Cello and Violin Romance
Alexandra Soumm, violin, Victor Julien Laferrière, cello, Georgian Strings, Gianluca Marcianò, conductor
Tuesday 1 March at 20:30Book NowTicket prices: $90, $60, $40
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847)
Violin concerto in D minor
Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741)
Henri Purcell (1659 – 1695)
The Fairy Queen, Orchestral suite
Alexandra Soumm, violin
French violinist Alexandra Soumm is a multi-faceted artist who is equally at home in concerto and chamber repertoire. Orchestras with which she has collaborated in recent years include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Israel Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, NHK Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, Tokyo Symphony and Helsinski Philharmonic, working with such distinguished conductors as Herbert Blomstedt, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Neeme Järvi, Lionel Bringuier, Edward Gardner, Alexander Shelley, Leonard Slatkin, Thomas Sondergard and Osmo Vänskä.
As a chamber musician, Miss Soumm has given recitals at the Auditorium du Louvre (Paris), Palais des Beaux Arts (Brussels), and Wigmore Hall (London). She has also appeared at international festivals such as the City of London Festival, Deauville, Radio-France, MDR Musiksommer, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Verbier, Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad and Varna. She is very involved with the Seiji Ozawa International Academy in Switzerland and has been taking part in the project for the past 10 years.
2014/15 promises to be an exciting season. In addition to her débuts with the London Philharmonic and Munich Symphony, she also returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, BBC Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Orchestra svizzera italiana. In recital she gives a solo performance at the Moscow House of Music.
During the 2013/14 season, Miss Soumm appeared with the Nuremberg Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Hungarian National Philharmonic, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony and Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira. She also made her US debut with the Detroit Symphony performing the Sibelius concerto with Leonard Slatkin, who subsequently invited her to the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s summer season at the Hollywood Bowl.
Alexandra enjoys an ongoing relationship with many leading orchestras in France. In addition to the orchestras in Paris and Toulouse, she has also performed with the Orchestre National de Bordeaux, Orchestre National d’Ile de France, Orchestre National de Lyon and Orchestre National de Montpellier. In the UK, she was a member of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artist scheme 2010-12, during which time she worked with most of the BBC ensembles. She maintains her connection with the UK through her position as a London Music Masters awardee 2012-15.
In the spring of 2008, Alexandra’s debut recording of concertos by Bruch and Paganini was released on the Claves label. Le Monde de la Musique described her interpretation as ‘displaying a passionate and lyrical personality’. Her second disc with Claves, a recording of the violin sonatas by Grieg, was released in spring 2010.
Born in Moscow, Alexandra started to learn the violin with her father at the age of five and gave her first concert two years later. She later moved to Vienna to study with the renowned pedagogue Boris Kuschnir and won the Eurovision Competition in 2004. Now based in Paris, she, along with two friends, founded non-profit organization Esperanz’Arts in 2012, whose goal is making the Arts in all its forms accessible to people in schools, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
Alexandra works regularly with composer Christoph Ehrenfellner, who dedicated his second Violin Concerto to her, as well as a string quartet. Passionate about communication, Alexandra has given masterclasses in America, Venezuela, Brazil, Japan and Israel. She will be teaching this summer at the Musica Mundi Chamber Music Festival and was named Godmother of El Sistema France in 2013.
The violin Alexandra plays on is made by Giovanni Baptista Guadagnini in Turin c.1785 and is known as the ‘ex-Kavakos’. The loan of the instrument by a benefactor is a part of the London Music Masters Award and has kindly been arranged through Florian Leonhard Fine Violins, London.
- 2nd appearance at the Al Bustan Festival
Victor Julien Laferrière, cello
Winner of the 1st prize (as well as the two special prizes) at the Spring Prague International Competition 2012, Victor Julien-Laferrière is born in 1990, and completed his studies in Paris Conservatory (CNSM, 2004-2008).
Since 2009, he studied in Vienna’s University with Heinrich Schiff.
From 2005 to 2011, he took part in the International Music Academy-Switzerland of Seiji Ozawa.
He has played with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Peter Oudjian in the last Spring Prague festival, and also with the Hermitage State Orchestra in St Petersburg Olympus Festival, the Pilsen Radio Philharmonic, the South Bohemian Philharmonic, the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, recitals in the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, in Gstaad Sommets Musicaux, in Lugano Ticino Musica, in Prague EuroArt Festival, and has been invited to play at the Kuhmo (Finland), Berne, Autunno Musicale Caserta (Italy), Besançon, Deauville festivals, Nantes Folle Journée, in the Cité de la Musique and the Salle Gaveau in Paris, the Auditorium in Dijon. He also took part in many radio and TV shows, for France Musique, the BBC in London and MezzoTV. He played with such musicans like Augustin Dumay, Renaud Capuçon, Christian Ivaldi, Alain Planès, Vladimir Mendelssohn.
In 2009, he founded the piano trio Les Esprits together with Adam Laloum and Mi-Sa Yang ; they recorded a CD with works by Beethoven and Schumann, and played lately the Beethoven Triple Concerto in Salle Gaveau and a trio concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.
