Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Intermezzo Sunday Concert, 10/10/2010 @ 2:30pm

A Romantic Sampler


Shawn I. Puller, tenor [Jacksonville Debut]
Read Gainsford, piano

Faculty artists from Albany State University and Florida State University team up for an afternoon of song and solo piano music!
  • Stefano Donaudy (1879-1925)
    Sento nel core -- Ah, mai non cessate -- Quando ti rivedrò -- O del mio amato ben
  • Franz Schubert (1798-1828)
    Impromptu in B-flat major, D. 935 No.3
  • Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
    Der Jüngling an der Quelle -- Der Jüngling am Bache -- Der Jüngling und der Tod
  • Fernando Obradors (1897-1945)
        Selections from Canciones clásicas españolas
    La mi sola, Laureola -- Del cabello más sutil -- Al amor
  • Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
    La Maja y el Ruiseñor
  • Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
    Lydia -- Içi-bas -- Adieu
  • Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
    Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52
PROGRAM NOTES, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

Tenor Shawn Puller (Ph.D) is an Assistant Professor of Music at Georgia's Albany State University, and has taught in New York at SUNY Cortland and Ithaca College, as well as at Florida State University, where he is on the faculty of their Summer Music Camps. As director of both bands and choruses his teaching experience includes instruction of children as well as young adults, and as a vocal soloist, in addition to art-song literature, his repertoire includes opera, oratorio, and other large-scale choral works. Shawn has directed the music programs of several churches, and also has served as the Assistant Director of the Heifetz International Music Institute, in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Among other professional organizations, Dr. Puller is an active member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and serves as the head Archivist of the Georgia Chapter of NATS. This recital marks his Jacksonville debut.

Pianist Read Gainsford (D.M.) has performed widely in the USA, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and his native New Zealand as solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. He has made successful solo debuts at the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, and has performed in many other prestigious venues, including the Kennedy Center, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Barbican Centre, Fairfield Halls, Birmingham Town Hall and St.-Martin-in-the-Fields. Dr. Gainsford has recorded for the Amoris label, BBC Radio Three, Radio New Zealand's Concert Programme, and has broadcast on national television in New Zealand, the UK, and Yugoslavia. Since moving to the United States in 1992, Read has been a guest artist for the American Music Teachers Association, has appeared at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival and the Music Festival of the Hamptons, and spent several summers as a member of the collaborative pianist faculty at the Heifetz International Music Institute. He is a member of the contemporary music group Ensemble X, the Garth Newel Chamber Players, and as the pianist with FSU's Trio Solis he has performed here twice previously for our Music @ Main programs. Formerly on the faculty of Ithaca College where he received the college-wide Excellence in Teaching Award in 2004, Dr. Gainsford became Associate Professor of Piano at FSU in 2005.

Don't feel too badly if you don't recognize the name of Stefano Donaudy (1879-1925)--although the Sicilian-born composer rates a place in Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (2001), there is no entry for him in the 2nd edition of New Grove Dictionary (also 2001). As a precocious "tween" Donaudy wrote Folchetto (1892), the first of his six operas. He enjoyed early successes with both his songs and operas, and he also composed a few purely instrumental pieces, including a symphonic poem, Le Rêve de Polysende. But his luck ran out with his poorly-received final opera, La Fiamminga (Naples, 1922), and the disappointment at its failure (apparently coupled with declining health) caused him to abandon composing for his few remaining years. Despite the composer's relative obscurity, several of Donaudy's three dozen Arie di Stile Antico ("Arias in Antique Style") have been championed from the early recorded era to the present day by many the world's foremost singers, including the famous tenors Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, and Andrea Bocelli.

Click the titles for texts & translations:
Sento nel core (I feel in my heart)
(36 Arie di Stile Antico, no. 9, 1918)
    Text: Anonymous

Ah, mai non cessate dal vostro parlar (Ah, never cease thy speech )
    (36 Arie di Stile Antico, no. 7, 1918)
    Text: Alberto Donaudy (1880-1941)

Quando ti rivedrò? (When might I see thee once again?)
(36 Arie di Stile Antico, no. 22, 1918)
    Text: Alberto Donaudy (1880-1941)
O del mio amato ben perduto incanto! (O thou, my most belov’d enchantment, lost!)
(36 Arie di Stile Antico, no. 18, 1918)
    Text: Alberto Donaudy (1880-1941)

