Between tours, Takács Quartet plays hometown concerts March 6–7 and April 10–11

Programs include Haydn, Shostakovich, Dvořák, Schumann, Mendelssohn

By Peter Alexander March 4 at 1:25 p.m.

COVID-19 is, momentarily, receding, and the Takács Quartet is back to a full performing schedule.

They had to cancel several concert tours over the past two years, but not in 2022. “We just came home from Princeton, Berkeley and Los Angeles,” the group’s cellist, András Fejér, explains. “And now we will go to New York, Sarasota, Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

Around and between those trips, they have their usual concerts on the CU campus: music by Haydn, Shostakovich and Dvořák March 6 and 7; and music by Schumann performed with pianist David Korevaar, and Mendelssohn with the CU graduate quartet in residence, the Ivalas Quartet, April 10 and 11 (see performance details below).

Takács Quartet. L-R: Edward Dusinberre, András Fejér, Harumi Rhodes, Richard O’Neill. Image by
Amanda Tipton Photography

Except for the interruption caused by the pandemic, touring is a normal part of life for the Takács Quartet. “It’s a nice chugging-along routine,” Fejér says. “We just say we would love to tour, say, 10 days each month in the States, and that gives us enough time to rehearse and teach and rest a little.” They also make longer tours every year to Europe and Asia, all arranged through their agents.

Joseph Haydn. Painting by Thomas Hardy.

Like the Takács now, Haydn had just returned from touring in 1796, in his case home to Vienna from two trips to London. Upon his return, an aristocratic patron commissioned a set of six quartets, published a few years later as Op. 76. These works are considered the pinnacle of Haydn’s quartet composition.

The Fourth Quartet of the set, known as the “Sunrise Quartet,” opens the Takacs’s March concerts—but Fejér wants you to know that Haydn is not “just a warmup piece” for the rest of the program. “I mean, the guy invented the (string quartet)!” he says. “We are just in awe—(playing his music) is a constant wonderment. Even familiar pieces, we try to dig deeper. We always try to give his music justice.”

Likewise, Dvořák wrote his G major String Quartet, the final piece on the program, soon after returning home from his years in America. It is considered one of the composer’s most profoundly expressive quartets, particularly the meditative slow movement.

The quartet has enjoyed exploring Dvořák ‘s score. “It’s fascinating for us,” Fejér says. “Its scope is unprecedented, in length and orchestration. Most of the time it sounds totally symphonic. He goes left and right and returns—just totally unpredictable and delightful. We love it.”

Dmitri Shostakovich

Between Haydn and Dvořák, the Takács will play Shostakovich’s Eleventh Quartet. Written in memory of a violinist with the Beethoven Quartet, which was long associated with Shostakovich’s music, the Eleventh Quartet is an austere work that uses the instruments sparingly. It’s seven movements are anything but cheerful, but as Fejér says, with Shostakovich “cheerful is not the first description which would come to mind.

“I’m always amazed about the simplicity of his motifs. How such simple notes can work in mysterious ways on the audience is unbelievable. You cannot put together a more simple music and somehow the effect on audiences is mesmerizing. I notice it every time.”

For the April concerts the quartet has programmed two pieces, each of which includes invited guests. First they will be joined by pianist David Korevaar to perform Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet. Written in 1842 and dedicated by the composer to his wife, Clara, it is the first major quintet written for piano and string quartet.

Schumann alternates between intimate passages that feature conversational exchanges among the five instruments, and nearly symphonic passages that feature the four strings together against the piano. At a time when chamber performances were first moving into the concert hall, Schumann helped create the model for the quintets that followed by Brahms, Dvořák and Franck, all destined for the concert hall.

The April program concludes with another piece that had no precedent, the Octet for Strings, which the Takács will play with the members of the Ivalas Quartet. Like the Schumann Quintet, the combination of instruments was unprecedented when Mendelssohn wrote the Octet at the age of 17, and it’s one of the most magical pieces to come out of the Romantic era. “It’s such an adrenalin rush (to play it),” Fejér says.

Ivalas Quartet. L-R Aimée MsAnulty, Tiani Butts, Reuden Kebede, Pedro Sánchez.

“It’s wonderful and makes you humble all over again. Comparing what most of us had been doing at 17, it’s even more impressive.”

Fejér gives two reasons that he is looking forward to playing the Octet. First, he says, “we love playing with additional people because the function of our individual instruments is different from a string quartet. I’m not playing as much bass line as I usually do, (and) I enjoy the different role very much.”

The second reason is the opportunity to share the stage with the their students in the Ivalas Quartet. “It is their final month in April at CU of their three years, and we loved working with them,” Fejér says.

“We look forward very much to have fun with capital letters with this Mendelssohn Octet!”

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Takács Quartet

  • Haydn: String Quartet in B-flat Major. op.76 no. 4 (“Sunrise”)
  • Shostakovich: String Quartet Nr.11, op.122
  • Dvořák: String Quartet No. 13 in G-major, op.106

4 p.m. Sunday, March 6
7:30 p.m. Monday, March 7
Grusin Music Hall

TICKETS

Takács Quartet and guests

  • Schumann: Quintet for piano and strings in E-flat major, op. 44
    With David Korevaar, piano
  • Mendelssohn Octet for Strings in E-flat major, op. 2
    With the Ivalas Quartet

4 p.m. Sunday, April 10
7:30 p.m. Monday, April 11
Grusin Music Hall

TICKETS

NOTE: Digital tickets are available for both programs

Takács Quartet show goes on, with revised program

Live performances Jan. 9 and 10 in Grusin Hall also available online

By Peter Alexander Jan. 6 at 11:25 a.m.

So far this year, COVID has not stopped the music. The Takács Quartet will begin their spring 2022 series of concerts on the CU campus as planned, with performances Sunday and Monday (Jan. 9 and 10) in Grusin Hall.

Takács quartet. Image by Amanda Tipton Photography.

They will not, however, play the program that was originally announced. Pianist David Korevaar was scheduled to perform the Schumann Quintet in E-flat major, op. 44, but he is unavailable due to possible exposure to COVID. Korevaar reports that he feels fine, and he will perform the Schumann Quintet with the Takács Quartet later in the semester.

