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Rehearsing for the recital in Chicago. 

I had the honor of performing at the Dame Myra Hess Concert series in Chicago. The concert was held on January 21st at Chicago's beautiful Cultural Center (Preston Bradley Hall). The performance was hosted by Ann Murray, the director of the International Music Foundation and sponsored by Bank of America. The concert was broadcasted on WFMT, Chicago's classical radio station. Here are the program notes I wrote for the recital: 
 
Cesar Guerra-Peixe and Claudio Santoro are two of Brazil’s most influential 20th century composers. The Preludios Tropicais (1979) are a set of seven pieces referencing popular songs, traditions, instruments, and distinct musical styles. The Cantiga de Folia da Reis is a contemplative and festive prelude honoring the Christian Feast of the Epiphany. The Ponteado de Viola is cast as a virtuoso toccata referencing the timbre and action of the viola, a 10-steel-string acoustic guitar used in Brazilian folk music. Santoro’s First of Book of Preludes (twelve in total) is a work of rare beauty and perfection. The three preludes heard today are masterful miniatures suggesting images of stillness and a myriad of colors through sparse musical textures. 
 
Manuel M. Ponce is considered to be one of the most influential Latin American composers of the 20th century. Ponce’s diverse and eclectic musical output embraces styles reminiscent of Schumann’s Romanticism to Debussy’s Impressionism. He is regarded as the father of Mexican musical nationalism. During his youth, Ponce became particularly fascinated by the folk music, idyllic landscape, and festive atmosphere of his native land. As an ethnomusicologist, he began an incessant search to develop and assimilate the popular genre into higher forms of musical expression. In this regard, the German musicologist Otto Mayer-Serra comments, “Ponce belongs to the first artistic generation that consciously worked in love with his country: the popular, legendary, and colonial Mexico…” The Balada Mexicana is one of the composer’s most memorable piano works. A fine example of nationalistic writing, it features two popular themes, (El Durazno and Acuerdate de Mi) in an A-B-A structure. A work of romantic lyricism and virtuosic proportions, the Balada was considered by the composer to be his most accomplished work. Ponce’s Intermezzo (1923), evokes the atmosphere of rural Mexico. The composer’s treatment of parallel thirds and impressionistic harmonies depicts an idyllic pastoral setting. The Intermezzo is masterwork with remarkable unity, evident in its rhythmical and melodic elements. Written in sonata form, the work beholds all the magic of its perfection within a few bars. 
 
Alberto Ginastera's piano compositions span the years from 1937 (Danzas Argentinas, Op. 2) to 1982 (Sonata No. 3). His compositions can be grouped into three periods which the composer himself established. According to Ginastera, the first period, Objective Nationalism, is characterized by literal use of Argentine folk music. The second period, Subjective Nationalism, assimilates twentieth-century compositional techniques and well as rhythms and melodies of his native Argentine music. The third period, Neo-Expressionism, is objective and modern, with no direct idiomatic representations. The Sonata No. 1, Op. 22 belongs to the Ginastera's Subjective Nationalism, in which he was casting his Argentine folk elements in a distinctly modern pianistic style. Fiendishly virtuosic and highly satisfying, it is one of Ginastera's best-known and most frequently performed works for piano. According to the composer’s program notes, the Sonata is cast in four movements, the first one of which is written in the classical sonata form. The opening theme, very primitive, is followed by a second theme full of expressive Iyricism, flexible, pastoral-like. The typical features are steady polytonal elements and highly complex rhythms. The second movement, presto misterioso, is a fleeting, vaporous three-part scherzo. Ginastera uses a twelve-tone senes for the first part and the second one conveys the folk reminiscences of a malambo. The third movement, Adagio, is a three-part lied, while the fourth one, in rondo form with five sections, is reminiscent of the typical toccata writing.

 The Tiffany Dome.

Listen to a recording of  Ponce's Intermezzo here: 
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  1. Ponce: Intermezzo

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