Yura Lee, violin, and Dina Vainshtein, piano

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carte blanche concert iii:
carte blanche concerts
Yura Lee, violin,
and Dina Vainshtein, piano
July 30
Wednesday, July 30, 8:00 p.m., Stent Family Hall, Menlo School
Program Overview
Violinist Yura Lee returns to [email protected], joined by pianist
Dina Vainshtein in her festival debut, for a colorful program
juxtaposing Czech and Hungarian folk-inflected works for violin
and piano. The rich textures of George Enescu’s Impressions
d’enfance exquisitely preface Dvořák’s beguiling Opus 75
Romantic Pieces. The music of the Hungarian Jenő Hubay
and the Czech Josef Suk, each among the leading composervirtuosos of their generation, demands complete mastery of the
instrument, giving voice to folk-like melodies with lyricism and
dazzling virtuosity in equal parts. The program concludes with
Bartók’s riveting First Violin Sonata, one of the most hallowed
works of the modern violin repertoire.
[email protected] dedicates this performance to Jim and Mical
Brenzel with gratitude for their generous support.
GEORGE ENESCU (1881–1955)
Impressions d’enfance for Violin and Piano, op. 28 (1940)
Vieux mendiant
Ruisselet au fond du jardin
L’oiseau en cage et le coucou au mur
Chanson pour bercer
Lune à travers les vitres
Vent dans la cheminée
Tempête au-dehors, dans la nuit
Lever de soleil
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841–1904)
Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano, op. 75 (1887)
Allegro moderato
Allegro maestoso
Allegro appassionato
JENŐ HUBAY (1858–1937)
Scènes de la Csárda no. 3, op. 18 (1885)
JOSEF SUK (1874–1935)
Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, op. 17 (1900)
Quasi balata
Un poco triste
BÉLA BARTÓK (1881–1945)
Sonata no. 1 for Violin and Piano, Sz. 75, BB 84 (op. 21) (1921)
Allegro appassionato
Yura Lee, violin; Dina Vainshtein, piano
54 [email protected] 2014
carte blanche concerts
Program Notes: Yura Lee, violin, and Dina Vainshtein, piano
(Born August 19, 1881, Liveni Vîrnav, near Dorohoi, Romania; died May 3/4,
1955, Paris)
(Born September 8, 1841, Nelahozeves, Bohemia; died May 1, 1904,
Impressions d’enfance for Violin and Piano, op. 28
Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano, op. 75
Composed: 1940
Composed: 1887
Other works from this period: Sonata no. 2 in C Major for Cello and
Piano, op. 26, no. 2 (1935); Piano Quintet in a minor, op. 29 (1940); String
Quartet no. 2 in G Major, op. 22, no. 2 (1951)
First performance: March 30, 1887
George Enescu is revered as one of Central Europe’s most influential
composers of the early twentieth century. Born to a middle-class family,
he was an early prodigy, playing the violin at age four and enrolling at the
Konservatorium der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna at age seven.
Skilled both in piano and violin, Enescu subsequently developed an interest
in composition that would lead him away from his native Romania to the
Paris Conservatoire in 1895, where he studied with Gabriel Fauré. He became
established as a conductor and instrumentalist in the Parisian musical
community, forming the Enescu String Quartet in 1904 and taking a grand
tour France, Germany, and the Netherlands before the outbreak of World
War I. His fame throughout Western Europe sparked interest in his native
Romania, and Enescu returned to Bucharest in 1897, where he conducted
the premiere of his Poème roumain for Orchestra, op. 1. His compositions
were met with high acclaim, and Enescu established himself at the forefront
of Central Europe’s composition community. Throughout the remainder of
his career, he would thus maintain dual reputations, renowned in Central
Europe as a composer and in Western Europe as a violinist and conductor.
As World War II began to ignite, Enescu took ill from heart
complications and, amongst many other side effects, lost much of his
hearing. He rushed to complete Oedipe, his first opera, which had taken
nearly two decades to compose, and also refocused his energy on music
reminiscent of his childhood. The resulting works included the Third
Orchestral Suite, the Third Violin Sonata, and Impressions d’enfance
(Impressions of Childhood). Throughout this period, Enescu displayed
a remarkable ability to adapt his harmonic language to various styles,
including Romantic, Impressionist, experimental, and folk idioms.
