Messiaen Celebration Sunday, September 22, 2002, 7 pm Hertz Hall Alexander Barantschik, violin Luis Baez, clarinet Laura Claycomb, soprano Peter Grunberg, piano Robin Sutherland, piano Peter Wyrick, cello PROGRAM Olivier Messiaen Theme and Variations for Violin and Piano (1933) Alexander Barantschik, violin Robin Sutherland, piano Messiaen Chants de terre et de ciel (1938) Bail avec Mi (pour ma femme) Antienne du silence (pour le jour des Anges gardiens) Danse du bébé-Pilule (pour mon petit Pascal) Arc-en-ciel d’innocence (pour mon petit Pascal) Minuit pile et face (pour la mort) Résurrection (pour la jour de Pâques) Laura Claycomb, soprano Peter Grunberg, piano INTERMISSION Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time (1941) Peter Wyrick, cello Alexander Barantschik, violin Luis Baez, clarinet Robin Sutherland, piano This presentation of the Messiaen Celebration is made possible with the support of the Friends of Cal Performances. Cal Performances thanks the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Zellerbach Family Fund for their generous support. Cal Performances receives additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency that supports the visual, literary, and performing arts to benefit all Americans, and the California Arts Council, a state agency. M essiaen married the violinist Claire Delbos in 1934, and three years later, they had a son, Pascal. These events were reflected in the two song-cycles from this time, Poèmes pour Mi (his nickname for Claire ) and Chants de terre et de ciel, composed in 1936 and 1938, respectively, to half-religious, half- surrealistic texts by Messiaen himself. The cycle Harawi (chant d’amour et de mort), written in 1945, completes the triptych of Messiaen’s major vocal works for voice and piano. After this, the composer wrote only one other work for voice, until three decades later, Rolf Liebermann of the Opéra de Paris commissioned him to write Saint François d’Assise. The mastery of the vocal writing and expression in Messiaen’s unabashedly descriptive songs certainly explains why Liebermann was so insistent that the composer apply himself to a full-scale opera. The premiere of Chants de terre et de ciel was given by Marc elle Bunlet and the composer at the Concerts Triton on January 23, 1939, when it was billed as Prismes. It was published by Durand in April under the current title. In the same month’s issue of Le Monde Musical, Messiaen describes his view of the work: “First of all, I wanted to compose a religious, Catholic work. . . . If there is such a thing as essentially religious art, then it is equally essentially diverse. Why? Because it expresses ideas about a single being, who is God, but a being who is ever-present and who can be found in everything, above everything, and below everything. . . . Why should ‘Bail avec Mi (pour ma femme)’ be any less religious than ‘Antienne du Silence (pour le jour des Anges gardiens)’? Why should the same spirit of faith not run through ‘Arc-en-ciel d’innocence (pour mon petit Pascal)’ and ‘Résurrection (pour la jour de Pâques)’?” The title of the first song, “Bail avec Mi” (bail means “lease”) can be understood as the period of time that God grants a married couple to live and to enjoy each other’s presence on earth. The song joins the two ideas of earthly (physical) and spiritual love—the first is suggested by the repetition of the word terre, short phrases in the vocal line and seductive harmonies in the piano. The spiritual side is underlined by a favorite verbal symbol of Messiaen’s, the étoile de silence (“star of silence”). The first sound we hear is its counterpart in the piano—a recurring little flurry of treble notes ending on a high C sharp. The following song, “Antienne du Silence,” is dedicated to the feast of the Guardian Angels (October 2). The soprano’s long melismatic phrases of praise and alleluias are interwoven with three unending, unpunctuated lines in the piano part, each moving at a different speed, performed pianissimo. The modes of each part—those particular scales (divisions of an octave into a number of steps) that are a basic ingredient of all of Messiaen’s mature style—are extended by transposition to use nearly the whole chromatic scale. The result has a blissfully hypnotic and prismatic effect. The next two songs are dedicated to the composer’s son, Pascal. Messiaen writes of “Danse du bébé- Pilule” that it seeks to express the exuberant and unbounded enchantment of childhood. He describes the opening as an artificial folk-song with an onomatopoeic refrain: Malonlanaline, ma. Here, the rhythm suggests an underlying 2/4 meter, where particular notes and beats have been stretched or compressed by added or subtracted values. As the song progresses, the rhythms become less and less metrical, eventually leading to exciting polyrhythmic passages in the middle section. While the rhythm of “Arc-en-ciel d’innocence” is less complex, the warmth of the harmony captures perfectly the tone of a loving parent talking to his child. In both songs, the writing for piano is full of exuberant illustrative devices —seventh chords moving in parallel steps