Since my student days in Philadelphia at
the Curtis Institute of Music I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by
many iconic figures of the music world.
Some of these inspiring musicians included the composers Bernstein,
Menotti, and Lutoslawski. As a Curtis student I had the opportunity to perform
with these masters. I especially
remember Maestro Witold Lutoslawski conducting us in one of his latest
symphonies. He imprinted his charismatic and loving approach to music forever
in my memory.
Years later I was thrilled to discover that
both Esa-Pekka Salonen and Steven Stucky shared a special bond with Lutoslawski
and considered him a mentor. During the period when Salonen was music director
of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Stucky was our New Music Advisor, the
Philharmonic commissioned the famed Polish composer to write his 4th symphony. The Philharmonic premiered the work in
February, 1993 with Lutoslawski on the podium.
I am delighted to bring together the works
of these three men who shared a special friendship and whom I greatly admire. I
have played many works by all three composers and I particularly love the ones
we chose to present in this recording.
Working in Walt Disney Concert Hall is a
recording engineer's dream. The
acoustics sound excellent thanks to Yasuhisa Toyota who designed the interior
of the hall. And thanks to architect Frank Gehry, the hall is an inspiring and
beautiful place to work. It is hard to say whether Walt Disney Concert Hall
came to life because the Los Angeles Philharmonic is one of the finest
orchestras in the world, or whether the Hall inspired the Philharmonic to its
current level of greatness. When one
attends a performance in Walt Disney Concert Hall, or has the great fortune to
record there, it hardly matters. The
space and the musicians have morphed into one another, and mirror each other's
Yarlung Records had the honor of releasing
the first commercial recording made in Walt Disney Concert Hall, a gold CD
entitled Martin Chalifour in Walt Disney Concert Hall: Trésors Ensevelis. On this album Martin and
his friends Maia Jasper (on violin) and Joanne Pearce Martin and Bryan Pezzone
on piano, explored rare transcriptions of pieces we know well. Martin and Joanne introduced Chalifour's own
transcription of Poulenc's flute sonata, for example, and Schumann's take on
Bach's Partita No. 1 in B Minor. Martin and Maia also introduced three of
Schönberg's beguiling unpublished duets for two violins.
The success of this recording inspired us
to release this second album celebrating Martin Chalifour and his role as a
soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, for which he also serves as
Principal Concertmaster. Orchestra principal pianist Joanne Pearce Martin joins
Martin Chalifour for Steven Stucky's Tres
pinturas, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic joins
Martin for Lutoslawski's violin concerto Chain 2 and Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major. The exciting conductor Andrey Boreyko leads
the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Lutoslawski, and the great Sir Neville
Marriner leads the orchestra in the Mozart.
We also include an archival live recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Lachen
verlernt, for solo violin, a work commissioned in
2002 by the La Jolla Summerfest for violinist and festival music director Jimmy
Lin, with generous underwriting from Joan and Irwin Jacobs. Martin and the Los Angeles Philharmonic chose
Lachen verlernt for Martin to play in
the inaugural Green Umbrella contemporary music concert in the then brand new
Walt Disney Concert Hall. The cement had
barely cured, and the palpable audience excitement to be in this great new
auditorium affected everyone that night, from the musicians to the ushers. I had the good fortune to be in the
audience. This recording is in fact this
Steven Stucky, Witold Lutoslawski,
Esa-Pekka Salonen and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart all mean a great deal to Martin
Chalifour, and these composers share a common musical thread. Among Mozart's many talents, he was the great
orchestrator of the classical era. His music was avant garde for his audiences,
and he enjoyed taking risks. From what we know of Mozart's personality, he took
risks to break musical convention and expand his genius, but he also took risks
because he enjoyed shocking people. His
sense of jocular fun mixes with his musical genius; this is Mozart's
legacy. In addition to his ability with
texture and melody, Mozart's innovative writing for the winds provides our
strongest link to the music written by the three later composers on this album. Mozart's writing sets the stage for the
colorful experiments Debussy and Rimsky-Korsakov continued. Rimsky-Korsakov
celebrates this innovative direction in his famous book Principles
of Orchestration. This work may seem simplistic to
the casual modern reader, but it is a treatise Lutoslawski used every day.
Stucky also refers to this work.
To further explain the relationships our
four composers share across time, Lutoslawski, Salonen and Stucky use a color
language they inherited from Debussy and Rimsky-Korsakov (and hence Mozart) even
if their later Twentieth and Twenty-first Century harmonic and melodic language
evolved in different directions.
Furthermore, Lutoslawski studied the violin seriously, and played the
instrument well in his youth. He
cherished the five Mozart violin concertos and knew them intimately.
Stucky, Salonen and Lutoslawski may never
have been in one room at the same time, but they were indeed a family.