The young musicians of Georgian Orchestra, which celebrated its 90th Anniversary in 2015, have established the String Orchestra in July, 2015. The presentation of Georgian Strings took place in Brussels Palais de Beaux Arts (BOZAR), Belgium, in the frame of the 80th Anniversary concert-series of worldwide Georgian composer – Giya Kancheli.
The Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra was officially established in 1925 and its first artistic director and principal conductor was Ivane Paliashvili. In 1933 the Orchestra was awarded the State status and its principal conductor became Evgeny Mikeladze – legendary conductor, who was a victim of 1937 repressions. In 1971 the orchestra was awarded with the status of honored Orchestra and in 1994 – was named after Evgeny Mikeladze.
At different times the Orchestra was directed by the conductors Aleksandre Gvelesiani, Grigol Kiladze, Aleksandr Gauk, Shalva Azmaiparashvili, Odissey Dimitriadi, Jemal Gokieli, Zakaria Khurodze, Jansugh Kakhidze, David Del Pino Klinge, Vakhtang Matchavariani; also, music directors: composers Andria Balanchivadze and Alexi Matchavariani.
In 2005 Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra, together with other State status collectives, was united in the newly established Georgia National Music Center and 25 years old composer Nikoloz Rachveli was invited from Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts as an Artistic Director. From 2007, Maestro Rachveli has combined the position of principal conductor of the Orchestra.
The Orchestra has implemented lots of successful performances. Amongst them are concert tours abroad in various worldwide famous venues, such as the Moscow Conservatory Grand Hall, Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Athens and Frankfurt Concert Halls, Paris Les Invalides, Pierre Cardin Center, UNESCO Hall & Salle Pleyel, St. Petersburg Schostakovich Philharmonic Hall, etc.
During 90 years of its existence, the Orchestra’s repertoire includes all the most important pieces of the Georgian symphony music and numerous masterpieces of the world’s symphony and opera music. The Orchestra is the first performer practically of all important National symphony music pieces.
In 2013, due to the reform at the National Music Center of Georgia, the young talented musicians, who have successfully performed in the various Orchestras of Georgia and abroad, joined the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra and the outstanding Georgian Musicians: Giya Kancheli, Alexander Toradze, Paata Burchuladze, Josef Bardanashvili and Shalva Mosidze were elected as an Artistic Council of the National Music Center of Georgia. During the same year, the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra became the initiator of historic reform in Georgia, the result of which was a right – given to the musicians to choose the creative director (before this position was appointed by the Georgian Minister of Culture). In December 2013, Maestro Nikoloz Rachveli was chosen as an Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra and thereafter the Orchestra performed lots of successful concerts with the invited Georgian and foreign musician-performers.
On August 22, 2015 the Georgian Philharmonic Orchestra with the direction of Nikoloz Rachveli successfully performed at the Berlin Konzerthaus in the frame of the Festival – Young Euro Classic. The concert was dedicated to the 80th Anniversaries of famous composers – Giya Kancheli and Arvo Part. Following concerts were performed at the Strasbourg Convention Centre, Brussels Palais de Beaux Arts – (BOZAR) and Tallinn NORDEA concert hall.
Gianluca Marcianò, conductor
For the biography of Gianluca Marcianò, please refer to the concert of Tuesday, February 16
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847)
Violin concerto in D minor
The language of the D minor Violin Concerto is redolent of the eighteenth century, reminding us that Mendelssohn was inherently the most Classical of Romanticists. The concerto’s opening theme is downright Haydnesque, a deliberate, “stalking” motif played unison by the orchestra. It could have been written in 1770, or even earlier, but then a second theme appears, and its sighing quality leads us towards more recognizably Romantic territory. The introduction reaches an abrupt conclusion, after which the solo violin enters, playing a new theme. The second subject of the soloist’s exposition includes a surprising modulation so tender as to recall Schubert (whose own Unfinished Symphony dates from the same year). Much virtuosic figuration ensues; if it adds little to the movement’s overall momentum, at least it provides a good workout for the soloist. Every now and again the attentive ear discerns a moment that sounds completely Mendelssohnian; one such occurs not long before the end of the movement, a fleeting gesture that prefigures an exquisite melody that would figure in the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream four years later.
The opening of the Andante is again very much in the spirit of Haydn, yet before the opening theme is out it reveals an unmistakably Romantic character piquancy. Shortly thereafter the composer achieves a captivating effect when violins and cellos sing in counterpoint against the gently repeating notes of the middle strings. The soloist introduces the main part of the movement with some private musing in the form of a cadenza.
