Concerts of Thursday, March 28, Friday, March 29, and Saturday Download

Concerts of Thursday, March 28, Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30, 2013,
at 8:00pm.
Michael Morgan, Conductor
Yevgeny Sudbin, Piano
Benedikt Brydern (b. 1966)
Double Identity (2010)
I. Driving
II. Lento ma non troppo
III. Vivo
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Opus 54 (1939)
I. Largo
II. Allegro
III. Presto
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 23 (1875)
I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso; Allegro con spirito
II. Andantino simplice
III. Allegro con fuoco
Yevgeny Sudbin, Piano
Notes on the Program by Ken Meltzer
Double Identity (2010)
Benedikt Brydern was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, on January 30, 1966. The first
performance of Double Identity took place at the Paramount Theater in Oakland,
California, in April 16, 2010, with Michael Morgan conducting the Oakland East
Bay Symphony. Double Identity is scored for piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two
clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, drum set
and strings. Approximate performance time is sixteen minutes.
These are the first ASO Classical Subscription Performances.
Benedikt Brydern
Benedikt Brydern studied violin and piano at the Richard Strauss-Academy of Music in
Munich, Germany. He undertook private composition studies with Rumanian composer
Stefan Zorzor.
Mr. Brydern was selected out of 1000 applicants for the Schleswig-Holstein Music
Festival to perform in the Festival Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Bernstein in
1988. He returned to the Festival in 1990 to be part in the TV series “Orchestra!”, hosted
by Sir Georg Solti and Dudley Moore.
After graduation in 1992, Benedikt Brydern received a Rotary International
Ambassadorial Scholarship to continue his studies in the United States, where he
completed the Advanced Studies Program, “Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television,”
at the prestigious USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles. Among the instructors
were Elmer Bernstein, Christopher Young, David Raksin and Bruce Broughton. During
his year at USC, Mr. Brydern won an additional scholarship, sponsored by BMI.
Since that time, Benedikt Brydern composed the music for Jon Voight’s film, The Tin
Soldier, the Miramax Documentary, Rhyme & Reason, and several award-winning
independent feature films.
Mr. Brydern won two Marmor Composition Awards, sponsored by the Stanford
University Music Department, and the 2002 William Lincer Foundation Chamber Music
Competition. In 2004, the Composer’s Symposium at the Bach Festival in Eugene, OR,
commissioned Mr. Brydern to compose a string trio in honor of George Crumb’s 75th
Besides being a classically-trained concert violinist, Benedikt Brydern co-founded the
“Hot Club Quartette,” which pays tribute to the great music of legendary guitarist Django
Reinhardt, and violinist Stephane Grappelli. Mr. Brydern owns a 1910 Stroh-viol, which
he uses in “Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys” vintage band, and a custom-built electric
violin for blues, rock and pop engagements.
As a Past President of the Rotary Club of Hollywood, and a 10-year board member of the
Harmony Project—a non profit organization providing free music lessons to more than
1500 low-income children in the Los Angeles area, Benedikt Brydern connects with the
community, and shares his passion and love for music.
For more information, visit Benedikt Brydern’s website:
Double Identity
Benedikt Brydern offers the following comments on his orchestral work, Double Identity:
This composition was commissioned by the Oakland East Bay Symphony,
with a grant by the James Irvine Foundation, and premiered in April,
2010, at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA, under the baton of
Michael Morgan.
“Double Identity” is my third composition with the objective in bringing
Swing Jazz/Bebop music into a classical setting. A few years back, a
renowned chamber music ensemble in Heilbronn, Germany,
commissioned a piece featuring all instruments employed that evening;
String Quartet, Piano, Drums, Bass, Alto Saxophone and Trombone for a
Grand Finale. Billed as “Orjazztral – musical border crossings,” the
program featured Darius Milhaud’s piece “La Création du Monde,” its
early jazz influences masterfully absorbed, as well as other “cross-over”
I embarked on a fun journey blending classical forms and development
techniques with Bebop and a nostalgic Hollywood sound. Due to the
chamber music size, its transparency and agility, jazz idioms and phrasing
are easier to translate than in comparison to a 80-piece symphony. To
make 60 string players phrase and “swing” like the French jazz violinist
Stephane Grappelli is not an easy task.
There have been numerous attempts by renowned composers to bring the
two worlds together in one way or another. George Antheil's very
“classically” built Jazz Symphony from 1925 commissioned by Paul
Whiteman couldn’t be more different than the “Symphonic Duke
Ellington” which incorporated a full Jazz Big Band into an orchestra.
