PROGRAM INFORMATION

 

New Century Chamber Orchestra

Daniel Hope, Music Director & Concertmaster

Sunday, January 22, 2023
2:30 PM
Bing Concert Hall


Artists


New Century Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Hope, Music Director & Concertmaster
Alexey Botvinov, Piano


Program


BERNARD HERRMANN (1911–75)

Vertigo Suite (1958) (arr. Paul Bateman)

           Prelude

           Nightmare

           Scène d’Amour        

 

PHILIP GLASS (b. 1937)

Piano Concerto No. 3

          Movement I

          Movement II

          Movement III (for Arvo Pärt)

 

INTERMISSION
 

ENNIO MORRICONE (1928–2020)

Selections from Film Scores (arr. Paul Bateman)

           “Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission

           “Love Theme” from Cinema Paradiso

           “The Ecstasy of Gold” from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 

GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898–1937)

An American In Paris

 

New Century Chamber Orchestra’s 2022-23 Season is made possible by the generous ongoing support of Gordon P. Getty.

 

Season Sponsor:

 

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PROGRAM SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Please be considerate of others and turn off all phones and watch alarms. Photography and recording of any kind are not permitted. Thank you.


Program Notes 


BERNARD HERRMANN
Born in New York, NY, June 29, 1911; died in Los Angeles, CA, December 24, 1975
Vertigo Suite (1958) (arr. Paul Bateman)

American composer and conductor Bernard Herrmann, a seminal figure in music for film, first wrote incidental music for radio shows during his apprentice years with CBS, in the late 1930s. Around 80 of them were directed by Orson Welles. Moving with Welles to RKO, Herrmann’s first film score was Citizen Kane (1940), and it brought the 30-year-old composer his first Oscar nomination. The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) delivered the statuette. Alfred Hitchcock eventually managed to sign Herrmann for The Trouble with Harry (1955), beginning a ten-year partnership crowned by Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960). Both musically and cinematically, Vertigo is among the most analyzed films in the history of the genre. Alex Ross, longtime music critic at The New Yorker, calls its score “a symphony for film and orchestra.”  In it, Ross writes, “Herrmann would address the unconscious regions, summon atmosphere and dread. Music would play its own starring role; at times, it would take over the action.” 

Accompanying an eerie title sequence of spiraling graphics evolving out of a human eye, the three-movement Suite that Hermann drew out of his full score opens with a juxtaposition of high minor key and augmented triads rising and falling in contrary motion, punctuated by lower harsh chords. Together these create a vivid impression of the vertigo that underlines much of the film’s suspense. The arpeggios and strident chords soon mellow and evolve into a preview of the love interest to come. Hermann’s use of short cues between and within scenes is a technique imported from his radio work. His distance from the lushly scored 8 or 16-measure lyrical theme associated with a character, as in a polished Korngold film score for example, becomes strikingly clear in "The Nightmare" segment.  Here, the Herrmann toolkit delivers a sharp, intense burst of tremolo strings, a ghostly, repeated habanera rhythm, an overlaid ominously ascending or descending drawn-out scale, or an excruciatingly dissonant chord. Even the Wagner-inspired love scene (think Tristan und Isolde) is distinctively drawn from a sequence of Hermann’s short motifs, rising and falling on upper strings, with a long-delayed bass line only appearing at the climactic point. 


PHILIP GLASS 
Born in Baltimore, MD, January 31, 1937
Piano Concerto No. 3 (2017)

Concertos for keyboard and string orchestra could have been added to an endangered species list after Bach and his sons in the 18th century. American composer Philip Glass, however, has become an activist, writing two—the Tirol Concerto from 2000 and No. 3 in 2017, to a commission from American pianist Simone Dinnerstein. The latter is a gentle piece, collaborative rather than confrontational, and this was its nature from the outset. The then 77-year-old composer and pianist met, exchanging ideas, eventually settling on Dinnerstein’s idea of a piece for piano and strings, to be paired, initially, with one of Bach’s keyboard concertos. Further cementing the collaboration was a program of interleaved music of Glass and Schubert that the pianist played for the composer. The resulting sound world of the new concerto, Dinnerstein says, “the sensibility of it, the color and the mood, was really influenced by Schubert as well as Bach.” The collaborative start was greatly expanded when Dinnerstein secured a dozen orchestras to jointly commission the piece, with the New Century Chamber Orchestra giving the West coast première in 2018. 

