera, Manitoba Opera, Calgary Opera, Orchestra London Canada, Theater of Usti nad Labem (Czech Republic), as well as opera ensembles of University of British Columbia and University of Western Ontario. Dr. Biernacki’s commitment to contemporary music is highlighted by world premiere performances heard on CBC Radio and CBC Saturday Afternoon at the Opera including a highly acclaimed production of Filumena co-produced by the Calgary Opera and Banff Centre for Performing Arts. Dr. Biernacki frequently performs song recitals with repertoire ranging from Haydn to Szymanowski, Shostakovich, and Britten. Last summer Dr. Biernacki made his Carnegie Hall debut with th UNF Wind Ensemble performing works of Tchaikovsky and Tosti, and was reengaged for a recital of opera arias and duets at Carnegie Zankel Hall. His summer 2009 engagements included solo recitals in Italy and Poland, concerts with North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and stage directing engagements at the European Music Academy in the Czech Republic. Dr. Biernacki holds degrees from the University of Manitoba (B. Mus.), University of Western Ontario (M. Mus.), and University of British Columbia (D.M.A). He is the head of Applied Voice and Director of UNF Opera Ensemble at the University of North in Jacksonville.
Achille-Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was a quintessentially French composer, pianist and music critic whose own revolutionary music ushered in many of the stylistic changes of the 20th Century. He is usually identified as the chief proponent of musical “impressionism,” but he did not approve of that label himself. Debussy was a great fan of Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) and he even edited a French edition of the Polish composer’s piano music for publication. Debussy proved himself to be a true successor of Chopin in writing for the piano, and his 24 Préludes, composed between 1909 and 1913 and grouped into two books of 12 each, may be regarded as a tribute to the Pole. Like Chopin, Debussy continued a Baroque tradition with his Préludes while expanding the harmonic language and piano technique of his contemporaries in ways previously unimagined. Pour le Piano (published 1901) likewise hearkens back to the formal traditions of the Baroque, with a Sarabande dance movement sandwiched between a toccata-like Prélude and the actual Toccata of the the final movement, a virtuoso tour de force. But the suite’s harmonic language, using whole-tone scales and parallel 7th and 9th chords, as well as its effervescent piano figurations, clearly identified it as something entirely new.
CLICK HERE to hear Prélude No. 1 (Book I) on YouTube. (Additional Preludes are linked from the resulting page)
CLICK HERE to hear Pour le piano (mvts. 1-2) on YouTube.
CLICK HERE to hear recording of Pour le piano (Toccata) on YouTube.
Before he had any formal training as a composer, Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was already famous as one of Les six, six young Parisian composers and pals who were linked to Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie, and who were regarded by their admirers as the antidote to the perceived excesses of both Germanic Romanticism and Gallic Impressionism. Of their group (the others being Honegger, Milhaud, and the virtually forgotten Auric, Durey, and Tailleferre), Poulenc’s music remains the most frequently performed. Although the musical influences of Stravinsky and the Parisian dance-hall are often present, Poulenc’s unpretentious style remains clearly his own, characterized by effortless melody, distinct rhythms, and novel yet gorgeous diatonic harmonies.
His affinity for the human voice makes him Fauré’s successor in the realm of the French art song, and beginning in 1935 Poulenc had a very successful performance career accompanying French baritone Pierre Bernac (1899-1979), for whom he wrote about 90 songs for their recitals. Among Poulenc’s favorite poets was Guillame Apollinaire (1880-1918), and both Voyage à Paris and Hôtel are from the five settings of Apollinaire’s verses included in Poulenc’s 1940 song cycle, Banalités. One might say that the first of these paints the French capital as the “City of Carnival Lights, ” while the seconds paints a languid picture of sun streaming in through partially opened shutters on a slow riser whose ambition is as yet as ill-defined as the smoke circles he blows. Another Apollinaire poem, Rosemonde in which the poet reminisces about, well, stalking a woman through the streets of Amsterdam for a couple of hours, was specifically chosen with the audience for a 1954 Dutch recital in mind.
The final song, Mazurka, is from Mouvements du Coeur (Stirrings of the Heart, 1949), seven songs by six different composers commissioned in commemoration of the 100th death anniversary of Chopin, especially appropriate as we celebrate Chopin’s 200th birth anniversary this year. In it French poet Louise Vilmorin (1902-1969) uses a refrain that recalls the children’s song, Ainsi font (This is How They Go), as she depicts the antics of flirtatious young dancers as if they were predictable movements of puppets.
Voyage à Paris (Guillaume Apollinaire)
Ah! la charmante chose
Quitter un pays morose
Qu'un jour dût créer l'Amour.
A Trip to Paris (English translation c2010, E.Lein)
Ah! 'Tis such a charming thing
To head out from a dreary setting
Which one day Love had to create.
CLICK HERE to hear Voyage à Paris on YouTube.
Hôtel (Guillaume Apollinaire)
Ma chambre a la forme d'une cage,
Le soleil passe son bras par la fenêtre.
Mais moi qui veux fumer pour faire des mirages
J'allume au feu du jour ma cigarette.
Je ne veux pas travailler - je veux fumer.
Hotel (English version c2010, E.Lein)
My room has become like a cage is,
Through the window the sun casts his net.
But I just want to blow smoky mirages
So with the day's fire I light my cigarette.
To me work is so like a joke -- I'd rather smoke.
CLICK HERE to hear Hôtel on YouTube.
Rosemonde (Guillaume Apollinaire)
Longtemps au pied du perron de
La maison où entra la dame
Que j’avais suivie pendant deux
Bonnes heures à Amsterdam
Mes doigts jetèrent des baisers
Mais le canal était désert
Le quai aussi et nul ne vit
Comment mes baisers retrouvèrent
Celle à qui j’ai donné ma vie
Un jour pendant plus de deux heures
Je la surnommai Rosemonde
Voulant pouvoir me rappeler
Sa bouche fleurie en Hollande
Puis lentement je m’allai
Pour quêter la rose du monde
Rosamond (English translation c2010, E.Lein)
Lingering at the steps leading up to
The house wherein went the ma'am
Whom lately I'd followed for two
Happy hours though Amsterdam
While my fingers flung kisses
But since the canal was deserted
As were its banks no one could see
Just how my kisses overtook
Her to whom my life I'd bequeathed
That day for more than two hours
The nickname Rosamond for her I chose
With the hope of remembering
How in Holland her lips like flowers grow
Then slowly I departed
To seek out the world's own rose
Mazurka ("Les bijoux aux poitrines")
English version c2010, E. Lein, after a 1949 French poem by Louise de Vilmorin
The bejeweled décolletage
And ceilings with bright suns,
The opaline ball-frocks,
Mirrors and violins:
They go like so--go, go, go.
A brooch tumbles out of hands,
The brooch: just an excuse
Out of the hands of maidens
That vanish, and they go,
They go like so--go, go, go.
With a glance that might contain
In the wrinkle on a brow
Fine weather or maybe rain,
And with a roguish sigh
They go like so--go, go, go.
The ball's a whirling cyclone
Or demure and fancy-free,
Just listen to each fickle one
Saying yes, saying no:
They go like so--go, go, go.
In dances thus uncertain
The dance-steps hardly count.
Oh! The soft steps of discretion
Are silent mysteries to those
Who go like so--go, go, go.
A ball may be the first place
Where such burning fires unite.
When lovers thus embrace
The snow melts so,
The snow melts so, so, so.