Monday, February 13, 2012

Intermezzo Sunday Concert, 3/11/2012 @ 2:30pm

Flint River Trio

Russell Brown, clarinet
Boyan Bonev, cello
Mimi Noda, piano

Bohuslav Martinů : Variations on a Theme of Rossini, H. 290, for Cello & Piano
    1. Theme: Poco allegro - Allegro moderato
    2. Variation I: Poco allegro
    3. Variation II: Poco piu allegro
    4 .Variation III: Andante
    5. Variation IV: Allegro
    6. Theme: Vivo. Moderato maestoso
Robert Schumann : Fantasiestücke, Op. 73, for Clarinet & Piano
    SCORE (PDF, from
    1. Zart und mit Ausdruck (Tenderly and with expressiveness)
    2. Lebhaft, leicht (Lively, delicately)
    3. Rasch und mit Feuer (Rapidly and with fiery passion)
Ludwig van Beethoven : Trio in Eb Major, Op. 38
    SCORE (PDF, from
    YouTube recordings:
    1. Adagio - Allegro con brio
    2. Adagio cantabile
    3. Tempo di minuetto
    4. Tema con variazioni: Andante
    5. Scherzo: Allegro molto e vivace
    6. Andante con moto alla marcia; Presto

Russell Brown is Assistant Professor of Woodwind Studies at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia. He also serves as faculty advisor of the Rho Delta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and is himself a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Society. Mr. Brown holds an MM in Music Composition from the University of Florida, an MM in Music Performance from The Ohio State University, and a BM in Music Performance from Valdosta State University. He is a current PhD Candidate (ABD) in Music Composition at the University of Florida. Mr. Brown regularly performs contemporary music in various chamber groups. In Georgia, he also performs with the Albany Symphony Orchestra and the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, and in Florida he has performed with The Florida Orchestra (Tampa), the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra, and the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. Russell Brown's compositions have been performed in venues across the country, including performances by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and by the R20 Chamber Orchestra, from Wroclaw, Poland.

Award-winning Bulgarian cellist Boyan Bonev holds DM and MM degrees from the Florida State University, and a BM degree from the National Music Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria. Dr. Bonev teaches cello and double bass at Darton College (Albany, Georgia), is the orchestra director at Leon High School in Tallahassee, and is a faculty member of the FSU Summer Music Camps. He performs in Georgia with the Albany Symphony, and in Florida with the Tallahassee, Pensacola, Florida Lakes, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, and Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestras. Dr. Bonev is also an active performer of solo and chamber music, and his repertoire includes wide variety of solo and chamber music works from the Baroque and Romantic eras, contemporary compositions, and virtuoso show pieces. He has been a featured soloist with the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra and the Stara Zagora Symphony Orchestra (Bulgaria), and he has performed in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. A prize winner from the Bulgarian National Competition for Singers and Instrumentalists, and the International Competition "Music and Earth," Dr. Bonev took part in various programs for the Bulgarian National Television and Radio, and he has performed in a number of prestigious music festivals in the United States and Europe.

Mimi Noda, Assistant Professor of Piano at Albany State University, holds a DM in Piano Performance, Chamber Music, and Accompanying from Florida State University. Her BM is from the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo, Japan, and after being graduated she was pianist for the Japanese Choral Association for six years. In 1998, she began her graduate studies at the University of Georgia, and the following year she received the Director’s Music Excellence Award, and was winner of the annual UGA concerto competition. She received her MM in Piano in 2000, and then moved to Lubbock, Texas, as Senior Staff Accompanist for the School of Music at Texas Tech University. In 2002, she began her doctoral studies in Tallahassee, and while there she received the Tallahassee Music Guild Scholarship and the Florida-Japan Institute Scholarship, and she was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, the National Music Honor Society. She also taught Japanese in FSU’s Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics from spring 2006 until spring 2009. In addition to her faculty responsibilities at Albany State, Dr. Noda is a keyboardist with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and she regularly volunteers keyboard performances at Albany's Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. She also enjoys singing as a member of the Albany Chorale.

PROGRAM NOTES, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

Continuing the line of Czech composers from Dvořák through Smetana and Janáček, Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959) is the best-known Czech composer of the mid-20th Century. Both prolific and versatile, Martinů wrote over 400 works in virtually all genres, including more than a dozen operas, 6 symphonies, and 28 works for solo instruments and orchestra.

His father was a poor shoemaker and church bell-ringer, and, owing to a rather frail constitution, young Bohuslav spent most of his childhood confined to the bell tower where his family lived. But his musical gifts were nonetheless recognized early on, and he began taking violin lessons when he was six or seven years old, and also began to compose around the same time. With the backing of his entire hometown of Polička, on the Bohemian-Moravian border, he moved to Prague in 1906, and entered the Conservatory there. Perhaps because of the introversion his childhood isolation had encouraged, he discovered he was not cut out to be the violin virtuoso his town folk were counting on--he was expelled from the Conservatory in 1910, due to what his teachers deemed "incorrigible negligence." Somewhat ironically, by the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Martinů himself had become a teacher, which, together with his health issues, exempted him from military service. But as other young musicians were conscripted, Martinů began playing violin with the Czech Philharmonic, and the orchestra performed some of his compositions. More importantly, he was exposed to a wide variety of musical styles, including especially the music of Debussy, which he said profoundly influenced his development as a composer.

