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Cho-Liang Lin, violin
- October 11-12, 2013 8:00 PM
- where: Dell Hall directions
- conductor: Peter Bay
The Austin Symphony continues its Classical Series season with violin great, Cho-Liang Lin. Mr. Lin will be performing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63. The evening will open with Mark Wilson’s Meteora and conclude with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64
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|Mark Edwards Wilson||Meteora|
|Prokofiev||Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63|
|Tchaikovsky||Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64|
Mark Edwards Wilson
Program notes supplied by the composer.
Meteora was inspired by my travels in Greece, in particular a journey to the dramatic, precipitous rock formations of the same name, crowned with ancient monasteries. (In Greek the meaning of “Meteora” is “suspended in air”). A deeply revered site even in antiquity, the near perpendicular stone masses of Meteora rise from the valley floor to a great height and are streaked and eroded by centuries of wind and rain. In the deep and winding recesses forming the intervals between the lofty pinnacles, a thick foliage of trees gives shade and coloring. My first experience of the site was in the light and deep shadows of a blazing sunset. The majestic scene impressed me profoundly. The music of Meteora attempts to reflect that moving experience.
This past summer, Meteora was awarded first prize in the “New Orchestral Repertoire Project,” an international competition to foster new music for orchestra sponsored by the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra. In addition to a cash prize, the MPO performed Meteora on July 20 and 28, Jere Lantz conducting.
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev
b. April 23, 1891 in Sontsovka, Ukraine; d. March 5, 1953 in Moscow, Russia, age 61.
Violin Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 63. Completed in 1935, age 44.
Although his life began in old Russia, and ended in the same country morphed into the Soviet Union, Prokofiev composed some of his most effective works during the time he spent in Paris from 1920 to 1936. Paris provided a much more congenial atmosphere for Prokofiev. More than a dozen major works were penned there, including most of the Violin Concerto No. 2.
Prokofiev wrote this concerto at the same time he was at work on his fabled ballet, Romeo & Juliet. By 1935 he had adopted a more accessible style of writing that was more reliant on melody and less rhythmically challenging. In this regard, the Violin Concerto No. 2 sings eloquently. The solo violin opens the concerto with a slow tune, which soon shows more athleticism. The counter theme is a lovely tune that sounds like it was ripped of the score to Romeo & Juliet: here it seems that Prokofiev reached his dictum, “We must seek a new simplicity.” The movement closes with much flair and brilliance.
The slow movement, marked Andante assai, opens with halting steps in pizzicato strings and clarinet, and the violin enters with one of Prokofiev’s most ravishing, dream-like melodies. The tune returns thrice more, each after a faster interlude, each time more adorned, lastly played by the entire violin section.
The third movement, marked Allegro ben marcato, ends the work. It jolts the listener out of his reveries, with a rhythmic dance that has a decided folk flavor: Prokofiev even throws in castanets for local color (the work premiered in Madrid). A second theme, a rushing figure in the violin that gets faster each time it is played, shoves the dance aside several times, and the Concerto comes to a furious conclusion.
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
b. May 7, 1840 in Votinsk, Russia; d. November 6, 1893 in St. Petersburg, age 53.
Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64. Completed in 1888, age 48.
“Should not a symphony,” Tchaikovsky wrote to a friend, “reveal those wordless urges that hide in the heart, asking fervently for expression?” He answers this question in several of his mature works, including the Symphony No. 5, with melodies and ideas that both haunt and delight the listener.
For fifteen years Madame Nadezhda von Meck, a wealthy widow of a railway engineer, supported Tchaikovsky with an annual stipend – with one string attached: The two were never to meet. Their “remote control” relationship was strange, indeed, but it curiously met some of their mutual, deep-seated needs: both feared emotional closeness when it included physical intimacy, each for their own very private reasons. Their relationship consisted solely of exchanged letters, emotionally self-disclosing, sometimes bordering on the passionate. Tchaikovsky again: “I have tried more than once to express in music the torment and delight of love…Words are not enough, and where they are powerless, a more eloquent language comes fully armed: music.”
One must remember that all music was once new. While audiences today accept the Symphony No. 5 as one of the true great Russian symphonies, early critics were not always as embracing. In particular, the Finale invited vituperation. In 1892, one Boston writer penned, “The Finale is riotous beyond endurance. Instead of applying local color with a brush, Tchaikovsky emptied the paint pot with a jerk.” Another critic offered, “In the Finale we have all the untamed fury of a Cossack…[it] sounds like nothing so much as a horde of demons struggling in a torrent of brandy, the music growing drunker and drunker…above all, noise worse confounded.”
