Mozart is paired with Stravinsky in Longmont Symphony’s Museum concerts

LSO conductor Elliot Moore finds common threads in contrasting music

By Peter Alexander Oct. 17 at 1:20 p.m.

Some of the most interesting classical music programs include apparently contrasting pieces, and then find the common links between them.

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Elliot Moore, conductor of the Longmont Symphony

For example, the next concert by the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, titled La commedia dell’arte (Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19 and 20, in the Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium), juxtaposes works by Mozart and Stravinsky, two composers of different eras and different aesthetics that we do not usually think of together. But LSO conductor Elliot Moore finds connections between the two.

The works are the Overture and three well-loved arias from Le nozze di Figaro (The marriage of Figaro) by Mozart; a little known concert aria by Mozart; and the full score of Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella. Moore will be joined by soprano Christie Conover, tenor Joseph Gaines, and bass Joshua South. The performance is part of the LSO’s chamber orchestra series at the Longmont Museum.

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Outdoor commedia dell’arte performance

“I was very intentional about pairing Mozart with Stravinsky, and in particular this Stravinsky,” Moore says. But exactly how they fit together takes a little explaining, starting with the title of the program. Commedia dell’arte is a form of improvised comedy that originated in Italy in the 16th century and spread across Europe.

“It’s sort of the Saturday Night Live of the time,” Moore says. Taken from village to village and city to city by travelling troupes, it was often performed outdoors. Commedia performances relied upon stock characters, including scheming servants, foolish old men, naive lovers and know-it-all doctors.

The connection to Mozart is that his comic operas, including The Marriage of Figaro, were part of a tradition of Italian comic opera that went back to the commedia dell’arte. Figaro himself, for example, is a direct descendent of the commedia’s scheming servants.

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Pulcinella costume design by Pablo Picasso

Stravinsky’s score, based on music by the 18th-century composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and others, was written for a ballet to be produced by the great Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev. The ballet was a modern gloss on the commedia characters and situations, and takes its title from one of those characters, Pulcinella.

But Moore had other connections in mind, too. “The pairing has an Italian thread, obviously, but also it has this older, Baroque music thread,” he said. The Baroque connection is clear with Stravinsky, whose source was Baroque music. In the case of Mozart, the genre of opera, and many of the musical traditions of 18th-century comic opera—structure, character types, styles of arias, plot design—were developed in the Baroque period from the commedia tradition.

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Soprano Christie Conover

In Moore’s words, “Mozart took these Baroque ideas and concepts, through his music for the stage, and Stravinsky was inspired by Baroque music. These things in many ways are cyclical. They make comebacks.”

On the concert, Mozart’s arias will be sung by Conover. The three arias from Marriage of Figaro are among the musical highlights of the opera: Porgi amor (Grant, love, some comfort) and Dove sono (Where are the lovely moments), both sung by the Countess, and Susanna’s aria Deh vieni, non tadar (Oh come, don’t delay).

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Mozart

In Mozart’s day, operatic roles and their arias were written to suit the individual singers in the original cast. When another singer took a role in a later production, they often asked for a composer—and not necessarily the original composer—to write a new aria that suited them better.

Mozart wrote many such arias, including Voi Avete un cor fedel (You have a faithful heart). A brilliant aria for coloratura soprano, it was most likely written to be substituted in the opera Le nozze di Dorinda (Dorinda’s marriage) by Baldassari Galuppi.

Stravinsky composed Pulcinella in the years after World War I. In 1919 Diaghilev, for whom Stravinsky had written the modernist scores for The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring, approached the composer with a totally different idea: orchestrating the music of Pergolesi for a new ballet based on commedia dell’arte characters. At first Stravinsky rejected the idea, but eventually agreed to take a look at the music.

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Stravinsky ca. 1920. By Pierre Choumoff.

“I looked and I fell in love,” he wrote later. His approach to the music—much of it actually not by Pergolesi, as it turned out—was completely new and helped create the style known today as neoclassicism.

“I began by composing on the Pergolesi manuscripts themselves, as though I were correcting an old work of my own,” Stravinsky wrote. “I knew that I could not produce a ‘forgery’ of Pergolesi; at best, I could repeat him in my own accent. . . . The remarkable thing is not how much but how little has been added or changed.”

