The winners of the first Unisa International Flute and Clarinet Competition (held in February 2014) will be performing in Grahamstown on 30 July. Sang Yoon Kim (clarinet) from the Republic of Korea and Matvey Demin (flute) from Russia will be visiting the city as part of the winners tour. The programme includes pieces by Poulenc, Sarasate, Mozart, Schubert, Saens-Sans and Shostakovitch. Both soloists will be accompanied by the well-known South African pianist, Tertia Visser Downie.
At just 26, Sang Yoon Kim has a number of international competition successes to his name. He was the first Korean clarinetist to be accepted to the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris where he studied with Michel Arrignon and Pascal Moragues. Previously, he studied at the Conservatoire Nationale Region de Rueil-Malmaison for three years with Florent Heau. During this time he also studied chamber music with great performers such as Phillippe Bernold and Hae-sun Kang. Kim is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Yehuda Gilad.
Matvey Demin is even younger – just 22 – and also has a string of international music prizes under his belt – including 1st Prize (Trio Category) of International Flute Competition “Friedrich Kuhlau” (2013) and 3rd Prize at International Flute Competition in Krakow (Poland). At the UNISA competition he also won three special prizes – Best interpretation of a South African work, best interpretation of a Sonata and best Recital . He began flute lessons with his grandmother at the age of nine. From 2004 he attended the Novosibirsk Music School where he studied with Nadezhda Furenkova. Since September 2009 he has been attending the Music and Theatre Conservatoire in Hanover working under Professor Andrea Lieberknecht. He has also performed widely as a soloist with various orchestras both in Russia and abroad.
Tertia Visser Downie completed her Honours degree in Music at the University of Stellenbosch, as well as achieving the Unisa Performers’ and Teachers’ Licentiates, with distinction in both qualifications. She studied under national and international piano masters John Antoniadis, and London-based Martino Tirimo, after winning the prestigious Mabel Quick Scholarship. As well as being a sought-after solo performer – including with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra at the Cape Town Pops series – Tertia regularly gets invited as an official accompanist at globally acclaimed music competitions. She was one of the official accompanists at the UNISA International String Competition in 2010, accompanying Yura Lee (violin), the overall winner. She was also Sang Yoon Kim's accompanist for his win in 2014. In 2008 Tertia took the leading female role in Pieter Dirk Uys’s play, Appassionata, and performed the Beethoven Sonata with the same name. She is a part time lecturer in piano at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town.
A South African tour was part of the UNISA first prize. Other dates include Unisa's Z K Matthews Great Hall (Friday 24 July 19:30), the Baxter Hall in Cape Town (25 July, 20:00), the Municipal Auditorium in Hermanus (26 July, 15:30), the Fismer Hall in Stellenbosch (28 July, 13:10), Rhodes Music Department, Grahamstown ( 30 July, 19:30) and the Government House on Unisa's Pietermaritzburg Campus (Saturday 1 August 16:00).
Don't miss these internationally acclaimed young musicians 7.30pm, Beethoven Room, Rhodes Music Department, Thursday 30 July.
Here's the full programme and notes.
* Schubert selection is subject to change.
Programme Notes Charles-Marie Widor (1844 – 1937) Introduction and Rondo
Charles-Marie Widor was the preeminent organist in Paris at the turn into the 20th Century, and he taught both organ and composition at the Paris Conservatoire to students including Vierne, Dupré, Honegger, Milhaud, and Varèse, as well as Albert Schweizer with whom he annotated an edition of the organ works of J.S. Bach. The Introduction and Rondo is a gorgeous, romantic piece. It opens with a slow improvisatory section that continues with a Rondo which is charming, bombastic, and a brilliant piece for both the piano and the clarinet. While, by design, all of the Solo de Concours pieces test primarily the technique of the performers, the virtuoso passages in this piece always flow organically out of the musical ideas creating a homogenous connection between the clarinet and the piano. The work is dedicated to Cyrille Rose, the sixth professor of clarinet at the Paris Conservatory. In contrast to the other Concours pieces by Rabaud, Messager, and Lefebvre, the Introduction et Rondo was used only once for the annual competition at the Paris Conservatory.
Francis Poulenc (1899 – 1963)Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
The Sonata for Clarinet and Piano was among Poulenc’s final works and, like his Oboe Sonata; it dates from the summer of 1962. He dedicated the Clarinet Sonata to the memory of Arthur Honegger, a fellow member of Les Six, who had passed away in 1955. Instead of following classical German sonata form, Poulenc’s piece takes inspiration from the less rigid 18th-century French sonatas of Couperin and Rameau. The opening movement (Allegro tristamente) encompasses both the cheeky clarinet introduction and the wide-ranging main theme (which is reminiscent of Prokofiev), as well as the exquisite, nostalgia-tinged central section. Although Poulenc was to dedicate his valedictory Oboe Sonata (written just a few weeks later) to the memory of his friend Prokofiev, the lyrical spirit of the Russian composer also spills over into the serene interlude at the heart of the first movement of the Clarinet Sonata – a poetic digression, with a touch of Satie, which flows along as a close musical sibling to the tender diversion Prokofiev placed at the center of the powerful Montagues and Capulets segment of his ballet Romeo and Juliet.