Esa-Pekka and Steven both considered Witold a good friend, and Lutoslawski
mentored the two younger composers even though Lutoslawski never had students per
se. So even
though he never gave Stucky or Salonen composition lessons, his influence and
example guided them both in their formative years as composers, and continues
to guide them to this day. When talking
about Lutoslawski recently, Steve told me that the elder composer was his model
for the type of music Steve wanted to write and that Lutoslawski remains a
constant source of inspiration.
Stucky observed that the three of them,
Stucky, Salonen and Lutoslawski, fit into what we know as the French school of
composition and share a "French" way of looking at music. Steve clarified that this is more accurately
a French/Russian School, following the leads of Debussy and Stravinsky, where
music becomes more about sound and less about abstract ideas or ideology or
even structure. By contrast, Beethoven's archetypal discourse (with an idea,
development, evolution in various ways, repetition in a new context and so
forth) shifts away from ideas and their variations to focus instead on the
sound itself and a listener's emotional reaction. In other words, our three later composers
interested themselves less in the listener's emotional reaction to the
structure and development of the musical ideas in their particular order and
juxtaposition, and instead interested themselves in the listener's emotional
reaction to the sounds in and of themselves, representing themselves directly,
rather than sounds as a statement or representation of any sort of classical
structure. Stucky, Salonen and Lutoslawski
write music where sound represents pure color rather than sound representing a
linguistic grammatical language. Mozart may have been shocked to hear where his
legacy led his descendents, but I think he would have enjoyed the surprise.
Despite their Debussy-inspired coloristic
orientation, all three later works do concern themselves with formal
structures, at least in part. Salonen
based Lachen verlernt on a repeating series
of chords, as a type of neo Chaconne. Lutoslawski's and Stucky's works share
this compositional technique: Chain 2 in its fourth movement, and Amigas de
los pájaros from Steve's Tres
These modern chord progressions offer a cyclic structure that hints at
the order underlying colorful surfaces.
Stucky originally wrote Pinturas
de Tamayo in 1995 for a commission from the Chicago
Symphony. This five movement work for
full orchestra takes inspiration from five paintings by Oaxacan painter Rufino
Tamayo. Steve writes:
In April 1991 I visited the Rufino Tamayo
Museum in Mexico City. I had never heard of Tamayo, but immediately I found
myself drawn to his work, and I stood for a long while, transfixed by his
painting La gran galaxia (The
Great Galaxy). Indeed, that first encounter with
his vibrant, mysterious, deeply human paintings is indelibly fixed in my memory
as one of the great artistic experiences of my life.
After playing Pinturas de
Tamayo with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Martin
Chalifour asked Steve to write a transcription for violin and piano. We begin Tres
Pinturas on this album with Músicas
dormidas, originally movement 4 of Pinturas
Steve writes about the painting "Músicas
dormidas: "[This is] ...a famous image, showing two dark
female forms stretched out, their instruments abandoned on the ground beside
them. The music obeys not the logic of daylight, but that of dreams; bits of
the day's music, half-remembered, float in the night air." For our second movement in Tres
Pinturas, Martin and Joanne play Amigas
de los pájaros, originally the first movement of
the orchestral work. Steve writes about Amigas
de los pájaros: "Two women stand with a
pair of birds encircling their heads, bathed in a reddish glow of almost
unbearable intensity. I have tried to create music of a similarly intense
brightness." For our final movement,
Joanne and Martin play Anochecer.
Steve writes: "The form of the music is suggested by the line of the painting,
which seems to begin in the upper left-hand corner and roil and billow downward
until it climaxes in the lower right-hand quadrant, with those astonishing,
geometric, trumpet-like light-rays."
This is the world premiere recording of Tres Pinturas.
Witold Lutoslawski wrote Chain
2 for a commission from Paul Sacher. Maestro Sacher
was greatly inspired by Chain 1, written
in 1983 for the London Sinfonietta for a commission from Michael Vyner. So Sacher commissioned a second work, this
time a four-movement violin concerto, using the same structural ideas.
Lutoslawski wrote Chain 2
specifically for German virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter, who premiered the work
with Zürich Collegium Musicum in 1986.
Paul Sacher conducted.
A year before the composer's death in 1994,
the Polish government awarded Lutoslawski the prestigious Order of the White
Eagle, and Lutoslawski made his final recording, which included Chain
2, with soloist Koh-Gabriele Kameda and
Sinfonieorchester Musikhochschule Karlsruhe.
Lutoslawski used the word "Chain" (Lancuch in Polish) to describe his
compositional technique for the works, using overlapping and contrasting
musical strands which link with each other much like a metal chain. This structure contributes to the
composition's French/Russian coloristic orientation, while allowing Lutoslawski
to build the fourth movement "Chaconne" upon which he superimposed the frenzied
excitement of this final movement. While
much of this work sounds improvised, this is a carefully constructed charade,
of course. To this end, Lutoslawski
titles the first and third movements "ad libitum."