During his short lifetime the Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828) composed hundreds of works of astounding lyric beauty, including symphonies, chamber works, masses, solo piano music, and songs. Although his music was regularly performed in private concerts for Vienna’s musical elite, Schubert was never able to secure a publisher for the bulk of his masterworks, so he depended on his devoted circle of friends for maintaining his finances. After his death (probably from medicinal mercury poisoning), Schubert’s wish to be buried next to Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was honored.
In 1827, Schubert wrote two sets of Impromptus for solo piano, with four pieces in varying musical forms in each set. His Impromptu in B-flat major, D. 935, No.3, is from the second set, published posthumously as his Op. 142. The piece is a theme with variations on a tune derived from his incidental music to the play, Rosamunde (D. 797, 1823), and also used in his String Quartet, No. 13, D. 804 (1824).
Schubert, who composed over 600 songs, has remained unsurpassed in his ability to marry poetry with music, and his song-writing genius was touted by no less than Beethoven—although the two composers apparently never met, during his final illness Beethoven was given scores to some of Schubert’s songs, and the older master expressed his great admiration for the younger composer’s artistry.

Der Jüngling an der Quelle (The Youth at the Spring)
 (D.300, ca.1816?, published 1842)
    Text: Johann Gaudenz Freiherr von Salis-Seewis (1762-1834)
Der Jüngling am Bache (The Youth by the Brook)   
Text (1803): Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

Der Jüngling und der Tod (The Youth and Death)
 (D. 545, 1817, pub.1872)    
Text: by Joseph von Spaun (1788-1865)

Fernando Obradors (1897-1945) was a self-taught Catalan composer, pianist and conductor. Although he wrote orchestral music as well as a considerable amount of music for the stage, he is best remembered for his four sets of Canciones clásicas españolas, collected and arranged between 1921-1941. Obradors' settings perfectly capture the essence of the folk-songs, and they remain among the most popular Spanish-language songs in the repertoire of classically-trained singers.

La mi sola, Laureola (My Only Laureola)
(Canciones clásicas españolas, no. 7)
    Text: Juan Ponce (b.ca.1480)
Del cabello más sutil (From That Finest Hair)
(Canciones clásicas españolas, no. 4)
    Text: Anonymous
Al Amor (To My Love)
(Canciones clásicas españolas, no. 1)
    Text: Cristobal de Castillejo (d. 1550)

Like Obradors, Enrique Granados (1867-1916) was born in the Spanish region of Catalonia, and Granados' music is so characteristically "Spanish" that he is regarded as one of his homeland's most representative composers. His Goyescas (1909-11), a suite of 6 pieces in 2 books and inspired by the paintings of Francesco Goya, ranks with Iberia, by Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909), as the finest piano works from Spain. The famous Quejas, ó la maja y el ruiseñor (“Lament, or, The Maiden and the Nightingale”), is an intricate nocturne with glittering, bird-like trills near its conclusion. Granados himself premiered Goyescas, so it is clear that he was a virtuoso performer as well as composer.

Gabriel Urbain Fauré (1845-1924) was a composer, organist, pianist and teacher, and he is widely regarded as the greatest master of the French art-song and the foremost French composer of his generation. Although Fauré greatly admired Wagner he remained relatively free of Wagner’s highly-colored influence, and instead led his own harmonic revolution by treating chords with added 7ths and 9ths as consonant and by introducing modal inflections into an essentially diatonic framework; in the process he successfully bridged the styles of Saint-Saëns (his teacher) and Ravel (his student). Fauré’s compositions are distinguished by perfectly crafted melodies floating over rich and radiant backgrounds, and among his best-known works is the hauntingly beautiful choral Requiem.

(Op.4, no,2)
    Text: Leconte de Lisle (1818-1894)
Ici-bas! (Here Below)
(Op.8, no.3, 1874?)
    Text: R.-F. Sully-Prudhomme (1839-1907)
(Op. 21, no.3, 1878)
    Text: Charles Jean Grandmougin (1850-1930)

The Polish-born pianist Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) was the first composer to make full use of the expressive qualities and coloristic potential of the piano when it was a still-developing keyboard instrument, and he rightly has been called the "Poet of the Piano." Much of all piano music by subsequent composers shows his influence, and his revolutionary use of chromatic harmonies and unusual key relationships profoundly influenced composers of symphonic music and operas as well, such as Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner--thus Chopin's importance in the development of the "Romantic" style in general can not be overestimated. Among his many achievements, Chopin is credited with establishing the Ballade as an extended instrumental form, and all four of his solo piano works bearing this title are considered among the crowning achievements of the Romantic period. British pianist and composer John Ogdon (1937-1989) called the Ballade No. 4, Op.52, completed in 1842, ”the most exalted, intense and sublimely powerful of all Chopin’s compositions ... it contains the experience of a lifetime.”