The three-movement concerto begins and ends with solo piano, initially introducing a musical idea of just two bars, which then ebb and flow into a lyrical 12-bar solo melody. Throughout the opening movement, subdued, warm sonorities, rising then falling, are drawn out of the piano’s opening three-note chords. The dynamic only once rises above a forte. As the first movement gives way to the second, its mood is sustained with the block chord patterns on the piano opening up into flowing broken chords. Sharing, perhaps, something of what Schumann described as the ‘heavenly length’ of Schubert’s late music, this central slow movement reaches deepest and culminates in a cadenza. This opens itself to bravura display but is ultimately more reflective than exploitive. The pulse quickens in a darkly shaded finale. This, the longest movement, is shaped like a large arc. It is again built upon the motives and the chords that open the concerto, rising to an open-ended climax in the lightly shaded central section, and falling away to a securely resolved, elegiac whisper by the end.  Glass refers to this calming, meditative movement as both an homage to and inspired by the music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (b. 1935).        


ENNIO MORRICONE 
Born in Rome, November 10, 1928; died in Rome, July 6, 2020
Selections from Film Scores (arr. Paul Bateman)
              "Gabriel’s Oboe’"from The Mission (1986)
              "Love Theme" from Cinema Paradiso (1988)
              "The Ecstasy of Gold" from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

In a memorable scene in Roland Joffé’s 1986 colonial-era drama The Mission, soaring, hypnotic, lyrical fragments from "Gabriel’s Oboe" are played on solo oboe by the Jesuit priest Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) to the amazement of an awestruck band of hunters. “With an orchestra, the Jesuits could have subdued the whole continent,” says a voice, underlining one of several dubious moral messages sent by the 1986 movie. But, for all its star cast and impressive cinematography, while Joffé’s film is rapidly becoming a period piece, Ennio Morricone’s haunting score reaches ever widening audiences, with the baroque-like melodic ornamentation of "Gabriel’s Oboe" and its achingly poignant harmonies, much recorded in both instrumental and vocal arrangements, expressing music as a symbol of compassion in the film. 

By 1986, Morricone had already been prolifically creating and arranging music for theater, radio, television and film scores for four decades. He continued to work comfortably across many popular genres, providing orchestrations for the earliest successful tv variety shows and scoring for Italian singer-songwriters, later influencing bands like Black Sabbath and Babe Ruth in the 1970s, Dire Straits, Metallica, Radiohead and many more. With a solid grounding in classical music from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory, Morricone also produced a sizeable catalog of more than 100 contemporary classical works. His overall output as a composer is legendary, capped by between four and five hundred film scores, in which he saw himself as a true partner in the telling of stories on the screen. 

Morricone’s son Andrea (b. 1964) is co-credited with the score to the 1988 film Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore’s pensive homage to the village theater in post-World War II Sicily, where a director initially fell in love with the movies. The concluding "Love Theme" perfectly captures the bittersweet quality of time passing, lost innocence and nostalgia.   

Morricone was born, lived and died in Rome and never learned to speak English. That proved no barrier to his gaining fame in the genre patronizingly known as "spaghetti westerns," together with his school friend, director Sergio Leone. In all, Morricone composed scores to some 36 westerns, with the crowning moment coming, undoubtedly, with "The Ecstasy of Gold" from Leone’s 1966 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly—the last of the duo’s "Dollar Trilogy." Here, Morricone’s skill in layering musical motifs and instruments, beginning with a running piano ostinato, a marching drumbeat, telling bell chimes, and vocals, notably Edda Dell’Orso’s soaring vocalise which rises as the violins reach ever higher, all make for one of the most arresting, much imitated scenes in movie history. 