As a producer and recording engineer, I am
particularly grateful not only to the composer giants of the twentieth century
including Lutoslawski, but also to Paul Sacher himself. Maestro Sacher combined his musical talent
and his family's great wealth in the service of Twentieth Century music. Yarlung Records has recorded many works
commissioned by or for Sacher, starting with his magnificent solo ‘cello
repertoire which Rostropovich coordinated in honor of Sacher's 70th
birthday. Yarlung Records has already
released "Sacher Variations" by Lutoslawski and Britten on our album Dialoghi, and we soon plan to release others in this famous series.
verlernt, Esa-Pekka offers the following
The title Lachen
verlernt (Laughing Unlearnt) is a quotation from
the ninth movement of Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire, Gebet an Pierrot (Prayer to
Pierrot). The narrator declares that she has unlearnt the skill of laughing and
begs Pierrot, the "Horse-doctor to the soul", to give it back to her.
I felt that this is a very moving metaphor
of a performer: a serious clown trying to help the audience to connect with
emotions they have lost, or believe they have lost.
is essentially a Chaconne, which in this case means that there is a harmonic
progression that repeats itself several times. The harmony remains the same
throughout the whole piece; only the surface, the top layer of the music
starts with a lyrical, expressive melody (the same melody has an important role
in my orchestral work Insomnia, which
I was writing at the same time, in the summer of 2002). Gradually the music
becomes faster and more frenzied until it develops an almost frantic character,
as if the imaginary narrator had reached a state of utter despair.
A very short Coda closes this mini-drama
Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major
Many scholars agree that Mozart wrote his
fifth and final violin concerto in 1775, probably when he was the ripe old age
of nineteen. This was certainly "mid
career" for Mozart, well into his golden period. Mozart offers a sublime and
developmentally straightforward Allegro first movement to begin with, but soon writes glorious operatic
melodies for the soloist over a happily murmuring orchestra, hinting at music
to come in later decades.
Mozart follows his melancholy and yet
stately Adagio second movement with a saucy Rondo. The humor and hijinks in Mozart's rambunctious "Oriental" music in
this final movement certainly surprised and challenged his audience in 1775,
much like some of today's "aggressively contemporary" music stretches our
musical language and appreciation.
Martin's violin in the Mozart concerto, the
Milstein Strad, was already sixty years old by the time Mozart wrote this
music. But by contrast, we have to wonder how it would have sounded in 1775
before its modern sound post, bridge, neck and strings. And most importantly,
before the wood had a chance to age for almost 300 years. It could be that
Martin has treated us to a performance and to a timbre that could not have been
equaled on any instrument
at the time of the concerto's premiere. I like to think so. We hope you enjoy
this exceptional violin in the exceptional hands of Martin Chalifour.
A note on the instruments:
Our friends Jerry and Terri Kohl once again
allowed us to use their magnificent golden period Stradivarius for this
recording. Martin plays this legendary
Nathan Milstein Strad (the "ex Goldmann" from 1716) with Sir Neville Marriner
in the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5.
Thank you Jerry and Terri, for making this violin available to your
friend Martin, and for being so generous to us at Yarlung Records. In talking about this instrument with me,
Martin said "I ended up choosing several violins for this recording because of
the way they made me feel. The Milstein Stradivarius of 1716 had the nobility
and steady luster of sound needed in the "old world" works.... A sort
of smoky color that is rich and mysterious.... This is one of the greatest string
instruments on earth and I feel privileged to play it."
Martin chose the famous 1729 "Joachim," or
"Petschnikoff" or "Jack Benny" Strad owned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic for
the premiere Green Umbrella performance of Lachen
And Martin played his Miralles (made for Martin in 2007) in Tres
Brenda and Mario Miralles have been friends of Martin's (and mine) for
many years, and they make some of the finest contemporary violins, violas and
‘cellos in the world. Many extraordinary
Miralles instruments sing alongside the Strads, Guarneris and Amatis in the Los
Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras. Martin wrote "My Miralles violin is to this
day the most comfortable violin I have ever played. It was made just for me and I am so proud of
it (and him!) I will never part with it."
Martin and I especially want to thank Jerry
and Terri Kohl, Michelle Rohe, Marilyn and Don Conlan, and Bruce and Marty
Coffey, all good friends, who made it possible to release this album. We received support also from an anonymous
donor in honor of Ernest Fleischmann, whose vision and intelligence shaped the
musical Renaissance we currently enjoy in Los Angeles. Thank you Ernest, for building the Los
Angeles Philharmonic into a great orchestra, and for being so generous with
your advice when Yarlung Records began.
We miss you and we are grateful for your friendship.
Martin and I would also like to thank
Deborah Borda, President of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who inherited the
reins from Ernest, and whose generosity enabled us to make this recording in
Walt Disney Concert Hall. Thanks also to Chris Ayzoukian for streamlining the
process so elegantly.
Bob Attiyeh, producer