Thursday, August 10, 2023 | 7:30 PM
Hannaford Hall, USM | Portland
At the age of 17 Samuel Coleridge-Taylor became fascinated by the music of Dvořák, with its American and African-American influences. At 19 he heard Brahms’s landmark Clarinet Quintet, and immediately set to work on his own, which is filled with lush, youthful extravagance, and—like much of his music—incorporates traditions from both his African and English heritage. Ravel’s highly original Piano Trio is an exquisite work of consummate lightness and stunning power, featuring gorgeous melodic lines, rhythmic complexity, and truly otherworldly beauty.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Clarinet Quintet in F-sharp Minor, Op. 10 (1895)
I. Allegro energico
II. Larghetto affetuoso
III. Scherzo. Allegro leggiero
IV. Finale. Allegro agitato
Todd Palmer, clarinet; Susie Park and Jennifer Elowitch, violins; Melissa Reardon, viola; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Maurice Ravel Piano Trio in A Minor (1914)
II. Pantoum. Assez vif
III. Passacaille. Très large
IV. Final. Animé
Gabriela Diaz, violin; Brant Taylor, cello; Henry Kramer, piano
* Programs and artists subject to change
Concert run time is approximately one hour with no intermission. The concert will be live-streamed for free on our YouTube channel. The archived stream will be available to view for 24 hours.
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Meet The Composers
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was an English composer, conductor and political activist. He was particularly known for his three cantatas on the epic 1855 poem The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Coleridge-Taylor sought to draw from traditional African music and integrate it into the classical tradition, which he considered Brahms to have done with Hungarian music and Dvořák with Bohemian music.
His Clarinet Quintet was composed as the result of a challenge issued by his composition teacher at the Royal Academy of Music. After a performance of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, his teacher supposedly claimed that no composer could now write such a composition without escaping the influence of Brahms. In 2 months, Coleridge-Taylor did just that and, in the process, produced what an undeniable masterpiece.
Maurice Ravel was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with Impressionism, although he rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was regarded around the world as France's greatest living composer. Among his works are pieces for piano, chamber music, two piano concertos, ballet music, two operas and eight song cycles; he wrote no symphonies or church music. Many of his works exist in two versions: first, a piano score and later an orchestration.
During the summer of 1914, Ravel worked on his Trio in the French Basque commune of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, across the bay from where he was born. His mother was Basque, and he felt a deep identification with his Basque heritage, remarking that the opening to the piece was "Basque in colouring." While initial progress on the Trio was slow, the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 spurred on the composer to finish the work so that he could enlist in the army. In October, he was accepted as a nurse's aide, and in March 1916 he became a volunteer truck driver for the 13th Artillery Regiment.