Stravinsky kept the melodies and the bass lines of the Baroque-era originals, but rewrote the inner parts and then orchestrated the music in his own style. The result is a hybrid that keeps the charm of the original melodies, but adds a tartness that is pure Stravinsky. When the composer was criticized for not respecting the classics, he replied, “you respect, but I love.”

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Scenic design for Pulcinella by Pablo Picasso

The completed score, which calls for a small orchestra and three singers, was premiered in 1920 with choreography by the celebrated Russian dancer Léonide Massine, and with scenery and costumes by Picasso. The production was a popular and critical success, but today the ballet has faded from memory and only the music is still remembered.

“This is the first time I’ve brought Stravinsky to our stage,” Moore says. “I think Pulcinella is a wonderful choice for our audience to get to know Stravinsky. And what I think is so cool about this piece is that Picasso did the costumes.

“I just love that combination, Stravinsky and Picasso; it brings that period to life, for me.”

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Longmont Symphony in Stewart Auditorium

La commedia dell’arte
Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Christie Conover, soprano; Joseph Gaines, tenor; and Joshua South, bass

Mozart: Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro (The marriage of Figaro)
Mozart: Three arias from Le Nozze di Figaro: Porgi amor,” “Dove sono,” and “Deh vieni”
Mozart: Concert aria, Voi Avete un cor fedel
Stravinsky: Pulcinella (complete ballet music)

7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20
Stewart Auditorium, Longmont Museum

Tickets

Takacs Quartet announces change of violist

Geraldine Walther to retire in 2020, after 15 years with quartet

By Peter Alexander Oct. 10 at 4:55 pm.

The Takacs Quartet, in residence at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has announced that retirement from the group of violist Geraldine Walther. She will be replaced by violist Richard O’Neill starting in June 2020.

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New Takacs membership, starting in 2020: From left, Richard O’Neill, viola; András Fejér, cello; Harumi Rhodes, second violin; Ed Dusinberre, first violin.

The other current members of  the quartet are first violinist Edward Dusinberre, who joined in 1993; second violinist Harumi Rhodes, who joined in 2018; and cellist András Fejér, the sole remaining original member of the group.

The original Takács Quartet was formed by four students at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, following a pickup soccer game. That quartet, comprising Gábor Takács Nagy, Karoly Schranz, Gábor Ormai and Fejér, first came to Boulder in 1986 as artists-in-residence at the CU College of Music. In addition to maintaining a high profile international career, the quartet presents an annual concert series on the CU campus that sells out two performances of each program, and frequently collaborate with their faculty colleagues.

Walther was quoted in a statement released by the Takacs Quartet: “I have loved being a member of the Takács Quartet and am grateful for all the friends I’ve made along the way. I am very happy to hand the baton over to the wonderful violist and musician, Richard O’Neill, and wish the group every success for their future together!”

O’Neill wrote, “Joining the Takács Quartet is the greatest honor of my life. I am thrilled to follow in the footsteps of one of my heroes, the great Geraldine Walther, whom I have listened to and adored since I was a child.”

CU College of Music Dean John Davis wrote: “Walther, whose exceptional artistry has contributed to the long-standing success and reputation of the Takács Quartet, will be sorely missed by the many people who have been impacted by her music, friendship, teaching and warm spirit. She has been a treasured part of the College of Music family, and her immense contributions here will be felt for many years to come.

“The addition of Richard (O’Neill) to the quartet is to be celebrated. Richard is a musician of the highest caliber and we are beyond thrilled that he will become the newest member of the Takács Quartet and contribute to the ongoing stellar level of the group. We welcome him to the College of Music!”

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Gerladine Walther. CU Photo.

Walther joined the Takacs Quartet from the San Francisco Symphony, where she was principal violist for 29 years. Early in her career she won the William Primrose International Competition. In addition to CU, she taught at the San Francisco Conservatory, Mills College in Oakland and Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Cal.

She also has appeared a chamber music festivals from Marlboro, Vt., to Santa Fe N.M., and frequently performed as a solo artist. Her chamber music performances include collaborations with Isaac Stern and Pinchas Zuckerman, and the Guarneri, Tokyo and St. Lawrence quartets.