To fill his place on the January program, the quartet turned to members Harumi Rhodes and Richard O’Neill, violin and viola, who will play the Mozart Duo in G major, K423. The full ensemble will finish out the concert with the new String Quartet No. 1 by Stephen Hough, subtitled “Les Six rencontres” (The six encountered), and the String Quartet in F major by Maurice Ravel.

Both the Sunday and Monday performances will be open to an in-person audience, and will also be available for streaming from 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon until 11 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17. In-person and online tickets can be purchased from CU Presents

At this time, face masks are required in all buildings on the CU campus.

Stephen Hough

Widely celebrated as a pianist, Hough is also active as a composer of works for a variety of media including chamber music, piano solo and choral works, among others. The Takács Quartet asked him to write a piece for string quartet to fill out a recording of Ravel’s String Quartet and Ainsi le Nuit (Thus the night) for string quartet by Henri Dutilleux, which the Takács played in Grusin last fall.

The title of Hough’s quartet—“Les Six rencontres”—refers to a group of composers known as “Les Six” (The six) who were a prominent part of French musical life between Ravel in the early years of the 20th century, and Dutilleux in the second half of the century. The six composers—Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and Germaine Tailleferre—are not quoted directly in the score but occur “as an echo,” Hough wrote.

The title is also a pun, as the quartet is in six movements. Hough wrote in his program notes that the work “evokes a flavor more than a style. . . . seeing life through a burlesque lens is one recurring ingredient.” The titles of the six movements evoke places in Paris where one might have encountered the composers of “Les Six”—the boulevard, the park, the theater and so forth.

Ravel composed his one string quartet in 1902–03, when he was 28. Largely classical in form, it was inspired by, and in some ways modeled on, the String Quartet of Debussy that had been written a decade before. It remains one of Ravel’s most popular works.

Mozart wrote two duos for violin and viola in 1783 during a visit with his family in Salzburg. They were written as a favor for Michael Haydn, the brother of Joseph Haydn, who was court composer to the Archbishop of Salzburg and a friend of the Mozart family. Haydn was supposed to write six duos for the Archbishop but had fallen ill, and Mozart agreed to finish the set for him. 

# # # # #

Takács Quartet
Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes, violin; Richard O’Neill, viola; András Fejér, cello

  • Mozart: Duo for Violin and Viola, K423
    Harumi Rhodes and Richard O’Neill
  • Hough: String Quartet No. 1, “Les Six rencontres” (The six encountered)
  • Ravel: String Quartet in F Major

In-person performances:
4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9
7:30 p.m. Monday. Jan. 10
Grusin Hall, CU Imig Music Building

Streamed performance: 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, through 11 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17

Tickets for all performances available HERE.

Faculty Tuesday: ‘Odysseys from Nicaragua to New Hampshire’

Contemporary song cycles by Gabriela Lena Frank and Herschel Garfein will be performed Dec. 7

By Izzy Fincher Dec. 3 at 1:55 p.m.

The genre of song cycles, popularized by Schubert in the early 19th century, is traditionally associated with tenor and piano. However, there is also a rich history of baritone song cycles by classical and contemporary composers, including Beethoven, Verdi, Ravel, Ralph Vaughn Williams and Benjamin Britten. 

Baritone Andrew Garland

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, baritone Andrew Garland will perform two contemporary song cycles for “Odysseys from Nicaragua to New Hampshire,” a concert for CU’s “Faculty Tuesdays” series. The program features Gabriela Lena Frank’s Cantos de Cifar y el Mar Dulce (Songs of Cifar and the sweet sea) with pianist Jeremy Reger and the baritone premiere of Herschel Garfein’s Mortality Mansions with pianist David Korevaar. 

Frank, a Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer, is known for her multicultural influences, combining Latin American musical styles with Western classical music. This reflects her diverse background, growing up in California with parents of mixed Peruvian/Chinese and Lithuanian/Jewish ancestry, as well her creative travels throughout Latin America. 

Her song cycle Cantos de Cifar y el Mar Dulce is an odyssey from Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America. Set to poems by Nicaraguan poet Pablo Antonio Cuadra, it tells the story of the harp-playing sailor Cifar, who travels around Lake Nicaragua.

Gabriela Lena Frank

“The poetry is very simple and direct, yet deep and meaningful,” Garland says. “There’s definitely magic realism in there.”

The eight-song cycle lasting 30 minutes is a work in progress, which Frank plans to expand to 70 minutes with soprano and then orchestrate with guitars and marimbas. In 2007, Garland premiered the last two songs in the cycle, “Eufemia” and “En la Vela del Angelito”(In the little angel’s candle). Fourteen years later for his Faculty Tuesday performance, he wanted to perform the rest of the cycle, which he describes as cohesive and compelling even in its incomplete form.

“Within the arc of these eight songs, you get a great variety of magic, solemnity, comedy, mystery, intensity and darkness,” Garland says. “They are very powerful and memorable.” 

This will be followed by the baritone premiere of Mortality Mansions by Garfein, a Grammy-Award winning composer, librettist and stage director. Mortality Mansions, originally written for tenor, is set to selected poems that span former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall’s 60-year career. Drawing from his personal experiences with the death of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, Hall depicts a moving portrait of love, sexuality and loss in later life.

Herschel Garfein

“When I first read Hall’s poetry, I was amazed,” Garfein recalls. “I was immediately attracted to these very vivid poems about life and especially about sexuality over the age of 60, which is something no one talks about. He’s both very frank and very moving about it.”

“These poems are so insightful and illuminating, but he doesn’t show off or lecture the reader,” Garfein continues. “That’s extremely important in great art.”

To complement Hall’s writing style, Garfein chose to keep the vocal lines melodic and mostly tonal. This is accompanied by dissonant harmonies and virtuosity of the piano part, a contrast inspired by Schubert’s lieder style. 

Garfein selected the title, Mortality Mansions, from the second poem, “When I Was Young,” a contemplation of how youthful lust has evolved with aging. The poem ends with the line, “Let us pull back the blanket, slide off our bluejeans,// assume familiar positions,// and celebrate lust in mortality mansions.” 

