Friday, June 20, 2014

Tuesday Serenade : February 17 @ 7pm

Lauren Burns Hodges, viola
Douglas Jurs, piano 
Faculty Artists from Valdosta State University & Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College*

Joseph Haydn
Piano Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI/50 (L. 60)
  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio
  3. Allegro Molto
Anton Rubinstein
Nocturne for Viola & Piano, op. 11, no. 2

Alexander Scriabin
Poème in F-sharp Major, op. 32, no. 1 (Piano solo)

Claude Debussy
General Lavine-Excentrique (Piano Préludes, Book 2, no. 6)

Claude Debussy
L'Isle joyeuse (Piano solo)

Ernest Bloch
Suite for Viola and Piano (1919)
  1. Lento
  2. Allegro ironico
  3. Lento
  4. Molto vivo
*Presented with very special thanks to Dr. Hodges and Dr. Jurs for stepping in when the originally-scheduled artist became unable to perform due to illness

Lauren Burns Hodges currently serves as Lecturer in Viola at Valdosta State University, Principal Viola of the Valdosta Symphony, violist of the Azalea String Quartet, and Director of the South Georgia String Project, winner of the 2011 NSPC String Project of the Year.  During the summers, she is a faculty artist at the Premier Orchestral Institute in Jackson, Mississippi and the Schlern International Music Festival in South Tyrol, Italy.  Recent orchestral, chamber and solo performances have taken her to Périgueux (France), Graz and Bad Leonfelden (Austria), Havana (Cuba), and seventeen cities in China.

As a founding member of the Hausmann Quartet, Dr. Hodges performed throughout the United States and was a young artist-in-residence on the Lyrica Boston Chamber Music Series, and at Kent State University in Ohio as a teaching assistant to the Miami String Quartet.  She was a fellow at Norfolk and Kent/Blossom summer music festivals, and has performed in the Eastern Music Festival Faculty Orchestra as well as a summer concert in the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom.  She has been Principal Viola in the Ohio Valley Symphony, Lyrica Chamber Orchestra (Boston and NJ) and in the Manchester Chamber Music (VT) and Texas Music Festival orchestras, and has also performed with the Albany, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Mansfield, Lancaster, New Hampshire, Brockton, Augusta, and South Carolina Philharmonic orchestras, and in the AIMS - Graz, Aspen and Brevard Music Festival orchestras.

Winner of the Narramore Fellowship, Dr. Hodges received her doctoral degree from the University of Alabama.  She earned a master’s degree at Peabody Conservatory as a winner of the prestigious Jacob K. Javits national fellowship, and her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from the University of South Carolina. 

Chicago-born pianist Douglas Jurs was appointed Assistant Professor of Piano and Music Theory at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Fall 2012, having previously served on the piano faculties at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Edgewood College. Dr. Jurs has performed solo and collaborative recitals throughout the U.S. and abroad in cities like Vienna, Nice, and Milan and at festivals such as the Holland International Music Sessions, Aspen Music Festival, Banff Centre for the Arts, and Centre d’Arts Orford in Quebec, among others. He won First Prize at the 2004 Lee Biennial Piano Competition, and was winner of the University of Wisconsin Beethoven Competition in 2010.

Dr. Jurs is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Blue Horse Music Festival in Woodstock, Vermont, a biannual winter/summer concert series that features acclaimed musicians performing in the intimate Blue Horse Inn music parlor. A committed teacher, Dr. Jurs has over ten years of private piano teaching experience and his pre-college students have won competitions at the local, state and national levels. In past summers, he has worked as an Artist Teacher at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. As a long-time advocate for arts outreach, Dr. Jurs has performed in correctional facilities, psychiatric hospitals and as a past Associate Artist with Cleveland Opera, in over 100 public schools throughout Ohio. He was one of the first teachers to work with the University of Wisconsin Piano Pioneers program, an initiative that brings affordable music lessons to low-income students.

Dr. Jurs' music degrees are from the University of Wisconsin (DMA), Cleveland Institute of Music (MM), and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music(BS-OF), where he was a Friends of Music Scholar, double major in Piano and English Literature, and rider for the Cutters cycling team.

Genial Austrian composer (Franz) Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) is the musician most credited with establishing the “Classical” style that his two younger contemporaries Mozart and Beethoven built upon, and by the time of his death "Papa" Haydn had become the most widely celebrated composer in Europe. Haydn started out as a choirboy and never developed into a keyboard virtuoso, so his 52-62 keyboard sonatas (depending on who's counting) were mostly composed in the early part of his career for the instruction and amusement of his noble patrons. Not so, however, with his Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI/50 (L.60), which is the first in a group of three sonatas written "expressly for" the English virtuoso Terese Jansen (aka Mrs. Bartolozzi in the dedication), and the last piano sonatas Haydn would write.  Not only are they more technically challenging than many of his earlier forays in the genre, they also incorporate a wider pitch range owing to the contemporary advances in the construction of English pianos (one of which the composer carried back to Vienna). Written during Haydn's second visit to London (1794-1795), the C-major Sonata demonstrates Haydn's characteristic wit and good humor. The first movement is built around single theme and combines aspects of a sonata-form movement with theme and variations. The middle Adagio, thought to pre-date the other movements, is followed by a brief rondo that recaptures the high spirits of the opening.

