On Thursday at Symphony Space, string duo Laurie Smukler (violin) and Joel Krosnick (cello) present a concert that includes both classical and contemporary duets. The program features one of the first musical tributes to Elliott Carter since his passing on Monday: the late work Tres Duetti. Krosnick, a former member of the Juilliard Quartet, collaborated closely with Carter, premiering and performing a number of his works. Another American composer with whom he worked closely was the self-styled “Radical Traditionalist” Ralph Shapey. Thursday’s concert has Duo Variations, a work by Shapey composed for Krosnick, slated for performance as well. Below, the cellist shares some words about knowing and working with Carter.
“For those of us who grew up as American musicians in the 1950′s playing the music of our time, and who have continued to do so until now, Elliott Carter has been a seminal philosophical presence in our entire lives as musicians. From the appearance of the astonishingly massive Quartet No. 1 in 1951, through the four other quartets culminating with the 5th Quartet in the late 1990′s, Mr. Carter has been, for just a small example, an integral part of the life of anyone who loved and played string quartets. The Juilliard Quartet premiered the 2nd and 3rd Quartets of Mr. Carter, and of course played them all. (We will play the 5th String Quartet at a Juilliard School concert on December 19, which was to be a celebration of Mr. Carter’s 104th birthday.)
“My first memorable experience with the music of Elliott Carter was of course the Cello Sonata from 1948, perhaps the most important cello sonata of my lifetime as a musician. I had the great good fortune to be allowed by Mr. Carter to make an early recording of that great work in the mid 1960′s with the pianist Paul Jacobs for Nonesuch Records (followed in the 1990′s by a second recording of the work with my pianist partner, Gilbert Kalish, for Arabesque Records). And since that time, I have had the privilege of being a part of innumerable performances over many years of the Cello Sonata, all five of the String Quartets, the Harpsichord Sonata, the Triple Duo, the Oboe Quartet, the Figment No. 1 for Solo Cello, the Tre Duetti for Violin and Cello, the Piano Quintet, and the Clarinet Quintet (written for and premiered by Charles Neidich and the Juilliard String Quartet).
“As I have said, Elliott Carter has been a major presence in my life as a musician, almost from the start. Even considering his advanced age of 103, it is suddenly astonishing that he will no longer be with us writing his great music.”
In Fall 2012, composer/conductor Victoria Bond’s opera Mrs. Presidentpremieres at Anchorage Opera in Alaska. Its “out of town” tryout is on Monday July 9th … in New York at Symphony Space.
The opera’s subject is Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president. Woodhull’s campaign in 1872 predates women’s suffrage. It was mired in controversy and scandal which, as we all know, makes it ideal material for an opera!
I was particularly pleased to learn that dramatic soprano Valerie Bernhardt is playing Woodhull. Val and I both sang at the Chatauqua Institute back in 1992. Her voice was already a mighty and beautiful instrument then and has only grown more impressive in the ensuing years.
Soprano Valerie Bernhardt
Need more inducement? Okay. Those in town seeking relief from the heat wave, remember: Symphony Space has lovely central AC and quite a nice bar to boot!
There was a time – somewhat long ago – when recitals by string players and pianists were the well-subscribed while others raised eyebrows. In the postmodern era, things have become somewhat more egalitarian, and one is likely to see all sorts of combinations gracing recital stages. Still, a duo of Metropolitan opera musicians – flutist Patricia Zuber and percussionist Greg Zuber – are making the case for a pairing that is still somewhat unusual to become a part of the chamber music mainstream.
The trick for those who are part of an unusual pairing is to find, commission, and, essentially, create a literature for themselves. The Zubers have done all three in preparing their program for a recital this Sunday at Symphony Space. They include a transcription of a Villa-Lobos piece by Greg Zuber, a 1996 work by Gareth Farr, and two commissions: by William Susman and Alejandro Viñao.
The pair gets a little help from two guest percussionists on the program’s finale, George Crumb’s An Idyll for the Misbegotten.
So, a flute and percussion program featuring both old and new, transcriptions, commissions, and special guests. What are some other unconventional groupings you’ve heard in recital that have worked well? What are some pairings you’d like to hear?
You can check out a teaser video of the Susman below.