Given the long time span of the collection, each poem feels like a vignette of love and life, cohesive yet independent. The work opens with “When the Young Husband,” depicting an ill-fated affair between the young husband and his wife’s friend, accompanied by an energetic motif. 

“In the first song, what needs to come across is the recklessness and brazen disregard or the desire for chaos and downfall, that Don Giovanni-esque, bring-it-on attitude,” Garland says. 

Then the focus shifts to bittersweet recollections from Hall’s relationship with Kenyon, beginning with “When I Was Young.” This flow is briefly interrupted by “Woolworth’s,” an ode to the iconic American five-and-dime business that closed in 1997, and “The Green Shelf,” in which a neighbor is killed in a lawnmower accident, a disturbing scene accompanied by an agitated piano part in an ominously low register. 

Over the next six poems, Hall shares happy memories of making love and cooking together with Kenyon, before shifting to painful reflections on endings and death. The cycle ends with “Otherwise” by Kenyon, a poem about enjoying the beauty of small moments in daily life, while acknowledging the ephemeral nature of existence.  

Mortality Mansions evokes both the grandeur and the fatality (of human existence),” Garfein says. “It’s a call to enjoy life while you can because it’s not going to last forever. Love and sexuality are a hedge against mortality, against death.”

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“Odysseys from Nicaragua to New Hampshire”
Andrew Garland, tenor

  • Gabriela Lena Frank: Cantos de Cifar y el Mar Dulce
    with Jeremy Reger, piano
  • Herschel Garfein: Mortality Mansions
    with David Korevaar, piano

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7
Grusin Recital Hall, CU Imig Music Building
Admission free 
Livestream available from CU Presents

“Forgotten” composer will be featured Aug. 21 at The Academy

Pianist David Korevaar, Carpe Diem Quartet will play quintets by Perrachio, Dvořák

By Peter Alexander Aug. 19 at 10:02 p.m.

Luigi Perrachio was a very modest man.

As a young composer, he hardly published any music. He was little known while he was active, over the first half of the 20th century, and after his death in 1966 he virtually disappeared. “He’s completely forgotten,” pianist David Korevaar says.

David Korevaar. Photo by Matthew Dine.

Korevaar, the Helen and Peter Weil Faculty Fellow at the CU College of Music, first discovered—or “re-discovered,” as he prefers to say—Perrachio’s music a few years ago in the CU Music Library. Since then he has recorded a full CD of Perrachio’s music and travelled to Perrachio’s hometown, Turin, Italy, where he uncovered some of Perrachio’s manuscripts.

You can enjoy the fruits of Korevaar’s research Saturday, when he and the Carpe Diem String Quartet will perform Perrachio’s Quintet for Piano and Strings in the Chapel Hall of The Academy University Hill in Boulder (7 p.m. Aug. 21; admission free with advance registration and proof of vaccination). The performance will also include Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A major.

Born in Turin in 1883, Perrachio studied both music and law. After traveling to Paris, where he encountered the music of Ravel and Debussy, he returned to Turin and taught both piano and composition at the Liceo Musicale. He was influenced by French Impressionism in his compositions, but turned more toward neo-classicism after his return from Paris. 

“There’s something about his writing that is not French at all, a kind of muscularity in his writing,” Korevaar says.

“I met a couple of people in Italy who were aware of him. I met one person who had actually recorded the 25 Preludes that I also recorded. So I wasn’t totally alone, but in terms of going in and looking at these manuscripts, the others haven’t done that.”

Korevaar is calling the Aug. 21 performance the “modern premiere” of Perrachio’s Quintet. He has not found a record of an earlier performance, so he has no idea when the original premiere might have been. The Quintet was completed in 1919—which coincidentally means the Quintet ties in with next week’s Colorado MahlerFest, which will devote an entire concert to little known composers of Mahler’s time (Aug. 24; see more here.)   

Carpe Diem String Quartet

Korevaar’s bubbling enthusiasm for Perrachio’s music is infectious, as he describes the music. The quintet is “a very beautiful piece” he says. “The first movement is pretty dramatic. The first theme has an intensity to it, and a lot of rolling arpeggios. But then the second theme is very spare and haunting and very thinly orchestrated.

“The Scherzo is wonderfully playful, just kind of a romp where he’s got constantly shifting [groups of measures] that keep you on your toes: alternating four and five bar sections, in wonderful patterns. It’s hard! The third movement is marked allegretto semplice (simple allegretto). It’s in a lilting triple meter that’s really beautiful. And the finale is a joyous pealing of bells.”

Korevaar and the quartet were looking for “a nice friendly piece” to go with the Perrachio—something that was familiar and well loved. “Dvořák seemed like a nice fit,” Korevaar says.

“Everything in that quintet resolves to a kind of joy,” he adds. “Even in the first movement, at the end it’s very exuberant. The second movement has got a bit of everything in it, and is so beautiful. The third movement, as is typical for Dvořák, is a furiant (a very fast Czech folk dance).

“The last movement is a nice rondo. Something that Dvořák loves to do at the end of a piece, where you’ve got this fast movement full of quick peasant rhythms, and then at a certain point you hit the coda and everything seems to expand and slow down. He just stretches and stretches and stretches, and finally there’s just a little tag at the end that’s fast. He does that in the Quintet as well.

“It’s like the end of the day, with the beautiful evening light and the shadows are getting longer but it’s happy and off in the distance somebody’s still trying to dance.”

# # # # #

David Korevaar, piano, with Carpe Diem String Quartet
Charles Wetherbee and Marisa Ishikawa, violin; Korine Fujiwara, viola; and Ariana Nelson, cello.

  • Luigi Perrachio: Piano Quintet
  • Dvořák: Piano Quintet in A major

7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21
Chapel Hall, The Academy University Hill
970 Aurora Ave., Boulder

Admission is free with registration.
Note: The concert at The Academy requires proof of vaccination

Musical Adventures 2: David Korevaar’s Faculty Tuesday

Jan. 26 recital includes works by Frescobaldi, CPE Bach and Margaret Bonds

By Peter Alexander Jan. 25 at 4:25 p.m

David Korevaar is an adventurous pianist.

