Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Sonata No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 105 (1851)
1. I. Mit leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck
2. II. Allegretto
3. III. Lebhaft
Three Romances, Op. 94 (1849)
4. I. Nicht schnell
5. II. Einfach, innig
6. III. Nicht schnell
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Sonata in D Major, Op. 94 (1943)
7. I. Andantino
8. II. Scherzo: Allegretto scherzando
9. III. Andante
10. IV. Allegro con brio
Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000)
Tonada y Cueca (1966)
11. I. Tonada: Sostenuto
12. II. Cueca: Allegro molto ritmico
Las Presencias Nº 7 (1965)
13. "Rosita Iglesias"
Romanza has truly been a labor of love for me, arising organically from the marriage of two desires: to play music that I love, and to expand my repertoire and the repertoire for the clarinet in general. The romanticism inherent in all music has always been my primary attraction to the study of classical music, so I decided to record transcriptions of great romantic works, being careful to choose only compositions that are completely at home on the clarinet. Romanticism is about self expression, individuality and subjectivity, and making music romantically expressive is a never-ending exploration of the possibilities of nuance, color, timing, shaping, and articulation. What makes classical music so rewarding is the incredible opportunity we have, as performing artists, to explore the scores of great composers and, in the process, to get inside their minds and discover their ideas and ideals. Composers leave us hints in the scores they write, but to truly understand their work, we must dig deeper and understand more about them as human beings.
The three composers included here are unlikely recording-mates, but when you listen to Romanza, I hope you will agree that the pieces form an absolutely natural whole.
The “Romance” (“Romanze” in German, and “Romanza” in Spanish or Italian) is sometimes defined as a short instrumental work of a song-like character, but it was a favorite title used by Schumann in both instrumental and vocal works, and his catalogue includes at least thirteen opuses with Romance in the title. Schumann was the ultimate romantic, inspired by his greatest love, Clara, and he let inspiration and poetry govern the forms he created.
Prokofiev, more well known as a leader of the “anti-romantic” movement, may seem an odd choice to include here, but the Flute Sonata is perhaps Prokofiev’s most free-spirited, freely musical, and lyrical work. Written near the beginning of his romance with second wife Mira, it is filled with a wide range of emotions: from pure love and elation, to sad remorse and longing, to resentment and fear, and to poignant irony. It is one of the few works he wrote after 1935 that was not subjected to close political and ideological scrutiny.
More than 100 years after Schumann, Argentinian composer Carlos Guastavino valued the same romantic ideals, and had the courage to stay true to his inner voice despite pressure from all around to go down the atonal road. Like Schumann, he looked back while looking forward and produced a unique music that is personal and highly expressive. Like all three composers here, he is firmly rooted in his native music, but the way he speaks through his compositions was deeply influenced by the great romantics: Rachmaninov, Chopin, Brahms, and others.
JONATHAN COHLER is recognized throughout the world as “an absolute master of the clarinet” (International Clarinet Association’s Clarinet Magazine). Through his performances around the world and on record, he has thrilled an ever widening audience with his incredible musicianship and total technical command. His technical feats have been hailed as “superhuman” and Fanfare Magazine has placed him in the pantheon of legendary musicians: “one thinks of Dinu Lipatti.”
A highly acclaimed recording artist, his recordings have received numerous accolades and awards including nomination for the INDIE Award, the Outstanding Recording mark of the American Record Guide, BBC Music Magazine’s Best CDs of The Year selection, and top ratings from many magazines, radio stations, and record guides including Penguin Guide, BBC Music Magazine, and Listener Magazine, which wrote, “Cohler possesses such musical integrity and taste that everything he touches seems like the last word”. Gramophone lauded Mr. Cohler’s expression of “the poetry that lesser artists miss.” His recent recording of the Brahms and Beethoven trios with the Claremont Trio (Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio) was ranked the best by Fanfare Magazine, “I know of no finer recording of the Beethoven, and this one stands with the best classic versions of the Brahms.” His Rhapsodie Française was chosen for a Best of the Year award from the Buffalo/Toronto classical station 94.5 WNED alongside two CDs featuring legendary artists Pierre Fournier, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Leonid Kogan, and Emil Gilels.
Mr. Cohler’s maintains a busy international schedule with performances this season that take him around the Globe to Hungary, Spain, Italy, China, and Peru . In past seasons, he has toured the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Taiwan, China, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Cuba, and performed at many festivals including those of Tanglewood, Aspen, Domaine Forget (Canada), Campos do Jordao (Brazil), Xativa (Spain), Arezzo (Italy), Rockport, Newport, Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons. He has been a frequently invited performer at the International Clarinet Association’s annual ClarinetFest and many other clarinet festivals around the world. He has been featured on the prestigious Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago.
In addition to his work as soloist, Jonathan Cohler is an active chamber musician, chamber music coach, adjudicator, conductor, and pedagogue. He collaborates frequently with many well-known musicians and ensembles including members of the Emerson String Quartet, the Muir String Quartet, the Claremont Trio, the Lark Quartet, the Moscow Conservatory Trio, the Amadeus Trio, the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, the Boston Chamber Music Society, the Wavehill Trio, Boris Berezovsky, Ilya Kaler, Andres Diaz, Charles Neidich, Randall Hodgkinson, Judith Gordon, Andrew Mark, Janice Weber and Rasa Vitkauskaite.
