Musicians from Marlboro I
Musicians from Marlboro I
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Hye-Jin Kim, violin
Three Poems in French (1989)
En Sourdine (Muted)
Colloque Sentimental (Sentimental Colloquy)
Hyunah Yu, soprano
Kuok-Wai Lio, piano
String Quintet in E-flat Major, K. 614
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756‒1791)
Mozart experienced a surprising surge of creativity during the twelve months before his death in December 1791. Ironically, this followed one of the least productive years of his mature life. He was ill much of the time with symptoms of kidney failure. The health of his wife Constanze was in serious decline from the burden of almost constant pregnancy and from grief over the deaths of five of the six children that the couple produced during their nine-year marriage. Mozart continued to be frustrated in gaining a more lucrative and honored appointment with the court, and he was sliding into worrisomely increasing debt. In October 1790, he pawned the family silver to underwrite a trip to Frankfurt, where he planned to give concerts as part of the festivities surrounding the coronation of Leopold II as Holy Roman Emperor. He also hoped to attract enough aristocratic attention to land a respectable job.
The venture was a failure—Mozart barely covered his expenses. When he arrived back in Vienna in early November 1790, it appeared his fortunes might improve. Mozart received a letter from Robert May O’Reilly, an impresario of Italian opera in London. O’Reilly invited him to spend six months in England to compose and produce two operas for a fee of £300, at least double what he could expect to earn for the same work in Vienna. Without explanation, Mozart refused the offer. In December, Johann Salomon, another ambitious impresario, tried to snare both Haydn and Mozart for a series of concerts in London. Haydn accepted Salomon’s proposal and made a considerable sum from the project. Mozart saw his older colleague off on December 12, and the two never met again. Whatever his reason, Mozart stayed in Vienna and, amazingly, began to compose again. The first fruit of his rejuvenated creativity was the Quintet for Strings in D Major (K. 593), completed in December 1790.
The Piano Concerto no. 27 in B-flat Major (K. 595) was finished on January 5, 1791, three weeks before his thirty-fifth birthday, and a second string quintet, in E-flat Major (K. 614), heard here, was entered into his catalog on April 12. He followed those in the next eight months with the motet Ave verum corpus, two operas (The Magic Flute and La Clemenza di Tito), the Clarinet Concerto, and finally the Requiem. On December 5, Mozart died. According to the Mozart authority Eric Blom, “Perhaps the E-flat Major Quintet is the most superb of all [the string quintets]. It has probably the highest sum-total of great invention plus great workmanship, and the two are most miraculously balanced.” While written at a period of intense emotional turmoil, the Quintet exhibits qualities also abundant in The Magic Flute: optimistic spirit, rich sonority, grandeur through contrapuntal texture, touching lyricism, and jovial, folk-like melodies. As music scholar Melvin Berger concluded, “From everything that we know about Mozart, the finale is an excellent reflection of his personality—boisterous, zesty, full of life and bubbling with mischievous humor.”
Three Poems in French
Earl Kim (1920‒1998)
Earl Kim was born to Korean parents in Dinuba, California, near Fresno. He studied with Arnold Schoenberg at UCLA before he became a student of Ernest Bloch and Roger Sessions at Berkeley, where he earned a master’s degree in 1952. Kim then joined Sessions on the faculty of Princeton University. From 1967 until his retirement in 1990, Kim taught at Harvard, where David del Tredici, John Harbison, and Paul Salerni were among his students. Kim served as composer-in-residence at the Princeton Seminar in Advanced Musical Studies and at the music festivals of Marlboro, Dartmouth, Tanglewood, Cape and Islands, and Aspen. An exceptional conductor and ensemble pianist, he was also active in social causes as cofounder and president of Musicians Against Nuclear Arms and a supporter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Kim’s honors included the Prix de Paris, National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, Brandeis University Creative Arts Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. His compositions include chamber works; settings of texts by Beckett, Baudelaire, Keats, Apollinaire, Rimbaud, and Rilke; the multimedia composition Exercises en Route, Dialogues for Piano and Orchestra; and a violin concerto and solo violin caprices for Itzhak Perlman.
Three Poems in French is Kim’s refraction of fin-de-siècle chanson—all three verses had been set by Debussy and En Sourdine by Fauré—that he said fulfilled “a longstanding desire on my part to do a setting of some texts in French... I have always been intrigued and deeply moved by the special qualities inherent in French Impressionism. Composing the Three Poems in French was a way of entering more completely into that exotic and passionate realm.”
En So urdine (Muted)
Text by Paul Verlaine (1844‒1896), from Fêtes Galantes, first collection
Calm in the half-light
That the high branches make,
Let our love be penetrated
By this profound silence.
Let us fuse our souls, our hearts
And our ecstatic senses,
Amid the vague languors
Of the pines and the arbutus.
Close your eyes halfway,
Cross your arms on your breast,
And from your sleepy heart
Chase forever all design.
Let us be persuaded
By the cradling and soft wind
That comes to your feet to ripple
The waves of russet grass.