I. Driving—“Double Identity” starts off with a quick “teaser” in 5/4 meter,
sort of a fanfare and leads to the introduction of the “theme” in the double
basses. Based on a traditional “cliché” walking bass line over a swing
groove, this theme is being picked up by the cellos, violas and violins and
will be transformed throughout the remainder of the first movement.
Fragments of it appear here and there in all instrument groups, until it
reappears in a slow and more traditional symphonic gesture towards the
end. Our “opening fanfare” also closes the first movement.
II. Lento ma non troppo—The second movement (in 3/4 time) can be
considered a slow Ballad, and presents the “tune” in a high register
Bassoon, after an intro with muted strings. This theme moves through
different keys and colors until it sets up a short and “bluesy” Passacaglia
(form based on a Bass-Ostinato) which continues to build in volume and
mass until a final stop on the “diabolus in musica,” the tritone.
III. Vivo—Immediately the strings kick off the final movement with the
theme from the second movement in a rhythmic variation. Several
sections showcase various instrument groups with improvisations on the
theme, taking it back home in a joyous and exciting coda.
—Benedikt Brydern
Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Opus 54 (1939)
Dmitri Shostakovich was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on September 25, 1906,
and died in Moscow, Russia, on August 9, 1975. The first performance of the
Symphony No. 6 took place in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) on November 5, 1939,
with Evgeny Mravinsky conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic. The Symphony
No. 6 is scored for piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, E-flat clarinet, three
clarinets, bass clarinet, three bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets,
three trombones, tuba, timpani, xylophone, tam-tam, military drum, triangle,
tambourine, cymbals, suspended cymbals, bass drum, harp, celeste and strings.
Approximate performance time is thirty-two minutes.
First ASO Classical Subscription Performances: December 4, 5 and 6, 1975,
Leonard Slatkin, Conductor.
Most Recent ASO Classical Subscription Performances: September 28, 29, and 30,
2000, Paavo Järvi, Conductor.
More than seventy years after its premiere, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6
remains an enigmatic work. In 1936, Shostakovich’s controversial opera, Lady Macbeth
of Mtsensk, incurred the wrath of the Communist party and its tyrannical Secretary
General, Joseph Stalin. Pravda, the official Communist newspaper, branded Lady
Macbeth—with its dissonant music, explicit sexuality, and biting social satire—as
“Muddle Instead of Music.” Shostakovich, long considered one of the bright lights
among young Soviet composers, instantly became a Communist persona non grata.
However, Shostakovich redeemed himself the following year with the premiere of his
Symphony No. 5. The Fifth Symphony’s relatively traditional mode of expression and
(at least seemingly) triumphant finale pleased both the Soviet public and the Communist
Shostakovich announced that his next Symphony would be a tribute to former Soviet
Premier Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Shostakovich envisioned a grand work, featuring large
orchestral and choral forces. However, the composer acknowledged: “To embody in art
the gigantic figure of this leader is going to be an incredibly difficult task…(I am
thinking) only of the general theme, the general idea of the work. I have pondered long
over the means of dealing with this theme in music…”
Finally, Shostakovich abandoned the concept of a monumental “Lenin” Symphony.
Instead, he focused his energies upon a purely orchestral Symphony No. 6, which he
composed between April and October of 1939. The Symphony received its premiere on
November 5 of that year, performed by the Leningrad Philharmonic under the direction
of the composer’s friend and champion, the Russian maestro Evgeny Mravinsky.
Both the Soviet audience and press were confused by the new Symphony. Instead of the
traditional, quick-tempo opening movement, the Shostakovich Sixth begins with an
expansive, heart-rending Largo. The Symphony then concludes with two brief
movements. In fact, the Largo covers a greater time span than the remaining two
movements combined. And in juxtaposition with the intensity of the opening Largo, the
two brief closing movements have a playful spirit that, at times, borders on the frivolous.