GEORGE GERSHWIN
Born in Brooklyn, NY, USA, September 26, 1898; died in Hollywood, CA, July 11, 1937
An American in Paris: a tone poem for orchestra (1928) (arr. Clarice Assad)

The title presents a vivid image: “the impression of an Amer­ican visitor in Paris, as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere,” as Gershwin told the magazine Musical America in 1928, after returning to New York from his fifth visit to Europe. By then, he was already well established, with both Funny Face and Rosalie playing concurrently on Broadway and Londoners enjoying a run of 213 performances of Oh Kay! Yet Gershwin wanted more from himself and met with Milhaud, Poulenc, Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Ravel, who earlier that year, had already turned down his request for lessons, saying: “Why risk being a second-rate Ravel when you are already a first-rate Gershwin?” Ravel did give him a letter of introduction to renowned Parisian teacher Nadia Boulanger, who told him much the same thing she was later to tell tango-master Astor Piazzolla—don’t try to be musically anyone other than yourself.  

Naturally, while in Paris Gershwin had to compose at least part of his tone poem An American in Paris. Another section had been already sketched in New York and the score was completed later in Connecticut, “composed and orchestrated,” as Gershwin pointedly writes on the score. “This new piece, really a rhapsodic ballet, is written very freely and is the most modern music I’ve yet attempted,” Gershwin told Musical America in 1928. “As in my other orchestral compositions, I’ve not endeavored to represent any definite scenes in this music. The rhapsody is programmatic only in a general impressionistic way.” Gershwin’s “rhapsodic ballet” forms the 17-minute climax of the 1951 Minnelli/Lerner multi award-winning film of the same name, where it appears as the lavishly produced ‘An American in Paris Ballet’ sequence. Today’s arrangement of Gershwin’s original orchestral score for string orchestra is by Brazilian-American composer and performer Clarice Assad, who has collaborated with the NCCO many times.  

 

—Program notes © 2023 Keith Horner. Comments welcomed: khnotes@sympatico.ca


About the Artists


New Century Chamber Orchestra
One of only a handful of conductorless chamber ensembles in the world, New Century Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1992 and includes 19 string players from the San Francisco Bay Area as well throughout the United States. Musical decisions are made collaboratively, resulting in an enhanced level of commitment from the musicians and concerts of remarkable precision, passion, and power. In the 2017-2018 season, British violinist Daniel Hope served as the ensemble’s Artistic Partner and concertmaster and was appointed beginning in the 2018-2019 season as the ensemble’s Music Director, bringing a new era of vibrancy and leadership. Previous music directors of the ensemble include Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (2008-2017), Krista Bennion Feeney (1999-2006) and Stuart Canin (1992-1999).

In addition to performing beloved masterworks from the chamber orchestra repertoire, New Century commissions important new works, breathes new life into rarely heard jewels of the past and frequently performs world premieres. Through its Featured Composer program, composers are commissioned to write new works for the orchestra, with the goals of expanding the repertoire and providing audiences with a deeper understanding and appreciation of today’s living composers.

Beyond regular season concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area, New Century has toured nationally including 2011 performances in the Midwest, East Coast, and Southern California and a 2013 eight-state national tour. In June 2019, the orchestra embarked on its first European Tour, the largest and most ambitious artistic undertaking in the organization’s history, with appearances across Germany and Poland including the acclaimed Leonard Bernstein-founded Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and Philharmonie Essen. Critically acclaimed recordings include From A to Z: 21st Century Concertos (May 2014), LIVE: Barber, Strauss, Mahler (November 2010) and Together (August 2009).

