Sarah Recital Programme.pages
Sarah Recital Programme.pages
SARAH HILL (VIOLIN) MASTERS RECITAL ! ! TRINITY LABAN CONSERVATOIRE 11 SEP 2014 – 11.30am PROGRAMME ! Giuseppe Tartini 1692-1770 Sonata for solo violin in D minor (from 26 ‘Sonate Piccole’) mid 18th century Kaija Saariaho 1952- Nocturne for solo violin 1994 Igor Stravinsky 1882-1971 Duo Concertant * 1932 (Hannah Ely, piano) Tom Coult 1988- Sparking and Slipping 2014 (world premiere) (Tom Coult, cond.; Anne Denholm, harp; Hannah Ely, piano; Henry Fynn, percussion) ! ! ———— Four striking pieces, spanning over 250 years of music, make up this fascinating and diverse programme, though there are as many similarities between them as there are differences. ! We begin with two unaccompanied pieces – Tartini’s Sonata and Saariaho’s Nocturne. Both of these composers developed highly novel approaches to violin writing for their respective periods, informed by the very latest investigations into the nature of sound itself. ! Stravinsky’s similarly idiosyncratic approach to the violin came during a period of his career where he was looking to 18th-century music for inspiration. Just as in Tartini’s Sonata, Duo Concertant combines a strange lyricism with dance forms. ! Also taking stimulus from 18th-century music is Tom Coult’s Sparking and Slipping, an extended and virtuosic dance for violin and a baroque-esque accompagnato ensemble (albeit on rather more modern instruments!). Giuseppe Tartini ! Sonata for solo violin in D minor (from 26 ‘Sonate Piccole’) Siciliano – Allegro – Adagio affetuoso Giuseppe Tartini was one of the most influential violinists, teachers and theorists of music in eighteenth-century Italy and beyond. As head of the Basillica di Sant’Antonio in Padua for four decades, his renowned tuition in harmony, counterpoint, composition and performance attracted students from all over the world – so much so that the his class became known as the ‘School of Nations’.1 ! As well as his central commandment ‘per be suonare, bisgona be cantare’ (‘to play well, you must sing well), Tartini also became fascinated by the physics of sound itself, publishing Tratto di musica secondo la vera scienza dell’armonia in 1754. This treatise explored psychoacoustic phenomena such as ‘difference tones’, a phenomenon whereby two notes played together produce a third tone in the listener’s ear. These ‘Tartini’ tones were little explored by subsequent composers until composers working at Paris’ IRCAM studios in the 1970s and 1980s, such as Gérard Grisey, Tristan Murail and indeed Kaija Saariaho. ! These explorations, which became something of a quasi-religious obsession,2 informed Tartini’s extraordinary set of 26 sonatas for solo violin, written in the last twenty years of his life. Despite being one of the most thoroughgoing and extended collections of violin music of the period, the Sonatas are rarely played, partly because they have never been published in a critical edition (I am today playing from my own transcription of the manuscript facsimile). ! Sheppard-Skaerved, Peter, ‘Giuseppe Tartini and his Sonate Piccole’, liner notes, Toccata TOCC0146, 2. 2 Aresi, Stefano, liner notes to Chiara Bianchini, ‘Tartini: Sonate a violino solo’, Zig Zag ZZT080502. 1 The D minor sonata’s opening Siciliana makes use of Tartini’s theories about ‘symmetrical harmony’.3 Fanning symmetrically outwards from the note A gives the movement its distinctive, chromatically inflected harmonic language, carrying to modern ears flavours of eastern European or gypsy music. The symmetry culminates in highly dissonant semitone crushes from both directions towards A. ! The second movement, an Allegro, carries a sense of two voices competing against one another – the bottom one invoking the repeated strokes of a drum. Like the first, this movement places great importance on the interval of an open 5th – sonically pure but also hollow, the acoustic properties of this interval will have fascinated Tartini. The sonata ends with the alluring Adagio affetuoso, whose serpentine melody is inflected with expressive chromaticism. ! ! Kaija Saariaho Nocturne for solo violin Kaija Saariaho, like Tartini, begun as a violinist, studying at the Sibelius Academy in her native Finland. Also like Tartini, she has developed a highly personal and idiosyncratic style of writing for solo string instruments, as can be heard in a number of pieces for cellist Anssi Karttunen including Spins & Spells (1996) and Sept Papillons (2000), and in 1994’s Nocturne for solo violin. ! While working on her violin concerto, Graal Theatre, Saariaho heard of the death of the great Polish composer Witold Lutosławski. She wrote Nocturne very quickly, dedicating it to his memory, and subsequently using its material as the basis for the violin concerto.4 ! Sheppard-Skaerved,‘Giuseppe Tartini', 5. Korhonen, Kimmo, ’The many world of Kaija Saariaho’s music for strings’, liner notes to Ondine, ODE 1222-2, 5. 