Home Theatre Gil Shaham scores with Jonathan Leshnoff’s emotionally resonant new sonata in Aspen – Seen and Heard Worldwide

Gil Shaham scores with Jonathan Leshnoff’s emotionally resonant new sonata in Aspen – Seen and Heard Worldwide

Gil Shaham scores with Jonathan Leshnoff’s emotionally resonant new sonata in Aspen – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United StatesUnited States Aspen Music Competition 2023 [11]: Harris Corridor, Aspen, Colorado. (HS)

Pianist Michelle Cann performs music of the Chicago Black Renaissance © Diego Redel

Violinist Gil Shaham, at all times a welcome customer to the Aspen Music Competition, debuted a brand new sonata by Jonathan Leshnoff on Wednesday in his Harris Corridor recital. The world premiere of the heart-on-sleeve, unabashedly melodic, lushly expressive piece made for a memorable event.

Shaham has historical past with Leshnoff, having premiered his Yiddish Dance Suite in 2011 and chamber concerto in 2015. Leshnoff, with a number of Grammy nominations to his title, is aware of methods to talk with audiences.

Alternately melancholy and wistful, the 4 actions over 20 minutes often burst right into a vigorous dance, although the piece displays the composer’s preoccupation together with his dying father as he wrote the piece. A pressure of Yiddish music ran by way of the tuneful first motion, paying homage to John Williams’s Schindler’s Listing theme however under no circumstances a replica.

The second-movement Adagio was particularly touching, and the 2 ultimate actions felt like somebody shaking off morose moods for one thing extra constructive. Competition music director Robert Spano on the piano formed a kaleidoscope of harmonies with a mushy contact.

Particularly hanging was a protracted cadenza within the finale that at occasions gave the impression to be channeling the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No.2 for unaccompanied violin. It developed right into a frenzied climax earlier than receding into the piece’s sigh of a end. This, in fact, was catnip for Shaham, who could make his instrument sing like few others.

Gil Shaham on the Aspen Music Competition © Diego Redel

The duo opened with Bach’s Violin Sonata in F minor, which mirrored the brand new piece: it additionally begins with a protracted, winding melody in gradual movement in opposition to a gently twisting counterpoint within the piano. Shaham typically takes a extra Romantic method to Bach’s music, and Spano went together with a softer-edged, if heavier, contact on the piano than we often hear. The nearer, Brahms’s Violin Sonata No.3 in D minor, discovered its route within the beautiful Adagio, and completed robust with aptitude within the Presto agitato finale.

The encore, ‘Meditation’ from Massenet’s Thaïs, introduced issues to a gorgeously peaceable shut, each musicians letting the music unfurl in unhurried trend.

The remainder of the week had its ups and downs.

In Thursday’s recital, guitarist Sharon Isbin, a longtime Aspen favourite, joined the Pacifica Quartet’s recital to hold the acquainted tunes of Vivaldi’s Guitar Concerto in D main with panache. She topped off the primary half main a vigorous and enjoyable ‘Fandango’ from Boccherini’s Quintet No.4 for Guitar and Strings in D main.

In between got here a brand new work, The Track of a Dreaming Sparrow, by composer Joseph Schwantner for Isbin and the quartet. The piece meandered aimlessly by way of impressions of life in rural nineteenth-century New England and by no means appeared to search out footing.

The second half was dedicated to Beethoven’s String Quartet in A minor. As if the composer had not notated each web page together with his personal continuous dynamic modifications, crescendos and diminuendos, the quartet added extra of their very own, creating an extra-fussy model that solely discovered glory within the magnificent Molto Adagio on the middle of the quartet.

In Harris Corridor on Monday night, Michelle Cann, who holds the piano chair at Curtis Institute, introduced enthusiasm and dynamic pianism to a program that celebrated the ladies of the Chicago Black Renaissance. Within the music realm, the better-known Harlem Renaissance – the emergence of African-American artists to be reckoned with – leaned extra closely on jazz, whereas the group of Chicago-based girls introduced right here took on the classical world.

Florence Value remains to be the best-known composer of the group, however Cann demonstrated why the music of Margaret Bonds, Irene Britton Smith and Betty Jackson King deserves extra consideration.

Making use of a formidable piano approach and a deep understanding of the music’s roots, she spoke from a lectern to explain how all of them moved to Chicago after they might make no headway with classical music of their hometowns within the Deep South. They supported one another and created a Black classical music group with music steeped in spirituals and the pianism of a variety of classical composers.

To assist us hear the references to spirituals, Cann sang parts of some of them in a well-trained voice that movingly carried all the colours the songs wanted.

Smith’s Variations on a Theme by MacDowell made a high quality begin, because the variations echoed keyboard types from Bach to Brahms, with a contact of Mozart and Beethoven, earlier than delving into her personal extra fashionable model within the later variations. Bonds’s Religious Suite bought much more express, creating scrumptious glosses on such acquainted tunes as ‘Dem Bones’ and ‘Wade within the Water’. King’s 4 Seasonal Sketches took a really totally different method to music of the seasons than Vivaldi did, a tinge of unhappiness seeping into the vacation and spring actions.

Cann performed all these with depth, generally with extra weight than was obligatory however at all times on level with the references and ornamental touches. Better of all have been the 2 Value Fantasies, which mirrored the composer’s extra elegant model, open textures and seamless construction. The encore, a transcription of the incomparable Hazel Scott’s boogie-woogie model of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor, introduced issues to a juicy excessive level.

This recital was the fourth live performance in 4 days providing music from African-American composers. The works mirrored the tradition from a wide range of views.

Billy Childs’s saxophone concerto, performed brilliantly by Steven Banks in Friday’s Chamber Symphony, painted musical photos from Africa to slavery and ended within the Black church on a constructive observe. Joel Thompson’s An Act of Resistance condensed in the present day’s racial turbulence into the necessity for love to conquer a nationwide lack of empathy. There was no sense of hope in Kyle Rivera’s uncooked Black Physique Collage, nonetheless, performed by the Aspen Modern Ensemble on Saturday’s Chamber Music recital. Its harsh expressions of anguish and anger lingered in repelling dissonances and blats from the orchestra.

Message obtained, however now I do know which of those items I need to hear once more.

Harvey Steiman

7.8.2023: Recital: Michelle Cann (piano). Harris Corridor
Smith Variations on a Theme by MacDowell
King – 4 Seasonal Sketches
BondsReligious Suite
ValueFantasie nègre No.2 in G minor; Fantasie nègre No.1 in E minor

9.8.2023: Recital: Gil Shaham (violin), Robert Spano (piano). Harris Corridor
J. S. Bach – Violin Sonata in F minor
Jonathan Leshnoff – Violin Sonata (world premiere)
Brahms – Violin Sonata No.3 in D minor

10.8.2023: Recital: Pacifica Quartet (Simin Ganatra, Austin Hartmann [violins], Mark Holloway [viola], Brandon Vamos [cello]), Sharon Isbin (guitar). Harris Corridor
Vivaldi/Pujol (edited Sharon Isbin) – Guitar Concerto in D main
Joseph SchwartnerThe Track of a Dreaming Sparrow
Boccherini – ‘Fandango’ from Quintet No.4 for Guitar and Strings in D main
Beethoven – String Quartet in A minor Op.132



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