“I’ve always been interested in music that’s off the beaten track,” he says. And the shutdown from the COVID pandemic has given him an opportunity to do more music off the beaten track than ever. “This has been an amazing experience, quickly learning a lot of repertoire,” he says.

David Korevaar off the beaten track

His latest explorations will be revealed Tuesday on Korevaar’s latest online CU Faculty Tuesday recital (Jan. 26, livestream at 7:30 p.m.). Titled “Variations Fantastiques,” the program brings together composers that are not on the well worn path: 17th-century Italian composer Girolamo Frescobaldi; J.S. Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel; Clara Schumann, the wife or Robert; and African-American composer Margaret Bonds.

Two other works are from more familiar composers: a Rondo by Mozart, and the Symphonic Etudes by Robert Schumann. “The Schumann Symphonic Etudes is the only thing on this program I had played before, and it’s been a long, long time,” Korevaar says. “That was a major act of resuscitation of a very difficult piece.”

Translation: Korevaar put a lot of work into this recital. 

David Korevaar at the piano (but still off the beaten track)

The opening piece gets right to the variations idea, Frescobaldi’s Partite sopra l’Aria della Romanesca—a set of variations over a standard Renaissance bass line known as Romanesca. Many composers wrote pieces based on the Romanesca bass, but don’t be embarrassed if you have not heard them before, unless you pay unusually close attention to the music played in church.

“Frescobaldi is not often played, period,” Korevaar says. “Organists play his music, and harpsichordists do. Frescobaldi was a native of the keyboard, he understood how to put notes together on a keyboard with hands.”

Frescobaldi’s music comes out of his experience improvising. “All of his toccatas and the variation sets represent a kind of frozen improvisation,” Korevaar says. “It’s fascinating— he manages to combine the traditions of renaissance vocal writing with keyboard improvisation. He transfers the kind of affective language of the Renaissance madrigal to this keyboard medium.”

The next work on the program, C.P.E. Bach’s Rondo in G Major, grows from the same soil as Frescobaldi’s Partite. “When C.P.E. Bach writes for keyboard, he’s writing again as an improvisor,” Korevaar says. “These rondos are particularly peculiar. This one has always fascinated me, because while there is a larger-scale structure, it works in four-bar bits that keep repeating the same material in various embellishments and modulations. And it’s like early Beethoven in the use of silence.”

Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes does not resemble traditional variation sets. “[Schumann] does say it’s etudes in the form of variations, but you’ve got to search a little bit,” Korevaar says. “Every now and then he’ll throw in the head motive to remind you where he started, but several have little to do with the theme. This is typical of Schumann’s transformative techniques.”

The piece actually began as an explicit set of variations on a theme by a friend of the Schumann family, plus a Finale that may be based on an entirely different theme from an opera by Heinrich Marschner. It is this original version of a later much-revised work that Korevaar will perform.

Clara Schumann. Daguerrotype by Franz Hanfstaengl (1854)

Even in that form, not all the etudes are related to the theme. Schuman’s approach is more one of transformation, as Korevaar says, than variation. At least three do not include the theme at all. “Thinking about it as variations, you realize how loose [Schumann] is with that term,” Korevaar says.

Both Clara Schumann and Brahms wrote a set of variations on the same theme by Robert Schumann. Both sets were published together in 1854, after Robert had been confined to a mental asylum. In both sets, Clara’s and Brahms’s, the variations on the theme are clearly delineated.

“It’s a remarkable piece because it’s a fully mature composition by a fully mature composer, with her own voice,” Korevaar says. “We forget that. We say, ‘Oh, she’s a woman who clearly did not get the opportunities.’ She played this piece throughout her career.

“It’s pianistically not friendly—she must have had a phenomenal technique! It’s a remarkable piece. This is a composer who was very much influenced by Robert Schumann, influenced by Chopin, influenced by Mendelssohn, and she has her own brand of virtuosity.”

Margaret Bonds

Bonds’s Spiritual Suite comprises three movements, each derived from a spiritual or traditional African-American song, each a set of variations or embellishments of the theme. Korevaar compares the middle movement, based on “Peter Go Ring them Bells,” to a Bach chorale prelude. “She introduces this descant first before we get the tune. It’s quite fun what she does: nesting in the middle of it is this wonderful waltz. It’s a wonderful piece.

The third movement, “Troubled Water,” has been published separately and is performed more often that the other two. The recent interest in African-American composers this year has resulted in the whole suite being played more, Korevaar says. “A lot of people have started taking it on, which is nice. It’s a good piece. It deserves to be played and heard.”

Korevaar enjoyed building a program with so many pieces that are new to him and likely to his audience. “I had more fun putting this program together than I’ve had in a long time,” he says. 

“It’s liberating to do stuff that I don’t know!”

# # # # #

“Variations Fantastiques”
David Korevaar, piano

Girolamo Frescobaldi: Partite sopra l’Aria della Romanesca
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Rondo in G Major
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Rondo in A minor, K511
Robert Schumann: Symphonic Etudes
Clara Schumann: Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann
Margaret Bonds: Spiritual Suite

Streamed here or here at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26

Free or pay what you can

CORRECTION: One quote by David Korevaar corrected 1.25 to state that we think of Clara Schumann as “a woman who clearly did not get the opportunities.” The original post omitted the word “not.”

FACULTY TUESDAYS CONTINUE FROM AN EMPTY GRUSIN HALL

Next Tuesday’s program offers works by Karol Szymanowski, György Kurtág and Fauré.

By Izzy Fincher Oct. 22 at 5:20 p.m.

CU-Boulder’s Grusin Hall is usually packed on Tuesday nights. Clusters of people gather, chatting and laughing, filling the hall with a pre-concert energy. 

They are here for Faculty Tuesdays, a free concert series featuring CU faculty, which runs from September to March.

Grusin Hall, empty as it now is on Tuesdays

Now on Tuesday nights, Grusin Hall sits mostly empty. But the Faculty Tuesdays series continues through livestreaming. Without an in-person audience, only the performers, a stagehand and the crew of audio technicians remain.

