Rachmaninoff

Friday, November 16, 2018 8 pm
Glenn Gould Studio ~ 250 Front St. West
ANNE LOUISE-TURGEON Pianist
SINFONIA TORONTO / NURHAN ARMAN Conductor

A Rachmaninoff favourite plus two 20th century gems 
and a lush late-Romantic masterpiece.

Program
RACHMANINOFF Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini  
Canadian premiere of Piano and Strings version by Louis Sauter
BRUCKNER Adagio from String Quintet
ROUSSEL Sinfonietta
BACEWICZ Sinfonia 

Online sales for this concert have closed. Tickets will be available at the door from 7 pm.

ANNE LOUISE-TURGEON Pianist
Canadian pianist, Anne Louise-Turgeon earned a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance from the University of Toronto (1989) and an Eaton Award for top graduate. That same year she joined the keyboard faculty at Algoma University College in Ontario, Canada.  She completed graduate studies at Yale University School of Music, earning her Doctor of Musical Arts (2000) degree in piano performance, as well as the school’s highest graduating honor, the Dean’s Award. Dr. Turgeon also holds a Master of Arts Degree (2009) in composition from Florida Atlantic University.

As soloist, Dr. Louise-Turgeon has taken prizes in the Cleveland and Sydney International Piano Competitions, a Government of Canada Award for Achievement in the Arts and an Ontario Arts Council Chalmers Award for advanced solo studies. She appears on Albany Records performing solo piano music by Ezra Laderman. With her husband, Edward, Dr. Louise-Turgeon has appeared at the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam,  Carnegie Hall’s “Weill Recital Hall”, Sinfonia Toronto, Music Toronto, Hamilton Philharmonic, Massey Hall (Toronto), New World Symphony, Minsk Philharmonic, Festival Miami, FIU Stravinsky Symposium, Esprit Orchestra, Sanibel Chamber Festival, Norfolk Chamber Festival, Austin Chamber Festival, Novosibirsk Philharmonic, San Francisco International Chamber Festival, Montreal International Two Piano Festival, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (Singapore), Chicago International Two Piano Festival, Salkind Two Piano Festival, Festival Duettissimo, Dranoff Foundation and the World Piano Conference.  

She has given world premiere performances of works by Copland, Corigliano and Pauk.  Radio and television appearances include ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp.), Netherlands Public Radio, CBC I & II, “Arts National”, NPR “Performance Today”, BBC I & II,  WGBH Boston, WPR, WFMT Chicago, MPR, and the PBS documentary “Two Pianos – One Passion”. 

As a member of Duo Turgeon, Dr. Louise-Turgeon took first prize in the International Schubert Competition (Czech Republic) and the Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition. Her recordings on Vanguard Classics, Marquis Classics, Marquis/EMI,  Dranoff Foundation, ClassXdiscs, and Albany labels have received acclaim, including 5 out of 5 from la Scena Musicale, CBC “Sound Advice”, Les Grandes Pianistes et le Piano, Wholenote Magazine, Musicweb, and Soundstage. Dr. Turgeon’s performances and recordings have appeared on classical top ten lists.

Dr. Louise-Turgeon has been a member of the Royal Conservatory (Toronto) College of Examiners, and faculty member at Mount Holyoke College, Yale University, Algoma University College, Algoma Conservatory, and the Harid Conservatory. Dr. Turgeon serves as Co-President of the World Piano Teachers Association, Florida chapter, keyboard faculty and ensemble-in-residence member at Florida Atlantic University. She has served as adjudicator for regional, national, and international competitions, including the Dranoff International Two Piano Competition and the Canadian Music Competition.

PROGRAM NOTES

Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini           Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Chamber version by Louis Sauter                                                           
Like most 19th-century virtuosos, Paganini composed much of the music he played, including his Twenty-Four Caprices for Unaccompanied Violin. The caprices are so formidable that even today only violinists with the very greatest mastery of technique dare play them in public; and during Paganini’s lifetime they served to reinforce popular suspicions that he had made a Faustian bargain with the devil, trading his soul for the ability to write and perform such fiendishly difficult works.

The Caprice No. 24 in A minor is built on a dramatic melody which inspired other composers including Brahms, Liszt and Schumann as well as Rachmaninoff’s famous Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. 

Rachmaninoff paid tribute to the entire set of caprices by writing 24 variations on No. 24’s melody and its recurring rhythm - five short notes followed by one longer note. And mindful of the Paganini legend, Rachmaninoff also brought in a melody with demonic resonance, the Dies irae, or "Day of Wrath." from the Catholic requiem mass for the dead. That ancient chant already been used by other composers in works with a diabolical twist: the Witches' Sabbath movement of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Liszt’s Totentanz, "Dance of Death" and Saint-Saëns’ Danse macabre; and Rachmaninoff himself had used it before in The Isle of the Dead.

