Composers at Play
Saturday, January 28, at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center
The lighter side’s enduring and irresistible appeal—to composers and audiences alike—imbues this unusual collection of works, dating from Haydn’s time to the present.
FEATURED SOLOIST: Ha Young Jung, Contrabass
“Ha Young is…among the very best I have ever seen.”
–Timothy Cobb, Principal Bass
New York Philharmonic
- Double Bassist Ha Young Jung is a current doctoral candidate at Boston University. Jung studied at the Royal College of Music, The Juilliard School, Yale University and captivates audiences and music critics alike with her dynamic and engaging performances. As a soloist Jung has appeared with many prominent orchestras including Royal Philharmonic, Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Southbank Sinfonia, and Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra.
As an active solo and chamber musician she performed in notable venues such as Cadogan Hall (London), Grieg House (Bergen), Opera House (Tel Aviv), Philharmonic Hall (St. Petersburg), Tchaikovsky Great Hall (Moscow), and The Wigmore Hall (London). She was a guest artist in various national and international music festivals including Bergen International Festival, Eilat International Festival (Israel), Hardanger International Music Festival (Norway), and Wimbledon International Chamber Music Festival (London).
Jung’s performances has been broadcasted live in many countries across the continent including WQXR of New York, BBC radio 3 of England, National Radio Station “Kol Hamusica” of Israel and Kultura Channel of Russia. As an orchestral musician she worked with many distinguished orchestras such as London Symphony Orchestra and English National Opera performing in venues including Alice Tully Hall (New York), Barbican Centre (London), and Carnegie Hall (New York).
Her list of national and international competition successes are considerable. The list includes; First Prize of the Koussevitzky Young Artist Award (New York, 2013), Silver Medal in the Serge Koussevitzky International Double Bass Competition (St Petersburg, 2007), First Prize in the International Society of Bassists’ Competition (USA, 2007), the Grand-Prix in the International String Competition (Moscow, 2006), Solti Foundation’s Musician of the Year (Belgium, 2006).
Jung has studied extensively with many leading musicians of the world and her list of principal teachers include Edwin Barker, Timothy Cobb, Rinat Ibragimov, Chang-Hyoung Lee, Tom Martin, and Don Palma. She was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in 2009 under the auspices of the ESU Scholarship. Jung has been a member of the Razumovsky Academy since 2006, where she was the recipient of the Razumovsky Trust Scholarship. As a member of Razumovsky Young Artists she works regularly with the director of the organization, Oleg Kogan, and performed in masterclasses given by numerous musicians including Ida Haendel, Vadim Repin, Alexander Chaushian, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Pavel Vernikov and Maxim Rysanov.
Copyright @ 2016 Ha Young Jung
NOTES ON THE PROGRAM:
Born August 15, 1890, in Paris, France
Died February 5, 1962, in Paris, France
Jacques Ibert was a highly skilled 20th century French composer whose music reflects a fluent, unapologetic conversancy with both his musical inheritance and popular trends of the day. Indeed, his two most beloved and frequently performed pieces—Escales, whose echo of Debussy and Ravel seems more like a memento than a debt, and the Divertissement, which freely incorporates jazz, musical theater and quotation from past masters—both evince a crafty, tasteful sure-footedness. These assets were put to good use in a successful career spanning the two great wars, a career which encompassed not only orchestral and chamber music but also opera, ballet, and incidental music for plays and films.
The Divertissement is actually a suite, drawn from Ibert’s score for a production of the Italian Straw Hat. The revival of this farcical 19th-century play coincided with the period immediately following World War I, a giddy time when people felt free to once again enjoy such entertainments. To be sure, the public appetite for light theater and ballet sparked a considerable output of incidental music for these media from composers of all stripes. While the formal concept of “Divertissement” may hearken back to Baroque times (i.e. Divertimento), Ibert’s polyglot version—with its strong allusions to blues, music hall tunes, quotes from Viennese waltzes and even the wedding march from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream—has less in common with its formal forebear than its Roaring 20s cultural provenance.
Copyright © 2016 by Anthony Korf
FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN
Born March 31, 1732, in Rohrau, Lower Austria
Died May 31, 1809, in Vienna, Austria
“So much great music, so little time!” So it may be said of Haydn’s symphonies (104 strong) and their endless capacity to enchant, absorb and move us some two centuries after the composer’s death. Not unlike Bach’s 200-or-so surviving cantatas, a thorough exploration of this cultural treasure trove naturally presupposes a commitment beyond the ordinary, though a passionate resolve of this sort may well be developed over time.