His most recent two CDs include Rhapsodie Française (Ongaku 024-121), with multiple award winning Lithuanian pianist Rasa Vitkauskaite, and Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio (Ongaku -024-122) with the award winning piano trio Claremont Trio. This season features the release of Romanza (Ongaku 024-123), also with Ms. Vitkauskaite, featuring transcriptions for clarinet and piano of works by Schumann, Prokofiev and Guastavino.
Jonathan Cohler is also one of the most sought after chamber music coaches in the country. Numerous groups that he has coached have won top prizes in the National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and the International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition of the Chamber Music Foundation of New England among others.
He has adjudicated numerous competitions in the United States and abroad including the International Clarinet Competition of the European Clarinet Association, Concours de Musique du Canada, the Young Artist Competition of the International Clarinet Association, the Russian-American Music Association Competition, and numerous others at festivals and conservatories around the world.
Jonathan Cohler is the Music Director of the Massachusetts Philharmonic Orchestra, and Artistic Director of the International Woodwind Festival. For twenty-two years, he was Assistant Conductor of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of the New England Conservatory. For ten years, he was the Music Director of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra, and he also served for several years as conductor with both the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras and the Empire State Youth Symphony Orchestra in Albany, New York. He is also in demand as a guest conductor around the world with orchestras such as the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Caracas, Venezuela.
Mr. Cohler is a world renowned teacher. His students hold positions in major orchestras all around the world, and have won top prizes at numerous international competitions including the Concours de Genève, the Young Artists Competition of the International Clarinet Association, the Audi Mozart Competition (Rovereto, Italy), and Jeunesses Musicales. They have received fellowships to festivals such as Tanglewood, Aspen, Pacific Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra, Verbier, Salzburg, and many others. Mr. Cohler is currently on the faculties of the Music Festival of Xativa (Spain), and has been guest faculty at Domaine Forget (Canada), Campos do Jordao (Brazil), and several others. Mr. Cohler teaches regularly as guest faculty at conservatories and universities around the world, and holds several honorary positions.
Jonathan Cohler’s clarinet teachers include legendary Boston Symphony Orchestra clarinetist Pasquale Cardillo, Harold Wright, Karl Leister, Charles Neidich and Frank Martin. He graduated with high honors in physics from Harvard University. He is Professor of Clarinet and Chamber music at the The Boston Conservatory in Boston.
Jonathan Cohler is a Vandoren, Rossi, and Gao artist. For more information, see his web site at http://jonathancohler.com/.
• clarinets: Rossi
• reeds: Vandoren V12 #3 1/2
• mouthpiece: Vandoren B4013
• bell & barrel: Gao
RASA VITKAUSKAITE has won top prizes at numerous prestigious international piano competitions including First Prizes at the Rubinstein Piano Competition (Paris), Les Rencontres Internationales des Jeunes Pianistes (Belgium), the competition in Taurisano (Italy), and the Mendelssohn Cup (Italy). In 2007, Rasa won a Kathryn Wasserman Davis $10,000 grant that supported her tour promoting peace in Israel. In her native country of Lithuania, Ms. Vitkauskaite has garnered the top prize at six national competitions. Her most recent concert engagements include performances in China, South Korea, Venezuela, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and the United States. In 2013, she recorded her debut solo CD to be released on Ongaku Records.
Ms. Vitkauskaite has performed as soloist with the Kaunas, Latvian, Kaliningrad Philharmonic Orchestras, I Solisti di Perugia and the Boston Conservatory Orchestra. She has played at many festivals around the world including ones in Kaunas (Lithuania), Moscow (Russia), Piano aux Pyrénées (France), and Music Fest Perugia (Italy). Recently, Ms. Vitkauskaite was awarded the Westmont Fellowship at the Montecito International Music Festival in Santa Barbara, California.
Ms. Vitkauskaite is also very active as a chamber musician. She performs regularly with world-renowned clarinetist Jonathan Cohler. American Record Guide praised her "subtle musicianship and exceptional skill" on Rhapsodie Française (Ongaku 024-121), her 2008 debut CD with Mr. Cohler. Their second CD titled Romanza (Ongaku 024-123), will be released in the fall featuring works by Schumann, Prokofiev and Guastavino. Recently, the duo recorded an all-American CD (to be released next season), in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013.
Ms. Vitkauskaite studied with Jūratė Karosaitė at the National M.K.Čiurlionis School of Arts in Vilnius, Lithuania, from which she graduated with honors. She then won a scholarship to study at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, where she studied with Alberto Miodini and took chamber music lessons with members of the Trio di Trieste at the International Chamber Music School. Upon graduating, she was awarded the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma with the highest marks in music.
Subsequently, she completed her Bachelors and Masters Degrees at The Boston Conservatory, where she was a student of Michael Lewin, and won the H. Wilfred Churchill piano scholarship competition both in 2007 and 2008. She currently continues her studies with Randall Hodgkinson.
Ms. Vitkauskaite is on the faculty of the Concord Conservatory of Music, where she maintains a large teaching studio. In 2013, she adjudicated the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association Bay State Contest. She also serves as the pianist of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.