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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.




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+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 11/08/2012 at Symphony Space.

In a program juxtaposing classic and new works, violinist Laurie Smukler and cellist Joel Krosnick perform the NY premiere of A Due by renowned composer Shulamit Ran, and pay tribute to Elliott Carter with his three duets. The Duo talks about bringing these works to life.

 

"Shulamit Ran's smart, sinewy music is the genuine article. Its tone of intelligence is congruent with its sense of aliveness, necessity, soul." -The Boston Globe

 

PROGRAM

 

Two Canons from The Art of the Fugue

J.S. Bach

 

Duo Variations for violin and cello

Ralph Shapey

 

A Due (NY Premiere) 

Shulamit Ran

 

-Conversation with Smukler, Krosnick, and Laura Kaminsky-

 

Tre Duetti for violin and cello

Elliott Carter

 

Sonata for violin and cello

Maurice Ravel

 

 

+ About the Artists

Admired for her intensity and the beauty of her sound, Laurie Smukler is an artist who is active as soloist and recitalist. Growing up in Cleveland, she began her studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, with pedagogue Margaret Randall. She started performing early, winning local competitions, and playing as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra at the age of fourteen. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Juilliard School where she studied with Ivan Galamian.

As the original and founding first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet, she spent eight years traveling and performing internationally with them. With her husband, violist Ira Weller, she directed and performed in the respected series "The Collection in Concert," at the Pierpont Morgan Library. She has performed and toured as the first violinist of two school affiliated string quartets, the Bard Festival String Quartet and the Purchase Faculty String Quartet.

Dedicated to teaching as well as to performing, Laurie Smukler is a respected member of the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, Bard College, and the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival and School. She spent 17 years as a professor of violin and chamber music at Purchase College Conservatory of Music, ten of those years as Head of the String Department. She has been an invited guest at many summer festivals, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Marlboro Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Bard Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Music Mountain, and the Mount Desert Island Festival. She has a particular interest in contemporary music, premiering works by many composers including Ned Rorem, Morton Subotnik, Steven Paulus, Shulamit Ran, and Bruce Adolphe. Ms. Smukler plays a Petrus Guarnerius violin made in Venice in 1738.

 

For more than 35 years, cellist Joel Krosnick has performed as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician all over the world. As a member of the Juilliard String Quartet since 1974, he has performed the great quartet literature throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has recorded the complete quartets of Beethoven, Bartók, Schoenberg, Janacek, Hindemith, and Brahms, as well as the last 10 quartets of Mozart, four quartets of Elliott Carter, and works of Haydn, Debussy, Ravel, Dutilleux, Berg, Smetana, Franck, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, Verdi, Sibelius, Bach, Roger Sessions, Donald Martino, and Stefan Wolpe. In 2008, also as a member of the Juilliard String Quartet, Mr. Krosnick was awarded the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award by Chamber Music America.

Joel Krosnick was born in Connecticut to a family of enthusiastic amateur musicians; his mother was a pianist and his father was a violinist/doctor. Mr. Krosnick completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at Columbia College, where he began his lifelong commitment to contemporary music. While studying at the College, he became involved with living composers and new music, and eventually became a founding member of the Group for Contemporary Music. Mr. Krosnick has taught the cello and chamber music since his earliest professional life. He has held professorships at the Universities of Iowa and Massachusetts, and was artist-in-residence at the California Institute of the Arts. Since 1974, he has been on the faculty of the Juilliard School, where, since 1994, he has served as chairman of the cello department.

Mr. Krosnick is a recipient of the Chevalier du Violoncelle Award from the Eva Janzer Memorial Cello Center at the Indiana University School of Music. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from Michigan State University, Jacksonville University, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. As a member of the Juilliard String Quartet, he has received numerous Grammy nominations, twice winning the Grammy Award (for the complete Schoenberg quartets and the late quartets of Beethoven). His discs, In the Shadow of World War I and In the Shadow of World War II, with his sonata partner Gilbert Kalish, won Indie Awards. The duo's recording of the Brahms sonatas won the Classical Recording Foundation Award. Joel Krosnick has recorded for the Sony Classical, Nonesuch, Orion, CRI, New World, Koch International, CP2, and Arabesque Labels.

 

Shulamit Ran, a native of Israel, began setting Hebrew poetry to music at the age of seven. By nine she was studying composition and piano with some of Israel's most noted musicians, including composers Alexander Boskovich and Paul Ben-Haim, and within a few years she was having her works performed by professional musicians and orchestras. Ran continued her composition studies in the United States with Norman Dello-Joio. In 1973 she joined the faculty of University of Chicago, where she is now the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music. She lists her late colleague and friend Ralph Shapey, with whom she also studied in 1977, as an important mentor.

Her music has been played by leading performing organizations including the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, The Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Baltimore Symphony, the National Symphony, Contempo, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Jerusalem Orchestra, the vocal ensemble Chanticleer, and many others. Between 1990 and 1997 she was Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Between 1994 and 1997 she was the fifth Brena and Lee Freeman Sr. Composer-in-Residence with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where her residency culminated in the performance of her first opera, Between Two Worlds (The Dybbuk).

Ran served as Music Director of Tempus Fugit, the International Biennial for Contemporary Music in Israel in 1996, 1998, and 2000. Since 2002 she has been the Artistic Director of Contempo at the University of Chicago. Shulamit Ran is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, where she completed a 3-year term as Vice President for Music, and of the American Academy of Arts and Science. Her works are published by Theodore Presser Company and by the Israeli Music Institute and recorded on more than a dozen different labels.