And when, solemnly, the evening
Falls from the black oaks,
Voice of our despair,
The nightingale will sing.
Text by Charles Baudelaire (1821‒1867)
Be wise, O my Sorrow, and be quieter.
You called for the Evening: it descends; here it is!
A gloomy atmosphere envelops the city,
To some bringing peace, to others worry.
While the vile multitude of mortals,
Under the whip of Pleasure, that executioner without mercy,
Goes to gather remorse at the servile feast,
My Sorrow, give me your hand; come here,
Far from them. See the dead Years leaning
Oer the balconies of the sky, in old-fashioned robes;
See smiling Regret rising from the depth of the waves.
And the dying sun going to sleep under an arch,
And, like a long shroud trailing toward the East,
Hear, my dear, hear the gentle
Colloque Sentimental (Sentimental Colloquy)
Text by Paul Verlaine, from Fêtes Galantes, second collection
In the old park, solitary and icy,
Two forms have just passed by.
Their eyes are dead and their lips are slack,
And one hardly hears their words.
In the old park, solitary and icy,
Two specters have evoked the past.
“Do you remember our former ecstasy?”
“Why do you want me to remember it?”
“Does your heart still beat merely when hearing my name?
Do you still see my soul in your dreams?” “No.”
“Ah! the lovely days of inexpressible happiness
When we used to join our lips!” “It is possible.”
“How blue it was, the sky, and how great the hope!”
“Hope has fled, vanquished, toward the black sky.”
Thus they walked in the wild oat-grass,
And only the night heard their words.
Quartet for Piano and Strings in C Minor, op. 15
Gabriel Fauré (1845‒1924)
In 1872 composer Camille Saint-Saëns introduced his student Gabriel Fauré to the Viardots, one of Europe’s most prominent nineteenth-century musical families. Pauline, the head of the clan, was one of the day’s leading mezzo-sopranos, and her sister, Maria Malibran, was another celebrated singer. Her daughter Louise enjoyed a successful career as a singer, teacher, and composer in Russia and Germany, and her son Paul was a noted violinist and conductor. Fauré, then organist at St.-Sulpice and composer of a growing number of finely crafted songs and choral works, became friendly with the Viardots and enjoyed a special fondness for Pauline’s younger daughter Marianne. Love blossomed, and their engagement was announced in July 1877—only to be suddenly broken off in October.
Fauré never revealed the exact cause of the falling out, except to say in later years that “perhaps it was not a bad thing for me. The Viardot family might have deflected me from my proper path.” The Viardots’ path would have led through the opera house, but Fauré’s genius lay in the intimate genres of song and chamber music. By the time his first important chamber work, the Violin Sonata no. 1, was premiered successfully in Paris in January 1877, Fauré was already well advanced on his next instrumental composition—the Quartet for Piano and Strings in C Minor played here. This gestating work confirmed the creative direction Fauré chose to follow, so the collapse of his engagement to Marianne may have resulted from irreconcilable differences in artistic philosophy rather than any breach of romantic sentiment.
The Quartet opens with a modally inflected melody in dotted rhythms for unison strings that provides much of the movement’s thematic material. Wide-ranging piano arpeggios lead to the complementary subject, a descending stair-step theme of brighter countenance that is passed from viola to violin to cello. The development section masterfully works out the main subject that climaxes with a brief but stormy passage of rising scales to provide the gateway to the recapitulation of the principal themes. A gentle coda closes the movement. The Scherzo is music of ethereal delicacy, its gossamer rhythms buoyed by subtle shifts of meter. The central trio is spun from a lyrical string theme in chordal texture. The Adagio, the emotional core of the Quartet, follows a broad three-part form (A–B–A) based on two motives derived from an ascending scale: the first (A) is halting and fragmentary; the other (B) is flowing and expansive. The sonata-form finale begins with a theme that recalls both the Adagio in its rising scalar contour and the first movement in its dotted rhythms. The lyrical second theme, introduced by the viola, provides contrast. Grown almost entirely from the second theme, the development reaches an impassioned climax before subsiding for the recapitulation and then ending with a brilliant coda.
—Richard E. Rodda, PhD
Danbi Um, violin, has appeared as soloist with the Israel, Vermont, Herzliya Chamber, Auckland Philharmonic, and Dartmouth symphonies and at the Kennedy Center, Kimmel Center, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Kumho Arts Hall, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art. She is a winner of Astral Artists’ 2015 National Auditions and joined Chamber Music Society Two of Lincoln Center for its 2015–18 seasons. An avid chamber musician, she received second prize at the Young Artists Division of the Menuhin International Violin Competition and a third prize at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition. At age ten, she was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music, from which she received a degree in music. She also holds an Artist Diploma from Indiana University. Um performs on a 1683 “ex-Petschek” Nicolo Amati violin on loan from the collection of Seth Novatt.