suggesting staircases, white note piano slides as the narrator lifts his child high above his head, and black note downward glissandi as he brings him safely back down. Messiaen writes of the heart of the work, “Minuit pile et face,” “If you realize that I wanted to depict— in a setting of nocturnal bells —the remorse, the prayers, the anguish, and the agony, followed by the heavenly calm, of the dead, then you will admit that the end of the poem . . . can have a poignant effect. . . .” The bleak first and third sections of the song frame a grotesque dance of death where “mes péchés dansent” (“my sins dance”)—this is an obvious but effective bit of fugal word -painting, perhaps modeled after Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Finally, the terrors of the adult facing darkness and death are banished by a passionate appeal to the Trinity, leaving a childlike innocence in these last bars, written in gently descending sequences on a rocking 6/8 meter on an accompaniment of soothing superimposed major triads. The closing song is in an ecstatic, virtuoso style of unbounded optimism. Note that its title, “Résurrection,” and the name of the composer's son (Pascal) are connected by the French word for Easter, Pâques. The modes and the step-wise vocal style of plainchant are present throughout—in particular, the section “Je suis ressuscité” uses the seventh Gregorian tone. The contrast with the piano’s clangorous chordal replies could not be greater, giving the listener an elated sense of space. The song is in a binary form, in which the first part builds more and more energy leading to two climaxes, one in a quick tempo, one in a slow. The same material is restated with increased certainty and enormous resolution due to the changed terms of harmonic structure the second time around, bringing the cycle to a close on the soprano’s radiant high G sharp. —Peter Grunberg Alexander Barantschik (violin) began his first season as concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony in September 2001. The former concertmaster of the London Symphony Orchestra (1989–2001) and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (1982–2001), he has also been an active violin soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe. As leader of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) [“leader” is the official title given to the concertmaster at the LSO], Alexander Barantschik has toured Europe, Japan, and the United States many times, performing as soloist in concertos by Brahms, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Walton, and Tippett. He has also worked closely with many internationally renowned musicians and conductors. Barantschik served as concertmaster for Pierre Boulez’s year-long, three-continent 75th Birthday Celebration project; for numerous concerts conducted by Sir Colin Davis; for cycles of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Britten with Mstislav Rostropovich; for Bernard Haitink’s cycles of Strauss, Mozart, and Bruckner; and for acclaimed cycles of Mahler, Stravinsky, and Debussy with Michael Tilson Thomas. He performed Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Antonio Pappano (on tour and in London), and has also worked regularly with Claudio Abbado, Mariss Jansons, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, and the late Leonard Bernstein and Sir Georg Solti. As concertmaster of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Barantschik has recorded the major works in the violin repertoire for broadcast on D utch National Radio. With that ensemble, he has also performed regularly as soloist with conductors Valery Gergiev, Kent Nagano, and Edo de Waart. Alexander Barantschik has performed throughout Europe as a chamber musician with a wide variety of internationally renowned musicians, including Mstislav Rostropovich, Antonio Pappano, Yuri Bashmet, Maxim Vengerov, and André Previn. Over the course of his career, Barantschik’s solo playing has been featured in many recordings, including, most recently, the London Symphony Orchestra’s recordings of Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, both conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas; in a London Symphony String Orchestra recording of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons; and on EMI’s Anglo-American Chamber Series, which features soloists from the LSO and the New York Philharmonic. Born in St. Petersburg in 1953, Alexander Barantschik began violin studies at the age of six. He attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1960 to 1972, and went on to perform with the major Russian orchestras, including the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. After emigrating from Russia in 1979, he served as concertmaster of Germany’s acclaimed Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. His many awards include first prize in the International Violin Competition in Sion, Switzerland, and in the Russian National Violin Competition. Luis Baez (clarinet) is associate principal clarinetist of the San Francisco Symphony. Born in Washington, DC, he wanted to start piano lessons before he