New Century has significantly increased its digital offerings over the past two years including the launch of six delayed-live episodes of Daniel Hope’s internationally acclaimed television series Hope@Home – Next Generation. Filmed in San Francisco, each half-hour episode was streamed to an international audience of over 400,000 viewers and comprised of solo and chamber music featuring Daniel Hope, musicians of the orchestra and Bay Area guest artists pianist Garrick Ohlsson, composer Jake Heggie and percussionist Zakir Hussain. Building on this success, the orchestra launched its Resonance series, a film project that explores an artist’s real-world context as they create a piece inspired by a New Century performance. Two episodes were released in Spring 2021 featuring San Francisco couturière Colleen Quen alongside a performance of Debussy’s Danse sacrée et Danse profane for harp and strings; and choreographer and Deaf advocate Antoine Hunter, also known as Purple Fire Crow, alongside his Urban Jazz Dance Company for a presentation inspired by Missy Mazzoli’s Death Valley Junction for string quartet. Further digital offerings include a special streaming project presented by Stanford Live featuring the world premiere of Tan Dun’s Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Orchestra with Daniel Hope and Ukrainian guest pianist Alexey Botvinov. 

The orchestra has released seven compact discs. The most recent, From A to Z: 21st Century Concertos, is a compilation of four of New Century’s live world premiere performances of its newly commissioned works by William Bolcom, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Clarice Assad and Michael Daugherty. The recording was released in May 2014 on the NSS Music label.

Two additional albums were released on the NSS Music label, LIVE: Barber, Strauss, Mahler, released in November 2010, and Together, released in August 2009. The Orchestra’s first concert DVD, On Our Way, was released in May 2012, and weaves together documentary footage and a live tour concert from a February 2011 performance at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The DVD was filmed by Paola di Florio, director of the 1999 Academy Award-nominated film Speaking in Strings.

Other recordings include a 1996 collaborative project with Kent Nagano and Berkeley Symphony Orchestra featuring the work of 20th century Swiss composer Frank Martin, and Written With the Heart’s Blood, a 1997 Grammy Award finalist, both on the New Albion label. In 1998 the orchestra recorded and released works of Argentine composers Alberto Williams and Alberto Ginastera on the d’Note label, and, in 2004, the orchestra recorded and released Oculus, a CD of Kurt Rohde’s compositions on the Mondovibe label. All of the recordings have been distributed both in the United States and internationally.


Daniel Hope, Music Director & Concertmaster
Violinist Daniel Hope has been performing worldwide as a soloist for more than 30 years. He is celebrated for his musical creativity and his commitment to humanitarian causes.

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist since 2007, Hope travels the globe as both chamber musician and soloist, collaborating with leading orchestras and conductors. Music Director of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra since 2016, in 2018 he took up the same position with San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra. In 2019, he became Artistic Director of the Frauenkirche Dresden, and he has been President of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn since 2020, succeeding Joseph Joachim and Kurt Masur.

Hope is a welcome guest in famous concert halls and at renowned festivals from New York's Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House, from Salzburg to Aspen and Tanglewood, from Schleswig-Holstein and Gstaad to the BBC Proms in London. He works regularly with conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Simon Rattle, Vladimir Jurowski, Iván Fischer and Christian Thielemann, as well as with the major symphony orchestras in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo and many others. He works closely with the leading composers of our time, such as Alfred Schnittke, György Kurtág, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Tōru Takemitsu and Tan Dun.

His discography includes more than 30 albums, which have received awards including the German Record Critics’ Prize, the Diapason d'Or of the Year, the Edison Classical Award and the Prix Caecilia and are regularly acclaimed by the press (New York Times: "one of the best albums of the year;” Gramophone: “top choice of all available recordings”).

Hope is a passionate chamber musician and was a member of the Beaux Arts Trio for several years. His artistic versatility is also evident in projects with artists such as Klaus Maria Brandauer, Zakir Hussain, Sebastian Koch, Iris Berben, Mia Farrow and Sting, and as a radio and television moderator. A documentary titled Daniel Hope: The Sound of Life was released in North America, Australia and Europe in 2017.

Every week since 2016, Hope has been presenting the radio show "Personally with Daniel Hope" on WDR3; he has also written four books, all of which have been published by Rowohlt Verlag and have become bestsellers. He writes for the Wall Street Journal and The Guardian, and for his series "Hope@9pm" invites guests from culture and politics to a salon at the Berlin Konzerthaus.