“At CU, we have this wonderful community of people who come to Faculty Tuesdays,” Alejandro Cremaschi, professor of piano pedagogy, says. “I hope that they feel like we are back together after not having live performances for a while. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than not having anything.”

Alejandro Cremaschi (Photo/Larry Harwood)

Cremaschi performed for the first Faculty Tuesdays concert on Sept. 1 with pianist Jéssica Pacheco. Their program featured female composers from the Americas.

Performing safely under social distancing protocols required flexibility. Pacheco and Cremaschi had to play four-hand works on two separate pianos, a challenging experience with fewer visual cues. For the livestream, with up-close cameras and mics rather than a distant live audience, Cremaschi had to tone down his loud announcement voice.

“I am used to speaking from the stage with a voice that projects,” Cremaschi says. “With the microphone, I was yelling so loud that the recording technicians changed the microphone to something that was less live.”

Yet, for Cremaschi, who hadn’t performed live since March at the time, his Faculty Tuesdays livestream was exciting.

“Even though we didn’t have an audience, we play differently when we are doing it for real,” Cremaschi says. “Jéssica loves being on stage, and I love that too. We sound better when we are playing for real. It was nice to have that feeling and energy coming from her. If I had been playing by myself, that would have been really hard.”

David Korevaar (Photo by Matthew Dine)

Pianist David Korevaar is also excited for his upcoming Faculty Tuesdays livestream. He will perform on the Oct. 27 concert, “Signs, Games + Messages,” which will feature works by Karol Szymanowski, György Kurtág and Fauré.

The performance of “Signs, Games + Messages” has been postponed for years. In 2016, Korevaar, David Requiro, Harumi Rhodes and Geraldine Walther, former violist of the Takács Quartet, planned to play this program for Faculty Tuesdays, but that concert fell through. 

Violist Richard O’Neill

Now in 2020, the concert will finally happen with three original collaborators, Korevaar, Requiro and Rhodes, plus Richard O’Neill, the Takács Quartet’s new violist in place of Walther. Korevaar calls it “long postponed, joyful music-making.” 

Korevaar will play on two of the three pieces: Szymanowski’s Mythes, op. 30, and Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, op. 45. Mythes is a virtuosic duet for violin and piano, filled with symbolism, extended tonalities and rich harmonies.

While isolated in Poland during World War I, Szymanowski turned to ancient Greek culture and drama for inspiration. Composed in 1915, Mythes shows this influence in the three movements: “I. La Fontaine d’Aréthuse,” “II. Narcisse” and “III. Dryades et Pan.”

Violinist Harumi Rhodes

“It’s an extraordinarily beautiful piece that isn’t done a lot in public because it is also extraordinarily difficult,” Korevaar says. “It’s a scary score to read, but it’s fun to play with a great musician. I am having a wonderful time.”

Korevaar also looks forward to Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2. The quartet, premiered in 1887, is a somber, complex work, marking a departure from Fauré’s First Piano Quartet, which was pleasantly simple and conventional. Cyclical themes, filled with rhythmic and melodic development, build and return throughout the later work. Aaron Copland described it as “mature work [that] shows the composer less carefree, less happy, more serious, more profound.”

For Korevaar, the rehearsal process has been largely the same as pre-COVID-19, though with increased distance between players. Masks are a bit more of a challenge—without facial expression cues, the musicians must rely on each other’s movements and gestures.

“(In chamber music,) we do a lot with eyes, with body motions, with the sense of breathing, which doesn’t mean we have to see the breathing apparatus,” Korevaar says. “It’s a whole-body thing.”

This will be Korevaar’s third livestream this fall, after a solo livestream and a duo livestream with violinist Charles Wetherbee in mid-October. He is still getting used to the experience. He says he feels more self-critical in front of cameras and misses the live audience’s energy. However, he finds the energy from other musicians makes the livestream more comfortable, and he looks forward to next Tuesday’s performance.

“It’s a new adventure,” Korevaar says. “In a livestream, you don’t have the opportunity to fix stuff, but you get the same self-consciousness about the bloopers. With chamber music, it’s easier because there is mutual energy, and everybody is working together.”

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Signs, Games + Messages
Harumi Rhodes, violin, Richard O’Neill, viola, David Requiro, cello, and David Korevaar, piano
Streamed from CU-Boulder’s Grusin Hall

Karol Szymanowski: Mythes, Op. 30
György Kurtág: Signs, Games and Messages
Fauré: Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, Op. 45

7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27, on CU Presents 

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See all remaining Faculty Tuesday performances here.

David Korevaar and Charles Wetherbee keep the musical stream flowing

Solo piano and violin-piano duo programs will be free online

By Peter Alexander Oct. 13 at 11:30 p.m.

It has become a streaming world for musicians and audiences alike. As the summer of COVID turns into fall, pianist David Korevaar and violinist Charles Wetherbee from the CU Boulder College of Music are keeping the stream flowing.

David Korevaar (l) andCharles Wetherbee

Over the summer the duo did a series of four concerts under the auspices of the Snake River Music Festival, and Korevaar did a celebrated series of streamed performances from his home of all 32 piano sonatas and other works by Beethoven. And now they will add new chapters, both Korevaar individually and the two together.

Korevaar will play a solo recital at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct 15, which will be livestreamed from Schmitt Music in Denver. The program will be all works by Black composers from the early 20th century, starting with Cameos by the English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Korevaar will also play three works by African-American composers: In the Bottoms Suite by R. Nathaniel Dett, the Piano Sonata in E minor by Florence Price, and the Spiritual Suite by Margaret Bonds.

The streamed concert by Korevaar and Wetherbee has already been recorded and will be available on Wetherbee’s YouTube channel starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16. The works on their joint program are all based on folk sources from different parts of the world, as organized into traditional Western concert forms: Three pieces from Ruralia Hungarica by Ernst von Dohnányi, the Violin Sonata No 3 by George Enescu, Sueños de Chambi by Gabriela Lena Frank, and the Romanian Folk Dances by Béla Bartók.

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David Korevaar. Photo by Matthew Dine

Korevaar’s program comes entirely from outside the canonical European repertoire of concert pianists. “What we’re looking at [during the pandemic] is an opportunity—an opportunity to expand,” Korevaar says. “For me, it’s a beginning of something bigger in terms of my own explorations of repertoire that I don’t know.”