Hye-Jin Kim, violin, won first prizes at the Yehudi Menuhin and Concert Artists Guild international competitions. She has performed as soloist with the Philadelphia, New Jersey, New Haven, and Pan Asia (Hong Kong) symphonies and with the BBC Concert, Seoul Philharmonic, and Hannover Chamber orchestras. At the invitation of Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Kim performed at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva and New York. She has also served as a cultural representative for Korea in Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan through concerts and outreach engagements. As a chamber musician, Kim has appeared in the Ravinia, Four Seasons, Music from Angel Fire, Music at Menlo, Bridgehampton, Martha’s Vineyard, Music in the Vineyards, and Prussia Cove Open festivals. Born in Seoul, Kim entered the Curtis Institute of Music at age fourteen and earned her master’s degree at the New England Conservatory. She is assistant professor of violin at East Carolina University, where she founded and directs the ECU Summer Chamber Music Institute.
Rebecca Albers, viola, has performed throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. Her performances have been seen on national television in the United States and China and heard on NPR and French National Radio. As the assistant principal violist of the Minnesota Orchestra, Albers made her concerto debut at Lincoln Center and her European recital debut at the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris. As a chamber musician, she has performed at the Bridgehampton, Chesapeake, Prussia Cove, and Seattle festivals. She has also toured extensively with the Albers Trio, a group formed with her two sisters. A Distinguished Artist faculty member at Mercer University’s Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, Albers previously taught at the University of Michigan and received her bachelor and master degrees from Juilliard.
Shuangshuang Liu, viola, was born in Anhui, China, and joined the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in the fall of 2014. She has performed as a soloist with the American Symphony Orchestra and the Albany Symphony, and as a chamber musician at the Ravinia, Aspen, Music from Angel Fire, and Kneisel Hall festivals. As a founding member of the Chimeng String Quartet, she won the silver medal in the 2010 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and as a soloist she received third prize in the 2013 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition. She earned an Artist Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music as well as bachelor degrees in music performance and social studies.
Peter Stumpf, cello, is professor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Prior to his appointment, he was the principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for nine years following a twelve-year tenure as associate principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He was trained at the Curtis Institute and the New England Conservatory and began his professional career at the age of sixteen with the Hartford Symphony. In addition to being a member of the Johannes Quartet, he has toured with Musicians from Marlboro, as a member of the Casals
Hall Ensemble, and with pianist Mitsuko Uchida and violinist Mark Steinberg. Stumpf has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Boston Philharmonic.
Hyunah Yu, soprano, has participated in numerous Marlboro Music Festivals and is known for her performances of the music of J. S. Bach. As a chamber musician and recitalist, Yu has performed at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Baltimore’s Shriver Hall Concert Series, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the Vancouver Recital Society, and the Phillips Collection in Washington. She sang the title role in Mozart’s Zaide in New York, London, and Vienna under the direction of Peter Sellars and conductor Louis Langrée. In 1999 Yu gained acclaim for her solo performance in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the New England Bach Festival, and she was a prize winner in the prestigious Walter Naumburg International Competition. She received the coveted Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2003. Her debut CD on EMI was released in 2007.
Kuok-Wai Lio, piano, began his piano studies at the age of five. In 1997 he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and in 2006 he entered the Curtis Institute of Music. He has participated in numerous festivals, including Santa Fe, Prussia
Cove, and Caramoor, as well as Vancouver Recital Series, San Francisco Performances, Philip Lorenz Memorial Series, and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. He has performed with orchestras in Macau, Hong Kong, Kansas City, Grand Rapids, Houston, and Salzburg. In the 2014 season, he was one of three pianists (with Adam Golka and Roman Rabinovich) chosen to perform as part of the András Schiff Selects series, and he performed a duo tour with pianist Zoltán Fejérvári during the 2015–16 season.
Musicians from Marlboro, the touring extension of the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, offers exceptional young professional musicians with opportunities to tour and perform with seasoned artists in varied chamber music programs. Each program is built around a work performed in a previous su mer that Artistic Director Mitsuko Uchida and her colleagues felt should be shared with a wider audience. The Musicians from Marlboro touring program has introduced American audiences to many of today’s leading solo and chamber music artists early in their careers, including pianists Jonathan Biss, Yefim Bronfman, Jeremy Denk, Richard Goode, Murray Perahia, András Schiff, and Peter Serkin. It has also been a platform for artists who subsequently formed or joined such noted ensembles as the Beaux Arts, Eroica, and Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson trios and the Brentano, Emerson, Guarneri, Johannes, Juilliard, Orion, St. Lawrence, and Tokyo string quartets. After more than fifty seasons, Musicians from Marlboro continues to offer audiences across North America a sample of the spirited music-making for which it is so well known.
This concert was presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series.
Podcast coordination by Michael Wilpers, F|S manager of performing arts. Thanks to Andy Finch and SuMo Productions for audio recording and editing, Nancy Eickel for text editing, Torie Castiello Ketcham for web design, and especially the artists for granting permission to share their performance at the Freer Gallery of Art.
The Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series was established in memory of Dr. Eugene Meyer III and Mary Adelaide Bradley Meyer. It is generously supported by Elizabeth E. Meyer, Melissa and E. Bradley Meyer, the New York Community Trust—The Island Fund, the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series Endowment, and numerous private donors.
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