March 20, 2016

Subscriber Bonus Concert: The Debut of Jinjoo Cho

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Jinjoo Cho, violin
Hyun Soo Kim, piano


String Force
C. Schumann
3 Romances for Violin and Piano
R. Schumann
Sonata for Violin and Piano in D minor, No. 2
E. Taaffe Zwilich
Fantasy for Solo Violin
Sonata for Violin and Piano
Carmen Fantasie

As a thank you, Linton Subscribers will receive a complimentary ticket to this special Subscriber Bonus Concert that features the debut of Jinjoo Cho, the Gold Medalist of the Ninth Quadrennial International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.

Program Notes

J. Tower - String Force
Joan Tower is a contemporary American composer, concert pianist, and conductor. She is also a Grammy-winner, and has been praised by the New Yorker as "one of the most successful women composers of all time." Throughout her more than 50 year career, she has made a significant impact on musical life in the United States.

String force, commissioned in 2010 by the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis was according to Tower, "an attempt at writing a challenging piece for violin." She also notes "When I heard 16 very good semi-finalists from around the world play this piece...I was dumbstruck at what was working and what was not. I changed several things after that and learned quite a bit about the tempo and register of the violin." The piece is dedicated to violinist Jaime Laredo.

C. Schumann - Romances for Violin and Piano
Clara Schumann wrote these Three Romances for Violin and Piano in 1853. "Women are not born to compose" she stated, but continued to break the societal stereotype (only men compose) by writing her own compositions. A gifted pianist, trained by her father, she was also a talented composer who wrote 66 compositions, all of them by 1853. She had eight children, and raised them by herself after her husband Robert's death in 1856. She still managed to have a performance career, and wrote Three Romances for her to take on tour with the famous violinist Joseph Joachim. He continued to perform the piece when on tour with other pianists.

A "romance" in Schumann's time traditionally referred to a short piece for piano alone or for another solo instrument accompanied by piano. Based on how much detail and complexity the piano score involves, it is clear that Schumann was a talented performer. The Three Romances consist of an Andante molto featuring lyrical partnerships between the violin and piano; Allegretto which showcases a syncopated theme and imitation (ending on an unexpected chord); and Leidenschaftlich schnell (passionate, ardently, fervent and fast) brings rolling arpeggios and "bubbling accompaniment" on the piano.

R. Schumann - Sonata for Violin and Piano in D Minor No. 2
Robert Schumann (married to Clara) was a German composer, pianist in his early days, and music critic. He originally left the study of law to take on a career as a virtuoso pianist, but he injured his hand and turned instead to composition. Many consider him to be one of the greatest of the Romantic composers. Schumann was "profoundly influenced by literature," but also suffered from severe mental problems and ended up in an asylum.

Schumann's called the Sonata for Violin and Piano his "Grand Sonata." The Sonata was written in 1851 and premiered by Ferdinand David, the concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. It was written in a short period of time (about a week). Schumann stated "I didn't like the first violin sonata, so I wrote a second, which I hope turned out better." It is likely that Schumann wrote his three violin sonatas in response to the plethora of great violinists in Germany at the time. The first movement Ziemlich langsam - lebhaft begins dramatically with detached chords, and after the introduction of the theme, a vivace tempo and a recapitulation of the "noble and tragic" theme. Movement 2, Sehr lebhaft is the scherzo in 6/8 time. The piano takes the lead in the animated portion, and a simple trio allows the violin to link thematically with the first movement in G major.

The third movement Leise, einfach begins with pizzicato triple-stops on the violin and features a series of variations and different episodes between the variations. Movement four, Bewegt is brisk, with the piano and violin each presenting different parts of the main theme. The development explores different harmonic areas and the final presentation of the main theme ends with force.

E. Taaffe Zwilich Fantasy for Solo Violin
First female to win the Pulitizer Prize for Music in 1983 for her Symphony No. 1, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich has become "one of America's most frequently played and genuinely popular living composers." She was also named to the first composer's Chair in the history of Carnegie Hall. Zwilich's works have been performed by the majority of leading American orchestras as well as major ensembles around the world.

Zwilich was commissioned to create the compulsory work that the 16 semi-finalists would premiere for the 2014 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. About the work she says "Any work for solo violin presents technical challenges, but it was my aim in writing Fantasy for Solo Violin to challenge the musical imagination and dramatic impulses of the violinist as well. For me, the best artist is not just a virtuoso, but a creative spirit in communion with the music." Out of the 16 semi-finalists that premiered the piece, Jinjoo Choo won the competition in September 2014.

Corigliano - Sonata for Violin and Piano
American composer, John Corigliano has showcased his work in several films, an opera, orchestral, and chamber works. A five-time Grammy winner, he also has been awarded an Oscar and Pulitzer Prize.

Sonata for Violin and Piano was Corigliano's first success as a composer in 1964. The piece was awarded the first prize for the Spoleto Festival Competition for Creative Arts and was premiered there on July 10, 1964. Shortly after, the piece was given its American premiere by Roman Totenberg.

Corigliano writes: "The sonata for violin and piano, written during 1962-63, is for the most part a tonal work, although it incorporates non-tonal and poly-tonal sections within it as well as other 20th century harmonic, rhythmic, and constructional techniques. The listener will recognize the work as a product of an American writer, although this is more the result of an American writing music than writing 'American' music - a second-nature, unconscious action on my part.

Rhythmically, the work is extremely varied. Meters change in almost every measure, and independent rhythmic patterns in each instrument are common. The violin sonata was originally entitled Duo, and therefore obviously treats both instruments as co-partners. Virtuosity is of great importance in adding color and energy to the work which is basically an optimistic statement, but the virtuosity is always motivated by musical means.

Waxman - Carmen Fantasie
Franz Waxman is a German and American composer who is known best for his film scores. Composer of scores including The Bride of Frankenstein, Sunset Boulevard, Rebecca, and A Place in the Sun, he has received twelve Academy Award nominations, two Oscars, and a Golden Globe award for his work on these films.

Waxman's Carmen Fantasie was written as part of the score to the movie Humoresque, debuted in 1946. The film focused on a young violinist in New York and his patron. The film features the sound of Isaac Stern with "finger-syncing" by John Garfield in the film. Originally, the piece was meant to be played by Jascha Heifetz, but it was given to Stern. Heifetz contacted Waxman and asked him to expand the work into a piece to for Heifetz to pay on the popular radio show The Bell Telephone Hour. The composer re-worked the score, and on September 9, 1946 Carmen Fantasie was premiered on the radio.

Carmen Fantasie is based on Georges Bizet's opera Carmen, and utilizes various themes as inspiration within it the work. Jay Stebley notes "Waxman managed to create a spectacular and cohesive suite based on Bizet's highly-melodic opera. Befitting Stern's and Heifetz's remarkable abilities, the Carmen Fantasie has all the brilliance and fire of a Gypsy primas on a hut summer night. This fiendishly-difficult work still defies all but the masters of the instrument."

Carmen Fantasie is Waxman's most requested concert work and the post Heifetz generation of violinists has championed the music on every continent.


Tickets to this Bonus Concert are included with any Linton Chamber Music Subscription.

SUBSCRIBE Linton | Sun | Mar. 20

Linton Chamber Music
Sunday Series
First Unitarian Church
4:00 PM

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Jinjoo Cho