Noted for his lyricism and beautiful sound, Rob Patterson has established himself as an important young clarinetist on the American musical scene. Mr. Patterson is a 2011-2012 Artist in Residence at Strathmore where he will present five programs, including his John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts recital debut on the Millennium Stage concert series. Praised for his “brilliant soloing” (Burlington Hawk Eye), he has also recently received a Young Artists Program grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and has joined the VERGE Ensemble, the new music ensemble in residence at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. Mr. Patterson serves as Principal Clarinet of the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the faculty at the University of Virginia. He has collaborated with such notables as The Miami Quartet, Toby Appel, Theodore Arm, Inon Barnatan, Rafael Figueroa, Leon Fleisher, Ida Kavafian, and Eugenia Zuckerman among others. A Cincinnati native, Mr. Patterson holds his B.M. from The Curtis Institute of Music, and his M.M. from the University of Southern California. His primary teachers include Yehuda Gilad, Richie Hawley, and Donald Montanaro. He has performed at the “Bravo!” Vail Valley, Yellow Barn, Greenport, Music Academy of the West, Colorado College, Eastern, and Music from Angel Fire Festivals and has been a featured author in the International Clarinet Society’s The Clarinet magazine.
For the most complete and up to date information please visit www.robwpatterson.com
Hailed as a “stunning pianist with incredible dexterity”, Canadian pianist Audrey Andrist has performed throughout North America and in Europe and Asia. She grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, and while in high school traveled three hours one-way for lessons with William Moore, himself a former student of famed musicians Cécile Genhart and Rosinna Lhévinne. Ms. Andrist later studied at the Juilliard School with Herbert Stessin, winning first prizes at the Mozart International, San Antonio International, and Juilliard Concerto Competitions. She has performed in many of North America’s most prestigious venues, including the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and New York’s Alice Tully Hall. She is a member of the Verge Ensemble in Washington, DC, as well as the Stern/Andrist Duo with her husband, violinist James Stern, and Strata, a trio with Stern and Nathan Williams, clarinet. An avid performer of new music with many world premieres to her credit, Ms. Andrist can be heard on over a dozen recordings of both standard and modern repertoire. She currently lives in the Washington, DC area, where she teaches at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the Washington Conservatory. Her CD of solo works by Robert Schumann is available on Centaur Records.
Please visit www.audreyandrist.com
JOHN B HEDGES [1974-]
Clarinet Sonatina, “Gumbo” (2008)
I have played blues and r&b for as long as I can remember. It’s been a part of my daily life since my dad first sat me at the piano and showed me how to move my hands from a I chord to a IV and to a V. And though the music has informed in various ways much of my own concert music I had never conceived of transplanting my own piano playing overtly into a piano work in any ‘classical’ context. Playing r&b was something I did for myself, spontaneously. More of a friend than an idiom or style. Something to be enjoyed, not analyzed. Played, not composed. Plus...I always feared that it wouldn’t work.
Sometimes, you need a little push to face yours fears. My push (or maybe shove?) came, as they often do, from a friend: clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester. One August evening in Philadelphia after hearing me play a rolling shuffle-style version of Rufus Thomas’ ‘Walkin’ the Dog.’ Jose, who is always looking to expand the already diverse musical world of his repertoire, immediately asked if I could write a concert piece for him that used that kind of American r&b feel. My suggestion was to create an homage to New Orleans style grooves which I had played around since I was a kid, particularly those of Professor Longhair and the Funky Meters. That summer, 2007, Jose and I improvised a bit at his home in Philly and came up with some basic ideas for the work, launching points for my composition. These included the opening Longhairish fanfare, the basic chord progression (which I had been stuck on since 2002 or 2003) and arch of the second and the main groove of the third, the very same that I had played the night of the commission. I finished a draft of the piece at Yaddo that fall which was surprisingly challenging. The idea of notating improvisations and then developing them compositionally had seemed so simple but proved treacherous. The line between honest, r&b-inspired composition and novelty pastiche was very thin. After a month I felt like I had it and took it to Jose. Then began the tricky process of taking something notated, but based on natural improvisation, again feel improvised and spontaneous. We collaborated on it to fine tune the work leading up to our premiere of it at the Delaware Chamber Music Festival in June 2008. Since then, Jose and several other clarinetists including Rob Patterson, have taken up the piece. It’s immensely gratifying to know that the spontaneity of the piece seems to translate from player to player. It makes the challenge of the composition well worth it. The first movement, a crab-like sonata form where the recap occurs in reverse, is a fast rolling, melodically driven work, slipping in and out of a series of slightly varied rhythmic grooves with athletic lines and a cool sense of humor. The second is a slow, deliberate quasi-chaconne, where the repeating chordal pattern is continuously developed in tandem with a lyrical clarinet line. The piece, vagely reminiscent of a jazz funeral dirge, builds to an emotional fever-pitch, the clarinet wailing over piano exclamations, before settling uneasily back into its meditative opening. The third movement is about raucous rhythmic play. The disjointed opening gives way to its more straightforward counterpoint as the piece takes off over the piano groove that inspired the whole work. Oscillating between that Professor Longhair feel and a ‘Funky Meters’ groove as a second theme, this sonata-rondoish movement lays down a harmonic field on top of which the piano and clarinet throw improvisatory lines at each other. — Notes © 2011 John B Hedges
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
[1685-1750] Sonata No. 4 in C minor for Violin and Piano, BWV 1017 (before 1725; rev. before 1740); arranged for clarinet by Rob Patterson
Aaron Copland on J.S. Bach: “What strikes me most markedly about Bach’s work is the marvelous rightness of it. It is the rightness not merely of a single individual but of a whole musical epoch. Never since that time has music so successfully fused contrapuntal skill with harmonic logic. This amalgam of melodies and chords provided Bach with the necessary framework for his massive edifice. Within that edifice is the summation of an entire period, with all the grandeur, nobility, and inner depth that one creative soul could bring to it. It is hopeless, I fear, to attempt to probe further into why his music creates the impression of spiritual wholeness, the sense of his communing with the deepest vision.”