Symphony No. 5 is Tchaikovsky’s “Fate” symphony. Whereas Tchaikovsky described his Symphony No. 4 as a triumph over fate, in this symphony fate is a brigand that interrupts and casts a shadow over naïve human hopes and joy. The “Fate” motif is heard at the beginning of the Symphony, intoned by a pair of clarinets. It will interrupt the second movement’s love song, and appears, ghost-like, in the Waltz, which serves as the work’s third movement. In the Finale the theme appears transmogrified into a vulgar death march, majestic and triumphant. Paradoxically, Tchaikovsky viewed this denouement as a “happy ending.” Any happiness, it seems, is Fate’s, as it tramples frail humanity under the wheels of this juggernaut of a theme.
Violinist Cho-Liang Lin is lauded the world over for the eloquence of his playing and for the superb musicianship that marks his performances. In a concert career spanning the globe for more than thirty years, he is equally at home with orchestra, in recital, playing chamber music, and in a teaching studio.
Mr. Lin’s concert engagements reflect his wide-ranging musical activities. Performing on several continents, he appears as soloist with orchestras of Detroit, Toronto, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, San Diego and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; in Europe with the Bergen Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, and the English Chamber Orchestra; and in Asia with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, Malaysia Philharmonic, and Bangkok Symphony.
In recent seasons, Mr. Lin has expanded his orchestral engagements to include performances as both soloist and conductor. He completed season-long residencies with the Shanghai Symphony and with the Singapore Symphony which included engagements as soloist and conductor, participating in chamber music, and giving master classes. In 2012/13, Mr. Lin returns to play and conduct with the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan and the symphonies of Detroit, San Antonio, and Shanghai.
As an advocate for music of our time, Mr. Lin has enjoyed collaborations and premieres with composers such as Tan Dun, Joel Hoffman, John Harbison, Christopher Rouse, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Lalo Schifrin, Paul Schoenfield, Bright Sheng, and Joan Tower. An avid chamber musician, Mr. Lin appears at the Beijing Music Festival, as well as his perennial appearances performing at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Aspen Music Festival, and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
As Music Director of La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest since 2001, Mr. Lin has helped develop a festival that once focused primarily on chamber music into a multidiscipline festival featuring dance, jazz and a burgeoning new music program commissioning composers as diverse as Chick Corea, Stewart Copeland, Leon Kirchner, Christopher Rouse, Wayne Shorter, Kaija Saariaho and Gunther Schuller. In Asia, Mr. Lin serves as Artistic Director of Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival, and he was recently appointed Artistic Director of the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra’s Youth Music Summer Camp where he also conducts performances and serves as a member of the string faculty.
Cho-Liang Lin’s extensive discography includes recordings for Sony Classical, Decca, Ondine, Naxos and BIS. His albums have won such awards as Gramophone’s Record of the Year, as well as two Grammy Award nominations. His recordings reflect the breadth of his distinctive career including the standard violin concerti from Mozart to Stravinsky, chamber music from Brahms to Ravel and contemporary music from Chen Yi to Christopher Rouse. His most recent discs include Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Sejong and Anthony Newman, violin works of Bright Sheng and Gordon Chin on Naxos, and the First Violin Concerto by George Tsontakis on Koch. Upcoming plans include recording a violin concerto by Joan Tower with the Nashville Symphony.
Born in Taiwan in 1960, Cho-Liang Lin began his violin lessons when he was 5 years old with Sylvia Lee. At the age of 12, he went to Sydney to continue his musical studies with Robert Pikler. Inspired by an encounter with Itzhak Perlman while in Sydney, he traveled to New York in 1975 to audition for Perlman’s teacher, the late Dorothy DeLay, at the Juilliard School. He was to study with Miss DeLay for six years. At the age of nineteen Mr. Lin made his New York debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival and soon thereafter with the New York Philharmonic and his concert career was launched. In 2000 Musical America named Mr. Lin its Instrumentalist of the Year. He was invited to join the faculty of the Juilliard School in 1991. More recently he was appointed professor of violin at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He plays the 1715 “Titian” Stradivarius.