Lang’s entrancingly dark fairy tale packs a tremendous emotional impact into a truly magical performance, sure to be a highlight of the season, made even more profound paired with Mozart: his ingenious piano fantasy and a powerfully intense string quartet.
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ANNE-MARIE MCDERMOTT, PIANO
DOVER QUARTET, STRINGS
ROOMFUL OF TEETH, VOCAL ENSEMBLE
DAVID LANG: The Little Match Girl Passion
MOZART: Fantasy for Solo Piano in D minor
MOZART: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
DAVID LANG: LITTLE MATCH GIRL PASSION
The Little Match Girl Passion for Vocal Octet (2008)
DAVID LANG (BORN IN 1957)
David Lang, born in Los Angeles in 1957, is a graduate of Stanford, University of Iowa and Yale; he joined the Yale faculty in 2008. Among his many honors are a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy Award for The Little Match Girl Passion, Rome Prize, Le Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Musical America’s 2013 Composer of the Year, and holder of the 2013-2014 Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall. In 2016, his Simple Song #3, written for Paolo Sorrentino’s film Youth, was nominated for Golden Globe and Academy Awards. Lang is also co-artistic director of New York’s influential contemporary music collective Bang on a Can.
Lang wrote of The Little Match Girl Passion (2008), “I wanted to tell a story — the story of The Little Match Girl by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. The original is ostensibly for children, and it has that shocking combination of danger and morality that many famous children’s stories do. A poor young girl, whose father beats her, tries unsuccessfully to sell matches on the street, is ignored, and freezes to death. Through it all she somehow retains her Christian purity of spirit, but it is not a pretty story.
“What drew me to The Little Match Girl is that the strength of the story lies not in its plot but in the fact that all its parts — the horror and the beauty — are constantly suffused with their opposites. The girl’s bitter present is locked together with the sweetness of her past memories; her poverty is always suffused with her hopefulness. There is a kind of naive equilibrium between suffering and hope.
“There are many ways to tell this story. What has always interested me, however, is that Andersen tells this story as a kind of parable, drawing a religious and moral equivalency between the suffering of the poor girl and the suffering of Jesus. The girl suffers, is scorned by the crowd, dies, and is transfigured. I wondered what secrets could be unlocked from this story if one took its Christian nature to its conclusion and unfolded it, as composers have traditionally done in musical settings of the Passion of Jesus.
“The Passion told in music can include texts other than the story itself: the reactions of the crowd, penitential thoughts, statements of general sorrow, shock or remorse. These are markers for our own responses, making the audience more than spectators to the sorrowful events. These responses can have a huge range — in Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion, the extra texts range from chorales that his congregation was expected to sing along with to completely invented characters, such as the ‘Daughter of Zion’ and the ‘Chorus of Believers.’ The Passion format — the telling of a story while simultaneously commenting upon it — has the effect of placing us in the middle of the action.
“My Little Match Girl Passion sets Andersen’s The Little Match Girl in the format of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion, interspersing his narrative with my versions of the crowd and character responses from Bach’s Passion. The word ‘passion’ comes from the Latin word for ‘suffering.’ There is no Bach in my piece and there is no Jesus — rather the suffering of the Little Match Girl has been substituted for that of Jesus, elevating (I hope) her sorrow to a higher plane.”
MOZART: FANTASY FOR SOLO PIANO IN D MINOR
Fantasia in D minor for Piano, K. 397 (1782)
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)
Baron Gottfried van Swieten had developed a taste for the contrapuntal glories of German music while serving as ambassador to the Prussian court at Berlin, and when he returned to Vienna as Court Librarian he produced a weekly series of concerts devoted to “ancient music,” mostly Bach and Handel. He hired the best available musicians to perform and arrange the compositions for these events, including Mozart, who used the opportunity to study the fine workings of Baroque music. In addition to the enriched contrapuntal textures that increasingly figured in his compositions, Mozart also discovered from Bach’s preludes, fantasies and toccatas how to fix the evanescence of improvisation into a finished work. He tried out just such a passage of musing, seemingly spontaneous broken chords to begin the Fantasia in D minor he wrote in 1782, and followed that music with a plaintive, chromatically inflected melody. Repetitions of this sad song are twice interrupted by sweeping cadenza-like episodes before the Fantasia takes a small breath and trots off with a melody of opera buffa jocularity.
