From Classic to Yiddish and Jazz; Music from Slavic countries.
George Gershwin (USA): Three preludes (1926):
Witold Lutoslawski (Poland): “Dance preludes” for clarinet and piano (1954):
Ivan Wyschnegradsky (Russia)- Two preludes Op.2 (1916)
Nicolai Roslavets (Russia)- Two compositions for piano (1915):
I.Stravinsky (Russia)- Three pieces for clarinet (1919)
I.Stravinsky- Tango for piano (1940)
Kazimerz Serocki (Poland): “Dance” for clarinet and piano (1954)
Rachmaninoff (Russia)- “Vocalise” Op.34, No.14 (1915)
Y.Braun (Israel)- Three Hassidic tunes, for clarinet and piano (1974)
A selection of hassidic songs
This program draws from the varied musical language of the 20th Century with a particular focus on Jewish-Slavic works. The music is a wonderfully eclectic mix of classical, nationalistic, klezmer and jazz styles. All of which are being explored in this program. Our own Jewish-Slavic routes further enhance our affinity with this fabulous music.
The program features Gershwin’s Three Preludes: short piano pieces, which were first performed by the composer at a Hotel in New York in 1926. Each prelude is a well-known example of early-20th-century American classical music, as influenced by jazz. Gershwin, was an American but his parents were jews from Russian and Lithuania. We continue with the “Dance Preludes” by Lutoslawski, a colourful virtuosic work for clarinet and piano. All five movements are based on Polish folk dance rhythms if not actual folk tunes. Lutoslawski has not identified them but they follow the general dictum that ‘the tempo of Polish folksongs changes almost from bar to bar’. The first is a jerky dance, almost wholly staccato; The second, a flowing Andantino with a quicker central section heralded by the quiet rattle of the tambourine; No. 3 is a kind of scherzo; Jagged acciaccaturas give the music a wild, abandoned character, and fast, high-register passages for the soloist suggest the sharp tone of the E flat clarinet favoured by many Polish folk musicians.No. 4 is another reflective piece, with a relatively simple melody, making much use of repeated notes. The last movement, a strongly accented dance is the most complex metrically speaking, with the clarinet being offered alternative passages that run counter to the rhythm of the piano. There are hints of bagpipes and the jolly atmosphere, rising to a wild climax, perhaps suggests a village wedding.
The short piano pieces are early works by Roslavets and Wyschnegradsky which are in essence heightened chromaticism. Roslavets would later introduce the 12-tone writing in Russia and Wyshnegradsky would later become a pioneer in microtonal music. Continuing with Stravinsky’s three pieces for clarinet, which he composed during the last phase of his “Russian period” and merely five years after completing his than-scandalous masterpiece, “The rite of spring”. The low-melody of the first movement is a sketch of a russian song, whilst the second movement is an imitation to improvisation and the third revisits the Tango and Ragtime of “A soldier’s tale”.
Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise is a song, composed and published in 1915 as the last of his "Fourteen Songs", Op. 34. Written for high voice (soprano or tenor) with piano accompaniment, it contains no words, but is sung using any one vowel (of the singer's choosing).
The jolly “Dance” by Serocki and the “Tango” by Stravinsky continue the dance element in this program”. The “Tango” is naturally influenced by the Argentinian tango dance.
We will conclude the program with klezmer highlights, including the “Three Hassidic Tunes” by the Israeli composer Yehezkel Braun and a selection of Klezmer tunes. These klezmer tunes, originating in Eastern Europe, are a great ending to our Slavic music program!