Happy Birthday Mr. Bernstein
Thursday 1 Nov, 7pm
Raffles Hotel - Le Royal

Years of Transition
Friday 2 Nov ,7pm
Meta House Gallery
Friday, 2nd November
Meta House Gallery

7 pm - Years of Transition



Pongpat Pongpradit - guitar



Alexandre Tansman ( 1897-1986)
Variations on a theme by Scriabin /1971

Variations on a Theme of Scriabin, dedicated to Segovia, was written in 1972. The theme, Prelude, Op. 16, No. 4, in E flat minor (for piano), was arranged by Segovia in B minor for guitar (publ. Celesta Publishing Co., New York, 1945). This melody has a haunting quality with poignant accompanying chord progressions, though Tansman has at certain points reworked the original harmonization of the theme. The composition has six variations, the first being a transference of the theme to the bass line, with an accompaniment in the treble. Var. II, slightly faster, explores the harmonic potential of Scriabin’s melody, while Var. III is a virtuosic Vivo episode in semiquavers. Var. IV changes the tonality and explores some ingenious harmonic modulations. The fifth variation, Allegretto grazioso (quasi Mazurka), is the composer’s homage to Poland, presenting the national dance with a dash of humour and elements which evoke the music of J.S. Bach. The last variation is fugal, a contrapuntal working out of the melodic implications, which gives way to a final, slightly modified, gentle statement of the theme itself.


M. Castelnuovo-Tedesco(1895-1968)
Capricio diabolico Op 85 /1935

A few years before leaving Italy in 1938 in the face of rising anti-Semitism, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco had written this charming ten-minute piece, ostensibly as a tribute to Paganini. Having composed it for the guitar virtuoso Andrés Segovia, he consciously attempted to draw a parallel between himself and Paganini. Will the latter ever be separated from that disparaging word, diabolical? Naturally, one will recognize thematic references to Paganini here, but the music is still Castelnuovo-Tedesco's own, even if the listener is often stylistically taken back to the early nineteenth century. The work opens with a dramatic introduction based on the main theme, then goes on to present that theme in a lively creation that, not surprisingly, divulges an Italianate character. The melodic material is deftly worked out as the music takes on a heroic manner in the central sections. In the latter part of the piece, it grows increasingly difficult, as rapid-fire notes heighten tension and bring on blazing colors, the music building toward a virtuosic climax. This brilliant piece will appeal to most fanciers of serious guitar music.


Jose Luis Merlin *1952
Suite de Ia requerdo / 1990

Argentinian guitar composer Jose Luis Merlin's Suite del Recuerdo is dedicated to the memory of many thousands of "disappeared ones" from the days of the military junta in Argentina. This is very haunting, romantic music, using typical South American folk dances and melodies as the basis of five separate pieces entitled Evocation, Zamba, Chacarera, Carnavalito and Joropo.A translation of the sheet music dedication page explains the significance of the music to the composer. "This is an homage to memories, my memories. To the collective memories of my people living in nostalgia, tormented, anguished, happy and hopeful. Memories from the country, in San Luis, with all the smells and sounds from the country. It is like looking inside yourself in very profound silence. Memories of afternoons with grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins. All enjoying each other, sharing our feelings and playing guitar., sitting in the back yard drinking wine, under the vines. Lots of them are not here anymore. They are in my memories."

Chinary Ung *1942
"Rising Spirals" /1996

Chinary Ung was born in Takeo, Cambodia, on November 24, 1942. His first advanced musical studies were at the Ecole de Musique Phnom Penh. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1964, he enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music for clarinet studies, but transferred to Columbia University to study composition with Chinese-American composer Chou Wen-Chung. Ung achieved success with his first significant compositions, Mohori (1970) and Tall Wind (1974), both for vocalist and chamber ensemble. But between 1974, the year of his Columbia graduation, and 1985 he virtually abandoned composition, producing but a single work, Khse Buon (1980), for solo cello or viola. Ung used the decade-long hiatus to aid relatives and artists escape the murderous and oppressive Khmer Rouge regime, then in control of Cambodia. In 2002 Ung returned to his native country for the first time since 1964. There he performed in several concerts of his music. Ung has remained active as a composer in the new century, producing such pieces as the 2008 choral work Spiral XII: Space Between Heaven and Earth.


Astor Piazolla (1921-1992)
lnvierno Porteno /1970

Like its companion pieces, the winter element of Piazzolla's Porteña Seasons (porteña or porteño refers to the inhabitants of the poor port area of Buenos Aires, where the tango was born) exists in versions for everything from small tango ensemble to symphony orchestra. It has not achieved the popularity of the earliest pieces in the sequence, particularly Verano Porteño; Piazzolla did not perform or record it especially often.