245 results for 'Reflections'

Slavko Popovic, Stephen Waarts, and Chelsea Wang

Bartók - Contrasts

Bela Bartók

Instruments: Clarinet, Piano, and Violin

Commissioned by famed clarinetist Benny Goodman, Béla Bartók’s Contrasts could hardly be a better representation of the twin dichotomies present both in Bartók’s mature style and in Goodman’s fascination with classical music. Bartók was known for drawing heavily in his compositions from the Hungarian folk music that he studied and preserved as a musicologist, and each of the work’s three movements reflect this influence. Traditional Romanian and Hungarian folk tunes are the basis of many of the melodies, and the shifting rhythms are typical of Hungarian dance music. At the same time, he makes use of a complex tonal system incorporating elements of bitonality and atonality, and these features are evident in Contrasts, as the music shifts back and forth between tonal and contemporary harmony. The resulting changes in style, harmony, and expression led Bartok to the work’s eventual title, Contrasts. (An earlier version of the work was performed with the title Rhapsody.) Goodman, on the other hand, made his name in jazz, which had grown out of the tradition of “hot music,” a popular style of performing and embellishing folk tunes in the American South after the turn of the century. Known as perhaps the greatest jazz clarinetist of the 20th century, Goodman also had significant impact in the classical world, commissioning and premiering Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto and Poulenc’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in addition to Contrasts, and recording many other important classical works for clarinet. As artists whose work involved both popular and classical influences, Bartók and Goodman shared a clear affinity with one another, and both pushed popular melodies and styles to new heights. Nowhere is this more evident than in Contrasts, a classical work that could equally recall the folk dances of Hungary or the wild, improvisatory feel of early 20th-century “hot music” and jazz dance halls.

Aizuri Quartet, Miho Saegusa, Zoë Martin-Doike, Ayane Kozasa, and Karen Ouzounian

Webern - Langsamer Satz for String Quartet

Anton (Friedrich Wilhelm Von) Webern

Instruments: Cello, Viola, and Violin

Anton Webern’s Langsamer Satz was conceived as the composer hiked with Wilhelmine Mörtl, the woman who would later become his wife. Webern gushed about his experience in his diaries: “Our love rose to infinite heights and filled the Universe. Two souls were enraptured." The self-described love music he composed reflects this passionate inspiration, rising to wild heights at some times, and pulling back to quiet intimate moments at others. Translated literally as “slow movement,” Langsamer Satz is aptly titled. The music moves at a leisurely pace, and at about ten minutes in length, this early piece is one of Webern’s longest works. In contrast, his mature style is extremely economical in terms of musical ideas. Webern would become identified with short, tightly composed serial works, even when writing for large groups such as the symphony orchestra. But this brilliant student of Schoenberg wrote primarily tonal music in the early portion of his career. Langsamer Satz was composed just after Webern began his studies with Schoenberg, but before he fully embraced serialism. The exaggerated swells and chromatic harmony are typical of Romantic music around the turn of the century, reflecting the influence of composers such as Mahler and Wagner, and even evoking such early works of Schoenberg as Verklärte Nacht.