Friday, August 30, 2013

Tuesday Serenade, October 15, 2013 @ 7pm

Dr. Gregory Sauer and Dr. Heidi Louise Williams  

Faculty artists from Florida State University, performing:

  • Lukas Foss: Capriccio (1946) [on YouTube]
  • Frank Bridge: Sonata in D minor (1913-17) [on YouTube]
          [SCORE pdf from]
          I. Allegro ben moderato. II. Adagio ma non troppo
  • Daniel Crozier:  Nocturne (1997)
  • Francis Poulenc: Sonata, Op. 143 (1940-48) [on YouTube]
          I. Allegro-Tempo di marcia. II. Cavatine. III. Ballabile. IV. Finale


 In 2006, Gregory Sauer joined the faculty of Florida State University's College of Music in Tallahassee, where he is Associate Professor of Cello.  Dr. Sauer is also the principal cellist of the Tallahassee Symphony, and assistant principal of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra. For eleven years prior to his arrival in Florida, he taught at the University of Oklahoma, where he was named Presidential Professor (2005), and he served nine seasons as principal cellist of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra.

A native of Davenport, Iowa, Gregory Sauer attended the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory. He was a prizewinner in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Ima Hogg National competitions, and has performed concertos with many orchestras, including the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Quad City Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and Columbus (GA) Symphony. Dr. Sauer has appeared in recital at the Old First Concert Series in San Francisco, Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Brightmusic Concert Series in Oklahoma City, and at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall. He founded and served as co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music Quad Cities for thirteen years, and he has performed in numerous music festivals, including Tanglewood, Austin Chamber Music Center, Victoria Bach Festival, Texas Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival and Garth Newel Music Center.

With his FSU colleagues pianist Read Gainsford and violinist Corinne Stillwell, Professor Sauer is co-founder of Trio Solis, whose first CD, Diamonds in the Haystack, was named Critic's Choice in the January/February issue of American Record Guide. Since the trio's inception in 2008 they have performed throughout the U.S., including at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall, and twice for our Music @ Main concerts.

Associate Professor of Piano Heidi Louise Williams joined the faculty of FSU's College of Music in 2007, after having taught piano and piano chamber music at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Music for eight years. She is also artist-faculty for the MasterWorks Summer Music Festival in Winona Lake, Indiana, and recently joined the 2013 faculty of the Interharmony International Music Festival in Tuscany, Italy.  Dr. Williams completed her BM, MM, and DMA degrees at Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied with renowned pianist Ann Schein and coached chamber music with Earl Carlyss, Samuel Sanders, Stephen Kates, and Robert McDonald.

Professor Williams has appeared in solo and chamber music performances across the United States and abroad, including recitals at Carnegie's Weill Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the Taiwan National Recital Hall.  Praised by New York critic Harris Goldsmith for her "impeccable solistic authority" and "dazzling performances," Dr. Williams is the recipient of numerous awards, and she is equally, if not more proud of the growing roster of her students who have won prizes regionally, nationally and internationally for their solo and collaborative artistry.

Dr. William's 2011 solo debut CD for Albany Records, Drive American, was named among the top 10 classical albums of the year by Philadelphia City Paper, and made Fanfare magazine's 2012 Critics' Wants List for its "theatrical range that ... is veritably operatic," and her "tremendous panache and integrity" as an interpretive artist. An avid chamber musician, Heidi Louise Williams has collaborated with many outstanding American and international performers, and has recorded solo, concerto and chamber music for the Naxos and Albany labels.