The Rhapsody is a brilliant showpiece for virtuoso pianists, demanding superb technique as well as the interpretive prowess of a great actor to bring out a whole gamut of emotions as the variations change moods instantly from one to the next. The Rhapsody’s 1934 premiere was a notable success, and it became a staple of 

Rachmaninoff's concert tours through the last ten years of his life. During that decade he wrote the Dies irae into two more works, as a reminder of life's transience and a grim acknowledgement of his own mortality: his Third Symphony and in 1941 his very last composition, the Symphonic Dances. 

The Rhapsody was the last piece Rachmaninoff played in public, only two months before his death - with its Dies irae content, perhaps a premonition of his immanent fate, and all in all a fitting crown to his career as both composer and virtuoso.

Sinfonietta, Op. 52                                                Albert Roussel (1869-1937)
In July 1934, Roussel wrote to a friend, "I have begun an Andante and Allegro for string orchestra... It will be completed next week. You can see that I am making up for lost time!" The lost time had been a period of exhaustion and illness following the completion of his opéra-bouffe, Le Testament de la tante Caroline. By the end of August Roussel not only completed the Andante and Allegro, he also wrote an Allegro molto to open, creating the three-movement work we hear this evening.

The Sinfonietta begins with an insistent triple rhythm that drives a jagged melodic line over polytonal harmonies meant to keep listeners a bit off balance and set the stage for a lyrical second theme. Counterpoint passages lead back to the main theme, still as spiky as before. The Andante’s beginning chords and smoother melody provide a lyrical contrast before making an unbroken segue into the the jaunty finale. 

Adagio from String Quintet, WAB 112            Anton Bruckner (1824-1946) 
Orchestral version by Lucas Drew                                                                       
Bruckner may be best known for his massive, brass-heavy symphonies, but he also wrote a number of fine works for smaller forces, among which this Adagio is probably the most beautiful and most often performed. 

Bruckner was commissioned to write the Quintet by the concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic, Josef Hellmesberger, who then waited several years before playing it.  It was acclaimed immediately, performed widely during the composer’s lifetime, and has remained a consistent part of the modern repertoire. The eminent critic Wilhelm Altman declared, "If the only thing Bruckner had ever written for string instruments had been the slow movement to his string quintet, his reputation would have been secured for all time.”

The Adagio is an expansive movement with a hauntingly beautiful main theme and harmonies grounded in the sumptuous key of G flat major.  Graceful waves of closely-related subsidiary themes lap one into another before a succession of repeated notes transitions into a glorious second theme in the lower strings. An expansive development section floats through shape-shifting harmonies that build to a magnificent climax before G flat returns and the main then fades into infinity.

Divertimento                                  Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969)
Although Grazyna Bacewicz lived only until the age of 59, she achieved an enormous amount. She was a fine violinist as well as a composer, touring throughout Europe as a soloist until the 1950’s when she decided to focus on her writing. She has been recognized as the greatest female composer of the 20th century and the most prolific female composer ever, writing over 200 compositions including four symphonies, seven violin concertos, seven string quartets, five violin-piano sonatas and concertos for piano, two pianos, viola and cello plus numerous works for orchestra. She was an important influence as the Eastern and Western European musical communities began to come together through cultural exchanges. Always adored by the Polish public, her works are now receiving the performances and applause they deserve around the world.

Bacewicz grew up in Lódz, in a close-knit musical family. After graduating from the Warsaw Conservatory she received a scholarship from the Polish piano virtuoso, composer, and statesman Jan Paderewski to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Her adult life was not an easy. After many successful performance tours in Europe in her twenties, she waited out World War II in Lublin, returned to a devastated Warsaw in 1945, worked cautiously through the restrictive period of “socialist realism,” and had to undergo a long recuperation after an automobile accident in 1954 caused a broken pelvis, broken ribs and head injuries.

She composed the Divertimento in 1965 on commission from the conductor of the National Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, which premiered it in November 1966 in Munich. The Divertimento is built around the tritone, a pungent harmonic motif throughout all three movements. It appears in a series of three stated by the first violins at the beginning of the first movement over a tremolo background in the violas, and is picked up by other instruments as the movement develops. The melody of the nostalgic second movement is shaped by tritones as well, and is even more prominent in the playful third movement.       

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Radio

Burge: Flanders Fields Reflections
Mendelssohn: Symphony for Strings no 7 in D minor
Khachaturian: Masquerade Suite
Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony in A flat major, Op. 118a
Williams: Hook
Barry: Dances with Wolves
Broughton: Triptych
Lau: Joy

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