4th & 5th Concert - The creation of the world

Sun 3.9

The creation of the world brings music into being! The ground-breaking American composer George Crumb describes our planet's evolution through the eons of prehistoric via the voice of the whale, asking that the players performing his work wear masks and are bathed in blue light. Darius Milhaud draws inspiration from African creation myths, while reminding us that jazz created a new musical world of its own in the 20th century as a black musical idiom. But the creation of music also brings worlds into being! Thus it was that Schumann's Piano Quintet, one of most delightful chamber works in the romantic repertoire, brought an impressive new musical genre into being which great composers have been writing for ever since.

GEORGE CRUMB (1929 — 2022) - Vox balaenae (The voice of the whale) for three masked players (electric flute, electric cello and amplified piano)

Silvia Careddu - Flutte
Titos Gouvelis - Piano
Angelos Liakakis - Cello

DARIUS MILHAUD (1892 - 1974) - La création du monde (The Creation of the World), suite de concert op. 81b, for chamber ensemble

Noe Inui - Violin
Pawel Zalejski - Violin
David Bogorad - Viola
Angelos Liakakis - Cello
Titos Gouvelis - Piano

ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856) - Piano Quintet in E flat major, opus 44

Pawel Zalejski - Violin
Noe Inui - Violin
David Bogorad - Viola
Angelos Liakakis - Cello
Vassilis Varvaresos - Piano



Minoa Chamber Music Festival - GEORGE CRUMB (1929 — 2022) - Vox balaenae (The voice of the whale) for three masked players (electric flute, electric cello and amplified piano)

GEORGE CRUMB (1929 — 2022)

Vox balaenae (The voice of the whale) for three masked players (electric flute, electric cello and amplified piano)

Opus 81b

George Crumb was one of the most respected American composers of the generation who reached maturity in the third quarter of the 20th century. Over his career, he received grants and awards from the Fromm, Coolidge, Guggenheim, Koussevitzky and Rockefeller Foundations as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1968, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his orchestral work Echoes of Time and the River. In 1971, he was awarded UNESCO's International Music Prize for Composers for his collected works. The composer wrote Vox Balaenae in 1971, inspired by a recording an expert in marine phenomena had made of the sounds whales emit from their blowholes. Crump was impressed not only by the quality of the sounds themselves, but also by the fact these huge cetaceans ‘sang’ as they swam the oceans. "Music can be defined as a system of proportions in the service of a spiritual impulse," the composer wrote, and this seemed to apply to whales as well as humans. Crump wrote this work for flute, cello and piano, all with electric amplification, to convey the sounds of the whale and its marine environment. He added unique timbres by inviting the flautist to sing and play simultaneously, the cellist to tune their strings beyond their normal range, the pianist to hit their instrument's strings pizzicato, and the cellist and flautist to strike crotales (antique cymbals). In addition, he invited the performers to wear either black masks or masks with a visor. "The masks,” he explained, “by effacing the sense of human projection, are intended to represent, symbolically, the powerful, impersonal forces of nature.” To enhance the sense of the ocean surrounding the whale, he suggested that deep blue stage lights be used. Crumb has described the structure of his work thus: "The form of Vox Balaenae is a simple three-part design, consisting of a prologue, a set of variations named after the geological eras, and an epilogue". Manolis Lorentzos


I. Vocalise (...for the beginning of time)
II. Variations on the Time of the Sea
Sea Theme
Archeozoic (variant 1)
Proterozoic (variant 2)
Paleozoic (variant 3)
Mesozoic (variant 4)
Cenozoic (variant 5)
III. Sea-nocturne (... for the end of time)

Minoa Chamber Music Festival - DARIUS MILHAUD (1892 - 1974) - La création du monde (The Creation of the World), suite de concert op. 81b, for chamber ensemble

DARIUS MILHAUD (1892 - 1974)

La création du monde (The Creation of the World), suite de concert op. 81b, for chamber ensemble

