The following program notes are for The Colburn Orchestra's performance of Toru Takemitsu's "From Me Flows What You Call Time" and Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 5" in C-sharp minor. The show airs, Thursday May 3rd, at 9:00PM.
About the Music:
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)
"From me flows what you call Time" (1990)
Today regarded as perhaps the most-renowned Japanese composer of our time, Torů Takemitsu began his musical career in opposition to the musical heritage of his home country. Conscripted into the military in 1944 during World War II, a young Takemitsu quickly became embittered toward the nationalist government of Japan. When the war ended with the United States occupation of his country, the injured Takemitsu convalesced in an American-run hospital. He dedicated many of his bedridden hours to listening to Western music which had been banned in Japan during the war. With only the music he had heard during this recovery period as a foundation, Takemitsu set about his first serious compositions at the age of 16 and began to delve into the avant-garde musical scene. During a visit to Japan in the 1950s, Igor Stravinsky was serendipitously introduced to Takemitsu's music when the wrong side of a record of Japanese compositions was played for him at a meeting. Having caught Stravinsky's interest, Takemitsu quickly rose to international attention, completing commissions for concert and film music for organizations around the world. As Takemitsu's career advanced, he gradually became interested in the music of the East, and of his homeland in particular,
resulting in compositions that showcase a unique blend of Eastern and Western idioms.
From me flows what you call Time is a prime example of Takemitsu's mastery of composition in both of these idioms, separately and blended. The piece was commissioned by Carnegie Hall in honor of its centenary and was premiered by Nexus percussion ensemble and the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa in 1990. The title of the piece is taken from the poem "Clear Blue Water" by Japanese poet Makoto Ooka and is meant to evoke the 100 years of time that had"flowed" through Carnegie Hall at the time of the work's premiere.
Takemitsu composed the piece as a musical and theatrical representation of the concept of the "Wind Horse," a Tibetan pre-Buddhist symbol that represents a combination of both horse and wind, a being strong enough and fast enough to carry prayers
directly to the heavens. The Wind Horse is commonly used in the visual program of Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags. Such flags are mirrored visually in performance of From me flows what you call Time by the composer's directions to use five differently colored
ribbons that reach from the performers to the ceiling of the hall. Chimes attached to these ribbons are intoned sporadically throughout the piece, representing the transmission of man's prayers to the deities. Takemitsu further imbues the piece with a
sense of theatricality, giving precise directions to the soloists with regards to dress, manner and staging. The very particular and scripted way in which the piece is performed lends to it an air of ritual; this feeling of spirituality is reinforced by the collection of rare percussion instruments, which, used together, create an
The composer has divided this one-movement work into nine sections, each one given an evocative title to represent a point in the journey through time. The piece begins with a plaintive statement of the main motive by a solo flute, A Breath of Air. This "breath" acts as a call to the soloists to enter the stage as the next section, Premonition, is presented in the cellos and basses. The progression of the piece carries the audience through the flow of time in the remaining sections -- Plateau, Curved Horizon, The Wind Blows, Mirage, The Promised Land, and Life's Joys and Sorrows-- before ending with a simple Prayer, signifying the end of the ritual.
Written by Colburn Conservatory student Briana Lehman, a bassoonist in the Artist Diploma program.
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
"Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor" (1901-02)
The opening trumpet call of Mahler's Fifth Symphony announces a profound change
in his compositional style. It bids farewell to his "first period" and the picturesque world of
his previous symphonies -- their programmatic nature based upon poetic texts and the use of voices. The First Symphony had quotes from his song cycle, Lieder einesfahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), and the subsequent Second, Third and Fourth Symphonies all included choruses or vocal solos.
Interesting to note, however, is that the opening trumpet call is actually a quote from the Fourth Symphony. In the Fourth it appears right after the pounding climax in the first movement in which the trumpet calls the orchestra back into order. In this way, the call provides a link to the old world that Mahler leaves behind, or perhaps, it symbolizes that the seed of the new period is found within the old.
The Fifth Symphony also marks a change in Mahler's orchestration from his earlier symphonies. At the turn of the 19th century, Mahler acquired the complete edition of Bach's works and the influence of the master can be seen in his music -- the parts are more often independent of each other and his textures become increasingly
contrapuntal. Mahler also makes more frequent use of smaller groupings in the orchestra, creating the effect of the ensemble being composed by a greatly varied series of smaller chamber groups. This new orchestral style did not come easily to Mahler
and he was horrified to discover at a reading rehearsal before the premiere of the Fifth Symphony that he had over-orchestrated many sections of the score. Still unsatisfied after the official premiere, he continued to make revisions to the score until at least
1907, and possibly until his death in 1911.
Mahler sets the Fifth Symphony in five movements, arranged into three over-arching sections, consisting respectively of movements one and two; movement three; and concluding with movements four and five. The three-part structure traces a course in which the mood progresses from darkness and tragedy to exuberance and joy. The two movements of Part I are tragic and angry, while the third movement, the central Scherzo comprising Part II by itself, contains moments of anxiety contrasted with jubilation. It represents the transition of moods, finally leading to Part III, which conveys love and joy. The harmonic progression also mirrors this astonishing change, moving up a half-step from the opening movement in C-sharp minor, to the last movement which closes the symphony in a triumphant D Major.