MOZART: STRING QUARTET IN D MINOR, K. 421
String Quartet in D minor, K. 421, “Haydn No. 2” (1783)
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
“One of his most ferociously earnest works” is how John N. Burk characterized Mozart’s D minor Quartet of June 1783. The concentrated opening movement begins with a melancholy theme begun with a falling interval; the lyrical subsidiary subject is presented in a brighter tonality. A tiny repeated-note figuration heard at the close of the exposition in the first violin serves as a motto that recurs in later movements. The development is noteworthy for its intricate thematic working-out and harmonic daring. The recapitulation proceeds as expected, though this deeply expressive music is anything but ordinary. The simplicity of the Andante’s structure (A–B–A) belies its deep well of expression. The turbulent Menuetto has a music-box trio of almost startling contrast. The finale is a set of variations on a sad melody in the meter of a siciliano.
ANNE-MARIE MCDERMOTT, piano
Pianist and Bravo! Vail Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott is a consummate artist who balances a versatile career as a soloist and collaborator. She performs over 100 concerts a year in a combination of solo recitals, concerti, and chamber music.
DOVER QUARTET, strings
Recently named the Cleveland Quartet Award winner, and awarded the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Dover Quartet has become one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world.
ROOMFUL OF TEETH, vocal project
Roomful of Teeth is a GRAMMY-winning vocal project dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice.
ANNE-MARIE MCDERMOTT, piano
Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott is a consummate artist who balances a versatile career as a soloist and collaborator. She performs over 100 concerts a year in a combination of solo recitals, concerti and chamber music. Her repertoire choices are eclectic, spanning from Bach and Haydn to Prokofiev and Scriabin to Kernis, Hartke, Tower and Wuorinen.
With over 50 concerti in her repertoire, Ms. McDermott has performed with many leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Seattle Symphony, National Symphony, Houston Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Moscow Virtuosi, Hong Kong Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, New Jersey Symphony and Baltimore Symphony among others. Ms. McDermott has toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Moscow Virtuosi.
In the recent seasons, Ms. McDermott performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Huntsville Symphony, Alabama Symphony, San Diego Symphony, the Oregon Mozart Players, and the New Century Chamber Orchestra.
Recital engagements have included the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully Hall, Town Hall, The Schubert Club, Kennedy Center, as well as universities across the country. Anne-Marie McDermott has curated and performed in a number of intense projects including: the Complete Prokofiev Piano Sonatas and Chamber Music, a Three Concert Series of Shostakovich Chamber Music, as well as a recital series of Haydn and Beethoven Piano Sonatas. Most recently, she commissioned works of Charles Wuorinen and Clarice Assad which were premiered in May 2009 at Town Hall, in conjunction with Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
As a soloist, Ms. McDermott has recorded the complete Prokofiev Piano Sonatas, Bach English Suites and Partitas (which was named Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice), and most recently, Gershwin Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra with the Dallas Symphony and Justin Brown.
In addition to her many achievements and association with Bravo! Vail, McDermott is also Artistic Director of two other festivals; The Ocean Reef Chamber Music Festival in the Florida Keys and The Avila Chamber Music Celebration in Curaçao, off the coast of Venezuela.
As a chamber music performer, Anne-Marie McDermott was named an artist member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 1995 and performs and tours extensively with them each season. She also continues a long standing collaboration with the highly acclaimed violinist, Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg. As a duo, they have released a CD titled “Live” on the NSS label and plan to release the Complete Brahms Violin and Piano Sonatas in the future. Ms. McDermott is also a member of the renowned piano quartet, Opus One, with colleagues Ida Kavafian, Steven Tenenbom and Peter Wiley.
She continues to perform each season with her sisters, Maureen McDermott and Kerry McDermott in the McDermott Trio. Ms. McDermott has also released an all Schumann CD with violist, Paul Neubauer, as well as the Complete Chamber Music of Debussy with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Ms. McDermott studied at the Manhattan School of Music with Dalmo Carra, Constance Keene and John Browning. She was a winner of the Young Concert Artists auditions and was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant.
In addition to her duties at Bravo! Vail, Anne-Marie McDermott regularly performs at Festivals across the United States including Spoleto, Mainly Mozart, Sante Fe, La Jolla Summerfest, Mostly Mozart, Newport, Caramoor, Chamber Music Northwest, Aspen, Music from Angelfire, and the Festival Casals in Puerto Rico, among others.
Photo: Zach Mahone
DOVER QUARTET, strings
The phenomenal Dover Quartet catapulted to international stardom following a stunning sweep of the 2013 Banff Competition. Recently named the Cleveland Quartet Award winner, and awarded the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Dover has become one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. The Quartet’s rise from up-and-coming young ensemble to occupying a spot at the top of their field has been “practically meteoric” (Strings). With its burnished warmth, incisive rhythms, and natural phrasing, the Quartet’s distinctive sound has helped confirm its status as “the young American string quartet of the moment” (New Yorker). The Quartet serves as the quartet-in-residence for the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.
