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Concert Program Cover

First Concert of the 58th Season

 

Sunday, October 27th, 1996
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Polonaise, Op. 49 Anatol Liadov  
       
  Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21 Frederick Chopin  
 

I. Maestoso
II. Larghetto
III. Allegro Vivace

 
  Ju-Ying Song, piano  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Symphony No. 2, Op. 30 ("Romantic") Howard Hanson  
 

I. Adagio-Allegro moderato
II. Andante con tenerezza
III. Allegro con brio

 
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Polonaise in C, Op. 49 Anatol Liadov
(1855-1914)
 
 

By almost any standards, including his own, Liadov (also spelled Lyadov) would be considered a minor composer. He was notoriously lazy, and rarely tackled any project as demanding as an opera or a symphony. He never finished even the few such projects he had contemplated. For a while, he played the violin, then gave it up. He played the piano, but gave that up as well.

He was so aware of his chronic procrastination that on one occasion when he had been given an assignment to write a fugue, he told his sister, with whom he was living, not to give him dinner until the fugue was written. According to Shostakovich, who reports the story, dinner-time rolled around, and the fugue was not written. "I won't feed you because you haven't completed the assignment. you asked me to do that yourself," said the sister. "Very well," said Liadov, "I'll dine with Auntie."

At the St. Petersburg Conservatory, his tardiness in completing assignments and his failure even to attend classes resulted in his expulsion by the director, Azanchevsky. When he asked the teacher whose class he had been skipping to intercede on his behalf, his plea was brusquely rejected. The teacher, Rimsky-Korsakov, later regretted the dismissal of a student he considered "talented past telling," and blamed himself for his bureaucratic inflexibility. He suspected that his "inhuman regard for forms" was the result of his study of counterpoint!

Liadov was a dreamer, enchanted by the world of fantasy, and eager to escape the world around him, which he found to be "tedious, trying, purposeless, terrible." His best-known works, Kikimora, Baba-Yaga, The Enchanted Lake, and Eight Russian Folk Songs exemplify this love of fantasy, as well as his love of Russian folk music.

After his reinstatement at the Conservatory, his skill at orchestration became apparent, and his first orchestral work, The Bride of Messina, so impressed his professors that he was appointed professor of harmony and theory. One of Liadov's famous students, Sergei Prokofiev, reports that he was less interested in teaching than he was in pursuing his own interests. However, he was very active as conductor of the Musical Society, and championed the works of young Russian composers.

A Polonaise is a "dance" with three beats to the measure. It is of Polish origin, and is French for "Polish." It is doubtful that anyone actually danced to the typical polonaise. Severl authorities suggest that it should be considered more of a processional. Niecks, in his book Chopin, says that "Strictly speaking, the Polonaise, which has been called a marche dansante, is not so much a dance as a figured walk, or procession, full of gravity and a certain courtly etiquette."

The choice by Liadov of the polonaise form (he wrote several) is typical of his interest in Slavic folk music. He was an important collector of folk music which he incorporated into his attractive (and short) compositions.


 
       
  Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21 Frederick Chopin
(1810-1849)
 
 

Frederick chopin has always been very popular. He has not always been highly regarded by the critics (although the composer Robert Schumann proclaimed him a genius early in his career). Chopin was a true innovator, and has finally been so recognized. Perhaps the reluctance of the critics to grant him his rightful place among composers is the fact that he preferred small forms to large. He wrote no symphonies or operas. He wrote only two concerti, and these when he was very young. Composers who write for one instrument, and short pieces as that, are regarded in much the same way as artists who do only etchings. If you aren't working in the grand manner, you aren't taken seriously.

The Piano Concerto No. 2 was Chopin's first of two concerti, written when he was nineteen and twenty, repsectively. The F Minor concerto was written first, but published later than the Concert No. 1 in E, hence the reversed numbers. The orchestral parts of both concerti reveal a lack of musical maturity. It seems that Chopin knew that for professional reasons he would have to produce some "major" works, and did, indeed, produce some six orchestral works. But he never seemed at ease in combining the piano with orchestral effects. He produced amost all these works before he was twenty-one, after which he abandoned orchestral writing in favor of the piano. Perhaps he believed that the piano, in his hands, produced all the orchestral color needed.

The concerto is in standard classical form: three movements, the first, in sonata form, the last in rondo form. The middle section, marked Larghetto, is the most popular movement of the three, and has a romantic story to go with it. The young Chopin was deeply in love with a Polish woman named Constantia Gladowska, and confided to a friend that when he wrote the adagio movement, he had her constantly in mind. He vowed that after his death, his ashes would be strewn beneath her feet. He was impressed not only with her beauty, but with her voice. A friend of Chopin's declared that "Her low B alone is worth a thousand ducats." Constantia married a Polish tradesman after Chopin left Warsaw. The concerto is dedicated to the Countess Delphine Potocka, who came into his life somewhat later! So much for undying devotion.

The concerto is frequently performed with orchestration "enhanced," often by unknown hands, and a cadenza by Richard Burmeister is often inserted in the first movement.