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Richard O’Neill

Korean-American violist O’Neill has been artistic director of Ensemble DITTO, founded in 2007 to introduce chamber music to a wider and younger audience in South Korea and Asia, throughout its 13-year existence. He is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and principal violist of Camerata Pacifica in Santa Barbara, Cal.

Walther will perform with the quartet for the remainder of the their campus concerts of the 2019-20 academic year. Her last performance with the group will be at the Prague Spring Festival on May 22, 2020. O’Neill will then succeed her starting with a performance at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where he is currently on the faculty.

Unexpected and unfamiliar

Boulder Phil opens with music by Rock & Roll Hall of Famers

By Peter Alexander

The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra somewhat unexpectedly opens its 2019-20 season Saturday, Oct. 12, with music by two members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead and Jon Lord of Deep Purple.

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Michael Butterman with the Boulder Phil. Photo by Glenn Ross.

Or maybe it’s not unexpected. “That sense of experimentation, of providing something offbeat — that is part of our identity,” Boulder Phil music director Michael Butterman says. “This program adheres to the approach that we’ve taken of presenting well-known works from the classical canon along with pieces likely to be a surprise.”

The work from the classical canon in this case is Schubert’s Fifth Symphony. Written when the composer was only 19, it is a lively and pleasant work that reflects Schubert’s admiration for Mozart.

In other words, it is worlds away from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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Flutist Elizabeth Sadilek-Labenski

The program is titled “Gritty/Pretty,” of which the gritty part is the suite from Greenwood’s score for the brutal film epic There Will Be Blood. “I didn’t come up with the [“Gritty/Pretty” title], Butterman says. “That’s marketing, but I kind of like it. I think it’s appropriate.”

If Greenwood is gritty, Lord’s suite for flute, strings and piano, To Notice Such Things, is pretty. The suite comprises six movements that range from sweetly lyrical to fast and virtuosic in the flute part, which will be played by the Boulder Phil’s principal flutist, Elizabeth Sadilek-Labenski.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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“Gritty/Pretty”
B.Phil logoBoulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Michael Butterman, director
With Elizabeth Sadilek-Labenski, flute

Johnny Greenwood: Suite from There Will Be Blood
Jon Lord: To Notice Such Things, Suite for flute, piano and strings
Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, Macky Auditorium

Tickets

Not as Simple as it Seems

Ars Nova Singers, Stratus Chamber Orchestra present ‘Music that Connects’

By Peter Alexander Oct. 4 at 1:50 p.m.

Have you ever been stranded in an airport between flights?

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Stratus Chamber Orchestra, David Rutherford, conductor

If so, Boulder’s Ars Nova Singers and Denver’s Stratus Ensemble have a musical program for your playlist. “Intermezzo! Music that Connects” will be performed Friday and Saturday (Oct. 4 and 5) in Denver, and Sunday afternoon (Oct. 6) in Boulder.

“Intermezzo” features works written to connect scenes in operas, or to make other types of connections. The Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, the “Humming Chorus” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Mozart’s Regina Caeli (Queen of heaven), could be part of a playlist for stranded travelers.

But they are great works of music as well, as are the other works on the program. Conducting will be shared by David Rutherford, conductor of Stratus, who will lead pieces with orchestra; Tom Morgan, musical director of Ars Nova; and Ars Nova’s assistant director, Brian Dukeshier, who will lead one piece.

The Mascagni and Puccini works are theatrical intermezzos, linking acts of operas. Regina Caeli is a hymn that is part of Vespers, the Roman Catholic evening service that connects day to night. The other major work on the program is Randall Thompson’s Frostiana, a setting of poems by Robert Frost; here the meaningful connection is between the music and Frost’s poetry.

Other works on the program include four a capella works to be sung by Ars Nova. Stratus will open the concert with movements from the Serenade for Strings by Norwegian composer Dag Wirén, music you may recognize even if you don’t know the title.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Intermezzo! Music that Connects
Ars Nova Singers, Thomas Edward Morgan, director, with
Stratus Chamber Orchestra, David Rutherford, conductor

7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct 4, First Plymouth Congregational Church, 3502 S. Colorado Blvd, Denver
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oc.t 5,Augustana Lutheran Church, 5000 E. Alameda Ave., Denver
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce, St, Boulder

Tickets here or call 303-388-4962

Longmont Symphony opens new season, “Music is Life,” with music for organ

Program also inspired by the tragic burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

By Peter Alexander Oct. 3 at 2 p.m.