J.S. Bach’s six authentic sonatas for violin and keyboard (BWV 1014 - 1019) are unquestionably progressive, not least for their inclusion of fully realized harpsichord parts (as opposed to continuo parts with figured bass that indicates the harmonies). Bach writes out an independent part for the keyboard which engages in dialog and counterpoint with the violin. They represent the real beginnings of the duo sonata as the term is understood today. Regarding form, Bach generally embraced tradition which also served to stimulate his inventive imagination. However, this fourth Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord is considered, stylistically speaking, the most unusual and forwardlooking. While its four movements, slow-fast-slow-fast, reflect the established church sonata lineage, the harmonic structure and style would have no doubt “shocked” early 18th century ears. Bach united several traditions in these sonatas, combining the contrapuntal complexity of German music with the singing line of the Italian instrumental sonata. The most striking movement of this Sonata is its opening Siciliano, marked Largo. A siciliano is a slow dance built on swaying dotted rhythms — a serious, and unusual, opening to this sonata. The violin offers an engaging melody. The second movement, a spacious and brisk Allegro, is in three parts (featuring a powerful contrapuntal display), though the final part varies the opening section rather than repeating it literally. The second slow movement features the violin’s singing line over the keyboard accompaniment, but the interesting thing here is the clash of rhythms: the dotted rhythms in the violin’s melodic line and the recurring triplets in the piano part. Bach releases these tensions only in the closing measures, where the two instruments unite gracefully. Though the spirited finale, an Allegro in binary form, has the character of a perpetual motion, it is largely fugal in construction.
Bach brought the development of the Baroque duo sonata to its zenith with his six Violin Sonatas, BWV 1014–19.
JOHANNES BRAHMS [1833-1897]
Sonata No. 1 in F Minor for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 120 (1894)
“Johannes Brahms, a genius.”
German composer Johannes Brahms was the leading 19th-century figure of Classicallyinspired Romanticism. The son of a double bass player, Brahms, in his teens, earned money by playing piano in taverns and brothels. He was then championed as a young man by Robert Schumann (1810-1856), and after Schumann’s death he had a long friendship with pianist Clara Wieck Schumann. By 1890, Brahms, always self-critical, had reached the point where he felt that his composing days were behind him. His intentions were to complete some unfinished works, and destroy the rest. Fortunately,circumstances changed during a trip to Meiningen in March 1891, when the court conductor introduced Brahms to his principal clarinetist, Richard Mühlfeld (1856-1907). The depth of Mühlfeld’s artistry inspired Brahms and awakened his desire to compose. The result was a series of works featuring the clarinet: the Clarinet Trio, Op. 114, the Clarinet Quintet, Op. 115, and the two Clarinet Sonatas of Op. 120. The two Sonatas for Clarinet were the last pieces of chamber music composed by Brahms (he also created versions of both these sonatas in which he substituted the viola for the clarinet). Both Sonatas received their first performance in the home of the sister of the Duke of Meiningen at Berchtesgaden in September 1894, with Richard Mühlfeld on clarinet and Brahms at the keyboard. This F minor Sonata is the larger scaled and more emotional of the pair and stretches the expressive limits of the clarinet’s range. Throughout the work Brahms treats the piano as an equal collaborator. The intense first movement makes use the clarinet’s high register; however, it ends in a gentler style. The reflective second movement demonstrates Brahms’s brilliant treatment of melodic material, taking full advantage of the clarinet’s dynamic scope. The following Allegretto grazioso is a poised waltz, with a contrasting agitated section reflecting the mood of the opening movement. The spirited final movement contrasts youthful energy with a more mature and introspective quality. The Op. 120 sonatas reflect Brahms’s late-style elegance; they are a cornerstone of the clarinet repertoire. Brahms died of liver or pancreatic cancer; he never married.
