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Concert sponsored by Palau de la Música de València

Concert sponsored by Palau de la Música de València

September 25, 2020

Orquestra de València

Orquestra de València + Jordi Francés + Carlos Apellániz

Jordi Francés, conductor
Carlos Apellániz, piano

György Ligeti (1923-2006) Melodien for Orchestra (1989)

Carlos Fontcuberta (1977) Finestres (2019, piece comissioned by Palau de la Música de València)

Béla Bartók (1881-1945) Concert per a orquestra (1943)

* Talk before the concert with Jordi Francés and Carlos Fontcuberta at 6.30pm.

György Ligeti (1923-2006) composed Melodien (Melodies) for orchestra in 1971, commissioned by the city of Nuremberg to commemorate the fifth centenary of the birth of Albrecht Dürer. It was premièred on 10 December that same year in Nuremberg by the city's Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Hans Gierster. It is made up of nine sections that are intertwined but marked by changes in the musical material, in the texture, the tempo and, on three occasions, by a change in rhythm. Each one encompasses a process: an element is shown which is then gradually transformed until a formal signal appears that gives way with no interruption to the next section. According to the author's indications for performing it, there are three dynamic planes (i.e. volumes), called “foreground”, with shorter melodies and melodic patterns, “middle ground”, with subordinate figurations similar to ostinati, and “background”, made up of long sustained notes. Melodien is a work of transition within Ligeti’s catalogue, since it distances itself from his dense micropoliphony in search of a more transparent texture where each line is more perceptible. Even so, we still find traces of his previous micropolyphonic (though not microcanonical) practices in the initial section and in the seventh, which is related to the first. Ligeti describes micropolyphony as “inaudible polyphony in which each single part, though imperceptible in itself, contributes to the character of the polyphonic network as a whole”. It is like a microscopic counterpoint, a dense, internally animated texture in which many instruments play slightly different versions of the same melodic line. Melodien combines the mechanical (intertwined ostinati) and the static (sound masses). Previously, the composer worked with these two textures one after the other, but here, on coming together they contribute to the orchestral piece’s pervasive sense of a diffuse state or controlled disorder.
Today we are witnessing the absolute première of Finestres, a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Carlos Fontcuberta (Valencia, 1977) and commissioned by the Palau de la Música of Valencia. The work is divided into four parts or "Finestres” (windows)In the composer's own words, "The initial idea of the first, Marina, is designed as orchestral gestures in the form of waves that drive the soloist towards the surface, from nothing to completeness." The two brief central movements, Celeste and Onírica (“Dreamlike”)are small interludes which, according to the composer, when grouped together take on the structural function of a classical concerto’s slow movement. Celeste evokes a world of constellations of sound, whereas Onírica suggests a surreal atmosphere of the kind we can find in paintings by Tanguy, De Chirico or Dalí. As for the last finestra, entitled Metropolitan, Fontcuberta explains to us that "one could define it as a window of windows, in which the proliferation of diverse materials, quotes and veiled allusions follow and cut into one another at a great pace, thereby evoking the dynamism and multiplicity of the spaces in large cities." The composer emphasizes that the work is not descriptive music, though certain poetics are evoked in each of its parts.
Béla Bartók (1881-1945) emigrated to America in October 1940 because of the Second World War. His time in the United States was not a happy one for him. He was continually beset by health and financial problems. After a time he was diagnosed with leukemia. To help out their admired friend, his compatriots the violinist Joseph Szigeti and the conductor Fritz Reiner turned to Serge Koussevitzky, music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His idea was for a new composition to be commissioned through the Koussevitzky Foundation. Koussevitzky visited Bartók at the hospital and offered him a cheque for $500 as an advance of fifty percent for a musical work for orchestra. He composed the concerto for orchestra quickly: it took 55 days to write and was completely finished by 8 October, 1943.
The language of this work shows the composer’s evolution towards a simplification and purity of style that began around 1930 after an exciting period of experimentation. He himself wrote in 1938 that "contemporary music should now aim towards the pursuit of what we might call inspired simplicity." The title of this orchestral work, similar to a symphony, according to its composer comes from his tendency to treat instruments or groups of instruments in the way of a concert or soloist. The concerto for orchestra is divided into five movements: First, Introduzione (Andante non troppo. Allegro vivace) has the form of a sonata and within it the fourth interval is of great significance. Bartók cautions that the term "Introduction" only refers to the first 75 bars, not the entire movement. 
The second movement, Giuoco delle coppie (Allegro scherzando) was originally baptized by Bartók as Presentandole coppie; it is a chain of short, independent sections that present the wind instruments in five pairs. The five sections do not have anything in common in terms of their themes. A snareless side drum preludes the appearance of wind instruments in pairs associated with an interval and in this order: bassoons (sixth), oboes (third), clarinets (seventh), flutes (fifth) and trumpets with mutes (major second). A short brass chorus and the side drum act as a trio. Afterwards, the five sections of duos then reappear with more elaborate instrumentation. 
Elegia (Andante, non troppo) is the third part, which consists of the juxtaposition of five sections beginning with a prelude and followed by three elements that appear successively, forming the heart of the piece, cloaked in a misty texture made up of elementary motifs packed with mystery and premonitions, creating one of the most representative examples of the maestro's "night music". The piece ends with a postlude, so that the formal structure is pABCp. Nearly all of the material in this Elegiacomes from the Introduzione.
An Intermezzo interrotto (Allegretto) is the fourth movement. It builds on a continuous alternation of the 2/4 and 5/8 bars. Its form could be summed up as A-B-A'-[int]-B'-A”. The interruption acts a master stroke with the formal effect of a jolt, since it interjects a section inconsistent with what has been heard before it. In this interruption, the clarinet presents a new theme that parodies both the march of Shostakovich’s seventh symphony Leningrad, and the aria Da geh 'ich zu Maxim from the operetta The Merry Widow by the Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. 
The last movement, Finale (Pesante-Presto), takes on the sonata form again. It begins with an energetic call from four French horns that lasts for four bars. A short accelerando leads to the presto, with the violas and cellos marking the binary rhythm with arpeggios in pizzicato and the violins playing with bow tips in a dizzying flow of semiquavers. Then there is a perpetuum mobile which grows progressively, forming the first thematic group of the sonata, which in turn is divided into four distinct parts. That is followed by a transition based on the theme of the initial French horn call that links to the second thematic group, which highlights the theme entrusted to the trumpet in C, itself becoming the subject of a fugue and dealt with in reverse: stretto, augmentation, diminution, etc. The development can be divided into two parts, the first un poco meno mosso and the second more complex, showing a masterful counterpoint of diminishing motives. The repeated display contains a different transition, marked on the score as tranquillo, which connects again to the theme of the call of the horns. The reappearance of the second thematic group, dealt with this time by augmentation, reaches a climax of sound with a brilliant display by the brass, and the work ends with impressive brio and intensity.
In the notes to the première's programme, Bartók wrote that “the general nature of the work represents—apart from the mocking second movement—a gradual transition from the severity of the first movement and the gloomy funerary song of the third, up to the affirmation of life in the last"The concerto for orchestra was first conducted by Serge Koussevitzky with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on 10 December 1944. Bartók died ten months after the première, somewhat more encouraged by the immediate success of this formidable work. 
César Cano


09/25/2020  19:30hPalau de les Arts AuditoriumConcerts '20

Precios: 8, 12 and €15

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