We know that historians and others, perhaps in an effort to help everyone keep track, have nicknamed quite a few Haydn symphonies—individually, in groups, or both. Has this haphazard process unintentionally rendered a disservice, through the seductive inference that those “other” symphonies (i.e. the ones bearing no special designation beyond a number) are somehow less worth our while? Just maybe.
We offer as a case in point #91, performed tonight. Sandwiched between the set of six renowned “Paris” symphonies (nos. 82-87)—effectively Haydn’s coronation as an international celebrity—and the grand, final set of “London” symphonies (nos. 93-104), this little gem (which also immediately precedes the ever-popular “Oxford”, No. 92) more than merits its own spotlight. Dispensing with the trumpets and timpani to which he had recently become accustomed through the larger forces afforded by the Paris commissions, Haydn returns in #91 to the more modest instrumental requirements of the Esterhazy Court orchestra, perhaps a third the size of the Olympic Masonic Lodge orchestra for which the Paris symphonies were created.
While #91 marks the last symphony Haydn would compose for what might be regarded as the sonic laboratory of the modern symphony, The Master proves that bigger is not better, just different. In this exquisite artifact of The Enlightenment, we feel the composer’s intimate presence: his warmth, his wisdom, his humanity. Much is made of Haydn’s wit—and who would deny it? Yet “wit” alone does not capture Haydn’s genial nature, nor the gentle art of caricature that informs many of his gestures and instrumental colorations. Take, for instance, the bassoon, so prominent in this symphony’s inner movements. Might we imagine the voice of Papa Haydn himself? Nickname, anyone?
Copyright © 2017 by Anthony Korf
Born February 26, 1965, in Mexico City
Mexican composer and conductor Juan Trigos has enjoyed international success in both endeavors. Currently Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Sinfónica de Oaxaca and formerly with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Guanajuato, he has served as principal conductor with the Eastman Broadband Ensemble since 2007.
In addition to four operas and three symphonies, Trigos’ diverse catalogue of works reveals the composer’s preoccupation with concertante form, of which the Concerto for Bass, heard tonight, provides a notable example. Trigos is guided by an original concept he has coined Abstract Folklore, which absorbs, abstracts and synthesizes various literary and vernacular musical traditions into a uniquely personal compositional language. A notable facet of this approach is primary pulsation, so named because of the resonance and interrelation of polyrhythmic/polyphonic musical events, featuring segments of contrasting density and duration, within his works.
Dating from 2008, the Concerto for Bass is derived from a previous work for solo double bass. In adapting the solo version to its new form, Trigos retains the soloists’ narrative authority, with the bass suggesting and guiding all the formal elements of the work, defining the articulation and proposing the ideas. Not unlike the most traditional of concertos, the “supporting cast” at turns responds, accompanies or expands upon the elements proposed.
Cast in a single movement, the work is divided into four large sections, the last of these including a coda.
At the core of the work’s construction is the concept of variation, such that all the movements retain identifiable components of the first section. In this disarmingly playful, extroverted work, the first percussionist shares the protagonist’s spotlight with the bass solo. Lending color, resonance and sonic depth, keyboard instruments such as vibraphone, marimba, harpsichord, vertical piano and electric piano also play an important role.
Copyright © 2016 by Anthony Korf
Born December 22, 1821, in Crema, Italy
Died July 7, 1889, in Parma, Italy
Born in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, Giovanni Bottesini was taught music at an early age by his father, an accomplished clarinet player and composer. Ironically, the man who one day would be known as “The Paganini of the Double Bass” took up violin as his first instrument (many modern bass players have followed this course) and likely would have remained on that path had it not been for the fact that he could only win a scholarship into the Milan Conservatory as a bassoonist or bass player—such was the school’s need at the time.
Soon after graduation, however, Bottesini was enjoying a multifaceted career as globe-trotting virtuoso soloist, composer and conductor. In the latter two endeavors, he was chiefly occupied with opera, even chosen by Verdi himself to conduct Aida’s 1871 world premiere in Cairo. On occasion, Bottesini’s multiple talents were on display all in one performance; the dauntless “triple threat” would frequently haul his bass onstage at intermission during an opera under his direction to play fantasies based on the evening’s vocal selection. Solo showpieces based on Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor or Bellini’s La Sonnaumbula (The Sleepwalker) heard tonight, for example, are today the inheritance of bass players sufficiently accomplished to tackle them.
Firmly in the “bel canto” tradition, the catchy melodies of Bellini’s wildly popular operatic masterpiece were sung by Italians of all stripes at home, in the street, or on the way to the opera. Through the generous use of harmonics and other extended techniques, Bottesini was able to elaborate upon these beloved melodies, and in so doing, gain a new level of stature for his instrument.
Copyright © 2017 by Anthony Korf