The Longmont Symphony Orchestra will open their 2019–20 season, “Music is Life,” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 5) in Vance Brand Auditorium, with three pieces that celebrate the wealth and variety of music for organ.

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Elliot Moore with the Longmont Symphony

The program comprises Leopold Stokowski’s orchestral arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor; Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for organ, strings and timpani; and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, known as the “Organ Symphony” for the prominent part for that instrument within the orchestra. The guest organist is Brian du Fresne.

But if you have been in Vance Brand Auditorium, you know that there is no grand pipe organ, or any other kind of organ in the hall. Nonetheless, LSO conductor Elliot Moore says that is not a problem. He has known from the time he arrived in Longmont that digital organs that can be transported, installed and played for a single performance are available locally.

Finding an organ to use with the LSO “was in my mind as a possibility,” he says. “I thought that it was an exciting possibility, one that I wanted to do at some point.” For Saturday’s concert, the LSO has rented a Viscount three-manual, 51-stop digital organ provided by Church Organ Works of Loveland.

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Saint-Saëns playing the organ

The program fit into this year in part because of the season theme, or “thread” as Moore calls it, “Music is Life.” “I knew that I wanted to open the season, not just with something that’s big and bombastic, something that is going to set the tone for our season, but something that is uplifting, and tells some kind of narrative about life,” he says.

“There is something about Saint-Saëns’ ‘Organ Symphony’ that I find to be very organic, and while it is certainly not program music, it does take us through a process that winds up in triumph. It is one of my favorite pieces, because it seems to have everything. It has incredible lyricism, it has sorrow, it has angst, it has passion, and all of these things are elements that are in life.”

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Francis Poulenc

Once he had an organ for the concert, Moore says, he thought of performing another piece that would not be possible without an organ. One of the pieces he thought of is the Organ Concerto by Poulenc, a much more delicate and light-hearted work that Saint-Saëns’ dramatic symphony.

“It was my idea [to add the Poulenc Concerto to the program], but I spoke to du Fresne to see if that was a piece that he wanted to bring to our audience, and it was a resounding ‘yes.’ He was very enthusiastic about pairing these two works.”

Both works are by French composers, which is one reason they are not heard as often in this country as are the more standard classical works from Austria and Germany. Moore believes both works will receive their first Longmont performance on Saturday.

Opening the concert will be conductor Leopold Stokowski’s orchestral arrangement of Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. Its place on the program comes from a tragedy that occurred while Moore as thinking about the program: the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

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Conductor Elliot Moore was inspired by the Parisian crowds singing as Notre Dame burned

“I went home one day and saw Notre Dame on CNN, burning,” Moore says. “It was an emotional experience for me in the sense that I lived in Paris for 6 months and had been inside of Notre Dame several times. And then they were showing pictures of Parisians singing together.

“All these people were coming together, to mourn, to present a united voice for culture, to console one another—all of these things. The image of the church burning and of people coming together was a very moving juxtaposition. That was where I had the idea to program the Bach/Stokowski Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, because that work is the equivalent of Gothic architecture—how it’s structured and how it builds to soaring lines and how it represents something more than itself.

“That was very moving to me.”

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Longmont Symphony Orchestra,, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Brian du Fresne, organ
“Opening Night: The Organ Symphony”

J.S. Bach/Stokowski: Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor
Poulenc: Concerto for organ, strings and timpani
Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 (“Organ Symphony”)

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium

Tickets

 

Performance “unlike anything you’ve ever experienced” comes to the Dairy

Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble’s Gray Cat and the Flounder Friday and Saturday

By Peter Alexander Oct. 1 at 5:10 p.m.

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The Gray Cat and the Flounder may be the only musical show you will ever see that includes a song about the Dewey Decimal System.

The show, which will be presented Friday and Saturday (Oct. 4 and 5) by the Dairy Arts Center and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, celebrates the lives of Joe Newcomer (the flounder) and his wife Bernadette Callory (the gray cat), who was a librarian. Newcomer, an amateur cartoonist and longtime supporter of PNME, commissioned The Gray Cat in Callory’s memory. His cartoons, collected over their 46-year marriage, are used within the performance.