In support of other artists, Hope created and presented over 150 episodes of music and talk in the Hope@Home livestream series broadcast by ARTE during the 2020 lockdown, hosting artists from Robert Wilson to Lang. With the beginning of the Ukraine conflict in 2022, he initiated several benefit concerts with pianist Alexey Botvinov.

Hope studied violin with Zakhar Bron, Itzhak Rashkovsky and Felix Andrievsky and completed his training at London’s Royal Academy of Music. He worked closely with his mentor Yehudi Menuhin, with whom he gave numerous concerts. Hope holds the Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and was awarded the European Culture Prize in 2015. He lives with his family in Berlin and plays the "Ex-Lipiński" Guarneri del Gesù from 1742, which is generously made available to him.


Alexey Botvinov
Alexey Botvinov is an exceptional pianist, musical innovator, and producer. The most acclaimed Ukrainian pianist, Botvinov is one of the best specialists in Rachmaninoff’s music worldwide. He is the only pianist in the world who performed Bach‘s masterpiece “Goldberg Variations” more than 300 times on stage. Botvinov founded “Odessa Classics,” one of the most renowned European music festivals. He has performed in more than 45 countries, has been awarded the People’s Artist of Ukraine, and has been described by the Ukrainian press as a “symbol of high spirit” and “true mark for authentic sense of music.”

Botvinov was born in a family of musicians in Odessa, where he studied with Prof. Mogilewskaja and later at the Conservatory of Odessa with Prof. Kardaschew. Between 1987-89 he was a student at the Moscow Conservatory with Prof. Gornostayeva. His last mentor was legendary French pianist Alexis Weissenberg. Botvinov is a prize-winner of important piano competitions such as the 1st Rachmaninoff-Competition in Moscow (1983), the 8th International Bach-Competition in Leipzig (1988), and the 1st Clara-Schumann-Competition in Düsseldorf (1994). In 1993 he played Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto for the opening of the concert season at the Tonhalle Zürich with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Moscow under the baton of Vladimir Fedoseyev, which was highly acclaimed by the press and by the audience.

From 1994-96 Botvinov lived in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he performed Bach's "Goldberg-Variations" and Schumann's "Kinderszenen" with ballet productions by the Swiss choreographer Heinz Spoerli. The artistic partnership with Heinz Spoerli continued in Zurich from 1996 to 2012 with over 20 different ballet productions featuring music by Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, Schnittke, and Stravinsky with great acclaim.    

In 2005 he played his debut recital at the Wigmore Hall London and in 2006 at the Berlin Philharmonie. He toured in 2006 in China with Zurich Chamber Orchestra and with Koenigliche Philharmonie Flandern in Belgium and Germany. Botvinov became artistic director of Odessa National Opera Theater from 2009-2010. During that time he initiated two premieres––the opera “Turandot” with director C. Von Goetz (Germany) and the ballet “Nureyev forever” with solo piano by Botvinov, both of which were the first modern-concept productions for Opera Theaters in Ukraine. Botvinov later began exploring new ways of presenting classical music through innovative projects such as “Visual reality of Music,” “Piano Light Show,” and “4 Elements,” where music and visual effects convert a traditional concert into a multimedia mystery.

Botvinov initiated a new international music festival in 2015, “Odessa Classics,” where he is president and artistic director. The annual festival was a success and has become the most important classical music festival in the Ukraine and one of the leading music festivals in Europe. Botvinov performed solo and with orchestras during 2018-2019 at Berlin Philharmonie, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Zurich Tonhalle MAAG, Hamburg Philharmonie, Dresden Frauenkirche, Beethovenhaus Bonn, and many more.

While on tour in Germany with New Century Chamber Orchestra and Daniel Hope in 2019, Botvinov performed Gershwin and Schulhoff concertos. Botvinov and Hope made a recording of Alfred Schnittke music for violin and piano at Deutsche Grammophon with global success. Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in March 2022, Botvinov and Hope recorded Music for Ukraine on DG to show support for Ukraine, with proceeds going to charities working to help the people of Ukraine. In September 2022, Hope and Botvinov released another recording on DG featuring the music of Valentin Silvestrov. 

 

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