The wistful principal clarinet melody in the gentle Romanza which follows provides the essential thematic material from which the composer weaves his melancholy second movement. The finale finds Poulenc at his most rambunctious – from percussive piano passages and impetuous clarinet commentary at the outset to the impertinent ending flourish.
Pablo Sarasate (1844 – 1908); Arr. Nicolas Baldeyrou (1979)Carmen Fantasy
This piece was arranged by N. Baldeyrou, French clarinetist, from the Pablo Sarasate's Carmen fantasy for violin which was originally motivated by Bizet's Opera Carmen. In 1875, the French composer Georges Bizet premiered what would become the most famous gypsy-inspired work of classical music ever: his opera, Carmen. Endowed with glorious marches, sultry arias, and a captivating tale of a gypsy woman whose free-spiritedness brings about her own demise, Carmen has become one of the most-performed operas in the world; its melodies have bled into popular culture through everything from Saturday morning cartoons to adult thriller movies. Eight years after the opera’s premiere, a rising Spanish violin virtuoso named Pablo de Sarasate seized on its swelling popularity to bolster his own. Despite building his Carmen Fantasy around the catchy, even jaunty melodies of the opera, this was no phone-it-in cover treatment for Sarasate: His Fantasy has since endured in no small part because it is known as one of the most challenging works in the entire violin repertoire.
W.A. Mozart (1756 – 1791)Rondo D Major
The Rondo in C for Violin and Orchestra (later it was also arranged for flute), K. 373, was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in April of 1781. The rondo was likely written for Italian violinist Antonio Brunetti, who is known to have also requested both the Adagio in E and Rondo in B-flat. The Rondo in C, however, was written years after the five numbered violin concertos. The work is scored for solo violin, two oboes, two horns and strings.
The Rondo in D Major is a transposition of the Rondo in C for violin. This seems to have been transcribed for flute only after the composer’s death. No autograph of the arrangement for flute is known to exist, and which among the printed texts might be the earliest cannot be determined. If not entirely Echt-Mozart, it is almost certain that the composer would not have objected to this treatment, since in this form it makes an equally splendid effect.
Alphonse Duvernoy (1842 – 1907)Concertino for Flute and Piano, Op. 45
Duvernoy made his career as a piano virtuoso, a composer and professor of piano at the Conservatoire de Paris. He composed operas, a ballet, symphonic and chamber music works as well as music for piano. This piece is one of a collection of works by various composers that were commissioned for the Paris Conservatory’s annual exam. This Concertino was written for the exam in 1899. The work is a dramatic and technically difficult piece for both flute and piano. The Concertino for Flute is an excellent example of a French romantic virtuoso piece comprising fine harmonies, beautiful melodies and of course with a virtuoso ending.
Hendrik Hofmeyr (1957)Orithyia and the North Wind for Flute
Commissioned by the SAMRO Foundation for the UNISA International Wind Competition (2014)
Orithyia and the North Wind was inspired by the ancient Greek myth of the princess Orithyia, who, while dancing on the banks of the river Ilissus, was carried off in a cloud by the enamoured North Wind, Boreas.
In depicting the subject, the work employs a number of extended techniques, including double notes, pizzicato, tongue-rams, harmonic explosions, flutter-tongue, key-slaps, and simultaneous singing and playing.
Paul Agricole Génin (1832 – 1903)Carnaval de Venice for Flute and Piano
Paul Agricole Génin was a French flautist and composer for flute. He was a student of Louis Dorus and became first flute at the Théâtre-Italien (Comédie-Italienne) Paris. Something of Génin’s own technical mastery may be heard in his Carnaval de Venice, a showpiece still in virtuoso repertoire. He wrote a great deal more, principally for his own instrument.
Carnaval of Venice is a brilliant piece based on a system of variations. A simple theme is turned into a beautiful compilation of passages.
Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828)Introduction, Theme and Variations
"Trockne Blumen" – *No. 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7
An Austrian composer, Schubert’s short career was highly fruitful, during which he wrote over six hundred songs, five masses, nine symphonies, and several piano compositions. He bridged the worlds of Classical and Romantic music, noted for the melody and harmony in his songs (lieder) and chamber music.
The Introduction, Theme and Variations for Flute and Piano (1824) use the 18th song from Die schöne Müllerin (Trockne Blumen) as the basis for a set of variations. This narrative song cycle tells the story of a wanderer who falls in love with a miller’s beautiful daughter only to have his affections replaced by a hunter wearing green. The wanderer becomes obsessed with the color green, fantasizes about his death, and ultimately drowns in the same river that initially led him to the mill. Trockne Blumen (i.e. Dry Flowers) is one of the last songs in the cycle in which the narrator imagines taking the now withered flowers from the miller’s daughter to his grave so that they may spring forth once more and prove that his love was true.
