Saturday, May 2, 2020 8 pm
Toronto Centre for the Arts
5040 Yonge Street

Beethoven@250
MARIKA BOURNAKI Pianist
SINFONIA TORONTO
NURHAN ARMAN Conductor
Beethoven@250 contrasts with an iconic 
20th-century composer from the Americas  

BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3
BEETHOVEN Six Ländlerische Dances 
GINASTERA Concerto for Strings, Op. 33


Adult ticket: $42

Senior (60+) ticket: $35

Student ticket: $15


Marika Bournaki, Pianist began her studies at the age of five, and since then she has never looked back. At age nine she was already a soloist, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 with the Montreal Symphony.  At 11, she played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin as well as winning First Prize at the Pro-Piano Romania International Piano competition in Bucharest, where she was also awarded the Mihail Jora Prize by the Association of Music Critics.  She returned to Romania at 12 to perform Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with the Timisoara Philharmonic.  

At 15, she won Third Prize at the 17th International Roma 2006 Piano Competition in Italy.   At 16, she was selected as one of eight pianists worldwide to participate in the Verbier Festival Academy in Switzerland, and was invited back to the festival in 2009.  When Marika was just 20, Chatelaine Magazine named her one of Canada’s ‘2011 Women of the Year.’ 

The documentary biography “I Am Not A Rock Star” tracking Marika’s passionate path in music was premièred at the 30th International Festival of Films on Art in Montreal.  Since then the award-winning feature-length documentary has been presented at the Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival in Greece, the Barcelona Music Documentary Film Festival, the DocsDF Festival in Mexico and the Napa Valley Film Festival in California. 
 
Marika has been a featured soloist with orchestras including the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in Russia, and made her debut with Sinfonia Toronto several seasons ago to great acclaim. She has given recitals in South Korea, Romania, Italy, Switzerland and England. Her performances have been broadcast on Radio-Canada, Radio-France, BBC, New York’s WQXR, and Classical 96.3 fm.  She has been featured on television networks including ERT, TF1, France 2, CTV, Global, Radio-Canada, CBC, and Canal+.

Recent performances include recitals at the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens, Plaza Hidalgo in Mexico, the National Arts Center in Ottawa, the Flanders Festival, the Konzert Accordate Series in Aachen, Germany, the EMMA Concert Association in Florida, Chamber Music Northwest in Oregon, the Luminato Festival in Toronto, and a benefit recital for the Glenn Gould Foundation at Carnegie Hall. 

Marika holds a bachelor’s degree from Juilliard and has also studied at the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg and the International Mendelssohn Academy in Leipzig.

PROGRAM NOTES

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)    Concerto No. 3 in C Minor for Piano & Orchestra Op. 37 Chamber version by Vinzenz Lachner (1811-1893)
Beethoven completed most of his work on the Piano Concerto No. 3 in 1799 and 1800, just two years after finishing his [current] Concerto No. 1, though he continued refining No. 3 until performing the premiere in April 1803. Still, it represents a cautious departure from his earlier concertos: Here is Beethoven preparing to break away from the formal constraints of the Classical era, like a bicycle racer making his move.

With this concerto Beethoven begins to explore a new kind of thinking about the concerto form, expanding its scope and force.

With his deep study of all five of Beethoven's piano concertos, Küthen observes that “The four versions of the B-flat concerto [No. 2], the three of the C major [No. 1], and a single one of the C minor concerto show that the time span between draft and final form becomes increasingly short, that the composer wins the upper hand over the virtuoso, and in [the Third Concerto] Op. 37 a first perfection of the genre is reached, which was the object of the greatest emulation in the 19th century.”

The refinement and mastery we enjoy in today's concert performances of this concerto contrast markedly with its premiere in April 1803, a marathon concert of Beethoven works at Vienna's Theater an der Wien. The composer continued to work on the concerto right up until the last minute, perhaps a sign of his nervousness over its departure from his earlier concertos, which had been well-received.

In this case, the sense of unreadiness—there had been only one orchestral rehearsal, and it was a messy affair—did not bode well. If the composer was worried, he needn't have been. His reputation was growing, as was public acceptance of his highly individualistic style, and this concerto was understood to be a more personal statement than Nos. 1 and 2.

As Beethoven's pupil Carl Czerny wrote, “The style and character of this Concerto are much more grand and fervent than in the two former.” Marked C minor, this was Beethoven’s first piano concerto in a minor key, and it shifts direction from its predecessors: there is less attention to formal elegance and decorative ornamentation of line, and more emphasis on sheer expressiveness.

The dynamics have more contrast, the emotions are more turbulent, and the overall impression is less lapidary and more deeply passionate.

The opening movement, marked allegro con brio, exposes a powerful, solemn theme in the orchestra, allowing it to modulate from minor to major and then introducing a second, more lyrical theme before settling back into minor.

Thus the stakes are high before the piano even makes its entrance; and throughout the movement, it is left to the piano soloist to reconcile the emotions contested in the development of these two themes.

The second movement, a meditative largo, is poetic and contemplative, with the piano at times so deeply embedded in the ensemble that the orchestra takes the melodic line for extended periods. The gorgeous, zesty closing rondo is often described as joyful or jubilant despite its minor key—despite modulations into major, it remains at home in the key of C minor.

The movement’s energy and exuberance come not only from the beauty of melody, but also from the sense of the concerto’s successful reconciliation of contending melodic forces. The movement’s conclusion brings a sense of drama and completion that is almost operatic.

Alberto Ginastera (born April 11, 1916, Buenos Aires - died June 25, 1983, Geneva Concerto for String Orchestra Op. 33 
In adapting portions of his Second String Quartet as a work for string orchestra, Ginastera did not simply expand the respective parts, but rethought the material in the specific terms of the larger ensemble. It has been said that in creating the Concerto for Strings he was actually realizing the true potential of the best parts of the earlier work. In any event, it should be noted that he not only dispensed with the original first movement, but reversed the order of the three that followed it (the Quartet's second, third and fourth movements became movements 3, 2 and 1, respectively, in the Concerto), allowing only the Finale furioso to retain its original position. He also made certain additions and deletions within the respective movements.

The opening movement is headed Variazioni per I solisti. The hymnlike theme is introduced by the concerftmaster and then subjected to a series of four variations: the first for solo cello, the second for the principal second violin, the third for viola, and the last for double bass. The orchestral accompaniment varies with the character of the respective variations, and all the solo parts are especially striking for the use of quarter-tones.

The Scherzo fantastico is well defined by its title: it is a highly virtuosic scherzo in which virtually every effect known to stringed instruments is imaginatively exploited. Two broadly contrasting trios are fitted within the movement's concise proportions, the second prefiguring the urgent character of the work's following section.

The slow movement is a dramatically expressive Adagio angoscioso, opening in a gentle, lyric vein, building to an impassioned outburst marked Il pi?; fortissimo possible ("As strong a fortissimo as possible"), and then just as dramatically fading away to a final bar marked simply Niente ("Nothing").

A certain folkish element insinuates itself in the feverishly energetic Finale furioso, in which the chief interest is the rhythm, hopping nervously?and at times within a single bar?between 3/4 and 6/8. There is a contrasting middle section in 2/4, and then the original frenetic alternation of 3/4 and 6/8 resumes. By way of coda there is a twelve-bar crescendo marked Sforzatissimo ("most heavily accented, effortful," or, more freely, "stressed to the max"), rising to an almost unbearable peak of intensity as well as sheer volume.