April 7 & 8, 2019

FOUNDER’S PROGRAM: Opus One + One

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Artists

OPUS ONE
Ida Kavafian, violin
Steven Tenenbom, viola
Peter Wiley, cello
Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
with Ani Kavafian, violin
 

Program

K. Najarian

L. Liebermann

Beach

A Tale for Two Violins

Quartet for Piano & Strings

Quintet for Piano & Strings in F-sharp Minor


PLEASE NOTE: the Sunday, April 7th performance is currently SOLD-OUT. If you would like to place your name on a waiting list for tickets, please email info@LintonMusic.org or call (513) 381-6868. Or please purchase tickets to the Monday, April 8th performance in Loveland at Congregation Beth Adam. Opus One returns to its Linton roots to celebrate and honor Founder, Dick Waller with a program featuring a Liebermann work written especially for Opus One. Ani Kavafian joins the group to perform Amy Beach’s milestone Piano Quintet as well as a double violin work written for the dynamic sisters.

Program Notes

Kristapor Najarian (1991 – )
A Tale for Two Violins

Kristapor Najarian studied violin performance and composition at UCLA. He was part of the studio of renowned violinists Movses Pogossian and Guillaume Sutre. His composition teachers included Ian Krouse and Paul Chihara. Kristapor has international performance experience, having played at the Sydney Opera House (Australia), Zipper Hall (Los Angeles), and the Yerevan Perspectives International Music Festival (Armenia).

A Tale for Two Violins is written for violinists Ani and Ida Kavafian. It commemorates the one hundredth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Najarian has a style of composing that is at once controlled and free-spirited, and absorbs international influences. He writes:

“I wouldn’t say I have any particular philosophy or ‘modus operandi’ when I compose. To me, at this moment, composition feels very spontaneous. If an idea comes to me honestly, in the moment, then I haven’t much need to criticize or change it.”

Of course composition is a long process, with much editing and orchestrating involved. However, I feel that every cell of a piece must begin with an honest and spontaneous energy. Just as many streams flow into a single ocean – each with its own natural energy – a composition for me represents thousands of spontaneous instances, woven together to create a piece more meaningful and comprehensive than each of its individual parts.

‘A Tale for Two Violins’ represents this philosophy. The piece is heavily influenced by Armenian, Turkish, and other music from the Middle East, both folk and classical. Two movements are based on traditional Armenian melodies, two on Turkish ones, and two are original.”

The piece begins with a folk melody played softly by both violins. Soon, a dance-like theme kicks up, one violin playing the lively tune while the other holds a drone. After a while, the two violins meet up again, playing the same melody together. This time, it is more intense. Though some parts are more festive and others more plaintive, the idea of playing separately then coming back together again motivates the entire work.

 

Lowell Liebermann (1961 – )
Quartet for Piano & Strings, Op. 114

Lowell Liebermann was born in New York City in 1961. His musical studies began comparatively late – he only began playing piano at age eight – which makes the speed at which he found success even more impressive. Liebermann began composing at age fourteen, and made his Carnegie Hall debut at age sixteen performing his own Piano Sonata, Op. 1 which he had composed the previous year.

Today, Liebermann is one of America’s most frequently performed and recorded living composers. Called by the New York Times “as much of a traditionalist as an innovator,” his music is known for being both technically demanding and broadly popular with audiences. Liebermann written over one hundred works in all genres, several of them have gone on to become standard repertoire for their instruments.

The Quartet for Piano and Strings, op. 114 was composed in 2010 on a Commission from Music from Angle Fire for OPUS ONE. OPUS ONE premiered the quartet in August 2010 at the Angel Fire Community Center in Angel Fire, New Mexico.

Musically, the quartet defies traditional formal structure. Musical episodes are defined by the rhythms and mood established by the piano and freely flow into one another through brief transitional material in the strings. An opening fugal section leads to a more rhythmic ostinato driven by the cello. This all gives way to an episode of seemingly constant elevation as all four musicians trade interlocking ascending figures that creates the feeling of rising without end. This feeling of ascent becomes the most salient unifying factor throughout the piece as Liebermann returns to brief ascending patterns in each instrument to transition from episode to episode. The opening melody returns only briefly before transitioning into a haunting three-part chorale in the strings. As the piano re-enters playing on the extreme edges of the instrument’s range, the music transitions to its most rhythmically driving section. A rapid 12/8 melody is traded among the strings before dropping out entirely for the piano’s presentation of this new motif. Finally, this rapid section gives way to a pensive final theme that fully embraces the musical ascent that has permeated the quartet. Long melodic lines in the strings float above an impressionistic piano line before all four parts eventually ascend to the point of no return; seemingly floating away on this final melody.

 

Amy Beach (1867 – 1944)
Quintet for Piano & Strings in F-sharp Minor

Overcoming society’s strictures, Amy Beach became the first successful woman composer in America, and was touted as “the most performed composer of her generation.” Her musical talents were recognized early and she quickly began serious piano study with the best teachers in Boston. Her parents allowed her to make her debut at age 16 and to perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at 18, but they opposed a professional career. Her eventual husband, a prominent physician and amateur musician named Henry Harris Aubrey Beach, reinforced that viewpoint. Reluctantly, she agreed to limit her public performances and, with his encouragement, turned her efforts to composing.

Denied a formal teach, Beach became a composing autodidact. She studied scores and read everything she could find pertaining to harmony, theory, counterpoint, fugue, and instrumentation. This led to a style that was considered thoroughly modern and unique by critics, and was wildly popular with both performers and audiences. After her husband’s death in 1910, she went to Europe to revive a concert career and promote her compositions. She returned triumphantly to Boston in 1914 and devoted herself to concert tours, composing, and championing women composers. When she died in 1944 in New York City, almost all of her 300-plus works, encompassing all genres, had been published and performed.

Her Piano Quintet in F-sharp Minor was composed 1908 and premiered in 1909 with Beach performing the piano part. It begins with a dark, brooding Adagio introduction. The main part of the movement, Allegro, begins with a sad melody given out by the first violin, followed by a brief episode before the music reverts back to introductory theme, all while maintaining the dark and mysterious mood throughout. The middle movement, Adagio espressivo, opens softly with a lovely, romantic melody. Though the music never rises to any huge dramatic climax, it nonetheless burns with tremendous emotional intensity. The finale, Allegro agitato, explodes out of the gate with incredible force and forward motion. The introduction of the second, more lyrical theme slows the momentum slightly before the reintroduction of the main subject brings further dramatic climaxes in its wake.