Impressions d’enfance, a continuous ten-movement sonata for
violin and piano, threads together many of these styles with a doina, or
melancholic Bohemian melody. The programmatic music personifies a
young child, intimately following his emotions as he experiences the world
around him. The first four movements describe things that a child might
encounter on the streets of Romania, such as a fiddler and a beggar on
the street, a brook running through a garden, and a bird in a cage. Near
the end of the fourth movement, a cuckoo clock rings, and the child is
prepared for sleep. After a quiet cradlesong and a fleeting moment of
peaceful crickets chirping, terrors of the night take hold of the work. The
frightened child gazes at the moon through the window and is unnerved
by the sound of the wind coming through the chimney. At the work’s
conclusion, a sudden lightening storm is calmed by the relief of sunrise.
—Andrew Goldstein
Approximate duration: 13 minutes
In 1887, between a series of musical tours to London, the Dvořák family
lodged a young chemistry student, Josef Kruis, in a spare room of their
Žitná Street home in Prague. Kruis was an enthusiastic amateur violinist
and took private instruction from Dvořák’s neighbor Jan Pelikán, a violinist
of Prague’s National Theatre Orchestra, where Dvořák was conductor.
Dvořák, himself a competent violist, would often listen in as Pelikán
instructed Kruis with a series of exercises and violin duos, and in January
1887, he felt compelled to write a piece that he could play with Pelikán
and Kruis. From January 7 to 14, Dvořák briskly composed his Terzetto for
Two Violins and Viola, op. 74. He excitedly presented the piece to Pelikán
and Kruis; upon their initial read-through, however, the work was revealed
to be too difficult for the student violinist, and Dvořák set to work on a
simpler work for the same instrumentation.
On January 18, 1887, Dvořák’s Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola,
op. 75a, was played privately at the composer’s residence; only a matter of
days later, Dvořák rearranged it into four pieces for violin and piano, published
as Romantic Pieces, op. 75b. This incarnation of the work, premiered that
March, has endured as the version most frequently heard (the Miniatures
for String Trio would not be performed in public until 1938). Dvořák had
originally intended each of the four pieces to be published with individual
names. Simrock, whose deteriorating relationship with the composer soon
ended, published the works with the simplified title Romantic Pieces.
The Romantic Pieces’ surface simplicity notwithstanding, Dvořák
incorporates into these works a fiery virtuosity and folk piquancy
characteristic of his compositions. The opening movement, originally
designated a cavatina, embarks on a graceful descending sequence with
a stepwise bass line in the piano. The tranquil melody is given verve by
delicate octave leaps, and it shifts towards a dramatic lyric passage in the
middle section reminiscent of the Sturm und Drang of Schubert’s Erlkönig.
Contrasting with the reflective cavatina is a stormy capriccio in the key of
d minor. The violin opens with three bold broken chords, given a distinctly
rustic flare by the static fifth (D and A) and the Bohemian raised fourth
(G-sharp). The vicious momentum of the piano further accentuates the
violin’s aggressive staccato.
carte blanche concerts
Approximate duration: 22 minutes
Other works from this period: Symphony no. 7 in d minor, op. 88 (1885);
Slavonic Dances, op. 72 (1887); Terzetto in C Major for Two Violins and
Viola, op. 74 (1887); Piano Quintet in A Major, op. 81 (1887); Piano Trio
no. 4 in e minor, op. 90, Dumky (1890–1891)
The third movement romance is a charming miniature in A–B–A form,
incorporating an exclamatory phrase of parallel octaves in the violin’s B
section. Despite the desperate nature of the final elegy in the mournful key
of g minor, the work closes with a peaceful contentment.