PROGRAM NOTES, by Edward Lein, Music Librarian

Composer, conductor, teacher and pianist Lukas Foss (1922-2009) was born in Germany (as Lukas Fuchs), and his prodigious musical talent was recognized at an early age. When the Nazis rose to power in 1933, his family moved first to Paris, and then, in 1937, to the United States, where the 15-year-old Lukas continued his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.  He became a U.S. citizen in 1942, and went on to become a driving force in American music. Foss held professorships at UCLA (following Arnold Schoenberg), SUNY Buffalo and Boston University, and was composer-in-residence at Harvard, the Manhattan School of Music, Carnegie Melon University, Yale University and Boston University.  He was music director/conductor of various ensembles and orchestras, including symphonies in Buffalo, Brooklyn, and Milwaukee, as well as in Jerusalem, and he used these positions to share his abiding affection for the music of previous eras, while also championing contemporary works.  One might say Foss's own compositional output was "exploratory" in that it encompasses many of the diverse musical styles associated with the 20th Century, and he prided himself on being "crazy in the sense of unexpected."  With works ranging from folksy populism to serial constructs, aleatoric excursions, electronic musings and minimalist iterations, Foss had a talent for blurring the lines between seemingly disparate vocabularies, and not only among contemporary trends. Some of his better-known pieces transplant (decompose?) fragments of earlier music into modern soundscapes, such as Renaissance Concerto, for flute and orchestra (1985), and the orchestral  Baroque Variations (1967), which--as if musical quotation were not tribute enough--includes a xylophone tapping out "Johann Sebastian Bach" in Morse code.  Published in 1948, the composition of Foss's Capriccio for Cello and Piano dates from 1946, while he was the Boston Symphony's pianist under Serge Koussevitsky, with whom Foss had studied conducting during the summers from 1939 to 1943. Although the piece was composed for the famous cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, it is dedicated to the memory of Koussevitsky's first wife, Natalie, who had died in 1942. Even so, the rollicking piece is not an elegy but more a celebration of a life, and, in harmonies and gestures somewhat reminiscent of Copland's early ballets, it perhaps demonstrates just how "American" the new-citizen Foss had already become.

On the whole, the finely-crafted works of British violist and composer Frank Bridge (1879-1941) suffer an undeserved neglect, at least outside of Great Britain, and so he is perhaps most remembered as the teacher of his singular composition student, Benjamin Britten (1913-1976).  Not surprisingly, prior to World War I (1914-1918), Bridge wrote in a Late Romantic style typical of his British contemporaries, but after the war his music became more and more dissonant, in keeping with Continental tends.  Bridge composed his Cello Sonata in D minor between 1913 and 1917, and it already exhibits flashes of more "modern" tonal colors.  In his piano writing, Bridge's use of parallel 4ths, 5ths and triads shows an affinity with Debussy, and the work's striking lyricism might easily bring to mind Rachmaninoff.  "The War to End All Wars" was still raging when Bridge completed the Sonata, and one cannot help but feel the almost desperate melancholy that perfuses much of the second movement as a reflection of the tremendous suffering and loss that accompanied that international tragedy.  Bridge's Cello Sonata remains among his most-performed works, and has been included in at least 18 different commercial CD releases since the early 1990s.

Daniel Crozier (b. 1965), who received his DMA from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is Assistant Professor of Theory and Composition at Rollins College, in Winter Park, Florida, and previously served on the faculties of the Peabody Preparatory and Radford University (Virginia).  Dr. Crozier has a special connection with the First Coast: he was the winner of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's Fresh Ink composition contest for Florida composers in 2004. The win included a commission from the Symphony, manifested in Ballade, a 10-minute orchestral piece first performed in the Times-Union Center in 2006. Among other honors, Crozier won first prize in the 1995 National Opera Association Chamber Opera Competition for his second opera, With Blood, With Ink (1993), and received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the State of Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs, as well as numerous awards from ASCAP.  In 2002 saxophonist Branford Marsalis and the Walden Chamber Players presented the premiere performance of Dr. Crozier's Toccata for Soprano Saxophone and String Trio, and the Seattle Symphony has recorded several of his works.  Closer to home, Crozier’s Winter Aubade (2009), for solo piano, was written for FSU's Heidi Louise Williams, who included it in her CD of American piano music, Drive American, and who gave the European and Asian premieres of the piece this past summer. For today's concert, Dr. Crozier has kindly provided a note about his Nocturne for cello and piano:
The Nocturne was completed in 1997 and premiered at the Aspen Music Festival that summer by cellist Jason Duckles and pianist Blair McMillen. The piece evolves through an exploration of the relationship between four dependent but contrasting musical ideas. When it appears, the third of these essentially takes over the musical discourse and eventually, at its last appearance, generates the piece’s climax. When the principal idea returns at the end it appears in a new, warmer light, tempered by the intervening dialogue. Though the formal plan just described does not closely match most of the exquisite Nocturnes for solo piano that he left us, the piece does homage to Chopin, whose favorite instrument after the piano was the cello.

Even before he had any formal training as a composer, Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was already famous as one of Les six, a group of 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's Neoclassicism 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. Poulenc, himself a pianist, had a much-lauded talent for writing for wind instruments, but he apparently felt a little less secure writing for solo strings: while working on his Cello Sonata, Op. 143 (1940-1948), he enlisted the advice of French cello virtuoso Pierre Fournier, to whom the work is dedicated. The advice paid off, such that in this duo for cello and piano Poulenc created what author and critic David Hurwitz identifies as the composer's "biggest and most important solo sonata."

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