Shostakovich offered no specific program for his Symphony No. 6. Shostakovich
biographers who have tried to grapple with the meaning of this fascinating work have
reached widely varying conclusions. Vladimir Martinov interprets the opening
movement as a depiction of the sadness of life during the Tsarist regime, while the finale
radiates the joy of the Russian people in the post-Revolutionary era. In the controversial
Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, Solomon Volkov claims to quote the
composer as stating that the opening of the Sixth Symphony reflected his troubled state of
mind during the Lady Macbeth scandal. In The New Shostakovich, Ian MacDonald cites
that excerpt from Testimony, and further posits that the conclusion of the Symphony
constitutes a sort of passive-aggressive response to government criticism: “The Soviet
authorities had demanded light music and they were getting it: light music with a
To the extent any piece of music has a “meaning” that may be articulated by the written
or spoken word, the message of the Shostakovich Sixth remains an elusive one. But it is
precisely the elusive nature of the Shostakovich Sixth that, perhaps, makes it such a
challenging and fascinating work, for both the interpreter and the listener.
Musical Analysis
I. Largo—The English horn, clarinets, bassoons, violas and cellos immediately intone the
Largo’s initial theme, marked espressivo. Soon, the flutes, E-flat clarinet, and violins
play the wide-ranging second theme. Each of the themes undergoes repetition and
transformation throughout the orchestra. A solo trumpet offers a bold repetition of the
initial theme, leading to a series of stark, descending orchestral trills. The English horn
plays a melancholy, dotted-rhythm theme (Poco più mosso e poco rubato). An extended
sequence follows, notable for its restrained pathos and exquisite woodwind colors. A
magical combination of solo horn and celeste (Sostenuto) heralds the varied
recapitulation of the opening theme. Echoes of the English horn melody return in the
closing measures. The Largo resolves to a pianissimo sequence for trilling violas, joined
by the remaining strings, harp and timpani, as the music fades to silence.
II. Allegro—An E-flat (piccolo) clarinet, accompanied by pizzicato strings, introduces the
scurrying opening theme of the second-movement scherzo. The violins present a
graceful ascending motif that inspires raucous commentary from the flute and E-flat
clarinet. The winds launch a central episode that hurtles to a violent climax. The timpani
inaugurates the subdued recapitulation of the opening scherzo, with the initial theme now
played in contrary motion by the flute and bass clarinet. The scherzo concludes with the
winds’ hushed, ascending chromatic passage.
III. Presto—The first violins immediately present the finale’s galloping principal theme.
The bassoons, contrabassoon and basses introduce a lumbering triple-time figure that
builds to a violent danse macabre. A brief, reflective interlude spotlights the solo winds.
A violin launches the recapitulation of the finale’s principal theme. The horns’ pesante
restatement of the triple-time dance melody is now cast in four. The momentum builds,
finally culminating in a boisterous march.
Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 23 (1875)
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Russia, on May 7, 1840,
and died in St. Petersburg, Russia, on November 6, 1893. The first performance of
the Piano Concerto No. 1 took place in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 25, 1875,
with Hans von Bülow as soloist. In addition to the solo piano, the Concerto is scored
for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets,
three trombones, timpani and strings. Approximate performance time is thirty-six
First ASO Classical Subscription Performance: November 17, 1953, Leonard
Pennario, Piano, Henry Sopkin, Conductor.
Most Recent ASO Classical Subscription Performances: April 8, 9 and 10, 2010,
Barry Douglas, Piano, Vasily Petrenko, Conductor.
ASO Recording: (Telarc CD: 80386) André Watts, Piano, Yoel Levi, Conductor.
Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, and the First Piano Concerto
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed his First Piano Concerto in the span of approximately
seven weeks, completing it on January 2, 1875. Three days after putting the finishing
touches on the work, Tchaikovsky played his new Concerto for Nikolai Rubinstein—
head of the Moscow Conservatory, and a superb concert pianist. Tchaikovsky, then a
professor at the Conservatory, hoped that Rubinstein would agree to be the soloist in the
Concerto’s premiere.
Nikolai Rubinstein was not impressed with Tchaikovsky’s new composition. In a letter
to his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck dated February 2, 1878, Tchaikovsky described the
encounter. Written three years after the episode, the letter reflects that Rubinstein’s
verbal assault was seared in the composer’s memory.
A “Worthless” and “Unplayable” Concerto
The meeting between Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein took place at the Conservatory, prior
to a Christmas Eve party (Russian Christmas occurs, according to the Western calendar,
on January 7). Tchaikovsky began to play his new Concerto, all the while anxiously
awaiting Rubinstein’s comments:
I played the first movement. Not a single word, not a single comment! If
only you could have known how foolish, how intolerable is the position of
a man when he offers his friend food he has prepared, and his friend eats it
and says nothing. Say something, if only to tear it to pieces with
constructive criticism—but for God’s sake, just one kind word, even if not
of praise! Rubinstein was preparing his thunder….