In 2017-18 the Dover Quartet performs more than a hundred concerts around North America and Europe. The Quartet opens the season with performances for Texas Performing Arts, Chamber Music Houston, and Performance Santa Fe before appearing for the Kennedy Center, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Library of Congress, Detroit Chamber Music Society, the La Jolla Music Society, and throughout North America and Europe. The Quartet will perform together with the superstar violinist Janine Jansen and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, and will also continue multi-year residencies for the Walton Arts Center’s Artosphere, Peoples’ Symphony, and the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival.
Cedille Records releases the Quartet’s sophomore album, entitled Voices of Defiance: 1943, 1944, 1945 in October 2017. The recording takes listeners on a powerful journey through works written during World War II by Viktor Ullmann, Dimitri Shostakovich, and Simon Laks. The 2016-17 season saw the release of its all-Mozart debut recording on the Cedille label, a nod to the 1965 debut album of the Guarneri Quartet, whose founding violist, Michael Tree, joined the Dover Quartet on the recording.
In addition, the group undertook three complete Beethoven quartet cycles, including the University at Buffalo’s famous “Slee Cycle,” which has presented annual Beethoven quartet cycles since 1955 and has featured the likes of the Budapest, Guarneri, and Cleveland Quartets. Rounding out the Quartet’s season were a five-city U.S. tour with bassist-composer Edgar Meyer, a tour of the West Coast with mandolinist Avi Avital, and a European tour. The 2015-16 season included debuts at Carnegie Hall, Yale University, the Lucerne Festival, and as part of the
Lincoln Center “Great Performers” series. Festival appearances have taken the ensemble to the Bard Music Festival, Music at Menlo, La Jolla SummerFest, Artosphere, Chamber Music Northwest, and Caramoor, where the Quartet was named the 2013-14 Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence. The group’s world-class collaborators have included pianists Anne-Marie McDermott, Marc-André Hamelin, Peter Serkin, and Jon Kimura Parker; clarinetist David Shifrin; violists Roberto Díaz and Cynthia Phelps; and the Pacifica and Escher Quartets.
In the spring of 2016, the Dover Quartet was recognized with the Hunt Family Award, one of the inaugural Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Awards, and in past years has taken top prizes at the Fischoff Competition and the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. All four Quartet members are consummate solo artists: first violinist Joel Link took first prize at the Menuhin Competition; violinist Bryan Lee and violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt have appeared as soloists with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Tokyo Philharmonic, respectively; and cellist Camden Shaw released a solo album debut on the Unipheye Music label. As Strad magazine observes, “With their exceptional interpretative maturity, tonal refinement, and taut ensemble,” the Dover Quartet is “pulling away from their peers.”
Hailed as “the next Guarneri Quartet” (Chicago Tribune), the Dover Quartet draws from the lineage of that distinguished ensemble, as well that of the Cleveland and Vermeer Quartets; its members studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where they were mentored extensively by Shmuel Ashkenasi, James Dunham, Norman Fischer, Kenneth Goldsmith, Joseph Silverstein, Arnold Steinhardt, Michael Tree, and Peter Wiley. It was at Curtis that the Quartet first formed, and its name pays tribute to Dover Beach by fellow Curtis alumnus Samuel Barber. The group has since returned for residencies to Rice in 2011-13, and to Curtis, where it became the conservatory’s first Quartet-in-Residence, in 2013-14. In addition, in 2015 the Dover was appointed the first Resident Ensemble of Peoples’ Symphony Concerts in the 116-year history of New York City’s oldest concert series.
The Dover Quartet is dedicated to sharing its music with under-served communities and is actively involved with Music for Food, an initiative enabling musicians to raise resources and awareness in the fight against hunger.
Photo: Carlin Ma
ROOMFUL OF TEETH, vocal project
Roomful of Teeth is a GRAMMY-winning vocal project dedicated to reimagining the expressive potential of the human voice. Through study with masters from vocal traditions the world over, the eight-voice ensemble continually expands its vocabulary of singing techniques and, through an ongoing commissioning process, forges a new repertoire without borders.
Founded in 2009 by Brad Wells, Roomful of Teeth gathers annually at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, Massachusetts, where they’ve studied with some of the world’s top performers and teachers in Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, Broadway belting, Inuit throat singing, Korean P’ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music, Persian classical singing and Death Metal singing. Collaborators include Rinde Eckert, Fred Hersch, Glenn Kotche, Merrill Garbus (of tUnE-yArDs), William Brittelle, ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble), Nick Zammuto (of The Books), Toby Twining, ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), Ted Hearne, Silk Road Ensemble and Ambrose Akinmusire, among many others.
Photo: Bonica Ayala
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