Korevaar finds unique qualities in each of the composers and works on the program. “The Coleridge-Taylor miniatures represent something that’s typical of English music of the period. The pieces are called ‘Cameos,’ and the title gives you a sense of the atmosphere. He wrote a lot of shorter piano pieces, and  these are typical of that. They are charming,”

Dett was  a Canadian-born composer who immigrated to the U.S. “He ends up settling in the South and absorbing the culture, as an outsider,” Korevaar says. “He’s a good composer and a person of amazing curiosity. I’m excited because it’s new to me. I knew his name, I didn’t know his music.

In the Bottoms Suite is probably his best known piano work. The last movement, the ‘Juba Dance,’ was one of his great hits and was arranged for every possible combination.”

As a composer Price was strongly influenced by Dvořák and his visit to America, although her musical roots were in the Black community where she grew up. “The Sonata [uses] spirituals and the music of the Black church that she was very familiar with, putting that into this very European container, the sonata,” Korevaar says. “It’s really interesting.

“Margaret Bonds was a protege of Price [who] ended up being very much associated with the Harlem Renaissance. The piece I’m playing, Spiritual Suite, is a set of fantasy variations on three different spirituals or traditional songs, which she does a beautiful job with.”

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Friday’s duo recital is a continuation of a series of performances that started over the summer as part of the Snake River Festival. In all of their performances this year, Korevaar says, “we’re really trying to work with composers from underrepresented groups.”

Charles Wetherbee (l) and David Korevaar

In this case the composers are slightly better known than in Korevaar’s solo program, although most of the works are not. In fact, all but one—the Bartók Romanian Folk Dances—were new to Wetherbee.

“The program was built around two pieces that I wanted to learn, the Enesco Third Violin Sonata and Sueños de Chambi by Gabriela Lena Frank,” he explains. “Although they are different in many ways, they are both built firmly on the foundation of folk music.

“In the case of the Enescu, [it’s] this Romanian Gypsy style that Enescu grew up playing himself. The musical language, the gestures, the harmony and the mannerisms are drawn from Romanian folk traditions.” 

Wetherbee and Korevaar both find the sonata to be a serious challenge, reflecting the fact that Enesco himself was a virtuoso pianist and violinist.

Frank grew up in Berkeley, Calif., but she often draws on the music of her mother’s native Peru. Her Sueños de Chambi (Dreams of Chambi), subtitled “an Andean photo album,” was inspired by the work of photographer Martín Chambi who documented the customs and festivals of 20th-century Peru.

“What’s very interesting is that [Frank] often has the violin imitate indigenous instruments, including the flutes,” Wetherbee says. “You get some really unusual and beautiful sounds.”

To frame the two major works of the program, Wetherbee and Korevaar selected two collections of shorter pieces that take eastern European folk music—Hungarian in the case of Dohnányi and Romanian in the case of Bartók—and create easily accessible concert music. 

“I do hope that people will not be scared off by works that are all unfamiliar,” Wetherbee says. “ It’s a really beautiful and compelling program.

“These are works that I’d like to play many, many times.”

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6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15
David Korevaar, piano
Livestream from Schmitt Music, Denver

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Cameos
R. Nathaniel Dett: In the Bottoms Suite
Florence Price: Sonata in E Minor
Margaret Bonds: Spiritual Suite

Livestream available at no cost.

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16
David Korevaar, piano, and Charles Wetherbee, violin
Hosted by David Ginder of Colorado Public Radio
Streamed on Wetherbee’s YouTube channel

Ernst von Dohnányi: Three Pieces from Ruralia Hungarica
George Enescu: Violin Sonata No. 3
Gabriela Lena Frank: Sueños de Chambi (Dreams of Chambi)
Bartók: Rumanian Folk Dances

Stream available at no cost.

How to fill the hours of isolation? Music by unfamiliar composers

New CDs from local performers offer rare pleasures

By Peter Alexander April 11 at 3:30 p.m.

The hours stretch empty before you, and you’ve already re-watched all 202 episodes of The X-files. Or was it Game of Thrones?

Now is the time to expand you horizons and discover music you don’t know, by composers whose names are not familiar. And happily, Boulder-area musicians have new offerings that you can order by internet and have delivered directly to your front porch without violating social distancing.

Here are four that are worth attention.

81OtBx57QHL._SL1200_Ernst Dohnányi: Piano Quintets Nos. 1 & 2, String Quartet No. 2. Takács Quartet and Marc-André Hamelin, piano. Hyperion CDA68238

Hungarian composer Ernst Dohnányi is best known for his set of orchestral variations on the French nursery tune Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman, which you probably know as “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” A highly skilled and original composer, he also wrote chamber music and pieces for piano that provide a more complete perspective of his output.

The Takács Quartet teamed up with pianist Marc-André Hamelin to record Dohnányi’s two piano quintets and the String Quartet No. 2. Presented in chronological order on the disc, the quartet falls neatly between the two quintets.

The First Piano Quintet, composed in 1895 when Dohnányi was 17, is a remarkably assured student work, and a perfect representation of post-Brahms late Romanticism. The movements are carefully plotted out and filled with attractive themes. This is music to let wash over you and enjoy the warm blanket of sound. There are moments of excess, when the layering of figuration and overripe harmonies threaten to over-thicken the soup, but Hamelin and the Takács players do a remarkable job of maintaining transparency.

Dohnányi’s style matures and shifts over the course of the three works, but it is always marked by the late Romantic ethos. The String Quartet, composed in 1906, 11 years after the First Quintet, is at times lighter in tone, with notable playful touches in the first movement. The second movement (marked “presto acciacato,” or “crushed presto”) is a propulsive, driven scherzo-like movement, which the Takács plays with perfect precision, with a thoroughly contrasting, gentle chorale in the center.

The Second Quintet, written on the precipice of the First World War in 1914, is the most original and striking piece on the disc. Too early to have been influenced by better known works by Stravinsky and Prokofiev, it almost seems to foreshadow the neo-classical style that would emerge after the war. It is marked by sudden, quirky changes of direction and mood. Here Hamelin and the Takács are at their best, bringing out every swerve of mood without losing the forward movement of the music.