The finale is one of those early-Mendelssohn movements where everything comes together in delightful proportion. The vivacious principal theme has a memorable, Romany-tinged character, and, apart from its several reappearances in this free rondo, we hear Mendelssohn develop its possibilities by fragmenting it into little cells, trying it out in counterpoint against itself, and even transposing it into the major mode. It is also a bit of an eccentric movement, with the soloist interrupting the brisk proceedings to utter some soulful phrases through cadenza-like passages. But vitality carries the day. In the course of this four-and-a-half-minute finale the thirteen-year-old Mendelssohn proved that he had mastered one of the most important lessons a composer can learn, which is to leave the audience smiling at the final cadenza.
Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)
Franz Joseph Haydn’s ﬁrst cello concerto is more than 250 years old, but has been known to the world for less than 60 years. Until 1961, the only evidence Haydn composed a C major cello concerto was a brief listing—accompanied by the concerto’s opening notes—by Haydn, in a less-than-comprehensive catalog of his own works. Early in 1961, Czech musicologist Oldich Pulkert found the individual orchestral parts to a previously unknown cello concerto in the National Museum in Prague. Dr. Pulkert matched the music he found with the fragment Haydn had notated in his catalog, and the C major Cello quickly became a staple of the solo cello repertoire, as well as the earliest known example of a solo cello concerto. The C major Cello Concerto is only the most recent of Haydn’s cello concertos to surface; Haydn’s catalog mentions several other concertos written during his years as court composer for the Austro-Hungarian noble family Esterházy, which may yet be discovered.
In 1761, Haydn accepted the post of vice-Kapellmeister to the Esterházys; he assumed the post of Kapellmeister five years later, and continued in that position for many years thereafter. As a court composer, Haydn had both freedom from ﬁnancial uncertainty and a creative incubator, in the form of the Esterházy Orchestra, with which he could explore new musical ideas.
Haydn was a competent keyboard player and violinist, but not a virtuoso. When he set out to write a cello concerto, not long after taking up his post with the Esterházys, it was only natural that he turn to Joseph Weigl, cellist of the Esterházy Orchestra, for guidance. Haydn biographer Karl Geiringer describes the result of Haydn’s and Weigl’s partnership as “a broadly conceived, festive piece, offering the soloist opportunities to display substantial technical skill.”
The C major cello concerto is something of a hybrid, featuring aspects of both Baroque and Classical styles. Its balanced, graceful melodies and simple harmonies reﬂect the architectural aesthetics of Classical music, while the dialogues between soloist and orchestra suggest a Baroque concerto grosso.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741)
A concerto grosso is a multi-movement composition in which a small group of soloists is concerted or contrasted against a larger ensemble; the form originally developed during the late baroque in Italy. In Vivaldi’s concerto grosso opus 3, number 11 in D minor, the solo or concertino group consists of two violins and a cello while the tutti or ripieno ensemble consists of violins, violas, cellos, and a harpsichord. The concerto grosso is one of a group of twelve published as Vivaldi’s opus three and entitled L’Estro armonico or “Harmonic Invention”; the collection, published in 1712, was dedicated to Ferdinand III. The music quickly became well-known throughout Europe and helped establish Vivaldi’s reputation.
The D minor concerto grosso consists of three movements, fast-slow-fast, like the concerto de camera or chamber concerto rather than the four movements of the church concerto or concerto da chiesa, slow-fast-slow-fast. The opening allegro movement contains long passages of strict imitation followed by a brief, punctuating adagio, followed by an extensive fugue in concerted style with the soloists contrasted against the full ensemble. The solo cello is given melodic material just as important as the violins. Although the three-movement form suggests a secular concerto da camera, the fugal treatment of the first movement would be more appropriate in a church concerto.
The second movement is homophonic — that is, the parts move in basically the same rhythm, thereby creating a chordal texture. The solo cello and solo second violin double their respective parts in the tutti, while the first solo violin plays an independent part noteworthy for its unexpected chromatic shifts and Siciliano rhythms. The Siciliano was a moderately slow baroque dance which originated in Sicily and which is in a compound meter with dotted rhythms.
The third movement, like the two preceding ones, is in D minor. The texture is again contrapuntal, but first solo violin is more prominent. The other two soloists play sustained or repeated notes while the first violinst plays virtuosic passages. In both the first and the last movements chains of suspensions are common. Perhaps these factors help explain why Vivaldi did not set the slow movement in a contrasting key. Within each of the three movements sufficient tonal variety existed to provide harmonic interest. The common key, therefore, probably helped unify the three movements.
Henri Purcell (1659 – 1695)
The Fairy Queen, Orchestral suite
The Fairy Queen is a five-act English masque or semi-opera. The libretto was written by an anonymous author, based on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare. It was premiered in London, Queen’s Theatre, Dorset Gardens, May 2, 1692. The setting is a palace in Athens, Greece, and nearby forest in legendary times. In this masque or semi-opera Purcell focuses on Oberon’s wife, Titania, eliminating some of the popular scenes from the play by Shakespeare. The main actors carry the story with the spoken dialogue of Shakespeare. Purcell extends enchanting but unrelated musical pieces to the bard’s play, and makes the opera more entertaining and enjoyable. Purcell’s score was neglected (some even say tht it was lost) for almost two centuries before its rediscovery in the early 1900s.