+ About the Music

Johann Sebastian Bach: 2 Canons from The Art of the Fugue

The Art of the Fugue is J.S. Bach's very last work, and arguably his greatest achievement. Designed as an enormous cycle of fugues, all in the same key and all deriving from a single motive, this masterpiece of musical architecture demonstrates the entire craft, technique and art of contrapuntal writing. By the mid-eighteenth century, musical taste was changing in favor of a more homophonic style. Bach certainly was aware that an entire tradition was disappearing, and The Art of the Fugue stands as a last testament pointing future generations to the pinnacle of contrapuntal craft. It is significant that he oversaw the engraving of The Art of the Fugue onto copper plates, a more permanent medium than paper manuscripts, so easily lost.

The titles for each canon refer to the contrapuntal techniques employed. In the "Canon alla Duodecima in Contrapunto alla Quinta," the secondary voice imitates the leading voice at an interval of the 12th (an octave plus five notes). In the Canon per Augmentationem in Contrario Motu, not only are there two sections in double counterpoint, but the canon's follower is in contrary motion and rhythmic augmentation (twice as slow) - an extraordinary feat indeed.

-J.Y. Song

 

Ralph Shapey: Duo-Variations for violin and cello

Born in Philadelphia in 1921, Ralph Shapey was known as a "radical traditionalist," uncompromising in his commitment to composing and performing works for their own sake. Unswayed by trends and fads, he withdrew his works from 1969 to 1976, disillusioned by the attitudes of his musical environment. The recipient of a MacArthur Prize (1982) and winner of the Friedheim Competition (1990, for Concerto for Cello, Piano and String Orchestra), Shapey taught for many years at the University of Chicago, where he exerted his greatest influence as a teacher. The second part of a trilogy, the Duo Variations appear between the Krosnick Soli (for solo cello) and the Mann Soli (for solo violin), the premiere of the Duo Variations was given by Joel Smirnoff and Joel Krosnick at the University of Chicago.

Shapey has described his language as combining "two fundamentally contradictory impulses - radical language and romantic sensibility," adding that "like the Romantics, I conceive of art in a deeply spiritual way. A great work of art transcends the immediate moment into a world of infinity."

-J.Y.Song 

 

Shulamit Ran: A due

A due for violin and cello, a single-movement piece of approximately 12 minutes, is comprised of what may be seen as a series of interconnected ‘terms of engagement' between its two protagonists. Starting from a state of separation and great distance, expressed by the two instruments playing entirely different music and placed in registeral positions that are wide apart, the two gradually come together, in a manner that is more akin to a series of progressive waves than a straight narrative. Spatial distribution (the ‘highs' and the ‘lows') is, in fact, an important determining agent of these various encounters, as is the degree to which the two appear to be in opposition or in collaboration. The analogy to a human relationship (though not one specific type of relationship) between two people who either are, or become, extremely close, fraught with all the complexity, contradictions, and degrees of emotion that an ever-evolving close relationship engenders, was indeed on my mind throughout the compositional process. At its peak, A due reaches an intense climax that is pained and anguished, followed by a more tender, cathartic reconciliation. And while sections of music recur at various times (in particular a series of closely voiced chords played in rhythmic unison by the violin and cello, and a gentle, dance-like stretch of music), the position in time of these recurrences alters their emotional significance and tone.

A due was commissioned by my dear friend violinist Laurie Smukler and composed during my stay at the American Academy in Rome in the fall of 2011. It is dedicated with love to Avi, my husband - The One.

-Shulamit Ran

 

Elliott Carter: Tre Duetti for Violin and Cello

Described as "one of America's most distinguished creative artists in any field" by Aaron Copland, Carter is undoubtedly one of America's leading musical voices, having produced an extraordinary body of work in all forms, spanning nearly a century. His music has been championed by the leading conductors of his generation, including Boulez, Barenboim, and Levine, and he has received numerous awards from multiple countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and the U.S. According to a writer for Musical America, "There is often wit and humor to be heard in [Carter's] work; anger in some of the earlier big pieces; increasing lyricism and beauty in the compositions of the recent decades. He is America's great musical poet."

Dedicated to Carter's friend and colleague, Milton Babbitt, the Tre Duetti for violin and cello were inspired in part by Babbitt's Duettini. Composed in two movements, Tre Duetti contains two duos (Duettone and Duettino), which may be performed separately as stand-alone works, or together, linked by a brief Adagio. This rather unusual flexibility gives rise to three performance options. The work was composed for Rolf Schulte (violin) and Fred Sherry (cello), and given its premiere at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2009.

-J.Y. Song

 

Maurice Ravel: Sonata for Violin and Cello

Ravel stated that his Sonata for Violin and Cello marked a turning point in his style, replacing typically lush, limpid harmonies with a stricter emphasis on melodic line and counterpoint. The means to which he limited himself - just two instruments, both of which are primarily melodic in nature - gave rise to this new, more economic and reasoned style, resulting in a work of great delicacy and intricacy. The dedication to the memory of Debussy brings up the interesting question of the relationship between the two composers, whose musical evolution closely paralleled one another. Ravel strongly refuted any question of imitation, arguing that elements of style attributed to Debussy in fact appeared first in his own works; however, Ravel was genuine in his admiration for the elder composer, orchestrating Debussy's works, and dedicating this sonata to Debussy's memory.

Laid out in four movements, the Sonata moves from a well-balanced, classical first movement, to a lively scherzo full of sound effects and unusual rhythmic patterns, to a three-part slow movement in which serene melodies are exchanged between the two instruments, and finally to the last movement, a harmonically adventurous and exciting movement that brings the whole to a climactic close.

-J.Y. Song

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