This is a disc filled with remarkable pleasures: engaging, interesting music given exemplary performances. Whether you listen with attention to details or prefer to sit back and simply enjoy, you will find much to appreciate on the disc. Available here and here.

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TOCC0528_webcoverHermann Grädener: Orchestral Music, Vol. One. Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, op. 22; Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, op. 41. National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Gottfried Rabl, conductor, with Karen Bentley Pollick, violin. Toccata Classics TOCC 0528.

The German/Austrian composer Hermann Grädener taught at the Vienna Conservatory for 35 years (1877-1913). His works were often found on concert programs in Vienna and elsewhere, if not warmly embraced by the stern critics of the time. After his death, however, he disappeared, and in recent years his music has gone unrecorded and is nearly impossible to find.

Or it was until Viennese conductor Gottfried Rabl and his Indiana University grad-schoolmate violinist Karen Bentley Pollick began investigating his music. (Pollick is a Colorado Mahlerfest festival artist who has performed in Boulder and served as principal second violinist in last year’s Mahlerfest orchestra. Disclosure: I also knew her when we were both students at Indiana University, and we have stayed in touch over the years.)

Pollick and Rabl have teamed up for the first volume of a planned series of recordings of Grädener’s orchestral works, a CD of his two violin concertos with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. This is a well played and well engineered recording of music that is available nowhere else. As such it is a worthy addition to any collection.

Grädener was born before Dohnányi, and is consequently more in the Romantic mainstream than post-Romantic—or as the liner notes laconically state, he was firmly “downstream from Brahms.” His music is lush, sometimes overripe, always attractive to the ear. It is filled with striking Romantic moments, from the very first opening solo by the horn in the First Concerto.

The first movements of both concertos are on the longwinded side, with discursive passages that tend to wander. It’s all pleasant music, if occasionally overripe, that sometimes gives the impression of having lost the plot. The shorter movements are more successful, particularly the second movement of the second concerto, where a lyrical opening section with long, flowing melodic lines is followed by a more energetic middle section and a return of the opening mood.

Both finales are buoyant rondos. That of the First Concerto has plenty of fireworks which Pollick handles gracefully. The finale of the Second Concerto opens dramatically, but soon turns to a more cheerful character, again played with assurance.

Pollick plays with an alluring sound and great confidence. Rabl and the Ukrainian orchestra provide a solid background. They never threaten to overwhelm the soloist; indeed, either the performance or the engineering so favor the soloist that the orchestra seems understated.

These is no question that this is attractive music, skillfully woven together. The recording helps fill in a blank spot in the history of 19th-century music and is certainly worth enjoying, but whether either concerto adds up to more than a lovely 35–40 minutes in the concert hall—or sitting in front of your speakers—is something each listener will have to decide. Available here and here.

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91+vB0jSWxL._SL1396_Paul Juon: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1–3. Charles Wetherbee, violin, and David Korevaar, piano. Naxos 8.574091.

Paul Juon, much like Hermann Grädener, had a successful career as a teacher and composer before falling into obscurity. Born in Russia to Swiss parents, he was educated in Moscow and Berlin, and spent most of his professional life in the latter city. He is another conservative late-Romantic composer who music is associated with an earlier generation; during his lifetime, he was called “the Russian Brahms.”

Over the years there have been a few recordings of his music, most recently a disc from Naxos featuring CU faulty Charles Wetherbee, violin (known to many as concertmaster of the Boulder Philharmonic) and David Korevaar, piano, performing Juon’s three sonatas for violin and piano.

Although his style is comfortably Romantic, Juon is on some ways a strange composer who avoids the expected. Korevaar’s notes for the album says the his music “suggests a narrative,” which may be another way of saying that it is episodic. Juon often writes wonderful, striking fragments that never quite coalesce into whole themes.

This is especially evident in the first work on the disc, the Sonata No. 2 in F major of 1920. Playing different material, the violin and piano respond to one another in an interesting musical dialog throughout the first movement. Their disparate themes and motives are like pieces of a mosaic that create an image that is always colorful, never quite distinct.

The slow movement features mysterious meanderings full of odd twists and turns. Once again the violin and piano take turns commenting on each other’s different themes and motives. The finale moves from a light, airy opening that suggests a traditional finale, but transforms unexpectedly to a more spooky feeling.

The one-movement Sonata No. 3 in B minor from 1920 features a lovely central section in slower tempo. This leads to a jolly conclusion that is the closest Juon comes to providing the expected, but still with his own surprise twists.

The First Sonata in A major (1898) offers the most conventional music on the disc. All three movements have clear structures and identifiable, if highly individual themes. In spite of being the longest individual movement of the three sonatas, the first movement is the easiest to follow. Its attractive themes are laid out in a clear ex[position, and can be discerned though the extensive development section. The second movement is an uncomplicated set of variations of contrasting moods and styles, and the finale is a lively rondo.

The sensitive partnership between Korevaar and Wetherbee make this disc a pleasure to listen to. They match each other well through all the thematic give and take, maintaining a comfortable balance between the two voices. Wetherbee plays warmly and with great expression, especially in the slower, reflective passages. The performance is marked by a careful sensitivity to the shifts of mood and expressive swerves that characterize Juon’s style.

If you enjoy exploring unfamiliar byways of the Romantic style, this disc will be most rewarding. Available here and here.

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71GxFdVIH2L._SL1426_Longing: Chamber Music of Reza Vali. Charles Wetherbee violin; David Korevaar, piano; Dariush Saghafi, santoor; Carpe Diem String Quartet. MSR Classics 1738.

More adventurous than the CDs of music by Dohnányi, Grädener and Juon is Longing, a new disc from the Carpe Diem String Quartet that features the music of Iranian-American composer Reza Vali. Several disparate works of chamber music are performed by the quartet, and by their first violinist Charles Wetherbee, again with pianist David Korevaar. Dariush Saghafi joins them playing the Santoor, an Iranian and Indian hammered dulcimer, for one track.