 
       
  Symphony No. 2, Op. 30 ("Romantic") Howard Hanson
(1896-1981)
 
 

Howard Hanson was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, of Swedish parents. He studied at the School of Music of Luther College, and then at the Institute of Musical Art in New York. He completed his studies at Northwestern University. Later, he became Dean of the Conservatory of Fine Arts at the College of the Pacific in San José. In 1921, he won the Prix de Rome of the American Academy.

When he returned to this country in 1924, he was appointed Director of the Eastman School of Music. Hanson was a major force in American music. Although he was very conservative in his own work, he promoted the work of young composers whose styles varied widely. As artistic director of the music festival in Rochester, he was responsible for the performance of over one thousand works by six hundred composers whose music might never have been heard without his support.

Hanson wrote music in many forms, large and small, from concerto, opera, and symphony (he wrote seven), to choral music, ballet, and chamber works. He was also a skillful conductor. In a letter to Hanson, the eminent American composer and theorist Virgil Thompson wrote, "Nobody else understands so well what each American piece should sound like."

Hanson did not approve of the Neo-Classical tendancies of this century, and as if the title "Romantic" for his second symphony were not sufficiently direct, he made the following statement at its premiere:

The symphony represents for me my escape from the rather bitter type of modern musical realism which occupies so large a place in contemporary thought. Much contemporary music seems to me to be showing a tendancy to become entirely too cerebral. I do not believe that music is primarily a matter of intellect, but rather a manifestation of the emotions. I have, therefore, aimed in this symphony to create a work that was young in spirit, lyrical and romantic in temperament, and simply and direct in expression.

Hanson has often been compared to Sibelius, partly because of his ancestry, and partly because of shared principles. Like Sibelius, Hanson's approach to symphonic structure was thematic development throughout the work, spanning the movements. Typically, the movements of a symphony, though related to one another in some ways, do not often reiterate themes throughout, like a rondo. When Sibelius wished to do that, he wrote a one-movement symphony. In Hanson's Romantic Symphony, both the principle and secondary themes appear in all three movements.

Hanson's music does share with Sibelius a bleak, windswept quality (less apparenty in this symphony than in his first, the "Nordic"), but also has hints of Mahler. It is interesting to note that Sibelius and Mahler were almost bipolar when it came to symphonic principles, Sibelius believing that a symphony should have a lean structure, and Mahler arguing that the symphony should "embrace the world." Hanson seemed capable of combining these two viewpoints.

The Second Symphony was commissioned by Serge Koussevitzky for the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was first performed in 1930. It followed his First ("Nordic") Symphony by eight years.

If any of this music seems familiar to you, it may be because it was used at the end of the film Alien, when the character played by Sigourney Weaver blasts the alien out ofthe space shuttle. The music is picked up at a dramatic moment in the second movement and quickly subsides to a placid, dream-like sequence which runs on through the end credits. It suggests the peaceful suspended animation of the heroine as she drifts quietly off in space, hoping to be rescued.


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda U. Kanzawa, Concertmaster
Rosemary Manifold *
Angela Atkins
Dessie Arnold
Matt Baker +^
Martha Barker
Beth Chiarenza
Gordon Collins
Joyce Dubach
Sherry Gajewski
Matt Hendryx
Ilona Orban
Margaret Piety
Jamie Weaver +

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Bethany Bruss
Peter Collins
Joyce Gouwens
Tim O'Neil

Cello
Joseph Kalisman *
Dave Follas +^
Preston Thomas +^
Kelly Marquis
Samuel Carnes
Wallace Dubach

Bass
Randy Gratz *
George Scheerer
Darrel Fiene

Piccolo
Madalyn Metzger +^

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Barbi Pyrah

Oboe
Rita Kimberley *
George Donner
English Horn
Derek Devine

Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Jane Grandstaff

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Donna Russell
Ric Lynn

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer *
John Morse * (asst.)
Bryan Gibson
Jennifer J. Double +^
Jeff Seitz

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Richard Pepple * (asst.)
Scott D. Steenburg +^
Shawn Sollenberger +^

Trombone
Larry Dockter *
Jonathan Hartman
Jeremy Dawkins +^ *

Tuba
William DeWitt

Timpani
Braham Dembar

Percussion
Kirk Gay
David Mendenhall
David Robbins

Harp
Allison Perkins


* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Ju-Ying SongBorn in Taiwan and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, Ju-Ying Song studied at the Conservatoire de Geneve, Conservatoire de Lausanne, and Stanford University where she graduated in 1991 with distinction and honors, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in music and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and immunology. She has lived in New York, completing her Masters degree and pursuing her Doctoral degree at Juilliard with Jerome Lowenthal. During that time she was awarded the National Piano Fellowship in Indianapolis (formerly the Beethoven Fellowship), which provided her with funding and managerial services. An avid performer of twentieth-century music. Ms. Song has established a large following among audiences at contemporary music festivals, such as the Museum of Modern Art's Summergarden and the Juilliard School's FOCUS!

Ju-Ying Song was named the 1994 ProPiano Artist of the Year, which resulted in a recital at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and the recording of her debut CD on which she performs neglected 20th-century masterpieces by Debussy and Bartok. In its review, In Tune Magazine declared, "Song possesses a stunning technical command of the instrument.... Beside sheer technique, Song displays magnificent intellect in all her mood painting. Piano fans, ahoy!"