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Composer Kieren MacMillan

The show was created by composer Kieren MacMillan together with PNME director Kevin Noe. PNME presented The Gray Cat and the Flounder this past summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in multi-media performances featuring diverse musical styles, animation, shadow puppetry, spoken narration, and state-of-the art binaural sound design. Reviews from the festival hailed the show as “strikingly original” and “exceptionally uplifting.”

In a home performances, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette critic Elizabeth Bloom called the show “difficult to classify. Is it an opera?” she wrote. “A musical? A chamber music concert? A children’s show, filled with puppetry and cartoons?”

It is certainly more than a children’s show The first half is funny, quirky, sometimes downright silly, but the second half faces the loss of Newcomer’s life partner, ending with a performance of Callory’s favorite song, Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer,” which Newcomer sang to her on her deathbed.

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Jeffrey Nytch

The Boulder performance is presented by PNME and the Dairy Arts Center in partnership with the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Entrepreneurship Center for Music. Professor Jeffrey Nytch, the director of the center, has long been associated with PNME.

He got his start in music administration as executive director of the group, a position that ultimately led him to the Entrepreneurship Center at CU. He has maintained his relationship with PNME, serving as board president, and also performs as the narrator of The Gray Cat, a role he filled in Edinburgh.

“It’s a complete blast,” Nytch says of his role as narrator. “The show is filled with puns, as a tribute to both of them—they were both really into puns. And so there’s a whole bunch of really groan-worthy puns.”

But at the midway point, after an absurdly funny, over-the-top shadow-puppet ballet, the mood suddenly changes. “We do a very quick shift,” Nytch says. “The show from then on out takes a much more serious turn. You get the audience laughing to set them up for something more serious. And so the end of the show is very cathartic.”

The musical styles range from pure Broadway to the Stephen Foster arrangements, to pieces that are more modern—“unmistakably of our time, although not especially crazy, or crunchy,” Nytch says. And yes, it includes a piece about the Dewey Decimal System.

“Bernadette was a librarian, we wanted to in some way to celebrate that part of who she was,” Nytch says. “There’s a piece for marimba and solo clarinet and spoken word, where the text is taken from Dewey’s own introduction to his system. The music uses the numerological and organizational structures of the Dewey Decimal System to create the musical material. It’s an absolutely brilliant piece!”

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Members of PNME with binaural microphone

The most innovative aspect of the show may be the binaural sound design. The sound is transmitted from the stage through a binaural microphone to the headphones worn by each member of the audience. “We travel with the cabling and the infrastructure, which has to be laid down in advance,” Nytch explains. “We have 180 (headphones), so we only sell 180 tickets.

“What a binaural microphone does is recreate sounds the way our ears hear sound. The microphone is actually shaped like a human head and has microphones in each of the ears. You hear not just direction, where it is coming from, but also proximity. I do a little demo at the beginning where I go right up in the right ear of the microphone and whisper gently, and you would swear that I was whispering in your right ear.

“It creates this incredibly saturated sound world that’s unlike anything, I guarantee you, that you’ve ever experienced.”

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The Gray Cat and the Flounder
Music by Kieren MacMillan; story by Kevin Noe and Kieren MacMillan
Performed by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4 and 5
Gordon Gamm Theater, Dairy Arts Center

Tickets: Here or call 303-444-7328

NB: Edited to correct typos and punctuation errors 11:20 p.m. Oct. 1.

 

 

David Korevaar is appointed CU College of Music’s second distinguished professor

Two recent CDs illustrate his breadth and depth as performerSept. 18 at 3:50 p.m.

By Peter Alexander Sept. 18 at 3:50 p.m.

The University of Colorado, Boulder, has appointed prof. of piano David Korevaar as a distinguished professor.

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Distinguished Professor of Piano David Korevaar

Korevaar, the Helen and Peter Weil Faculty Fellow in the College of Music, joined the CU faculty in 2000. He is one of 106 CU faculty to receive that honor, and only the second faculty member from the College of Music. The first was former director of bands Allan McMurray in 2004.

According to the announcement from the university, Korevaar said “I got a phone call out of the blue from [University of Colorado president Mark] Kennedy. While I’d been fully aware that my name had been put in the pool, I did not expect the honor to come to me given the amazing contributions of so many in so many fields in the CU system. I’m completely blown away at the support I received from friends and colleagues both within and outside the university.”

