A little night music

Piccola Musica Notturna /A Little Night Music

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014     7:00 p.m      CPMC Concert Hall   UC San Diego

Jonathan Hepfer, Guest Conductor 

kallisti    Tiffany Du Mouchelle, Bonnie Lander, Sara Perez, Alice Teyssier and Kirsten Wiest, sopranos

Musicians of palimpsest

Luigi Dallapiccola      Divertimento in Quattro Esercizi (1934)     Alice Teyssier, soprano

Kyle Rowan                Despite the Shadows (2014) World premiere

Niccolo Castiglioni    Terzina (1992/93)   Tiffany Du Mouchelle, soprano

Luigi Dallapiccola      Piccola musica notturna (1954)

Niccolo Castiglioni        Auf der Suche nach einem frischen Wind (1988)  

Kirsten Wiest, soprano  Michael Matsuno, flute,  Sui Hee Lee, piano

Aldo Clementi            Madrigale (1979)   Aleck Karis and Brendan Nguyen, pianos

Niccolo Castiglioni     Cantus Planus (1994)   Bonnie Lander and Sara Perez, soprano

Program Note

Tonight's program is an exploration of the music of three composers of the Italian modernist movement, and focuses vocal chamber music, yet it is Luigi Dallapiccola's Piccola Musica Notturna that serves as our point of departure.  Written in 1954, the work is inspired by Noche de verrano by Antonio Machado, a poet Dallapiccola turned to for several settings of vocal music.     

Es una hermosa noche de verano.
Tienen las altas casas
abiertos los balcones
del viejo pueblo a la anchurosa plaza.

En el amplio rectángulo desierto,
bancos de piedra, evónimos y acacias
simétricos dibujan
sus negras sombras en la arena blanca.
En el cenit, la luna, y en la torre,
la esfera del reloj iluminada.
Yo en este viejo pueblo paseando
solo, como un fantasma.

It is a beautiful summer's night.
The high houses
have their windows open
to the wide square of the old town.
In the spacious deserted square
stone benches, hedges and acacias
Sketch out symmetrically
their black shadows in the white sand.
In the zenith, the moon, and in the tower,
the sphere of the illuminated clock.
I walk through this old town,
alone, like a ghost. 

The poet describes a magical summer night, nights that require us to stay awake, because they are too far too beautiful to be missed.  These brief hours bend our notion of time, they heighten our senses and show us a mysterious landscape that we have lived in, but which we have not yet seen.   So it may be for the music which we present to you this evening. 

We begin with an early work of Luigi Dallapiccola (1904 – 1975) Divertimento in quattro essercizi for soprano and five instruments on a 12th-century Italian text.  Dallapiccola's early works can seem to be an exploration of incongruent styles, and this work is no exception.  In 1934, Dallapiccola did not yet adhere strictly to the principles of the twelve tone system; but in these four songs we hear the hallmarks of his mature compositional practice:  gleaming orchestration, unforced, natural lyricism and a gift for melodic expression.   Twenty years later, when Piccola Music Notturna was written, Dallapiccola had completely incorporated the twelve tone system into his music.   Dallapiccola's consistent use of these principles liberated his imagination even further.  The music is meticulously crafted, effortlessly balance and is  exquisitely beautiful.  

The second composer whom we feature, Niccolò Castiglioni, (1932-1996) also has lyricism at the core of his compositional language and was similarly influenced by the composers of the Second Viennese School.

But Castiglioni's music also embodies his broad interest in visual art, nature, philosophy and religion.  He had a particular affection for medieval Platonism.  The major work of his that we present tonight (Cantus Planus) is a setting of twenty four epigrams from Angelus Silesius' Cherubinischer Wandersmann, dating from 1675.   Set for two sopranos and small ensemble, the short fragments are an exploration of the ecstatic vision of Silesius, and his journey (akin to that of other mystics) to merge with God, and to  connect with God through form, space and time through Love.  The other two vocal works of Castiglioni on tonight's program speak to the same theme.  Listening to the music, I find it full of interesting musical tensions. Castiglioni is particularly fond of placing vocalists and instrumentalists in semi-tone relationships (sometimes, in the same register), playing cruel tricks on the ears of those executing the score.  Yet the result is music is full of space, light and joy.   Castiglioni's music, never widely known during his lifetime, is enjoying a renaissance, thanks to the advocacy of British composer Oliver Knussen.  We ought to know his music well; Castiglioni served as Regents Scholar at the Department of Music, University of California, San Diego in 1968.

In its obituary of Aldo Clementi (1925 – 2011), The Guardian's Ivan Hewitt wrote " Clementi was the last survivor of the great generation of Italian postwar musical avant-gardists. He was also its quietest and most self-effacing member, both personally and musically. After a hesitant start, he developed a technique that allowed him to produce works as calmly consistent in sound and technique as a Renaissance motet, and some would say just as beautiful."  Clementi's Madrigale for piano four hands and tape, featured on tonight's program, reflects his interest in creating music that was self-generating.   Hewitt describes Clementi's mature works as a "slowly circling tangle of mutually imitating contrapuntal lines. Each one is like a cut from a process that could continue circling indefinitely..."  

And finally, we are pleased to present the world premiere of Kyle Rowan's Despite The Shadows, written as a companion piece for Piccola Musica Notturna.    

I wish to thank Jonathan Hepfer  the superlative singers of kallisti, my colleague Aleck Karis, and the excellent musicians of Palimpsest for making this program possible.   

                                                                                                                              - Susan Narucki

Jonathan Hepfer (b. 1983) is a percussionist and conductor focused upon repertoire of the avant-garde and experimental traditions.  He began studying and performing classical music at age 17 after discovering the music and philosophy of John Cage.  Subsequently, Jonathan attended Oberlin Conservatory, UC – San Diego and the Musikhochschule Freiburg (with the support of a two-year DAAD fellowship), where he studied with Michael Rosen, Steven Schick and Bernhard Wulff, respectively. 

As a conductor, Jonathan has worked with such ensembles as Echoi and asamisimasa, performing at the MehrKlang (Freiburg) and Other Minds (San Francisco) festivals, as well as the Monday Evening Concert Series (Los Angeles).  This season on the Monday Evening Concerts, he has led the US premiere of Jo Kondo’s Sight Rhythmics, as well as Morton Feldman’s rarely performed version of Samuel Beckett’s radio play Words and Music.  


kallisti    department of music     university of california  at  san diego         info@kallisti-ensemble.com


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