The School of Music’s exciting new online initiative, Streaming Sounds, was launched at a live performance in Llewellyn Hall on Sunday 16th August 2009 at 3pm. Titled Clarinet.Ballistix, this free concert was streamed live to the Internet. Following the performance there was a Q&A forum, open to web viewers, and a linked interactive blog for discussions across audiences in Australia and beyond.
Renowned performers and School of Music staff, clarinettist Alan Vivian, cellist David Pereira and pianist Alan Hicks were joined by pianist Katherine Day to present a varied programme of works from Verdi to Gershwin, including new compositions by Australian composers Elena Kats-Chernin and ANU’s Miroslav Bukovsky. The concert was introduced by Colin Fox of ABC Classic FM.
Luigi Bassi (1833-1871) (arr.Giamperi): Fantasia da concerto (Alan Vivian and Alan Hicks)
It is known that, in September 1853, Luigi Bassi was playing first clarinet in the orchestra at La Scala, Milan, and that he played in that orchestra until his death. At La Scala, he would have played many of the great operas of Giuseppe Verdi. As was the 19th century custom, he brought the operas into the salon and concert hall with his fantasies on Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La forza del destino, Luisa Miller and Don Carlo. Of these, it is only the Rigoletto Fantasia da Concerto which remains popular with 21st century clarinettists.
Of the half dozen or so numbers from Rigoletto that Bassi uses in his ultra-virtuosic fantasy, the two best known are the quartet Bella figlia dell’amore and the aria Caro nome.
[Program notes by Colin Fox]
Miroslav Bukovsky: Time is Moved, World Premiere. (Alan Vivian, David Pereira and Alan Hicks)
An exploration of tonal colours and the rhythm of tango composed by one of Australia’s most exciting jazz musicians. Miroslav writes of his piece:
“This piece is inspired by a Kenneth Slesser poem Five Bells. Rather a sad piece about loss, grief and memory. It is also about Sydney and its harbour, and water. It’s not easy to try to describe a poem in prose, I have realized. Music is closer to poetry. The imagery was my inspiration, without trying to be descriptive in any way.”
[Program notes by Miroslav Bukovsky]
Nikola Resanovic (1955-): alt.music.ballistix for clarinet and soundscape (Alan Vivian)
Bearing a title suggestive of a fictitious news group, “alt.music.ballistix” is a musical representation of some of the bizarre realities of our modern era of digital communications and information. It is the metaphor of the seemingly backwards peasant downloading the latest NASDAQ figures via his cell phone/modem onto his laptop computer in some remote region of the Balkans – his cows grazing in the background. This juxtaposition of the modern and the timeless, the sophisticated and the simple, the sublime and the ridiculous, expresses itself in a music which combines atonality with the “ison”; emancipated rhythm with a metric strait-jacket; a clarinet with an accordion, tambourine and modem.
The 12 minute work is divided into four contiguous movements as follows:
Mvt. 1:“A Matter of Fax” (A three minute sonic montage featuring original samples from various technological sources including a fax/modem. Telephone, short-wave radio, satellite transmissions, mingled with the most precious of all musical commodities-anticipatory silence!).
Mvt. 2: “A Soliloquy” (A three minute, 11 tone, unaccompanied clarinet solo based on every pitch but ‘D’ which appears later as an accompanimental ‘ison’ or drone).
Mvt 3: “A Balkan Dance” (Influenced by Macedonian and Bulgarian dance idioms, the movement features many references to the folk music of this region of the Balkans)
Mvt. 4: “Convolution@uakron.edu””: (the above three movements are polyphonically combined, and a fourth element – the unrelentingly polite voice-mail lady – is injected into the sonic recipe)
[Program notes by by Nikola Resanovic]
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): Trio in B flat for clarinet, cello and piano, Op 11: 2nd movement (Adagio) (Alan Vivian, David Pereira and Alan Hicks)
It must be a cause of regret to players of the clarinet and cello that Beethoven never wrote a concerto for their instrument. Russian conductor Mikhail Pletnev has arranged Beethoven’s violin concerto for clarinet (the result is a mixed blessing) and cellist Steven Isserlis, who shows a fondness for borrowing violin works, may also have his eyes on the piece. But Beethoven must have had a fondness for both instruments. He wrote five cello sonatas and the cello shares the limelight with violin and piano in the triple concerto, there are lovely clarinet solos in his orchestral works, and there is the Opus 11 trio.
The lovely Adagio can be imagined as an operatic duet, baritone and soprano, perhaps a father consoling his jilted daughter with the promise of revenge: O, my girl, do not weep, he will die, in his sleep.
[Program notes by Colin Fox]
Elena Kats-Chernin (1957-): Without Words, for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, (Alan Vivian, David Pereira and Katherine Day)
Elena writes of this music:
“When I started thinking about this piece, I realized that this 2009 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn. Considering that I played his ‘Songs Without Words’ in my childhood piano lessons, I thought that I would like to pay tribute to this composer and his music. Having chosen my favourite ‘Songs Without Words” I set out to become better acquainted with them and to see where the inspiration would take me bearing in mind the instrumentation of clarinet, cello and piano. The title of each movement relates to Mendelssohn’s original title.
Movement 1: “Innocent Clouds” is based on ‘Clouds’ Op. 53 No.2 (Book 4), one of the best known of the Songs. After a tango introduction for the piano, the cello enters with the main melody. This is picked up by the clarinet before heading into a slightly darker direction.
Movement 2: “No Regrets is based on ‘Regrets’ Op. 19 No.2 (Book 1). Here I was inspired by Mendelssohn’s rediscovery of the music of J.S.Bach and Bach’s influence in some of the Songs Without Words. This movement begins with pizzicato arpeggios for the cello, joined by the clarinet melody.
Movement 3: “Unquiet” is based on ‘Agitation’ op.53, No.3 (Book 4). As in the original, this movement is in the metre of 6/8, and the key of G minor.
Movement 4: “Happiness” is based on ‘Lost Happiness’ Op. 38 No.2 (Book 3). It begins with a light, optimistic motif played by clarinet and cello, joined by the piano playing Mendelssohn’s original melody in the top register. As distinct from the original, this melody is in a major key, giving it a completely different character from the original.
[Program notes by Elena Kats-Chernin]
Bela Kovacs (1937- ): After you Mr. Gershwin for clarinet and piano (Alan Vivian and Alan Hicks)
Béla Kovács is a Hungarian clarinettist. In 1956 he became a member of the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra, in 1961 he was a founder of the Hungarian Wind Quintet, and in 1971 he was appointed a professor at the Liszt Academy. His most widely known compositions are his tributes to composers of the past, for example Homage to JS Bach, Salute Signore Rossini and the one in today’s programme After you, Mr Gershwin.
The clarinet’s opening flourish ends with a nod in the direction of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the slower music has the feel of the bluesy moments in the Piano Concerto, and the piece ends bustlingly à la An American in Paris. It is worth noting that the piece is best played on a wooden floor to increase the effect of the clarinettist’s foot stamping.
[Program notes by Colin Fox]