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February 11, 2016 Program
Classical Music Notes
By Amy Williams
The pieces in this program are all connected in various ways to the music of
J.S. Bach用erhaps the greatest revolutionary in the history of music. Robert Schumann used Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier as a kind of manual for his own composition studies. He
said in 1838: "Bach is my daily bread. I refresh myself in his presence and perpetually draw new ideas from him." The perfection of Bach's counterpoint is directly passed on to the
Schumanns and is also heard in several of the contemporary pieces on the program (including Songs of the Mouse People by Martin Bresnick, which has near quotes from Bach's solo cello
sonatas). Even in the short character pieces of Kinderszenen, one can hear Bach's influence in the way the inner, contrapuntal lines weave together葉his is perhaps even more apparent
in this beautiful arrangement of the solo piano version for cello and piano.
Robert and Clara studied Bach's music together, starting on their honeymoon and well into
their creative lives together. Robert also introduced Clara to Goethe, Shakespeare and other literary classics. The depth and quality of the texts they set in their own songs is
unparalleled容xemplified here by four songs by Clara Schumann, sung by soprano Tiffany DuMouchelle, who recently moved to Buffalo, NY, joining the faculty at University at Buffalo,
where she currently teaches voice lessons, lyric diction, vocal pedagogy, and leads the experimental vocal ensemble Polyglot.
Cellist Jonathan Golove will perform his
piece "Another War" with DuMouchelle and flutist Lindsey Goodman. Ms. Goodman is in high demand as a soloist, chamber collaborator, orchestral musician, teacher, and clinician.
Lindsey is principal flutist of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, solo flutist and board member of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (PA), and adjunct lecturer at Marietta College
(OH) and West Virginia State University.
The importance of text (in this case by Susan Lewis) is clear in this final song from Golove's Imaginary Songs II, as well as in
the work for flute and piano by Amy Williams. Each of the 11 short pieces of First Lines takes the first line of a different poem as its starting point; as with a poem, the composer
attempts to instantly pull the listener in, to create a richly developed atmosphere in the very first moment of each piece. Bresnick's Songs of the Mouse People is based on Franz
Kafka's last short work "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse People." Composer Martin Bresnick about his piece: "Songs of the Mouse People is based on Franz Kafka's last short work
Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse People.
In that remarkable valedictory story, Kafka meditates on a mouse diva, Josephine, and her relationship to both her art and her
audience. In my composition I have translated sentences from the original that suggested (to me, at least) titles in the mouse people's multi-volume treasury of songs." Songs of the
Mouse People will be performed by cellist Jonathan Golove and percussionist Steve Solook.
The motoric, repetitive textures heard in Bach's Partita and Preludes are
referenced in Amy Williams' brand new solo piano work, Cineshape 4. This piece also borrows structural elements from the German film "Run Lola Run." This film is divided into three
episodes; Lola repeats the same day three times, starting in exactly the same way, but each time hoping that a slight modification of her actions will save the life of her boyfriend.
This simple concept葉hat there are numerous ways to develop a particular idea and that minor choices have serious consequences様eads to a multifaceted structure. The three sections of
the piano piece (each lasting approximately four minutes) can be performed in any order用redetermined by the performer and played without pause. Each episode must be perceived as
convincingly reaching its inevitable conclusion, despite the three different results. Much like the film, the piece is a high-paced, energetic tour-de-force, literally running from
start to finish with only occasional moments to stop and take a breath. Buffalo born composer, pianist Amy Williams holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University at Buffalo, where
she also received her Master's degree in piano performance. She has taught at Bennington College and Northwestern University and is currently Associate Professor of Composition at the
University of Pittsburgh. She is Artistic Director of the New Music on the Point Festival in Vermont.
(for flute and piano) was composed in the spring of 2006, while I was in residence at the Bellagio Center on Lake Como, Italy. The piece was inspired by Bellagio葉he place and its residents擁n a very direct way. As I was perusing the library, I noticed numerous titles of books of poems that were suggestive of music and time. I began reading these books and I was struck by the ability of a strong poem to instantly pull the reader in, to create a richly developed atmosphere in the very first line. I began to imagine how this same effect could be achieved with music. That set me on the course of writing a series of miniatures容ach piece lasting between 10 and 90 seconds and inspired by a different poem. The poems I was most attracted to were written by women, all former residents of Bellagio.