Illustrating the remarkable breadth of Korevaar’s performing career, two CDs by him have recently be released by MSR Classics. Both come from relatively unexplored areas of the repertoire, reflecting Korevaar’s adventurous and energetic approach to music as well as the depth of his interpretations.

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Liebermann discLowell Liebermann: Piano Music, Volume 3: Nocturnes No. 8–11, Variations on a Theme of Schubert, op. 100; Two Impromptus, op. 131; and Piano Sonata No. 3, op. 82. David Korevaar, piano. MSR Classics MS 1688.

Korevaar has now released three volumes of the piano music of Lowell Liebermann, a contemporary pianist and composer who lives in New York and teaches composition at Mannes College/The New School of Music. The latest volume features both shorter and longer works, ranging from impromptus of about four and five minutes length, and a sonata that is nearly 18 minutes.

The four nocturnes on the recording are filled with sparkling flourishes that recall the legacy that Chopin and the Irish composer John Field first bestowed on the genre. Korevaar’s restraint and transparency serves these passages well, but the delicacy of the decoration conceals a much more complex texture that Korevaar makes audible beneath the ornamentation.

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Lowell Liebermann

Liebermann’s Variations on a Theme of Schubert is for me the most intriguing work on the disc. Based on the lovely and uncomplicated song Heidenröslein (Little heather rose), the variations start with a simple statement of the song theme, then goes immediately into a variation that declares, regardless of the origin of the theme, that this is not music from an 1820s Viennese salon.

The music becomes increasingly distant from Schubert’s world, until the theme seems to disappear, with only passing diatonic passages to suggest where the journey started. Liebermann uses traditional variation techniques, including imitation and sequence, as he builds ever more complex and dense variations. Then approaching the end, the melody emerges again from the complex texture, and his briefly heard in its pure state.

All of this is easily described and followed because Korevaar’s playing is so clean, the texture is always transparent, and the emotional profile is so well defined. It is hard to imagine the piece played better.

The same is true of the Sonata, which however requires a different set of pianistic tools. This is adventurous pianism: Korevaar in his liner notes refers to a “frenzied outburst” of “desperate virtuosity” in the “wildly virtuosic finale.” If it sounds less than frenzied on the disc, you can attribute that to Korevaar’s calm control and his mastery of the necessary virtuosity.

Fan’s of Liebermann’s music or contemporary piano works will want to own this disc, which presents an attractive variety of works, beautifully played.

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Perrachio coverLuigi Perrachio: Nove Poemetti/25 Preludi per pianoforte. David Korevaar, piano. MSR Classics MS 1710.

Korevaar’s most recent recording certainly exemplifies his adventurous approach to repertoire. He came across the music of Luigi Perrachio, a mostly forgotten Italian pianist, music teacher and composer from the first half of the 20thcentury, in the CU Music Library and was immediately intrigued. In this, the first recording of Perrachio’s Nove Poemetti (Nine little poems) and 25 Preludes, Korevaar makes a very strong case for the composer and his music.

Described as an “Italian Impressionist,” Perrachio wrote music that shows the influence of Debussy and Ravel, both of whom the composer met in Paris. This influence is shown in the poetic titles of the Nove Poemetti, including Sera (Evening), Zefiro(Zephyr) and Danzatrici a Lesbos (Dancers in Lesbos), as well as the atmospheric and somewhat dreamy style of the music.

These impressionistic sketches are the most successful pieces in the set, clearly reflecting their titles in music of gentle expressivity. Other movements (La notte del morti, The night of the dead) seem more abstracted, less tethered to an image or expressive current.

In contrast to the Poemetti, the Preludes are more direct, not nearly as delicate or atmospheric. The program notes describe the Preludes as muscular and neo-classical in style; to me, they recalled the Preludes of Chopin rather than those of Bach or any Classical-era composers.

Korevaar’s playing captures the mood and expression of each of the miniatures on the disc. His delicate touch and transparency of sound are particularly effective in the Nove Poemetti, but he is more than up to the stronger profile and more robust style of the preludes.

These are all attractive and worthwhile pieces that deserve a place in the repertoire. I hope that Korevaar’s beautiful and convincing performances will bring Perrachio to wider notice and his accessible, smaller works find a place on piano recital programs.