CARNEGIE HALL PRESENTS

Performance Saturday, December 14, 2013 | 8 PM

Anne-Sophie Mutter
Lambert Orkis

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
“The brilliant violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter … has a gift for juxtaposing new and standard works in a way that illuminates both,” giving “a sense of classical music as vibrantly alive, with exciting relationships between old and new” (The New York Times). Hear for yourself when the gifted musician performs classic works by Schubert and Saint-Saëns alongside the world premiere of André Previn’s Second Violin Sonata and the world premiere of a new work by Krzysztof Penderecki.

The contemporary works on this program are part of My Time, My Music.
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The Program

WITOLD LUTOSŁAWSKI
Partita for Violin and Piano

About the Composer


Witold Lutosławski emerged after World War II alongside Krzysztof Penderecki as a leader of the vibrant Polish avant garde. Born in 1913, he was influenced by the Romantic idiom of Chopin and Karol Szymanowski, seasoned with liberal dashes of French Impressionism and the spiky modernism of Stravinsky and Bartók. After his First Symphony of 1947 was banned by the Communist authorities, he salvaged his career by writing ideologically acceptable music under a pseudonym. Only with the rise of the democratic Solidarity movement in the 1980s—in which he played a highly visible role—did he receive the recognition at home that he had long enjoyed abroad.


About the Work


Lutosławski wrote his Partita for violinist Pinchas Zukerman and pianist Marc Neikrug, who gave the premiere in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1985. Three years later, he produced a version for violin and orchestra at the behest of Anne-Sophie Mutter. In an interview, Lutosławski recalled hearing Ms. Mutter play the Partita in London and being "shaken as never before in my life. Every single note, every single phrase bore a profound sense. Well, I knew all the notes—I had written them myself. And nevertheless it was simply impossible to make out how they could be interpreted the way she did it! I had never imagined that I should ever hear such a perfect performance of my music."


A Closer Listen


Inspired by the forms and procedures associated with the instrumental suites of the Baroque era, the Partita consists of five movements symmetrically arrayed around a majestic central Largo. The first and last movements are mostly fast, often furious, and precisely notated, in contrast to the meandering, quasi-improvisatory character of the second and fourth movements. (Lutosławski specifies that "the violin and piano parts should not be coordinated in any way" in these brief connecting interludes.) Shifting, kaleidoscopic patterns and toccata-like torrents of notes, reminiscent of Baroque keyboard music, consort with richly expressive lyrical passages, watery glissandos, and subtle chiaroscuro effects to produce a captivating tour de force.


—Harry Haskell

© 2013 The Carnegie Hall Corporation

FRANZ SCHUBERT
Fantasie for Piano and Violin in C Major, D. 934

About the Composer


Despite Schubert's rapidly deteriorating health and recurring bouts of depression, he produced one masterpiece after another in the last year or so of his all-too-short life. In addition to the two piano trios that cemented his reputation as Beethoven's peer in the realm of chamber music, these late works include the brooding song cycle Winterreise, the effervescent concert aria Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, the last three piano sonatas, the great String Quintet in C Major, and the brilliantly virtuosic Fantasie for Piano and Violin in C Major.


About the Work


Composed in December 1827, the Fantasie was intended first of all for Schubert's circle of friends—artists, writers, musicians, and others who gathered in private homes and public houses throughout Vienna for fellowship and music making. At these intimate reading sessions, the composer was assured of a sympathetic reception for his work. Public performances were another matter. When violinist Josef Slavik and pianist Carl Maria von Bocklet premiered the C-Major Fantasie on January 20, 1828, one newspaper commented that the piece "occupied rather too much of the time a Viennese is prepared to devote to pleasures of the mind. The hall emptied gradually …"


A Closer Listen


The Fantasie is indeed of substantial, almost sonata-like proportions, and its corresponding wealth of themes showcases Schubert's unflagging melodic genius. The work's centerpiece is a set of mesmerizing variations on a song he had written several years earlier; the radiant, majestic tune in A-flat major catches the listener by surprise after the playful antics of the preceding Allegretto in A minor. That, in turn, is preceded by a magical introduction in which the violin's soaring melody is enmeshed in a web of shimmering tremolos in the piano. As is often the case in Schubert's music, the flickering interplay of lyricism and drama is enhanced by the juxtaposition of major and minor keys.


—Harry Haskell

© 2013 The Carnegie Hall Corporation

KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI
La Follia for Solo Violin

About the Composer


Krzysztof Penderecki became the public face of the Polish avant garde in the 1960s with works such as the harrowing Threnody for string orchestra (better known by its subtitle, "To the Victims of Hiroshima," although the original inspiration had nothing to do with the atom bomb) and the Baroque-influenced St. Luke Passion. Known for his use of dense, expressionistic textures and "extended" instrumental techniques, Penderecki showed a penchant for drama in the opera The Devils of Loudun, the oratorio Polish Requiem, and other works. Over the past three decades, he has cultivated a more lyrical and Romantic language, often incorporating elements of historical styles.