—Andrew Goldstein
*Bolded terms are defined in the glossary, which begins on page 100.
carte blanche concerts
(Born September 15, 1858, Budapest; died March 12, 1937, Budapest)
(Born January 4, 1874, Křečovice; died May 29, 1935, Prague)
Scènes de la Csárda no. 3, op. 18
Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, op. 17
Composed: 1885
Composed: 1900
Other works from this period: Scènes de la Csárda no. 2, op. 13 (1880–
1881); Sonate romantique for Violin and Piano, op. 22 (1884); Symphony
no. 1 in B Major, op. 26 (1885), Dix pièces caractéristiques, op. 79 (1899)
Other works from this period: String Quartet in B-flat Major, op. 11
(1896); Four Pieces for Piano, op. 21 (1900); Fantasy in g minor for Violin
and Orchestra, op. 24 (1902–1903)
Approximate duration: 7 minutes
Approximate duration: 17 minutes
By the turn of the twentieth century, the Hungarian violinist and composer
Jenő Huber—who later changed his name to the more native sounding
“Hubay”—had achieved widespread renown throughout Europe. In
1871, the thirteen-year-old prodigy’s debut at the Hungarian National
Theatre under the baton of his father, conductor Károly Huber, attracted
the attention of Central Europe’s most prominent artists and patrons,
including Franz Liszt and Joseph Joachim. The latter, two years later,
agreed to teach Hubay violin at Germany’s Berlin Hochschule für Musik. At
the suggestion of Liszt, Hubay toured Paris, where he encountered Henri
Vieuxtemps, then professor at the Budapest Conservatory. Vieuxtemps
became the young composer’s most important mentor, grooming Hubay
to become his artistic successor. Before long Hubay was Head of Violin
Studies at, and subsequently Director of, the Budapest Conservatory,
holding the post until 1934.
Hubay’s compositional output, though massive in breadth, was all
but forgotten following his death in 1937. The first half of his career, from
1880 to 1900, was largely devoted to composing violin music, resulting in
some two hundred pieces. His attention then shifted to grand-scale works,
likely at the prompting of Liszt. Hubay’s opera, A cremonai hegedűs (The
Violin Maker of Cremona), became the first Hungarian opera to be staged
outside Europe. Written over a period of some forty years, the fourteen
delicate and fiery Scènes de la Csárda represent a compilation of Hubay’s
greatest showpieces for violin.
The third piece of the Scènes de la Csárda, subtitled Maros vize (The
Waters of the Maros), begins with a turbulent piano tremolando imitating
a cimbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer common in Central and Eastern
European folk music. The violin echoes this drama with a cadenzalike passage in the style of Gypsy melodies. The gentle arpeggios and
harmonics of the following adagio passage evoke the placid Maros
River in Southern Hungary. This leads into the melody “Slowly Flows the
Bodrog” by composer Miska Borzó, a melody also borrowed by Brahms in
his first Hungarian Dance in 1869.
In 1889, the Prague Association for the Promotion of Music offered Antonín
Dvořák a post at the Prague Conservatory as Professor of Composition and
Instrumentation. Dvořák delayed accepting the offer until January 1891,
when a disassociation with his publisher, Simrock, left him in need of a
steady income. Josef Suk, a young Hungarian composer and violinist, had
just graduated from the conservatory but rematriculated into the chamber
music program upon hearing of Dvořák’s appointment. Suk studied with
Dvořák until the latter’s departure for America in 1892, graduating again
after a performance of his Dramatická ouvertura, op. 4. On September 15,
1892, Dvořák left Prague with his wife, son Antonín II, and daughter Otilie,
in whom Suk took a keen interest. Before long, Dvořák returned to Prague
after funding dried up in America, and Josef Suk married Otilie posthaste
in 1898.
With colleagues at the conservatory, Suk founded the Czech Quartet,
an ensemble whose forty-year career began with the work of Johannes
Brahms in 1893. While concertizing in Russia with the quartet, Suk wrote
the Four Pieces for Violin and Piano, op. 17, dedicated to Karel Hoffmann,
its first violinist. This is one of the few works composed before Dvořák
died at age sixty-two, soon followed by the sudden death of Otilie. The
impact of these losses drastically transformed Suk’s early compositional
gaiety into a more introspective and dark modus operandi. The set of
four pieces is considered the first mature chamber music from Suk’s pen,
and its display of virtuosity and energy is unmistakably reminiscent of a
newlywed embarking on his first grand tour of the world.