The opening movement of the symphony is entitled Trauermarsch (Funeral march). A single trumpet summons the orchestra with a fanfare of rapid triplets, leading to a dark, somber lament sung by the violins and cellos. The opening music returns and is followed
once again by the lament, which unfolds with more intense grieving. As the march comes to a full close, the trumpet fanfare returns once again to introduce the next section, the trio - a wild, hysterical outcry in B-flat minor consisting of the violins whipping rapid scales while the trumpet screams its anguish in wave after wave of great intensity. Gradually the wild music subsides and the main march returns, the lament varied and intensified. This
time the melody is accompanied by a punctuating rhythm in the trumpets and trombones. The second trio is more subdued and returns in the context of the slow tempo, and the movement disintegrates into echoes of the trumpet fanfare, closing with a final menacing pizzicato in the lower strings.
The second movement, marked Stürmisch bewegt. Mit grösster Vehemenz ("Stormy, with greatest vehemence") is in many way the main movement of the work, although not the longest. Whereas the opening movement is slow with fast interruptions, this movement is its inversion, a fast movement that returns several times to the funeral-march tempo. It shares thematic material with the opening movement, taking the frenetic outbursts for its main character, contrasted with variants of the funeral march in the cellos and clarinets. The trumpets and trombones introduce a chorale-- the first time an extended section has been in a major key--but it does not last long before it is defeated, and this movement, too, disintegrates in mystery, bringing Part I to a close.
Following the dark and dreariness of the previous section, Part II represents "a human being in the full light of day, in the prime of his life." It consists of the third movement alone, the Scherzo, and at over 800 measures, it is not only the longest movement of this
symphony, but one of Mahler's longest movements in any work. The music lilts and waltzes with great energy and speed, joyous at times and nostalgic at others. It is contrasted with twists every now and then of boisterous, sometimes brutal passages.
Part III opens with the famous fourth movement, the Adagietto, a love song without words written for Mahler's wife, Alma. The movement recalls one of Mahler's first Rückert songs, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, and the breathtakingly beautiful melody grows hesitatingly, in sweeping arches, over the harmony gently strummed out by the harp. It is a movement of utmost enchantment and beauty.
A single note from the horn, delightfully unexpected, introduces the fifth and final movement, a grand Rondo-Finale. As abruptly as he left the tragedy of the Part I with the vitality of the Scherzo, Mahler now leaves behind the hesitations of the Adagietto and dives into the Finale with vigorous radiance and energy, in the new key of D major. Part of the Adagietto even turns up, almost unrecognizable, surrounded by music of very different spirit and speed. The music builds to a climax in which the same brass chorale that was defeated in the second movement is brought back, this time heroically bringing the symphony, and the ultimate struggle and rise from tragedy to victory, to a magnificently triumphant close.
Written by Colburn Conservatory student Bora Kim, a violinist and pianist in the Bachelor of Music program.
About the Conductor
Internationally recognized for his moving performances, innovative programming and extensive catalogue of recordings, American conductor Gerard Schwarz serves as Music Director of the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina and Jack Benaroya Conductor
Laureate of the Seattle Symphony.
Schwarz, a renowned interpreter of 19th Century German, Austrian and Russian repertoire in addition to his noted work with contemporary American composers, recently completed his final season as Music Director of the Seattle Symphony after an acclaimed 26 years. The success of Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony helped raise the profile of the city of Seattle as a progressive leader of art and culture. Maestro Schwarz was instrumental in the building of Benaroya Hall, spearheading efforts that resulted in an acoustically superb new home for the Seattle Symphony. During his tenure as Music Director, the Orchestra amassed a critically acclaimed discography of more than 140 recordings; created numerous television programs and concert broadcasts resulting in two Emmy Awards; made major strides in music education programs including new series and the successful Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center; instituted regular programming of innovative themed festival weeks; and dramatically increased audience attendance and classical subscription weeks. Schwarz's final season in Seattle
was emblematic of the conductor's passionate dedication to and support for contemporary music, with a total of 22 world premieres, 18 of these premieres being a part of the Gund/Simonyi Farewell Commissions, an unprecedented commissioning initiative celebrating his farewell season as Music Director.