Rubinstein’s eloquent silence had tremendous significance. It was as
though he was saying to me: “My friend, can I talk about details when the
very essence of the thing disgusts me?” I fortified my patience, and
played on to the end. Again silence.
Finally, Tchaikovsky rose from the piano and, summoning his courage, asked Rubinstein:
“Well?” It was then that there began to flow from Nikolay Grigoryevich’s
mouth a stream of words, quiet at first, but subsequently assuming more
and more the tone of Jove, the Thunderer. It appeared that my concerto
was worthless, that it was unplayable, that passages were trite, awkward,
and so clumsy that it was impossible to put them right, that as composition
it was bad and tawdry, that I had filched this bit from here and that bit
from there, and there were only two or three pages that could be retained,
and that the rest would have to be scrapped or completely revised. “Take
this, for instance—whatever is it?” (at this point he plays the passage
concerned, caricaturing it). “And this? Is this really possible?”—and so
on, and so on. I can’t convey to you the most significant thing—that is,
the tone in which all this was delivered. In a word, any outsider who
chanced to come into the room might have thought that I was an imbecile,
an untalented scribbler who understood nothing, who had come to an
eminent musician to pester him with his rubbish…
The devastated Tchaikovsky hurried out of the room and proceeded upstairs. Rubinstein
followed Tchaikovsky:
and, noticing my distraught state, drew me aside into a different room.
There he told me again that my concerto was impossible, and after
pointing out to me a lot of places that required radical change, he said that
if by such-and-such a date I would revise the concerto in accordance with
his demands, then he would bestow upon me the honour of playing my
piece in a concert of his.
By this point, Tchaikovsky had more than his fill of Rubinstein’s comments: “‘I won’t
change a single note,’ I replied, ‘and I’ll publish it just as it is now!’”
An American Connection
The distinguished German conductor and pianist, Hans von Bülow, was the soloist in the
first performance of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto. Tchaikovsky had long
admired Bülow, and dedicated the Concerto to him. Hans von Bülow gave the
Concerto’s premiere while on an American concert tour. And so, one of the most
beloved Russian piano concertos received its first performance on October 25, 1875—not
in Tchaikovsky’s homeland, but in Boston, Massachusetts.
The American audiences immediately responded with tremendous enthusiasm to a work
that remains one of the most treasured in the entire repertoire. As Tchaikovsky reported:
“Each time Bülow was obliged to repeat the whole finale of my concerto! Nothing like
that happens in our country.”
Tchaikovsky later did pen some revisions to the Concerto, both for the score’s
publication in 1879, and for a new, 1889 edition. In time, Nikolai Rubinstein finally
reversed his scathing opinion of Tchaikovsky’s Concerto, and even became one of its
greatest interpreters.
Musical Analysis
I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso; Allegro con spirito—The horns proclaim a
descending figure, punctuated by orchestral chords. This horn figure heralds one of the
most famous melodies in all of concert music—played by the strings, to vigorous
accompaniment by the soloist (this melody also became the basis for the popular song,
Tonight We Love). The soloist’s brilliant repetition of the melody is followed by a
virtuoso cadenza. Once again, the strings reprise the melody. Finally, the mood calms,
resolving to a series of hushed brass fanfares, and a brief pause.
That famous sequence is prelude to the central portion of the opening movement (Allegro
con spirito), which opens with a tripping theme—introduced by the soloist, and based
upon a Ukrainian folksong. The theme journeys throughout the orchestra, finally
returning to the soloist. The second theme group consists of a pair of melodies,
introduced in turn by the winds (Poco meno mosso) and muted strings (a tempo
tranquillo). This second theme group is given an extended, diversified treatment. The
principal themes confront each other in the fiery development section. The varied
recapitulation leads to an extended solo cadenza, followed by the coda that serves to
bring the opening movement to a thundering close.
II. Andantino simplice—Muted pizzicato accompany the solo flute’s dolcissimo
introduction of the slow movement’s principal melody. The soloist repeats and
elaborated the melody. A gossamer scherzo-like episode (Prestissimo) precedes a reprise
of the opening section, and a hushed conclusion.
III. Allegro con fuoco—The finale opens with a brief introduction by the strings and
winds, offering hints of the recurring principal theme of the rondo finale. That theme,
introduced in full by the soloist, is once again based upon a Ukrainian folk tune. The
violins sing a contrasting, graceful melody. It is the latter melody that makes a glorious
appearance at the work’s conclusion, capped by the soloist and orchestra’s dash to the