3 4 The piece is striking for its fragility and vulnerability – there is a haptic quality here, with musical gestures chosen as much for the grain of their sound as for their harmonic or melodic implications. The range of sound qualities coaxed out of the violin is large – the crunched ‘scratch’ tones and brittle half-fingered pitches are contrasted with the more resonant qualities of open strings and resonant harmonics. These latter sounds tend to glisten like beams of light against the nocturnal atmosphere. ! The harmony is generally static – there is throughout a sense of a musical landscape unfolding or unspooling, rather than coming from any direct statement. This lends the whole piece an air of stillness, even in the central section where the music starts to move with greater purpose. This stillness, challenging to maintain given the awkwardness of many of the physical actions the violinist is required to perform, makes the piece a fitting and quietly moving tribute to Lutosławski. ! ! Igor Stravinsky Duo Concertant Cantilène – Eglogue I – Eglogue II – Gigue – Dithyramb (Hannah Ely, piano) ! Stravinsky’s Duo Concertant is an example of something that I value a lot – the close collaboration between a performer and a composer. Previously, Stravinsky had not been creatively excited by the violins, finding strings ‘much too evocative and representative of the human voice’, unlike the winds which were ‘ d r i e r, c l e a n e r, l e s s p ro n e t o f a c i l e expressiveness’.5 This was because of his neoclassical, anti-Romantic sentiments – he disliked anything that was over-emotional, and strings with their vibrato seemed not precise enough for him. ! 5 Walsh, Stephen, Stravinsky: A Creative Spring, London, 2000, 208. This changed, however, when he begun working with violinist Samuel Dushkin on 1931’s Violin Concerto. Stravinsky said that ‘a deeper knowledge of the violin and close collaboration with a technician like Dushkin had revealed possibilities I longed to explore’,6 and the early thirties are almost a ‘violin period’ in his output – as well as the concerto and the Duo Concertant, he arranged lots of his previous music for violin and piano, so that he and Dushkin could tour playing recitals. ! What’s very striking about the piece is how lyrical it is – there is real sweetness and melody – but also how these melodies never quite work the way one expects. Stravinsky approvingly quoted a recent book by Cingria on the Greek poet Petrarch (coincidentally, also a great influence on Tartini’s Sonatas): Lyricism cannot exist without rules, and it is essential that they should be strict. Otherwise there is only a faculty for lyricism, and that exists everywhere. What does not exist everywhere is lyrical expression and composition.7 Despite these rules, Paul Griffiths says that the Duo ‘sublimely makes up its rules as it goes along’.8 There are plenty of strange choices in the piece, not least in the movement titles. ! The first movement, is on the whole hardly lyrical in the way that its title, Cantilène might subject, while most mischievous is the final movement, entitled Dithyramb, a Greek term meaning a wild and ecstatic dance. Stravinsky’s Dithyramb, by contrast, is an initially cool and reserved slow movement – ‘far more Bachian than Bacchanalian’.9 ! However unreliable his titles, the music is charming, inventive and sometimes intensely moving. There is real wit and vivacity in the bouncing romp of the Gigue or the quickly forgotten bagpipe tune of Eglogue I, and Stravinsky often uses harmonics, open strings and left hand pizzicato to achieve striking sonorities (they also serve to eradicate some of the vibrato that might seem to him too romantic). Stravinsky’s piece is sometimes strange, sometimes joyful, sometimes sweet but always totally personal. Stravinsky, Igor, An Autobiography, New York, 1936, 170. ibid. 8 Griffiths, Paul, Stravinsky: The Master Musicians, London, 1992, 108. 