Sunday 20 November
Raffles Hotel - Le Royal
7pm Concert ‘PART THREE’
Works by Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg etc
Kenneth Min Chyh Lim, piano
Alban Berg (1885-1935)
was an Austrian composer. Alban Berg and Anton Webern were both pupils of Arnold Schoenberg. All three composers in their own way changed the style of musical composition in the early 20th century. They grew up at a time when most composers were still writing Romantic music, but Schoenberg and his pupils started to write atonal music (music which is not in any key) and then twelve-tone music in which all 12 notes in an octave are of the same importance. Although Berg wrote a lot of twelve-tone music he still managed to make it sound quite Romantic at times, more so than Schoenberg or Webern. His most important works are his two operas Wozzeck and Lulu and his Violin Concerto.
Piano Sonata Op.1
As early as this Piano Sonata (1909), the trademarks of Berg’s mature style seemed fully formed. Unlike with the juvenilia of other composers, Berg’s early work contains none of the underdeveloped harbingers that might suggest more to come. Those qualities which characterize his music from the 1920s (in works such as the Lyric Suite and the Chamber Concerto) – descending third sequences from which melodic figures are generated, intensive use of whole-tone chords, and harmonic progressions that belie strict allegiance to conventional parallelism – persist as prominent “topics” of foreground discourse in Berg’s music.
As in the case of his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish Berg’s freely atonal music from that of his 12-tone period. And like Schoenberg, Berg experienced little difficulty in making a virtually imperceptible transition from the realm of free atonality to his systematically conceived serial works.
It was after much study in counterpoint and harmony with Schoenberg that Berg drafted a multi-movement piano sonata. Berg had complained to Schoenberg that he felt a lack of inspiration for material to complete subsequent movements of the sonata, after the first. Schoenberg is rumored to have said that this was a good indication that Berg had said all there was to say in the first movement; Berg left the Sonata in its present form as a single movement.
Berg’s pupil Adorno once said, “Whoever is seriously trying to comprehend Berg’s music should closely apply themselves to the eleven-page piano sonata”. It is tempting to enlarge upon this statement: Whoever is trying to get to grips with New Music will not be able to avoid Berg’s opus 1. It is one of the most frequently played sonatas amongst the Second Viennese School piano compositions.
Frank Bridge (1879-1941)
Was an English composer, viola player, and conductor, one of the most accomplished musicians of his day, known especially for his chamber music and songs. Bridge studied violin at the Royal College of Music, London,
but changed to viola, becoming a virtuoso player.
Although he composed in many genres, he was particularly successful in his smaller forms, such as the Phantasie Quartet for piano and strings (1910), four string quartets, and songs and piano pieces. His early works were Romantic in style; later, while he never abandoned Romanticism, he moved toward atonality. He was widely respected as a teacher, and his pupils included Benjamin Britten.
1. Dusk. Molto moderato
2. The Dew Fairy. Allegretto moderato e rubato
3. The Midnight Tide. Molto lento
The breadth of harmonic colors Bridge creates in The Hour Glass reveals the
influence of the Impressionistic/modernistic compositional style upon his work. In music, the Impressionistic style is generally confined to Debussy, Ravel, and those whose music resembled or was influenced by them. These composers attempted to explore the fleeting moment, visual sound, and mysterious feelings, which led them to seek musical equivalents for water, fountains, fog, clouds and the night.
Peter Sculthorpe (1929- 2014)
Was an Australian composer. Much of his music resulted from an interest in the music of Australia's neighbours as well as from the impulse to bring together aspects of native Australian music with that of the heritage of the West.
Much of Sculthorpe's early work demonstrates the influence of Asian music, but he said that these influences dwindled through the 1970s as indigenous music became more important. He said that he had been interested in indigenous culture since his teens, mainly because of his father "who told me many stories of past wrongs in Tasmania. I think he was quite extraordinary for that time, as was my mother". However, it was only with the advent of recordings and books on the subject around the 1970s that he started to incorporate indigenous motifs in his work.
Night pieces for piano (1971)
1. ‘Snow, Moon, Flowers’
Sculthorpe’s own programme notes:
“My Night Pieces, apart from Stars, were first performed at the 1971 Festival of Perth, for which they were written. The opening bracket of pieces is based on a Japanese concept known as setsugekka, which means, literally, ‘snow, moon and flowers’. This concept is concerned with metamorphosis: moonlight, for instance, may make snow of flowers, and flowers of snow; and the moon itself may be viewed as an enormous snowflake or a giant white flower. The music of these three pieces, and of Stars, is concerned with transformations of similar harmonic and motivic structures”.
Fazil Say *1970
He was a child prodigy, who was able to do basic arithmetic with 4-digit numbers at the age of two. His father, having found out that he was playing the melody of "Daha Dün Annemizin" (Turkish version of Ah! vous dirai-je, maman) on a makeshift flute with no prior training, enlisted the help of Ali Kemal Kaya, an oboist and family friend. At the age of three, Say started his piano lessons under the tutelage of pianist Mithat Fenmen.
Fazil Say stands to some extent in the tradition of composers like Béla Bartók, George Enescu, and György Ligeti, who also drew on the rich musical folklore of their countries. He attracted international attention with the piano piece Black Earth, Op. 8 (1997), in which he employs techniques made popular by John Cage's works for prepared piano.
was inspired by Kara Toprak, a popular song in Turkey. The composer of the song, Asik Veysel (1891-1973), was one of the last great Turkish balladeers and the final link in a thousand-year tradition. Veysel went blind during childhood following an attack of smallpox. He subsequently began to learn to play the Saz, a Turkish lute, and to study poetry, initially for his own amusement. He made acquaintance with a variety of folk poets, and, after 1928, also travelled from village to village with his songs. Through the years, he became a cultural symbol of the Turkish Republic.
In the song Kara Toprak, Veysel describes loneliness and loss. All that remains is the Black Earth, the colour of the landscape in his native town of Sivas.
Fazil Say imitates the sound of the Saz through his selection of a muted effect in the Introduction and Epilogue of Black Earth - a meditation on the themes of a ballad. In contrast, folklore, Romantic piano style and jazz are entwined in the central sections to form a large-scale outburst. Fazil Say performs this works in both concerts of classical music and a jazz festivals: particularly in the folkloristic sections, he employs the improvisatory freedom which is inherent to both folk music and jazz.
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
one of the giants in music history. He was well aware of the unique significance of his oeuvre, otherwise he might not have been able to persevere in creating compositions which for many years met with no success, which were indeed received with animosity. He was a prophet initially admired and supported (even financially) by a relatively small group of disciples. Schönberg and his school may have been seen by contemporaries as a kind of religious sect headed by a guru who expected - and received - total dedication from his followers.
Drei Klavierstücke ("Three Piano Pieces"), Op. 11
is a set of pieces for solo piano written by Schoenberg in 1909. They represent an early example of atonality in the composer's work.
1. Mässige quarter note (at a moderate speed)
2. Mässige eighth note (very slowly)
3. Bewegte eighth note (with motion)