With more than 300 world premieres to his credit, Schwarz has always felt strongly about commissioning and performing new music. As Music Director of the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, one of this country's foremost training programs for young musicians, Schwarz programmed a record nine world premieres for the recent 50th Anniversary Season. Accomplishments during his tenure include expanding the Festival's audiences to the largest in its history, incorporating a composer in residence program, developing three new concert series and increasing collaboration with the Appalachian Summer Festival where he serves as Artistic Partner for Symphonic Music
A prolific recording artist, Schwarz's total discography numbers more than 329 on labels such as Naxos, Delos, EMI, Koch, New World, Nonesuch, Reference Recording, RLPO Classics, Columbia/Sony and RCA. His pioneering cycles of American symphonists such as William Schuman, David Diamond and Howard Hanson have received high critical praise, as have his acclaimed series of Stravinsky ballets, symphony cycles of Robert Schumann, Gustav Mahler and Dmitri Shostakovich, and orchestral works of Richard
Wagner, Richard Strauss and Rimsky-Korsakov. The conductor has a number of releases scheduled for 2011 on three different labels, including four albums of works by Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin, as well as the highly-anticipated re-release of the complete Howard Hanson Symphonies on Naxos, Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf for Brilliance Audio and Mahler's Symphonies No. 3 and No. 10 on Artek. The Hanson cycle, first released on Delos, was a mainstay on the Billboard's classical music best-selling list for 41 weeks, including six weeks at number three; earned Grammy nominations, and was named 1989 Record of the Year by Stereo Review. The new Russian series on Naxos has been acclaimed as "a high point in the extensive Schwarz/Seattle discography" (Classics Today), "very fine" (The Guardian) and "a powerhouse in
Russian Romantic repertoire" (Music Web International). In addition to his numerous recordings with the Seattle Symphony, he has also recorded with the Berlin Radio Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, London
Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Symphony, New York Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra National de France, Philadelphia Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Tokyo Philharmonic.
The Maestro's long-standing commitment to education will continue through a series of television projects now in development. A gifted composer and arranger, Schwarz has in recent years expanded his compositional activities. His Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano was called a work of "sophistication and intelligence" by critic R.M. Campbell. Earlier works, including In Memoriam and Rudolf and Jeanette (dedicated to the memory of his grandparents who perished in the Holocaust) were both recorded by Naxos; and Human Spirit, a composition for children's choir and orchestra, and his duos for violin and cello were called "redolent of the gentle humanism central to much of the music Schwarz loves to conduct" by the Seattle Times. His arrangements of suites from Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande and Webern's Langsamer Satz are programmed in concerts worldwide. Commissions are currently in process for the Cornell University Wind Ensemble, a symphony in three movements for David Gannett set to premiere in 2012 at the Eastern Music Festival; a clarinet and string quintet for the
clarinettist Jon Manasse; and the completion of his four duos for violin and cello composed for Maria Larionoff and Julian Schwarz.
A sought-after guest conductor, Schwarz has led orchestras throughout the world including Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Berlin Radio Symphony, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Hong Kong Philharmonic, London Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Orchestre Nationale de France, Singapore Symphony and the Tokyo Philharmonic. In the United States he has led the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony. He is also known for his operatic performances in addition to his concert work, having appeared with the Juilliard Opera, Kirov Opera, Mostly Mozart Festival, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera and Washington National Opera conducting the operas of Wagner, Janáček, Strauss, Mozart, Bizet, Weber, Debussy, Bartók, Stravinsky, Beethoven and Gluck.
Born in America to Viennese parents, Schwarz began studying music at age five and soon focused on the trumpet. A graduate of both New York City's High School of Performing Arts and The Juilliard School, he joined the New York Philharmonic in 1972
as co-principal trumpet, a position he held until 1977. Schwarz's numerous previous positions include Music Director of New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, where he presided over sold-out houses, developed the orchestra's international touring, maintained a
nine year residency in Japan, considerably expanded its Mozart repertoire and through its televised Live from Lincoln Center appearances earned several Emmy nominations. His tenure as Music Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra initiated the long-standing partnership between the orchestra and Classic FM, expanded recordings on the RLPO Live label, initiated a new partnership with Avie records, created the enormously popular Sunday matinee Musically Speaking concert series which remains the orchestra's fastest growing audience to this day, led highly acclaimed tours to Spain and Prague and brought the orchestra to National Television in BBC Proms broadcasts.
As Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and New York Chamber Symphony he expanded concert series and audiences, made award-winning recordings and championed new works. In addition he served as Artistic Advisor to the Tokyo
In his nearly five decades as a respected classical musician and conductor, Schwarz has received hundreds of honors and accolades. Over the years, he has received two Emmy Awards, 13 Grammy nominations, six ASCAP Awards and numerous Stereo Review and Ovation Awards. He holds the Ditson Conductor's Award from Columbia University, was the first American named Conductor of the Year by Musical America and has received
numerous honorary doctorates, including from his alma mater, The Juilliard School. In 2002 the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers honored Schwarz with its Concert Music Award and in 2003 the National Academy of Recording Arts &
Sciences gave Schwarz its first "IMPACT" lifetime achievement award. Active in music advocacy on a national and state level, he served on the National Council of the Arts and is currently Chairman of the Board of Young Musicians Excelling, an organization in Washington State which supports music education in the Pacific Northwest. Most recently, the City of Seattle recognized his outstanding achievements by naming the street alongside the Benaroya Hall "Gerard Schwarz Place," and the State of Washington gave him the honorary title of "General" for his extraordinary contributions as an artist and citizen.