9 ibid. 6 7 Tom Coult ! Sparking and Slipping (Tom Coult, cond.; Anne Denholm, harp; Hannah Ely, piano; Henry Fynn, percussion) I wanted to commission a piece from Tom Coult as I have previously played his Études 1 & 2 for solo violin, and he, like Saariaho and Tartini, originally started as a violinist. I also knew that we could do some of the same close collaboration as Stravinsky did with Samuel Dushkin. I asked him for a piece that would feel theatrical in some way, and with an unusual accompanying ensemble. This is what Tom says about the piece: ! ‘It was great to be asked to write a piece for Sarah to go alongside these fascinating pieces. Because of Sarah’s choice of Tartini, I wanted to capture some of the spirit (though not the sound) of baroque music. I like the white-knuckle virtuosity of a lot of Vivaldi for instance, and the idea of an accompagnato ensemble that supports and provides a backdrop to the pyrotechnics of the soloist like in baroque opera, rather than contributing much material of its own.’ ! The piece opens with a fast dance, obsessively circling around the same notes, before variations of the same material. At the centre of the work is a long, slow passage of genuine lyricism, with the ensemble acting like a resonating chamber for the violin. The fast dance then returns, more dramatic this time, and the piece ends with a quiet coda. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! BIOGRAPHY Sarah Hill is a violinist for whom creating and performing with a diverse range of composers, musicians and artists is at the centre of her musical life. ! Sarah recently formed the Viscera Ensemble, a collective of musicians dedicated to performing contemporary music and making it more accessible for new audiences, who had their first concert earlier this year performing Crumb’s Eleven Echoes of Autumn and leading music-making workshops with young people. As Opera Viscera’s lead violinist, Sarah has brought new opera to audiences at OPEN Art Gallery, Secret Garden Party, Arcola Theatre and Cockpit Theatre. ! Sarah is currently completing her Masters as a TCL Scholar studying violin with Clare Thompson at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, and previously studied at the University of Manchester where she was awarded the McMyn Prize for Instrumental Excellence. At Trinity, Sarah has explored her interest in early music; studying with baroque specialist Walter Reiter and playing in projects led by Ian Wilson, Bill Barclay, Nicholas Kraemer and Belinda Sykes. She is a dedicated chamber musician, performing regularly with pianist Hannah Ely and as a member of the Sautinne Quartet was awarded first prize in Trinity Laban’s John Barbirolli String Quartet Competition. ! Sarah is also passionate about music education, and when she is not performing she is a violin tutor for the Bridge Project and Pembroke Academy of Music as well as leading her own creative music workshops. ! Sarah is extremely grateful to the Felicity Belfield Trust, Peter Parmigiani, The Ruby and Will George Trust and the Yorkshire Ladies Council of Education for their support with her musical studies. ! Tom Coult is a London-born composer whose work has earned commissions and performances by ensembles including BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Manchester Camerata, Orchestra of the Swan and Psappha. He is currently studying with George Benjamin, and upcoming commissions include a new work for Britten Sinfonia. ! Originally from Wales, Anne Denholm is one of Britain’s leading young harpists and is earning a reputation for her powerful performances. She underwent a British musical upbringing, studying at the Purcell School, Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music. Twice winner of the Skaila Kanga Harp Prize, she has won awards as a solo, chamber and orchestral musician. She is particularly respected for her work in contemporary music and has been recording and performing new works for harp since 2006. She is a founding member of contemporary experimental quartet, ‘The Hermes Experiment’, who commission, arrange and improvise engaging new music. ! Hannah Ely studied music at Manchester University then took a Postgraduate Diploma in piano at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, graduating with a Distinction. Hannah focuses mainly on contemporary repertoire and has been working with Sarah for two years. Hannah also sings professionally in consorts and choirs, and teaches parttime. ! Henry Fynn has been playing percussion ever since being chucked at the back of his local youth orchestra to play triangle. Since then he has played with many ensembles in and around London including the London Firebird Orchestra and Kantanti Ensemble. He was also fortunate enough to play at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Since starting studies at Trinity Laban he has developed a keen interest in playing on period instruments and playing in chamber ensembles. Once he has finished undergraduate degree he hopes to carry on studying for a Masters and then to hopefully play professionally.