was ready. The lessons were given by nuns at his church, and they would accept no students younger than seven. Two years after he finally began his piano studies, Baez heard his father’s recording of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, and the nine-year-old boy decided to take up the oboe. He began clarinet instead because his public school offered no oboe lessons, and by the time he got to high school, he discovered that the clarinet really was his first love. Baez was a soloist with the United States Navy Band at age 18 and in the summer of 1978, before his freshman year of college, he was principal clarinet of the World Youth Orchestra at the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan. He received his bachelor’s degree at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and it is from his days there that he recalls one of his favorite musical memories—of when he was sitting by a window in his teacher’s studio on a warm spring day, looking out over the city of Baltimore spread below him, thinking about how lucky he was to be a musician. After graduation, Baez joined the Chicago Civic Orchestra for one season, then joined Tampa’s Florida Orchestra (then called the Florida Gulf Coast Orchestra) for three seasons as second clarinet. He spent another four years as principal clarinet of the New Mexico Orchestra in Albuquerque. In 1990, Baez joined the San Francisco Symphony. He values the opportunities for personal, spiritual, and intellectual growth that being a musician offers. “Even though I’ve been doing it for many years, I still have a lot to learn about myself and the art. I recognize that music is infinite and I will never uncover all its secrets.” Baez is currently on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He performs chamber music whenever he can, on the SFS Chamber Music Series and with other Bay Area chamber music groups, because he likes to sit down with a group of people in equal partnership and be enriched by sharing musical ideas. In his spare time, he grows bonsai trees and is currently working on remodeling his house in Noe Valley. Luis Baez is married to Andi Yannone. Their daughter, Lara, began violin lessons at age four. Laura Claycomb (soprano) is an artist in the true sense of the word. Not only are audiences and critics enraptured by her voice, but they are also spellbound by her dramatic performances. The American soprano has become one of the leading singers of her generation, performing at the major opera and concert venues in a wide variety of repertoire, all to critical acclaim. In opera, Claycomb captured international attention with the role of Giulietta in I Capuleti ed i Montecchi, which took her from Geneva to Paris to Los Angeles, and this has developed into performances of Rigoletto’s Gilda, now another signature role (she has performed Gilda in Houston, Paris, Lausanne, Bilbao, and for the New Israeli Opera). Other bel canto roles that have become a foundation of Claycomb’s work include Lucia di Lammermoor, La Fille du Regiment, and Linda di Chamounix at New Israeli Opera, Turin’s Teatro Regio, and La Scala, respectively. Claycomb has also been active in the world of early music, working with conductors such as Christophe Rousset, Marc Minkowski, and Roy Goodman, often as Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare) and Ginevra (Ariodante). She appears regularly at the Paris Opera, Drottningholm Festival, and in Nice, Montpellier, Bordeaux, and Washington. Claycomb excels in the modern music field and has starred in Peter Sellar’s Ligeti/Le Grand Macabre in Salzburg and Paris (Chatelet). Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts her recording of this piece with SONY. She has also collaborated with Richard Hickox on works by Copland, Vaughan Williams, and Stravinsky, among others. Claycomb’s concert work is equally prestigious. She is a frequent guest of many conductors and orches tras worldwide. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted his world premiere of Five Fragments After Sappho with Claycomb, in concerts with organizations all over the world. Her collaboration with Richard Hickox takes her from Handel to Grainger, and her work with Emmanuelle Haim/Le Concert D’astrée exemplifies the perfection of Handels’ artistry. Claycomb’s discography includes SONY’s Le Grand Macabre, Chandos’ Sir John in Love, and EMI/Virgin’s soon-to-be-released Arcadian Duets by Handel. Future engagements include Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at San Francisco Opera with Jun Maerkl, Morgana in Alcina at ENO with Richard Hickox, Gilda in Rigoletto at Seattle Opera, and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor and Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, both at Houston Grand Opera. Peter Grunberg (piano) was born in Australia and studied in England and Switzerland, where in his early 20s he played keyboard concertos by Bach, Mozart, Poulenc, and Gershwin with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. His conducting debut at the Grand Théâtre de Genève in 1988 with Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte was followed