Martinů moved to Paris in 1923 to study with French composer Albert Roussel (1869-1937), and to absorb the influences of Stravinsky, American jazz, and everything else that was churning in the Arts Capital of the World. Throughout his life, Martinů carried a picture postcard of the church he grew up in, and, perhaps inspired by his nostalgic homesickness, rhythmic and melodic elements of Czech folk music became integrated into his increasingly neoclassical style. But in 1941, not long after the 1940 German invasion of France, he and his French wife found themselves living in the United States, unable to speak English and with no job prospects. Fortunately, as with Bartók and a few other ex-patriot composers fleeing from the Nazis, Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitsky (1874-1951) was able to assist Martinů getting commissions and performances, and the virtually unknown Czech exile soon achieved a growing reputation among the Yanks. All six of Martinů's symphonies were written and fairly widely performed in America, and they prompted the internationally-famous Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet (1883-1969) to declare Martinů the greatest living composer of symphonies.

Written in 1942, Martinů's Variations on a Theme of Rossini was among the first compositions he completed in the U.S., and it was composed for the virtuoso cellist Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976), for whom Martinů also wrote several other works. The titular "Theme of Rossini" refers to Dal tuo stellato soglio (From Your Starry Throne), from the opera, Mosè in Egitto (Moses in Egypt, 1819 version). But before Martinů got hold of it, Rossini's tune was first used by Italian violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), in his Sonata "a Preghiera" ("In Prayer" Sonata), aka, Moses Fantasy, a set of variations written originally for the violin's G-string. Perhaps because Moses was still in Egypt and Commandment VII had yet to be handed down, cellists have shown no remorse in absconding with Paganini's violin piece and moving it to their own A-string. Regardless of whether Martinů heard a cello transcription, or perhaps even studied the violin original during his conservatory days, Paganini's Fantasy, with its transformation of Rossini's reverential prayer into a light-hearted romp, is where Martinů's fanciful flight actually originates. Only, "Variations on a Variation from Paganini's Variations on a Theme of Rossini" does seem a little too long for a title.

The hopes of the great German Romantic composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856) to become a concert pianist were dashed in his early twenties when he permanently damaged his hand, so he redirected his energies to both composing and music criticism. From childhood he was torn between literature and music, and Schumann's abiding respect for the poet's voice helped make him a master songwriter. He also managed to combine these two loves even in some of his purely instrumental music, by using verse and dramatic narrative to color and direct the musical discourse.

That being said, a work which has no apparent connection with any verbiage is Schumann's three-movement Fantasiestücke (Fantasy Pieces), Op. 73, for clarinet and piano. If Mendelssohn had written these lyric miniatures they might well have been called "Songs without Words," but Schumann himself toyed with the idea of naming them Nachtstücke (Night Pieces). Schumann quickly wrote his would-be nocturnes over the course of two cold days in February, 1849, near the outset of what he would later refer to as "my most fruitful year," and he thought they would be equally effective with violin or cello. The composer instructed that the movements be played without a break, and, as his tempo markings indicate, the first movement is nostalgically dreamy, and the second one sprightly. The third movement becomes a jaunty ride, ever faster and faster in its Coda, so, with apologies to Bette Davis, "fasten your seatbelts ... ."

The Transcendent German-born composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) began his compositional career essentially imitating the styles and forms he inherited from Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and W.A Mozart (1756-1791), but during his "middle" period (ca. 1803-1815) Beethoven expanded and personalized this inheritance, creating works that have come to represent the culmination of the Classical style in much the same way that the works of J.S. Bach (1685-1750) represent the culmination of the Baroque. During Beethoven's "late" period (ca. 1815-1827), he discovered new paths toward still more personal, even intimate, musical expression, and, despite the gradual and eventually total degeneration of his hearing, he forged the way beyond the Classical tradition into the Romantic.

To anyone familiar with Beethoven's Septet in E-flat Major, Op. 20, his Trio, Op. 38 will be immediately recognizable as an arrangement of the composer's earlier best-seller. Dating from 1799-1800, Beethoven seems to have used Mozart's six-movement String Trio in E-flat Major, K. 563, as the model for the Septet. Beethoven's serenade became so popular with the music-buying public that others had started selling unauthorized arrangements for different instrumental combinations, so Beethoven made an arrangement for reduced forces himself, and issued it in 1805 with a new opus number. The original Septet was for clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello and string bass, and it was unusual for its time in that the clarinet was treated as an equal to the violin. Beethoven's Trio version allows for either clarinet or violin, with cello and piano.

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