Each of the four pieces is cast in ternary (A–B–A) form. The work
begins with a wandering, chromatic piano accompaniment, joined by
an eerie violin melody. An accelerando leads seamlessly into a valiant B
section. The second of the Four Pieces, marked Appassionato, is a clever
conversation between the violin and piano, each feeding into the other’s
energy. Though Suk does not often include folk melodies in his work, the
middle section’s swooning passion and eloquence evoke a rustic, folk-like
sentiment reminiscent of the work of Dvořák. Ambiguity returns in the
third piece, yet the violin’s blissful melody anchors the work. The final
burleska is a dizzying display of sixteenth notes interrupted by a trotting
middle section and a blazing reprise to close the work.
—Andrew Goldstein
Hubay’s Scènes de la Csárda no. 3
Brahms’s Hungarian Dance no. 1 for Violin and Piano
Béla Bartók
(Born March 25, 1881, Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary; died September 26,
1945, New York)
Sonata no. 1 for Violin and Piano, Sz. 75, BB 84 (op. 21)
Composed: 1921
A variation on this melody leads into the final trotting melody in
the piano, accompanied by a swaying and fluttering violin tune. The final
section displays the virtuosity of the violinist with rapid double-stops and
thrilling harmonics.
—Andrew Goldstein
First performance: 1922, London
Other works from this period: String Quartet no. 2, BB 75 (1914–1917);
Romanian Folk Dances, BB 76 (1917); Eight Improvisations on Hungarian
Folk Songs for Piano, Sz. 74, BB 83 (op. 20) (1920); Sonata no. 2 for Violin
and Piano, BB 85 (1922)
Approximate duration: 33 minutes
In the aftermath of World War I, composers began to give voice to the
sepulchral horrors the world had just witnessed, creating an international
platform for cultural expression. As postwar cultural barriers fell,
56 [email protected] 2014
20 14
20 15
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The elegiac Adagio in ternary form begins with a lengthy dialog
between unaccompanied violin and piano, which builds to an ornate
middle section before the movement culminates with unaccompanied
violin. In the developmental style of the first movement, each voice
maintains a restrained complexion. A vigorous Allegro finale employs
sections of various tempi, utilizing violin pizzicato, arpeggiated chords,
and a barrage of sixteenth notes to bring the work to a thrashing close.
—Andrew Goldstein
carte blanche concerts
composers across the continent were exposed to new ideas and influences
from all regions of Europe, familiarizing such composers as Bartók and
Kodály with the work of the Second Viennese School, led by Arnold
Schoenberg, and vice versa. Though it is unclear whether Bartók and
Schoenberg ever met in person, correspondences between the two reveal
exchanges of new works and ideas. As architects of separate factions—
Arnold Schoenberg created the twelve-tone system, and Béla Bartók was
the revered Hungarian ethnomusicologist known for infusing the character
of Central European folk music into his modernist language—the two
composers had immense impact on each other.
In 1920, Bartók published an essay entitled “Das Problem der neuen
Musik” (“The Problem of New Music”), in which he recognized the need
for “the equality of right of the individual twelve tones.” In 1921 Bartók
contradicted his earlier statements, remarking that folk song demands
tonality and that his art was indeed incompatible with the twelve-tone
style. This short-lived period of twelve-tone composition, however,
produced Three Studies for Piano, op. 18, along with two massive violin
The Sonata no. 1 for Violin and Piano, Sz. 75, was dedicated to and
premiered by the violinist Jelly d’Arányi, Joachim’s great-niece, with Bartók
at the piano. D’Arányi captivated the interest of Bartók, romantically as
well as musically, but unwaveringly avoided a personal relationship with
him, writing in her journal, “It is sad, too sad, that I should make this
great man suffer.” The music, however, well resembles the nature of their
relationship; each voice takes tedious care to never mimic or reminisce on
each other’s thematic material. The violin and piano remain almost entirely
independent of the other, coming together only at pinnacle moments to
nostalgically share Hungarian folk rhythms and altogether avoiding tonal
Despite the work’s Expressionistic façade, the sonata’s three
movements (fast, slow, fast) maintain intrinsically Classical qualities.
The opening Allegro appassionato is in sonata form, despite a fleeting
recapitulation and a subtle return to the exposition’s subject material.
Over an arpeggiated accompaniment, a jarring violin entrance creates
the stark and brash tonal soundscape typical of the first movement.
An elongated development is introduced by the piano’s pianississimo

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