About the Work


La Follia (or folia, Italian for "madness") takes its cue from a popular dance form of the 17th and 18th centuries. Like the numerous chaconnes, passacaglias, and other ground basses that provided structural foundations for many Baroque works, the folia was based on a repeating chord progression; it was often associated with ostinato-type melodies and rhythms, as well. Penderecki—who at one time planned to pursue a career as a concert violinist—explains that he originally called La Follia a chaconne, but changed his mind upon reflecting that "it took chutzpah" to compete with Bach's great Chaconne in D Minor for solo violin.


A Closer Listen


Penderecki uses the folia pattern as the theme of a set of variations designed to showcase both the performer's skill and the composer's ingenuity. The nine variations range from a lively, Polish-style dance to a tranquil, contrapuntal adagio reminiscent of Bach's solo violin suites. In the work's opening section, the violinist introduces the characteristic long-short-long rhythm of the folia in a sequence of descending figures played pizzicato. Here and elsewhere, Penderecki highlights the intervals of the half-step and tritone, imparting a sinuous, chromatic flavor to the music. (The same intervals played a prominent role in his First Violin Concerto, written in the mid-1970s.) After a climactic burst of bravura fireworks, the work circles back to its beginning on a low F.


—Harry Haskell

© 2013 The Carnegie Hall Corporation

ANDRÉ PREVIN
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2

About the Composer


A multitalented composer, conductor, pianist, and arranger, André Previn is at home in the worlds of jazz, film, and popular music, as well as the classical concert hall and opera house. Born in Berlin, he emigrated with his family to the United States in 1939 and gravitated to Hollywood, where he worked as a highly successful movie composer and orchestrator. He subsequently gained fame as a jazz and classical pianist, took the podiums of several major American and European orchestras, and produced a steady stream of symphonies, concertos, and chamber music, as well as two operas, A Streetcar Named Desire and Brief Encounter.


About the Work


Previn's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 was commissioned by Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Klavier-Festival Ruhr. (He wrote his First Sonata in 1994 for Gil Shaham.) Previn and Mutter were divorced in 2006 after four years of marriage, but their artistic partnership continues to thrive. Over the past decade, she has given the premieres of several of his works, including the Violin Concerto (subtitled "Anne-Sophie"), Tango Song and Dance, and two double concertos that pair the violin with bass and viola, respectively.


A Closer Listen


Like most of Previn's music, the Second Violin Sonata is tuneful, accessible, and infused with an exuberant, often jazzy rhythmic drive. The titles of the three movements—"Joyous," "Desolate," and "Brilliant, quasi cadenza"—outline an emotional arc that mirrors the classical symmetry of the traditional sonata. This formal coherence is subtly reinforced by repetitions of themes and motifs. For instance, the incisive four-note melodic figure that the violin plays at the very beginning of the sonata—a descending major triad with an added filler note—returns later in the first movement in elongated note values; it also underpins much of the mildly dissonant but essentially triadic harmony. Although Previn gives each instrument extended and frequently virtuosic solos, it is the work's engagingly conversational quality that makes the strongest impression.


—Harry Haskell

© 2013 The Carnegie Hall Corporation

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 75

About the Composer


Today, Saint-Saëns's fame rests on the "Organ" Symphony, the opera Samson et Dalila, the Carnival of the Animals, and a handful of other works. But he was a towering figure in French music in the late 19th century. His celebrated rivalry with Jules Massenet had more to do with politics than art, for they spoke essentially the same musical language. An aesthetic conservative, Saint-Saëns railed against Debussy's innovations but accepted his fate with apparent equanimity. He said he foresaw a day when "music as we know it today will be like a dead language whose masterpieces survive but which is no longer spoken." 


About the Work


Saint-Saëns had a special affinity for the violin, stemming from his first meeting with Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate in the late 1850s. It was for Sarasate that he composed two of his three concertos for the instrument, as well as the perennially popular Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A Minor. The Sonata in D Minor, written in 1885, is dedicated to Belgian violinist Martin Pierre Marsick, whose pupils included Jacques Thibaud and Carl Flesch. Novelist Marcel Proust famously alludes to the sonata in Remembrance of Things Past, where it is ascribed to the fictional composer Vinteuil, a composite portrait of Saint-Saëns and several of his contemporaries.


A Closer Listen


The opening of the Allegro agitato explores two basic musical ideas: a turbulent theme in restlessly flowing triplets and a second subject of a more lyrical, but no less passionate, character. (The latter is Proust's "little theme of Vinteuil.") A sustained B-flat in the violin serves as a bridge to the meditative Adagio section, characterized by chaste harmonies and graceful melodic arabesques. The Allegretto moderato starts off at a more leisurely pace; the tone is understated, the texture delicate and ethereal. After a while, the music seems to wind down, the pianist plays a series of quiet chords, and suddenly the violinist tears off at breakneck speed. Saint-Saëns combines this scintillating moto perpetuo ("perpetual motion") with a reminiscence of the "Vinteuil" theme in a kind of grand summation, and the work ends in a bright burst of D major.


—Harry Haskell

© 2013 The Carnegie Hall Corporation

This performance is part of Great Artists I, and Great Violin and Piano Soloists.

Part of

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