FRANCIS POULENC [1899-1963]
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano,
“I know perfectly well that I’m not one of those composers who has made harmonic innovations like Igor [Stravinsky], Ravel or Debussy, but I think there’s room for “new” music which doesn’t mind using other people’s chords. Wasn’t that the case with Mozart...Schubert?” [Poulenc]
Poulenc’s mother was a talented amateur pianist and musical soirées were a regular occurrence. His mother was his first piano teacher and his music education was on an amateur level for a number of years. In 1914 he began to seriously study the piano with the distinguished pianist Ricardo Viñes. The following years he met Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric and Erik Satie — influential friendships would evolve. His mother died in 1916 and his father about a year later. At this point, none of Poulenc’s compositions had received public performances. Poulenc’s compositions remain, for the most part, underestimated because he is most often associated with his early works that were rather impetuous and light-hearted, reflecting the cause of the group of composers active in Paris between the World Wars known as Les Six (ca.1920) — Poulenc, Arthur Honegger (1892–1955), Darius Milhaud (1892–1974), George Auric (1899–1983), Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983) and Louis Durey (1888–1979). No doubt, this was mostly a convenient label for publicity undertakings; the “group insisted that it was just a collection of friends with no shared musical aims. Their musical styles differed, but they were united in hostility toward Impressionism and French Wagnerism. They favored unaffected music that would amuse and please the listener — café music, street fair music, etc. Poulenc would subsequently become considerably more serious about his art. The misconception that an absence of complexity indicates a lack of musical sensitivity or technique was gradually defeated. Poulenc never entirely abandoned the light gracefulness of his earlier music, but many of the later compositions are notably evocative and more significant. Bartok stated in a letter that “he looked forward to seeing longer pieces from Poulenc’s pen.” He no doubt considered Poulenc capable of brilliance with the right guidance. In the history of French music, Poulenc is arguably the most distinguished master of melody since Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924). He was heir to the 19th century neo-Classical and salon tradition, which was a major factor in French musical life. For centuries Parisians took it for granted that Paris was the center of the enlightened world. Poulenc’s relatively small number of chamber music compositions falls conveniently into three chronological groups: 1918–1926, 1932–1949 and 1956–1962. He composed his Oboe Sonata and Clarinet Sonata simultaneously, and finished just weeks before his death. This Clarinet Sonata was commissioned by clarinetist Benny Goodman and dedicated to composer Arthur Honegger. It is structured in three movements, fast-slow-fast: a serene first movement, a gentle middle one in a contrasting tonality and a spirited finale. Poulenc had the courage to resist the dictates of the serialist movement, basically remaining a tonal composer, with harmonic explorations and contradictions, thus understanding and following his own musical path, and giving his works strength and endurance. Poulenc died suddenly of a heart attack in January 1963, before this Sonata was published. The premiere took place at Carnegie Hall on April 10, 1963, with Benny Goodman and Leonard Bernstein. Harold C. Schonberg, music critic of the New York Times had this to say: “Poulenc was not a ‘big’ composer, for his emotional range was too restricted. But what he did, he did perfectly, and his music shows remarkable finish, style and refinement. The sonata is typical Poulenc. In the first movement, skittish thematic elements are broken up by a broadly melodic middle section. The slow movement is one of those melting, longphrased and unabashed sentimental affairs that nobody but Poulenc could carry off. Weakest of the three movements is the finale, which races along but has little immediacy. Here Poulenc’s inspiration seems to have run out.” During his final years Poulenc often said that he wished he were 20 again so he could “take on” the new world of music. To quote renowned composer Ned Rorem: “I truly do feel that with passing time, just as various creators of other centuries now appear homogenized to us as they did not to themselves, so Webern (1883-1945) and Poulenc like distant stars will eventually merge. But the brightness will come from Poulenc.” Poulenc died suddenly of a heart attack in his Paris home on January 30, 1963. One of the most honored composers of his time, he left an enduring legacy. On Poulenc: “He [Poulenc] was searching for new ways of putting his ideas together. Like his friends Honegger and Milhaud, he had the courage to resist the serialists and remain true to himself. Now that the serialist terror has passed, those of us who love Poulenc’s music can hold up our heads in the most sophisticated company, while never forgetting the earthy, provincial roots, which give his works their strength and endurance. And if it all seems so simple, we should remember the long maternal line of craftsmen that stands behind him— for him, as for them, the art consists in concealing the artifice.” [The Music of Francis Poulenc by Roger Nichols]
— Notes © 2011 by Lynne S. Mazza