by an appointment to the post of conductor-in-residence with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Grunberg was head of the music staff at the San Francisco Opera for several years, and is widely known as a teacher and coach of young singers around the United States. His conducting engagements in the US have included Lucia di Lammermoor at the San Francisco Opera, and Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Mechem’s Tartuffe at the Eastman School of Music. He collaborates frequently in the lieder repertoire, having performed programs with Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt, and Gösta Winbergh. Over the last few years, Grunberg has directed programs of Bach and Handel in the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan; performed chamber music with members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; given orchestral concerts at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory; and played a program of Schönberg’s works in Los Angeles. In 2000, he was invited by Michael Tilson Thomas to conduct the New World Symphony in Miami. Recent concerts include recitals with Michelle de Young, Thomas Hampson, and the violinist Joshua Bell. Grunberg has appeared as a piano soloist with the San Francisco Symphony in their Stravinsky and American Mavericks festivals, as well as this summer’s Russian Festival. He is giving a series of lectures from the keyboard this fall as part of the orchestra’s “Discovery” series. Robin Sutherland (piano), a native of Colorado, began his career at the age of four, studying with Rita Hutcherson at the University of Northern Colorado for 14 years. In 1969, he entered the Juilliard School as a student of Rosina Lhevinne, and subsequently he moved on to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he held the Albert Elkus scholarship and worked with Paul Hersh. While still an undergraduate, he was appointed principal pianist of the San Francisco Symphony by Seiji Ozawa. With that orchestra, he is a frequent soloist at subscription concerts, in the Symphony’s new music festivals, and in the Mostly Mozart Festival. Sutherland is the recipient of numerous awards. At age 17, he was selected to be the sole participant from the United States at the International Bach Festival, held at Lincoln Center. He was a finalis t in the International Bach Competition at Washington, DC, in 1969, and he has performed the entire keyboard works of Bach. An avid chamber musician, he is co-director of the Telluride Players, an ensemble in residence each summer for the past two decades in the Colorado Rockies. In addition to frequent appearances with local chamber festivals and groups, he is a regular performer at the Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine. Many composers have dedicated works to Robin Sutherland, and among the world premieres in which he has participated was that of John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music with members of the San Francisco Symphony. Sutherland currently serves as principal keyboardist for the San Francisco Chamber Symphony and Solisti New York. In May 1994, he jo ined Seiji Ozawa and the Orchestra of La Scala in a performance of Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety. An ardent student of Pacific languages and linguistics, Sutherland is fluent in the Hawaiian language and is a translator of 19th-century Hawaiian noarchial poetry. He has an extensive collection of Hawiiana, and certain items are on permanent loan to the archives of Honolulu’s ‘Iolani Palace as well as in the collection of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Peter Wyrick (cello) is the associate principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony, and has performed as chamber musician and soloist with renowned chamber groups and orchestras throughout the world. Wyrick was a member of the acclaimed Ridge String Quartet, whose recording of the Dvo?rák Piano Quintets with pianist Rudolf Firkusny on the RCA label won the French Diapason d’Or and was nominated for the 1993 Grammy Award for the Best Chamber Music Performance. He has participated in Finland’s Helsinki Festival, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston (SC) and Spoleto (Italy), as well as at the Vancouver, Bard, Chamber Music West, La Jolla, and Santa Fe chamber music festivals. Wyrick has performed as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, the Aspen Chamber Symphony, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the Queens Philharmonic, the American and the Oklahoma City chamber orchestras, and the Kozponti Sinfonicus in Budapest, Hungary. He was also the principal cellist of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center and the associate principal cellist of the New York City Opera Orchestra. Wyrick’s recordings include the cello sonatas of Gabriel Fauré with pianist Earl Wild for dell’Arte records, as well as performances for Stereo- phile and Arabesque records. Peter Wyrick was one of the last students of Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School, and plays on a David Tecchler cello made in Rome, circa 1724.