Composer, pianist, conductor and educator Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) was a central figure in Russian musical life during the late 19th Century.  He was the first director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and as a pianist he was considered the equal of Liszt. As might be expected, he composed hundreds of pieces for his own instrument, but he also wrote symphonies, concertos, songs, choral works and operas, the best-known of which is The Demon (1871).  His Nocturne, the second of Three Pieces for Viola and Piano, op. 11, was composed in 1854.

Russian pianist, composer and mystic Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) was a classmate of Rachmaninoff at the Moscow Conservatory. But unlike his famous friend who retained the stylistic traits of Russian Romanticism throughout his career, Scriabin developed a unique musical language that progressed beyond early lyrical musings directly inspired by Chopin and Liszt into a non-tonal vocabulary that has lead some to call him the “progenitor of Serialism.” The popular Poème in F-sharp Major is the first of two such works comprising Scriabin's opus 32. Composed in 1903, its fluid, Late-Romantic harmonic language shares more with the Impressionism of Debussy than with the increasingly nebulous sound-world into which Scriabin soon would journey.

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. 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. General Lavine-Excentrique (Book 2, No. 6) is written "in the style and movement of a Cake-Walk," thus paying homage to American popular music of the era.

Debussy's effervescent L’isle joyeuse was inspired by L’Embarquement pour Cythère ("The Embarkation for Cythera"), by French painter Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). The painting depicts an amorous boating party visiting the supposed birthplace of Venus, complete with Cupids flitting about. Writing to his publisher Debussy observed, “This piece seems to embrace every possible manner of treating the piano, combining as it does strength with grace, if I may presume to say so.” It begins with a glittering haze of whole-tone harmonies and eventually ends in A major, harmonically bridged with Lydian modal inflections (like a major scale but with a raised fourth). Debussy's music captures the sensuous excitement depicted in Watteau's excursion, but it's hardly a vacation for the pianist. As Debussy himself observed, “Lord, but it’s difficult to play!”

Swiss-born composer Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) was educated and began his teaching career in Europe, but he moved to America in 1916 and became a U.S. citizen in 1924. His teaching posts included directorships at the Cleveland Institute of Music (which he helped found in 1920), and at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and his students included Roger Sessions, George Antheil, Douglas Moore, Quincy Porter, Randall Thompson, and Leon Kirchner. Although Bloch's diverse (but essentially Romantic) output includes some works which adapt atonality and serialism into his own style, his most widely-known works are those which draw inspiration from his Jewish heritage, such as Schelomo, for cello and orchestra (1916).

Bloch's Suite for Viola and Piano won first prize in the Berkshire Chamber Music Competition in 1919, for which the composer provided the following notes:
First of all, my SUITE does not belong to my so-called 'Jewish works,' although perhaps, in spite of myself, one may perceive here and there in a few places a certain Jewish inspiration. It is rather a vision of the Far East that inspired me: Java, Sumatra, Borneo — those wonderful countries I so often dreamed of, though never was fortunate enough to visit in any other way than through my imagination. I first intended to give more explicit — or picturesque — titles to the four movements of the work, as: (1) In the Jungle; (2) Grotesques;(3) Nocturne; (4) The Land of the Sun. But those titles seemed rather incomplete and unsatisfactory to me. Therefore, I prefer to leave the imagination of the hearer completely unfettered, rather than tie it to a definite programme.

The following, however, is what I believe that I myself saw in the music:
1) Lento — Allegro — Moderato

The first movement, the most complicated in inspiration and in form, aims to give the impression of a very wild and primitive Nature. The introduction, Lento, begins with a kind of savage cry, like that of a fierce bird of prey, followed immediately by a deep silence, misterioso, and the meditation of the viola. Other motives follow, and a small embryonic theme that later assumes very great importance. All these motives will be recalled later, either in the first movement or in the following ones, with more or less transformation.

The following Allegro brings a motive of joyful and perhaps exotic character which is answered by the viola. There is a new motive for the viola, and there are transformations of earlier material. The second part of the Allegro begins with a new idea — perhaps a little Jewish, in my sense. There is a climax worked out from the most important themes. Then follows a decrescendo that leads to the conclusion of the Allegro — again in silence and in slumbering mood. Like a sun rising out of clouds, in the mystery of primitive Nature, one of the earlier viola motives arises in a broader shape, Largamente, and the movement ends, as it began, with the meditation of the viola.

No comments: