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Listening

2006 Concert recordings (comments by Brian Newhouse)
Audio Listen
Shostakovich: Sonata for Cello and Piano in d minor, op. 40

For Menlo's first three seasons, co-artistic directors David Finckel and Wu Han never appeared in duet together because they—a phenomenal husband-wife cello-piano team—were very conscious that Menlo should not be all about them. Their focus was on the music itself and the artists they'd invited. But here in the first moments of the first 2006 concert they paired up for this fantastic performance that shows why they are who they are.

Audio Listen
Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 2 in e, op. 67
—Derek Han, piano; Ani Kavafian, violin; Peter Wiley, cello

Mozart celebrated birthday number 250 this year, so he was the headline of the 2006 Menlo festival, but the sub-head was Shostakovich who has 100 candles on his cake. Not that there’s much celebrating going on in this piece, written in the horrible year of 1944. If you like your music nice and dramatico, here you go. If you’ve only got a minute to sample it, go to the beginning of third movement and check out Peter Wiley’s beautiful, eerie cello solo, pitched so high that it sounds like a completely different instrument.

Audio Listen
Mozart: Sonata for Piano, Four Hands, in C major, K. 521
Wu Han, Derek Han, piano
Key
is everything here. After the Shostakovich on the first half—both pieces in the December darkness of d minor and e minor—this C Major Mozart Sonata is the first day of spring.
Audio Listen
Mozart: Church Sonatas in F, K. 244; E-flat, K. 67; C, K. 336
Ani Kavafian, Tein-Hsin Wu, violin; Peter Wiley, cello; James Welch, organ

These churchy pieces always make me smile, knowing a bit about the complexity of Mozart's character, especially his delight in bathroom humor. But here he is being a good pious young man, and a professional composer trying to please his boss.
Audio Listen
Mozart: Piano Quartet in g, K. 478
Wu Han, piano; Ani Kavafian, violin; Carla Maria Rodrigues, viola; Peter Wiley, cello

The delicious final course in the musical meal of Menlo's first program.
Audio Listen
Schubert: Fantasy for Piano, Four Hands, in f, D. 940
Jeffery Kahane, Wu Han, piano

I think Schubert must have had read some twisted, tragic story before sitting down to write this, because he's so clearly trying to do the same with this music. He tells it as a story in four movements—four chapters, if you like—but each one flows without a break to the next. Jeffrey Kahane takes the lower part, while Wu Han plays 'right hand.' Afterward Jeffrey was telling me how surprised he was at the power of this particular Steinway, especially the low end, and that if he'd had another set of hands he would've covered his ears! (see blog post Menlo: noisy world)
Audio Listen
Antonin Dvorak: Piano Trio in e minor, op. 90, "Dumky"
Wu Han, piano; Ani Kavafian, violin; David Finckel, cello

This piece also unfolds as a set of stories, though I don’t see a nice red thread running through it as you can in the Schubert Fantasy. Each of these six movements is its own brilliant dark world. To watch David Finckel’s face during the performance—you can tell he’s enjoying the music in that way, as story: surprised at this turn, almost frightened at the next.
Audio Listen
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Adagio, K. 540; Gigue in G, K574; Fantasy in d, K. 397 for solo piano
Jeffery Kahane, piano

Kahane has been doing all the Mozart Piano Concertos with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra over the past season, conducting them from the piano keyboard. He has an almost religious affiliation with Mozart, and it comes out in the loving performances he gave these solo pieces.

Audio

Listen
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto in E-flat Major, K. 449 (1784)
Jeffery Kahane, piano; Joseph Silverstein, Ani Kavafian, violins;
Carla Maria Rodrigues, viola, David Finckel, cello; Scott Pingel, bass
The Orion String Quartet

Let me know what you think of this piece. After writing it for full orchestra and piano, Mozart made this chamber arrangement. The Menlo performance was impeccable, but I sure missed all the colors and textures and force of the big band. You?

Audio Listen
Johann Sebastian Bach arranged by Mozart:Five Fugues from The Well-Tempered Clavier for String Quartet, K. 405
The Orion String Quartet

Mozart made an intense study of Bach’s writing because he wanted to polish his own counterpoint writing. No better way to do that than by taking Bach’s preludes and fugues apart and re-arranging them for string quartet. It was a great exercise, but the result goes way beyond exercise: when these were recorded in St Mark’s Church in Palo Alto, the sanctuary was dimly lit and it felt as if we were indeed in church, the best service you could imagine.
Audio Listen
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Adagio and Fugue for String Quartet in c minor, K. 546 (1788)
The Orion String Quartet

I really don’t know what to make of this piece (not the performance, which was great). This sounds like Mozart trying to be someone he was not. He’d just come off his study of Bach and suffering a serious case of hero worship, as far as I can tell. To my ear he’s trying to be a dour German Lutheran instead of the ebullient Austrian Catholic that he was – and not really making it. What do you think?
Audio Listen
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: String Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 428 (1783)
The Orion String Quartet

The Orion String Quartet with the switch-hitting Phillips brothers, Daniel and Todd, who swap first-violin position about every other piece. Daniel’s turn here. The Menlo audience adored Orion and lined up for every one of their performances.
Audio Listen
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: String Quintet in C Major, K. 515, (1787)
The Orion String Quartet

Now this was something! The Mozart Quartets, written 225 years ago, are still models of writing for four strings, but when he added one player – in this case, viola – he stumbled on a whole new equation: 4 + 1 = 6, or even more. Bigger sound, vastly deeper expression. This Mozart Quintet was the real surprise for me of the Festival to date, as if someone had given me my first piece of chocolate. I didn’t know these Quintets existed. There are five more, so I’m on my way to check them out.
Audio Listen
Leos Janácek: "Mládí" (Youth)
—Carol Wincenc, flute; Allan Vogel, oboe; Anthony McGill, clarinet; Carey Bell, bass clarinet; Richard Todd, French horn; Frank Morelli, bassoon

Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Atherton…all these small cities south of San Francisco are blessed with the nicest weather you could imagine. Daytime highs ca. 76 degrees or so, lots of sunshine for months on end. So for those who reach a certain age and have had enough snow shoveling, this is a great place in which to retire. The senior members of the audience especially loved the fact that this wildly colorful piece of wind music was written by a man who was 70 years young.
Audio Listen
Johannes Brahms: Piano Quartet no. 3 in c minor op. 60
—Gilbert Kalish, piano; Jennifer Frautschi; violin; Paul Neubauer, viola; David Finckel, cello

If I had to choose one piece from Menlo 2006 that you have to listen to, here it is. I had a visceral reaction to it, and if you want to read one person’s attempt to try to put it into words – didn’t Steve Martin say that writing about music is as hard as dancing about architecture?. Short of that, here’s two things to know before listening: a.) Man Loves Woman Who Will Never Love Him Back; b.) buckle up for live-or-die music-making.
Audio Listen
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Flute Quartet in D Major, K. 285
—Carol Wincenc, flute; Jennifer Frautschi, violin; Paul Neubauer, viola; David Finckel, cello

Carol Wincenc hasn’t had the career of a Jean-Pierre Rampal or Jimmy Galway, and after listening to her for years, and again in this Quartet, I have no idea why. If you only have a minute, listen to her flute sing all alone in the middle movement with plucked strings underneath. Could’ve heard a pin drop when she played.
Audio Listen
Mozart: Serenade for Winds in c minor, K. 388
—Allan Vogel, Kimaree Gilad, oboes; Anthony McGill, Carey Bell, clarinets; Dennis Godburn, Frank Morelli, bassoons; Richard Todd, Brad Warnaar, French horn

The main lesson of Menlo 2006 was how Mozart just kept blowing apart the conventions of his day. Here’s the best case in point. Wind serenades were supposed to be a kind of beige audio wallpaper for the king’s dining room. Mozart got in trouble for this one. C Minor is a key you have to pay attention to! When guest-lecturer Ara Guzelimian was setting this piece up for the audience, he described this particular ensemble – principal players from some of America’s best orchestras – as his dream team of winds.
Audio Listen
Mozart: Quintet for Piano and Winds in E-flat Major, K. 452
—Gilbert Kalish, piano; Allan Vogel, oboe; Anthony McGill, clarinet; Dennis Godburn, bassoon; Richard Todd, French horn
Audio Listen
Benjamin Britten: Cello Suite no. 3, op. 87
—Colin Carr cello
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Igor Stravinsky: "Le Sacre du Printemps" (The Rite of Spring) for Piano, Four Hands
Gilbert Kalish, Wu Han, piano
Audio Listen
Olivier Messiaen: "Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps" (Quartet for the End of Time)
—Jorja Fleezanis violin; Anthony McGill clarinet; Colin Carr cello; Gilbert Kalish piano
Audio Listen
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581
—Jorja Fleezanis, Jennifer Frautschi, violins; CarlaMaria Rodrigues, viola; Colin Carr, cello


2005 Concert recordings
Audio Listen
Haydn: Piano Trio in E Major, Hob. XV: 28 (ca. 1795)
Ian Swensen violin, viola; David Finckel cello.
Audio Listen
Mozart: Horn Quintet in E-flat Major, K. 407 (1782)
William VerMeulen, French horn; Joseph Silverstein, violin; Geraldine Walther, viola; Ian Swensen violin, viola; Ronald Thomas, cello.
Audio Listen
Beethoven: Septet in E-flat Major, op. 20 (1799–1800)
Joseph Silverstein, violin; Geraldine Walther, viola; Ronald Thomas, cello; Charles Chandler, bass; Anthony McGill, clarinet; Dennis Godburn, bassoon; William VerMeulen, French horn.
Audio Listen
Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 18 No. 3
The Miró String Quartet (Daniel Ching, violin; Sandy Yamamoto, violin; John Largess, viola; Joshua Gindele, cello)
Audio Listen
Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 18 No. 2
The Miró String Quartet

Audio Listen
Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 18 No. 4
The Miró String Quartet

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Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 18 No. 6
The Miró String Quartet

Audio Listen
Beethoven: Piano Trio in D Major, op. 70, no. 1, “Geistertrio” (“Ghost Trio”) (1808)
Ian Swensen, violin; Ronald Thomas, cello; Derek Han, piano.
Audio Listen
Weber: "Grosses Quintett" (“Grand Quintet”) for Clarinet and Strings, op. 34 (1815)
Anthony McGill, clarinet; The Miró String Quartet.
Audio Listen
Mendelssohn: Quintet for Strings in B-flat Major, op. 87 (1845)
Cynthia Phelps, viola; Geraldine Walther, viola; David Finckel, cello.
Audio Listen
Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 59, No. 1
The Miami String Quartet (Ivan Chan, violin; Cathy Meng Robinson, violin; Chauncey Patterson, viola; Keith Robinson, cello.)
Audio Listen
Beethoven: String Quartets Op. 59, No. 2
The Miami String Quartet
Audio Listen
Beethoven: Piano Trio in E-flat Major, op. 70, no. 2 (1808)
Jorja Fleezanis, violin; Ralph Kirshbaum, cello; Gilbert Kalish, piano.
Audio Listen
Schumann: "Dichterliebe" ("A Poet’s Love") for Baritone and Piano (1840)
Christòpheren Nomura, baritone; Gilbert Kalish, piano.
Audio Listen
Brahms: Piano Quintet in f minor, op. 34 (1864)
Wu Han, piano; Jorja Fleezanis, violin; Ian Swensen, violin; Cynthia Phelps, viola; Ralph Kirshbaum, cello.
Audio Listen
Beethoven: String Quartet in a minor, Op. 132 (1824–25)
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Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 32 in c minor, op. 111 (1822)
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Schubert: Quintet for Strings in C Major, op. 163, D. 956 (1828)
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Beethoven: String Quartet in F Major, op. 135 (1826)


2004 Concert recordings
Document Prelude Concert, July 30, 2004
Document Italian Concert, July 31, 2004
Document Vienna Concert, August 2, 2004
Document French Concert, August 6, 2004
Document Eastern Europe Concert, August 9, 2004
Document Russian Concert, August 13, 2004

2004 Hearing Voices
Audio Listen
Flutist Carol Wincenc performed the Sonata of the Italian Baroque composer Giovanni Benedetto Platti with harpsichordist Kenneth Cooper on the Music@Menlo concerts of July 30 and 31. Not many in the audience knew the piece, but Wincenc said Platti’s Sonata is so good that it allowed her and Cooper to really shine.
Audio Listen
Carol Wincenc performed Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto in D (Il Gardellino) on Music@Menlo’s all-Italian program of July 30 and 31. She made a few spontaneous adaptations of the piece in concert at Menlo; it’s music she’s known and loved since her student days.
Audio Listen
Ian Swenson was one of several violinists performing in Music@Menlo’s all-Italian program. He played alongside Ani Kavafian and Philip Setzer in Vivaldi’s Concerto for Three Violins. Because Swenson works as a solo artist much of the time, this was his first performance of the Vivaldi Triple Concerto.
Audio Listen
Pianist Derek Han was the accompanist for several Schubert songs at the August 2 Music@Menlo concert. This was new territory for Han. He’s enjoyed a big career in Europe as a soloist but never accompanied singers before. To make matters more interesting, the scheduled singer, Nathaniel Webster, contracted laryngitis 24 hours before the concert. Baritone Christopheren Nomura flew in at the last minute and he and Han prepared an entirely new program in one hour’s rehearsal. Despite, or maybe because of all that backstage drama, Han became a huge fan of Schubert’s songs.
Audio Listen
Music@Menlo presented an all-Schubert program and one of the highpoints was a performance of the E-flat Piano Trio, one of two which the Viennese composer wrote in the last months of his life in the late 1820s. Philip Setzer was the violinist in the Menlo performance, David Finckel the cellist, and joining them was Derek Han on piano, who describes this Trio as a world of its own.

2003 Concert recordings
Document The Age of Grandeur, 1650–1750
Document The Age of Reason, 1750–1825
Document Emotion Unbound 1825–1900
Document New Dimensions 1900–1925
Document Music Now—Voices of Our Time 1988-2002

Voices from 2003
Audio Bria Bonet, Violist
Bria, 18, is from Oakland, CA, and a belongs to a musical family of seven children, most of whom play stringed instruments. She is going to attend Oberlin College this fall as a freshman, majoring in creative writing and music.
Audio James Jaffe, Cellist
James, 15, is from Stockton, CA, and is the son of the conductor of the Stockton Symphony, Peter Jaffe. James played piano for several years, then switched to cello. His dreams include attending a conservatory after high school, and being in a chamber music ensemble.
Audio Joanna Kaczorowska, Violinist
Joanna, 26, is getting her DMA at the University of New York/Stony Brook.
Audio Anthony McGill, Clarinetist
Acclaimed 23-year-old virtuoso Anthony (associate principal clarinetist, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra) is quickly becoming one of classical music's most sought-after soloists and chamber musicians. He is only the sixth clarinetist to win the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant and is a member of Chamber Music Society Two at Lincoln Center. He won his current seat with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at age 19 and has since continued to build a reputation as a riveting virtuoso player.
Audio David Finckel, Cellist
Music@Menlo co-artistic director David Finckel on entrepreneurial community building through starting music camps and festivals.
Program art

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