Saturday, August 12, 2023 | 7:30 PM
Hannaford Hall, USM | Portland
Step right up for an utterly delightful mini musical summer vacation! First stop, a charming piece for piano four-hands evoking nature-related sounds and scenes of the English countryside, paired with a poetic, atmospheric quintet by a self-described “brazen Romantic.” Enjoy a taste of the jazzy flavors of Gershwin before jet-setting off to Bohemia for Dvořák’s masterful piano quartet, lending a folksy flair and rollicking vitality to this truly glorious adventure.
Amy Beach Summer Dreams, Op. 47 for Piano Four-Hands (1901)
Benjamin Hochman and Henry Kramer, piano
Arnold Bax Quintet for Harp and Strings (1919)
Gabriela Diaz and Jennifer Elowitch, violins; Melissa Reardon, viola; Brant Taylor, cello; Charles Overton, harp
George Gershwin (arr. Asti) Three Preludes for Clarinet and Piano (1926)
Todd Palmer, clarinet; Henry Kramer, piano
Antonín Dvořák Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 87 (1889)
I. Allegro con fuoco
III. Allegro moderato, grazioso
IV. Finale. Allegro ma non troppo
Susie Park, violin; Melissa Reardon, viola; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello; Benjamin Hochman, piano
* Programs and artists subject to change
Concert run time is approximately 1 hr 45 min, including a brief 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
Antonín Dvořák was a Czech Austro-Hungarian composer. He frequently employed rhythms and other aspects of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia in his work, following the Romantic-era nationalist example of his predecessor Bedřich Smetana. Dvořák's style has been described as "the fullest recreation of a national idiom with that of the symphonic tradition, absorbing folk influences and finding effective ways of using them."
Dvořák's second piano quartet is big, rich and powerful, spanning a traditional four-movement plan. The first movement, in a grand sonata form, features the composer's love of long, lyrical themes. The slow second movement is a song of tremendous beauty whose combination of grace, color and passionate emotional outpouring makes apparent Dvořák's admiration for Schubert. The third scherzo movement begins as a gentle, swaying folk waltz that gradually accelerates to a driving urgency by the end of the movement. The super-charged finale contains a lively folk dance replete with pizzicato and bristling piano figurations emulating the Gypsy dulcimer.
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist whose compositions spanned popular, jazz and classical genres. Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), the songs "Swanee" (1919) and "Fascinating Rhythm" (1924), the jazz standards "Embraceable You" (1928) and "I Got Rhythm" (1930), and the opera Porgy and Bess (1935), which included the hit "Summertime."
Gershwin's Three Preludes, first premiered by the composer at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1926, are a collection of short piano pieces. Each prelude is a well-known example of early-20th-century American classical music, as influenced by jazz. Gershwin originally planned to compose 24 preludes in a collection called The Melting Pot, but that number was steadily reduced — to seven in manuscript form, then six after public performances, and then three when first published. Two of the remaining preludes not published were rearranged for solo violin and piano and published as Short Story.
Arnold Bax was an English composer, poet, and author. His prolific output includes songs, choral music, chamber pieces, and solo piano works, but he is best known for his orchestral music. In addition to a series of symphonic poems, he wrote seven symphonies and was for a time widely regarded as the leading British symphonist.
Bax had a deep love of Irish culture and the landscape of Ireland, which he visited often, returning to a little village in County Donegal annually for almost 30 years. It was during such a visit in 1919 that he wrote the Quintet for Harp and Strings, evoking the scenery that provided so much inspiration for him. The one-movement Quintet is dedicated to Raymond Jeremy, the violist of the Philharmonic Quartet, which gave the first performance of the work in 1921.
Composer and pianist Amy Beach was the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music. Her "Gaelic" Symphony, premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1896, was the first symphony composed and published by an American woman. She was one of the most respected and acclaimed American composers of her era.
Born in New Hampshire, Beach drew great inspiration from nature, as is evident in her 1901 composition for piano four-hands Summer Dreams. The piece flits between movements with titles like "The Brownies," a dance of fairy sprites, "Robin Redbreast," "Katy-Dids," and "Elfin Tarantelle." Beach's love for vivid imagery was further magnified by her synesthesia, which caused the composer to "hear" musical keys as colors. For instance, she heard A-flat Major, the key of the middle movement "Twilight," as blue, and C Major, the key of the final movement "Goodnight," as white.
Fun Fact: Did you know Amy Beach's father was the nephew of Oren B. Cheney, who co-founded Bates College?