The genre of the Fantasy uniquely signifies the freedom of self-expression and the liberation of the composer from the historic rules and boundaries of musical tradition. In this newly found freedom, the composer becomes limitless in his creative expression. Themes, keys, notation and tempi are revolutionized, permitting the composer to express his own identity, inner most thoughts, and, as in the visual arts, to comment on one’s personal outlook on life. The Fantasy is a testament to the courage of each composer to take risks since often, as in most avant-garde situations, the audience may not understand or may misinterpret what is presented before them and reject it. Of course it is hoped that with the passage of time and changing attitudes, that which was originally interpreted as bizarre and incomprehensible, becomes recognizable, accepted and rather viewed as groundbreaking and revolutionizing. There are few guarantees.
This program of fantasies which I have selected portrays some of the finest examples throughout the centuries. Since the inception of this genre in the 16th and 17th centuries, composers have used the Fantasy to compose music freely, thereby creating their own signature style. The greatest composers were unafraid of how others would respond to them or their music and they explored and pushed their own views well beyond those of their contemporaries.
One of the colossi of western classical music, J.S. Bach, declared himself to be free of all rules of composition at a time when it was not popular to express such personal views. Most art forms were under the control of the church. In the compositions of J.S. Bach, the listener can hear the spiritual idealism maintained by the Church; however, it is incorporated within his unique and complex style. He elevated music of the Baroque to a level that few of his contemporaries could understand or respect and it was not until the Romantic era that Bach's Chromatic Fantasy was rediscovered and appreciated. 200 years later, Schoenberg adapted Bach's idea of avoiding tonality and used it in his own serial music, unleashing yet another revolution in musical composition.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s idea of composing the Fantasy was quite
different from others composers of his time. By choosing to write in the key of a minor, many musicologists interpret this as a reflection of Mozart's most personal commentary on life: his feelings of depression and sarcasm, as well as illustrating his sensitivity, loneliness and romantic nature, which was a very different perception of his persona as seen by his contemporaries.
Robert Schumann's most personal work, Fantasy in C major, was composed and dedicated to his beloved wife, Clara Witt Schumann, herself a renowned concert pianist. This composition is structured around three musical scenes, similar to a triptych, each one a declaration of the couple’s deep affection for one another and of times spent together.
The first movement describes a trip to the Mediterranean, the second is a March illustrating their happiness, and the third movement, from a poem, is the most intimate and erotic, a dialogue between lovers. To me, the Fantasy is the only musical style wherein one can describe these kinds of feelings and passions.
Alexander Scriabin was not, like many composers, a product of a musical environment, but was entirely self-taught, motivated and totally unique in his ability to hear very different harmonics by combining tonalities that had not been heard before. Scriabin’s music was inspired by an interest in the philosophies of Nietzsche, Fisher and Spengler as well as his devout study of religion. In his music we hear the symbolism of this interest, the diabolical fight between God and the devil, good and evil, and a forecasting of the mysticism and hidden messages which will appear in his later works. His observations and ideas about his world were often so bizarre and unrealistic that most people did not take him seriously. At one time Scriabin believed he could build a special theatre and by combining certain harmonies, his music would be heard in outer space.
In this Fantasy, which is a very emotional and challenging piece, one that races in waves nonstop from beginning to end, we hear his ideas and unique style of music which understandably was not only puzzling and mysterious to the audiences in 19th century Russia but, in fact, remains so to many listeners today.
Bulgarian-born composer and conductor Viktor Ilieff was educated in the United States and in Vienna, studying with some of world's most renowned teachers. His work has included commissions for sound installations from prominent museums in Austria such as Stift Admont as well as the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra at Vienna Konzerhaus. During the 2004-05 season, Ilieff traveled across Bulgaria, conducting with the country's finest orchestras. Ilieff's career has led him to the Eurocilture en Pays Gentiene Festival in France where, as artistic director, he has led exciting creations that combine contemporary and ancient music in collaboration with musicians, dancers and visual artists. His chamber opera Odysee was recently performed with great success at Cleremont Farrand and it is frequently broadcast over the French national radio. This past year, Ilieff relocated to London, where he recently established the Evoke Ensemble London.
Fantasy a register is inspired by the philosophy of Scriabin's color and key relations as serial combinations.
Through these compositions, the listener can quickly understand the importance of the Fantasy as a musical genre. It allowed a total freedom of expression, which resulted in the development of a composer’s signature style. It permitted those composers with enough courage to take risks, irrespective of the opinions and workings of their contemporaries, and it has provided listeners with some of the most interesting, moving and beautiful music in the entire repertoire.
Bulgarian born pianist Deltcho Deltchev began piano studies at the age of five, entering the Special School for Gifted Children in Haskovo as one of their youngest students. A year later he presented his first solo recital, and shortly afterward, won first prize in both the Haskovo State Music Competition (1984) and the Nedialka Simeonova Piano Competition (1985).
After entering the Plovdiv Boarding School of Music in 1986, Deltcho toured Bulgaria, and made his orchestral debut with the Haskovo Symphony Orchestra. Upon graduation, he received a full scholarship to the Academy of Music and Dance in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and was invited to perform in their opening gala concert in 1993.
The following year Deltchev received a full scholarship from Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, where he earned a Performance Diploma. He continued his studies with full scholarships from San Francisco Conservatory and again at Indiana University at Bloomington, where he completed a graduate Performance Diploma.
Deltcho Deltchev has performed extensively throughout the United State and Europe. Notable U.S. venues include the Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery, Alabama, and Agnes Albert, Hellman Hall, and Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in San Francisco. Engagements in the United States this season include recitals in Boston, Cape Cod, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Ohio and Las Cruces, New Mexico. This season Mr. Deltchev performs abroad in London, Brighton, Cyprus, Milan, Italy and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Deltchev has received superlative reviews. The Montgomery Advisor wrote of Deltchev: "This concert was a taste of heaven." Just recently, the Los Alamos Monitor declared: "Deltchev has the gift, but moreover, he has the presence a performer needs to hypnotize his audience.”