10, 2002 at 3pm
Anniversary, Part 1
WALLACE: The Book of Five
Wallace has written for opera, theater, concert hall, film and
ballet. His unconventional and highly theatrical body of work is at
once intensely rhythmic, melodic, irreverent and emotionally
compelling. He was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera, New York
City Opera and San Francisco Opera to write Harvey Milk, his fifth
full-length opera and most widely known score. With a libretto by
longtime collaborator Michael Korie and directed by Christopher
Alden, the 1995 world premiere in Houston. The work was recorded on
Teldec with Donald Runnicles conducting the San Francisco Opera.
Earlier this season, Wallace's Gorilla in a Cage had its New York
premiere here at Carnegie Hall with Leonard Slatkin conducting the
National Symphony and Evelyn Glennie as the soloist. Slatkin and
Glennie previously performed the American premiere at the Kennedy
Center. The first of three works written for Glennie, Gorilla was
commissioned by Steven Sloane and premiered with the Bochum Symphony
Wallace works include Yiddisher Teddy Bears, his second collaboration
with writer-director Richard Foreman which was developed last summer
at Sundance; and Skvera for Electric Guitar and Orchestra for Marc
Ribot and the National Symphony with Leonard Slatkin conducting.
Stewart Wallace is Music Alive Composer-in-Residence at the National
Symphony for 2001-2002.
Book of Five Wallace says:
The Book of Five
is dedicated to my friend and colleague Steven Sloane. It was written
for him and because of him. Initially, it was inspired by Harold
Bloom's THE BOOK OF J which posits that the earliest author of the
bible was a woman in King David's court. Events both international
and personal intervened, altering the content and intent of the work,
though the five movement structure remains.
composing shortly before the Trade Center attack. After September 11,
I felt I had to respond in some way through my work and in order to
be able to continue working. This was not to be a grand statement,
but a deeply personal one. The central movement is subtitled
September 11, 2001 and features strings and chimes with antiphonal
elements in the orchestra. The soloists, Icebreaker, are noticeably
absent. At the time my wife was 8 months pregnant, and I was
despairing about bringing a child into the world. On September 18,
2001, exactly one week after the attack, our son Lucas was born -
five weeks early. The date is significant for reasons aside from the
fact that it's his birthday.
was also the postmark on the anthrax letter to NBC News where my wife
works. Had Lucas not been born then, she (and he) surely would have
gone through rounds of severe antibiotics not to mention the
possibility that they might have been exposed to anthrax. His birth
emphatically answered the tragedy of the week before with life. The
fourth movement, played by Icebreaker only, is his and includes
fragments of songs that I make up to sing to him.
I first heard
Icebreaker at their New York debut in Town Hall over ten years ago.
No one who was there could forget their performance. Since that time
I wanted to create a large scale work for them and orchestra. James
Poke, the artistic director of the group, and I began talking about
doing just this in 1998. The Book of Five is the result. It's
been a great joy writing for them and hearing how they've dug their
teeth into the music."
The Book of
Five was commissioned by the ASCAP Foundation for ACO's 25th Anniversary.
KORNGOLD: Symphony in F-sharp Major, Op. 40
provincial city of Brno, Korngold grew up in Vienna, where his father
was respected and influential music critic. His talents ripened
early, so by the age of fourteen he had international reputation,
supported by works given their premieres by such eminent figures as
Bruno Walter, Artur Schnabel, and Arthur Nikisch. He had been
pronounced a genius by Mahler and praised by Richard Strauss and Puccini.
childhood works had been considered amazing for their modernity, the
subsequent musical revolution led by Stravinsky and Schoenberg made
his late-Romantic language seem old-fashioned to critics and
commentators. His involvement as a Hollywood composer worked against
him, too. No one who wrote for movies could be considered seriously
as a composer. His music suffered neglect and denigration until the
mid-1970s, when Die tote Stadt was revived in New York and recorded.
The Symphony was recorded in the same period, and Korngold's
reputation as a classical composer began to receive an overdue re-appraisal.
Symphony in F
sharp Major was written in 1951-52, for a large orchestra. The
dissonant, percussive opening is one of the most arresting and
original of any symphony. It leads to the fifty bars long and complex
principal theme, written for B-flat clarinet. Haunting, highly
chromatic and perfectly suited to this instrument, it gives way to
the lyrical second subject - a tranquil song, which, like so many
Korngold themes, is built on fourths and fifths.
development is brilliantly scored and tensely dramatic. By this time
Korngold had honed his orchestration to such a degree that the
shifting perspectives and instrumental clusters act like a prism of
kaleidoscopic color (rather than a great was of sound), sharp and
clear, enabling each dazzling effect to be heard in minute detail.
The lyrical second subject now becomes a thrilling fanfare for horns
unveiling whole panoply of orchestral color.
The Scherzo is
a swift tarantella, which demands articulate virtuosity. The second
subject is a heroic theme for horns. The Trio, sparse, ghostly and
eerily chromatic, is based on a simple, descending motif, which
travels through a seemingly endless series of keys. Kornogold was
especially proud of this trio and its economy of idea.
Adagio in D minor is pervaded by an air of great tragedy, penetrated
with a series of three ecstatic climaxes. The entire movement is
based on three notes introduced in a long, expansive statement of twenty-eight
bars. There are two secondary ideas - a simple rising scale and a
menacing, descending chromatic figure.
The Final is
playful and optimistic. A fresco of scintillating invention, it
recalls in cyclic references all the preceding movements and its
principle subject is actually the lyrical second theme of the first
movement now transformed into a quirky, humorous dance for flute and
piccolo answered by a warm, syncopated, instantly memorable cello
theme. The work ends triumphantly in the key of F sharp major.
premiered on Austrian Radio by Harold Byrns in the 1950s, this work
was forgotten until Rudolf Kempe discovered it in 1972.