Vali was born in Iran, educated in Tehran, Vienna and the United States, and now teaches composition at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. His music embraces both his Iranian/Persian cultural heritage and his education in Western styles and genres. It is an intriguing mix, though the two are more comfortably paired in some works than in others.

The album includes two sets of pieces for violin and piano, “Three Romantic Songs” and “Love Drunk,” five folk song settings. All eight movements are essentially very conservative, Romantic character pieces, relatively short (1”32” to 3’31”) and expressing a single mood. They are varied, from wistful fragments to strongly characterized dance pieces to a forceful memory of a lost beloved.

For the most part the music of these duets flows on the surface of romantic yearnings, with a heavy sense of nostalgia deriving from the conservative 19th-century idiom. Wetherbee and Korevaar’s expressive performances bring out the varied qualities of the movements, while revealing glimpses of deeper feelings.

The remaining other works on the disc—all for string quartet—draw heavily on Vali’s Iranian/Persian musical heritage. Some are based on folk songs, others make us of Persian modes, which are significantly different from Western keys and scales

Listening to these works I often had the sense of a meaning, a structure and a musical sense that remains just beyond my Western-trained comprehension. This music provides a great adventure for the adventurous listener, even when it seems partly hidden behind a veil of unfamiliarity.

santoor

Santoor

The most interesting work is Calligraphy No. 14, part of an ongoing series of works, also titled Âshoob. This work exists in two versions, both a little over 6 minutes in length, one for string quartet alone and one for string quartet and santoor, a type of hammered dulcimer found in Iran and India. For the recording, the santoor is played by Darius Saghafi, a medical doctor and master santoor player.

The version with santoor has an exoticism that is enchanting. The santoor gives the music a stronger profile than in the version for strings alone. For me this is the best track on the album, an engaging mix of Western and Eastern elements that fit comfortably together with no sense of unease.

I do not have the expertise to know how well the Carpe Diem Quartet handles the Persian elements in Vali’s scores, although it is clear that they play with confidence and commitment. They are a solid quartet, and in this unusual and challenging repertoire they have their parts well under control. Most likely a native Iranian will hear their playing differently than I do, but I find the result intriguing and engaging. At its best, this an adventurous and enjoyable album. Available here and here.

 

 

 

 

Bringing the Beethoven: pianist David Korevaar

CU faculty member will stream all 32 Sonatas

By Peter Alexander March 27 at 2:40 p.m.

Some people who are stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic will binge-watch old TV shows. David Korevaar plays Beethoven.

And he’s sharing it with anyone who wants to listen.

David-Korevaar-portrait-9_credit-Matthew-Dine

David Korevaar. Photo by Matthew Dine.

Korevaar, the Helen and Peter Weill Faculty Fellow and a distinguished professor of piano at the CU Boulder College of Music, is planning to play all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas over 60 days. Each will be posted in turn on his YouTube channel.

A great musical legacy from the classical period, the 32 Beethoven sonatas have become one of the most important challenges pianists—and their audiences—can undertake. They cover just about his entire creative career, from the first sonatas, published in 1795, to the very last sonata, published five years before his death in 1827. As such, they document his stylistic development better than any other single genre.

As of Friday, March 27, Korevaar has posted performances of sonatas nos. 1 to 5—Op. 2 no. 1 in F minor, Op. 2 no. 2 in A major, Op. 2 no. 3 in C major, Op. 7 in E-flat major and Op. 10 no. 1 in C minor—with the remaining 27 to follow in order, through Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111.

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Beethoven, 1818. Sketch by August von Kloeber

Playing all the Beethoven sonatas is something that Korevaar had long wanted to do. In a way, the social distancing and self-isolation imposed by the pandemic provided the ideal opportunity. “Artists are finding ways to continue to be artists and for me this seemed like something that I could do at this moment, and share with people,” he says.

“I had been thinking about doing the Beethoven cycle, but I haven’t gotten to the point of really doing it. Here we are, we’re all stuck at home, and so I find myself in this situation of ‘Here is an opportunity to do this project and share it with whoever is interested.’ It’s a gift to myself and a gift to everybody else at the same time.”

One reason for doing all the sonatas one after another is that you can learn from playing or hearing a larger array of Beethoven’s works than from just the greatest hits that are played most often. This provides insight into his revolutionary place in music, Korevaar believes. “With his classic status, we accept Beethoven as normal,” he says. “We’ve normalized him.

“Beethoven, in his time, didn’t represent a norm. He represented something else, he represented something extraordinary. I hope the audience discovers just how wonderful and strange Beethoven is. Beethoven’s a very strange composer, and a very playful composer, and those are things that really come through in these piano sonatas.”

Another point that Korevaar stresses is that Beethoven belonged to the first generation of composers for whom the piano specifically was their natural means of musical expression. Earlier composers—Mozart and Haydn and composers before them—knew a variety of keyboard instruments, harpsichords and clavichords and organs and early pianos.

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Mozio Clementi

“Beethoven is the first composer we talk about a lot in music history who was native to the piano,” Korevaar says. And while there are others of the same generation—the Czech composer Jan Ladislav Dussek and the Italian Muzio Clementi for example—they are largely forgotten today. “Dussek and Clementi are perpetually underrated,” Korevaar says. “They have their strengths and charms, but the truth is Beethoven is a much better composer.”

Knowing that context helps the listener understand why Beethoven’s earliest sonatas are so difficult from the very beginning. “There’s a sense of Beethoven saying ‘Look, I can do things on the piano with my two hands that even the best of the other pianists really can’t quite come up to that level’,” Korevaar says.

Korevaar admits that the sound may not be ideal on his made-from-home recordings. “Resources are limited, and the bandwidth is limited—just the quality of video that one can post off a home internet connection,” he says. “I’m recording QuickTime videos using my laptop camera and external mic. That’s all I’m doing.

“I’ve giving myself multiple shots at these things. With the few that I posted so far, I recorded them twice and then chose the one I like better. If it’s not good I’m not going to put it up. Hopefully people agree that they’re OK.”

In the end, it’s not so important to Korevaar whether a large number of people listen to his performances. “If there are people who are interested, it’s great,” he says. “And if there aren’t, I will still have done it and learned something from the process.”

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David Korevaar, playing Beethoven from home

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.