Orchestra of the League of Composers
June 11, 2015
Tonight’s program revels in diverse compositional styles, ranging from postwar neo-tonality to twenty-first century postmodernism. Diverse too are the backgrounds of the programmed composers. However, each of them has a connection to the League of Composers and/or ISCM.
Kaija Saariaho is an honorary member of ISCM, and has been featured on ISCM’s World Music Days. Saariaho’s Leino Songs, her first settings in Finnish, receive their New York premiere on this concert. Buoyed by an intricate yet lush orchestration, Saariaho’s Leino Songs require abundant flexibility and dynamic control from the soprano soloist. Surrounding the vocal line is a varied framework of supple glissandos, countermelodies, and shimmering textures.
David Felder has also been performed at ISCM’s World Music Days. On this concert, excerpts from one of his major works, Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux, receive their New York premiere. The piece is richly colorful, yet its employment of extensive resources – voices, electronics, and a large chamber orchestra, featuring an extensive percussion section – retains clarity and incisiveness. Soaring passages for the voices are countered by extensive and imaginative orchestral/electronic interludes.
Irving Fine, whose centennial we celebrate with the performance of one of his best known compositions, Notturno, joined the League of Composers in 1949. Notturno contains stylistic signatures and melodic sensibilities that ally him to postwar American composers such as Aaron Copland and Lukas Foss. Yet his is a strongly individual voice. If one needed any evidence that Fine deserves wider recognition, Notturno’s elegant craftsmanship and delicate poignancy generously supply it.
Morris Rosenzweig’s home base is at the University of Utah, where he is Distinguished Professor of Music. But he has long been involved with League of Composers, coaching and conducting performances by the organization’s Chamber Players. Commissioned by the League of Composers/ISCM, Rosenzweig’s A League of Notions receives its world premiere on this concert. Featuring frequent changes of meter and ebullient rhythmic gestures, the piece is filled with ricocheting counterpoint, intricate harmonies, and angular solo passages. A League of Notions is a lithe and lively celebration of the League of Composers.
– Christian Carey (christianbcarey.com)
Les Quatre Temps Cardinaux (2013) is a work for large chamber orchestra, solo soprano, and solo bass, with electronics, featuring texts by four poets, Neruda (“Full Powers”), Creeley (“Spring Light” and “Buffalo Evening”), Gioia (“Insomnia”), and the central poem by René Daumal from which the work takes its title.
Each of the poems warmly affirms time positioning and varying qualities of light as central to our sensory and internal experiencing. The Daumal serves as the central poem, a cross, indicative of a transpersonal ‘Great Time’ around which the other poems turn, as specific markers of events on a more intimate, personal scale.
– David Felder
Composed in 1951 and one of Irving Fine’s most frequently performed works, Notturno for Strings and Harp’s romantic lushness departs somewhat from Fine’s earlier, neoclassic style. The work has been characterized as the composer’s own blend of the styles of Chopin, Mozart, and Stravinsky. Its three movements, “Lento,” “Animato,” and “Adagio,” share some thematic material; the slow movements each end with lyrical viola solos. Leonard Bernstein conducted Notturno’s “Adagio” movement at Fine’s memorial concert in 1962.
– Jennifer DeLapp
A League of Notions (2015) was commissioned by the League of Composers/ISCM. The work, about 11 minutes long, is in one movement, more or less equally divided into 4 sections: Introduction/Fantasy, Scherzo, Clouds/Shadows, and Vivace. A League of Notions was written in Salt Lake, Sheridan, Montana, and New Orleans.
Many and sincere thanks to the League/ISCM for the commission, to the members of the orchestra, its director Lou Karchin, and to the conductor Scott Voyles for extending the opportunity to me to create this work and their willingness and dedication in bringing it to life.
– Morris Rosenzweig
Kaija Saariaho’s Four Leino Songs (2008) are a setting of poems by one of Finland’s most prominent poets, Eino Leino. He was the most important developer of Finnish-language poetry at the turn of the 20th century, and in his works combined symbolism, mythic tradition, and influences from Nietzsche with his own romantic concept of the poet as a truth-seeking visionary. The four songs, entitled “Looking at You,” “The Heart,” “Evening Prayer,” and “Peace” were written for the Finnish soprano Anu Komsi.
– Kaija Saariaho