As early as 1920, when the then up-and-coming French composer Darius Milhaud had encountered the sound world of jazz, the music had made a profound impression on him. Two years later, on a trip to the United States, he expanded and deepened his relationship with this music as he heard it in the streets, clubs and dancehalls of New York. So when Rolf de Maré, the director of the Ballets Suédois, suggested he compose music for a ballet about the creation of the world as described in the African mythological tradition, Milhaud decided, reasonably, to write music directly influenced by jazz, a genre with African-American roots. The short ballet The Creation of the World was completed in 1923 and consists of an introduction and five sections; its pared-down orchestration for wind instruments (including the saxophone), percussion and a handful of strings is very close to that of a jazz band. The ballet's scenario was written by the Swiss-born poet Blaise Cendrars on the basis of a passage from the 1919 Negro Anthology, a collection of African myths. Fernand Léger, who created the sets and costumes for Création, had subscribed to the Cubist movement and its methods of using African and Oceanic antiquities as models for modernism, but was interested above all on the urban landscape, industrial imagery and mechanical movement. Ultimately, Creation would make use of all the above through the prism of myth and what was then widely known as "Negro art". The ballet's première took place on 25 October 1923 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Shortly afterwards, Milhaud arranged a version in five parts for piano and string quartet, seemingly so it could be performed more easily, as well as in concert halls with limited space. Against a steady and unobtrusive accompaniment, a sensual saxophone solo introduces the primordial Darkness. The Chaos that preceded Creation is conveyed with a fugue, whose theme is played on the double bass, then on the trombone, saxophone and trumpet. The third part deals with the creation of the animal and plant kingdoms; an oboe solo is reminiscent of the style of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (which would be written the following year). Then the Man and the Woman appear to the musical accompaniment of two violins, their erotic desire conveyed by a dance-like music led by the clarinet. The concluding section revisits thematic ideas that have been presented earlier. Here, the music begins extroverted, but grows gradually calmer as the dancers withdraw from the stage. Titos Gouvelis

Minoa Chamber Music Festival - ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856) - Piano Quintet in E flat major, opus 44

ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856)

Piano Quintet in E flat major, opus 44

opus 44

When the German Romantic Robert Schumann began to work systematically at composition (1830-1839), he focused mostly on the writing of large-scale piano works. In 1840 (the year of his marriage to the outstanding pianist and composer Clara Wieck), Schumann became interested in the composition of songs for voice and piano; within a year, he had written more than one hundred and twenty! In 1842, it was chamber music's turn to become the focus of the composer's near-obsessive passion and dedication. Within nine months or so, he had composed three string quartets (opus 41), the Piano Quartet (opus 47), his Fantastic Pieces for Piano Trio (opus 88), and the Piano Quintet (opus 44). All these works display an enviable confidence and maturity; there is certainly nothing about them to indicate that these were a young composer's first attempts at finding his voice in a field as distinct and demanding as chamber music. The Piano Quintet occupies a special place among these masterpieces and has long been one of Schumann's most popular works. As the first ever quintet written for piano and string quartet, it would be no exaggeration to claim that the trail Schumann blazed here would be followed by all the great piano quintets to follow, by Brahms, Franck, Dvorak, Fauré, Korngold, Elgar, Shostakovich and other composers. The work is dedicated to Clara Schumann, who also played the piano part in its première performance in Leipzig's Gewandhaus on 8 January 1843. The piano part drives the entire quintet, with the strings generally called upon to interact with the dominant piano phrases as a block. The first movement is written in standard sonata form and is based on a glorious first theme which incorporates some of the large intervals that feature so often in Schumann's work. The lyrical second section is led by the cello and viola. The central section develops the first theme alone in tempestuous fashion, with the piano very much in the leading role. The second movement is a funeral march with two interludes: while the first dispels the gloom of the march, the second features an intense and dramatic clash between the piano and the strings. The scherzo that follows is constructed out of seemingly simple melodic material consisting of ascending and descending scales. Two (trio) episodes feature between its reappearances: the first Trio brings a four-note descending motif to the fore, which the composer had developed in detail in an earlier piano work, the Impromptus on a theme by Clara Wieck, opus 5 (the same motif also appears in the slow introduction to Schumann's First Symphony). The finale is the most adventurous and ground-breaking part of the Quintet, in terms of both harmony and form. Apart from its outstanding thematic variety and somewhat unorthodox modulations, its crowning innovation comes towards the end, as the music is heading for a compelling climax. For there, in place of the triumphant ending that seems momentarily inevitable, Schumann chooses to introduce a brilliant double fugue on the initial themes from the first movement and the finale, bestowing a sense of redemption and elation on the subsequent return to homophony. Titos Gouvelis

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