Ferdinand Pogner, a flutist and friend of Schubert, commissioned the set of variations specifically on Trockne Blumen after hearing a performance of the song cycle. Though the text of the chosen song may seem quite somber for a set of flute variations, this brilliant tour de force demands equal technical virtuosity from the flutist and the pianist and ends with a triumphant march. * Schubert selection is subject to change.
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 – 1921)Tarantella for Flute, Clarinet and Piano
Saint-Saëns was a prodigiously intelligent and diverse individual. Truly a “renaissance man” he was not only a child prodigy and an amazingly accomplished organist but a scientist as well and an expert in mathematics, astronomy, botany, meteorology and the study of acoustics!
Though an early work and perhaps not as “profound” as his more mature compositions, the Tarentelle certainly demonstrates that Saint-Saëns, even at the age of 22, possessed the skills of a seasoned composer and was a musical force to be reckoned with.
A tarantella is an Italian folk-dance that legend says originated from the frenzied movements of individuals who had been bitten by a tarantula spider. While Saint-Saëns's version is considerably less frenzied than the music one would imagine for a spider-bite victim's dance, it is quite fervently enough to demand a high level of virtuosity from its performers. In the key of a minor, it begins in a somewhat “spooky” vein but the listener soon forgets the spookiness as the wonderful interplay of the flute and clarinet solo parts becomes evident. Because of its continuous and unrelenting motion, the work seems almost a perpetuum mobile except for a more lyric, major-mode middle section with a slightly relaxed tempo. But the minor mode and the intensity soon return and the piece hurries to its conclusion abandoning the triple-pulse, six-eight time signature at the very end and finishing with a brilliant duple-pulse passage marked prestissimo!
Guillaume Connesson (1970)Techno-parade
Composed in 2002. Premiered on August 3, 2002 at the Chateau de l'Empéri in Salon¬de¬ Provence, France by flutist Emmanuel Pahud, clarinetist Paul Meyer, and pianist Éric Le Sage.
Guillaume Connesson writes orchestral, vocal, chamber, and solo works; he has also written scores to accompany silent films. In 1998, he received the Cardin award of the French Institut for Supernova and in 1999 he received the Nadia and Lili Boulanger award. In 2000 he received the SACEM award, and in 2001 a scholarship from Natexis Foundation. In 2006 he was awarded the Grand Prix Lycéen des Compositeurs. He is composer¬-in¬-residence at the Festival International de Musique de Besançon Franche-Comté during the 2014¬15 season and he was composer¬-in-¬residence for the Orchestre National de Pays de la Loire from 2001 to 2003.
His commissioned works include Supernova (Montpellier Philharmonic Orchestra, 1997), Athanor (Choir and National Orchestra of France 2004) or more recently A Glimmer in the Age of Darkness (Royal Scottish National Orchestra, 2005), and Aleph (Miami New World Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra).
His recordings include Techno¬-parade, a collection of eight chamber works that received a “choc” award from Le Monde de la musique. Connesson studied piano, music history, choir analysis, and direction at the Conservatoire National de Région de Boulogne¬-Billancourt, as well as orchestration at the Conservatoire National de Paris. He also studied with Marcel Landowski. He is currently professor of orchestration at the Conservatoire National de Région d'Aubervilliers.
Connesson writes, “Composed for flute, clarinet and piano, my Techno¬-parade is made up of one movement with a continuous beat from beginning to end. Two incisive motifs swirl and clink together giving the piece a festive, but also disturbing character. The wails of the clarinet and the obsessive patterns of the piano try to replicate the raw energy of techno music. In the middle of the piece, the pianist and his/her page-turner chase after the piano rhythms with a brush and sheets of paper (placed on the strings inside the piano), accompanied by the distorted sounds of the flute (rather like the tone of a side drum) and the glissandi of the clarinet. After this percussive “pause,” the three instruments are pulled into a rhythmic trance and the piece ends in a frenzied tempo. Composed for the tenth anniversary of the Festival de l’Empéri, I dedicate my Techno-parade to its three creators Eric Le Sage, Paul Meyer, and Emmanuel Pahud.
A poly-stylist, Shostakovich developed a hybrid voice, combining a variety of different musical techniques into his music. Shostakovich's music is characterised by sharp contrasts, elements of the grotesque, and ambivalent tonality; the composer was also heavily influenced by the neo-classical style pioneered by Igor Stravinsky, and (especially in his symphonies) by the post-Romanticism associated with Gustav Mahler.
The Waltz is from the film Maxim’s Return, the second of the Maxim trilogy by directors Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg. This was the first film score undertook by Shostakovich after he was condemned by the Communist Party, January 1936. Prior to this, he had used his earnings from film work to augment his income. But, by the summer of 1936, performances of Shostakovich music had all but ceased and his income had become drastically reduced. Thus, Shostakovich took on the music of Maxim’s Return not only because he enjoyed working for the directors (in addition to Maxim’s Youth, Shostakovich had previously scored their The New Babylon in 1929) but because he needed the money. He spent much of late summer in Odessa as musical supervisor for the film and later turned in a score for the completed work.
The arrangement for flute, clarinet and piano (and also the orchestral suites created from the film music) was by Levon Atovmian, who was a friend and admirer of Shostakovich.