Frideric’s Firebrands & Frenemies

18 September, 2017, 7:30PM, Christ and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

The Norfolk Chamber Consort, under the direction of Andrey Kasparov and Oksana Lutsyshyn, present George Frideric & His Frenemies, featuring the music of Handel and his contemporaries, Johann Matheson and Nicola Porpora.

George Frideric Handel (Portrait by Philip Mercier)

Presented as part of Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, Christ and St. Luke’s welcomes the Norfolk Chamber Consort as part of its annual series of concerts.

Click here for a complete schedule of Sacred Music in a Sacred Space for 2017-2018.

Dr. Andrey Kasparov spoke recently with Jeff Maisey of Veer Magazine to discuss the rocky road travelled by Handel on his rise to fame. This concert program explores the dynamics of Baroque London’s musical landscape and the role played by Handel in its evolution. Dr. Kasparov had the following to say regarding the continued fascination with the era’s dramatic events and personalities:

We have been living in an amazing time of [rediscovery]. This process started during the first quarter of the 20th century and subsequently brought some major Baroque names… back into the repertoire. With this trend continuing today, more and more Baroque names, who for this or that reason fell into obscurity, are coming back to the fore…. It is a great time to enrich our lives by re-evaluating the music of the Baroque, experiencing it fully through compositions by a wide slew of its representatives, not only the most famous ones.

Click here to read the complete interview.

The program will open with the famous “La Follia,” a violin sonata by Corelli written in the form of a chaconne or passacaglia. This will feature performances by violinist Gretchen Loyla and cellist Jeffrey Phelps, with the Chamber Consort’s Artistic Co-Director Oksana Lutsyshyn at the harpsichord. Additional works will include arias by Handel and Porpora, with soprano Bianca Hall.

Casavant Frères Organ, Christ & St. Lukes

Conducted by Dr. Andrey Kasparov, the first half concludes with Handel’s Organ Concerto in F Major with Dr. James Kosnik in his debut with the Consort as organist, accompanied by oboists Harvey Stokes and Sandra Richards, violinists Loyola and Anna Dobrzyn, violist Anastasia Migliozzi, cellist Jeffrey Phelps, double bassist Madeline Ditrich, and harpsichordist Oksana Lutsyshyn.

The second half begins with Oksana Lutsyshyn’s rendition of Handel’s Suite in G Minor for harpsichord, followed by the Sonata for three flutes by Johann Mattheson, with flutists Wayla Chambo, Bonnie Kim and Hyorim Kim. The evening concludes with Handel’s Organ Concerto in B-flat Major, with organist Kevin Kwan, Music Director of Christ and St. Luke’s, as soloist.

M.D. Ridge

The event is dedicated to the memory M.D. Ridge, a liturgical composer, musician, writer and editor, who passed away in June of 2017.

The concert begins at 7:30PM, with a pre-concert discussion by Dr. Andrey Kasparov from 7:15PM.11168153_761115160667805_825347124670488533_n

A catered reception follows the performance, with food provided by The Green Onion restaurant of Norfolk’s historic Ghent.

Tickets at the door $25.00, Students $10.00.

E-mail invenciaduo@gmail.com for further details.

Click here for the Norfolk Chamber Consort’s 2017-2018 performance schedule.

© Norfolk Chamber Consort, Christ and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Veer Magazine

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Sharing Bowles: Invencia & XX Digitus Duos

The first of Invencia’s two recordings devoted to the complete piano works of Paul Bowles included Andrey Kasparov’s piano duet arrangements of Bowles’ three songs for voice and piano.

Bowles composed over one hundred songs in English, Spanish, and French, some as part of his extensive output of incidental music. From 1944, Mes de Mayo (“The Month of May”) is set to poetry by an anonymous Mexican. The work tells of a prisoner who can ascertain the time of year only from the birdsong he hears through the window of his cell. “April Fool Baby” (ca. 1944) is a nonsensically comical poem by Gertrude Stein, a writer who was a major influence on Bowles. “Baby, Baby” (1946) – also known as “Sleeping Song” – is a lullaby from music Bowles wrote for Maxine Wood’s play, On Whitman Avenue, about the racial prejudice a black family faces when moving into a predominantly white neighborhood.

An influential author, Bowles was also a brilliant composer in his own right, among the select few capable of lasting contributions in both literary and musical artforms. Bowles’ wit, lyricism, humor and charm are on full display in these recorded gems.

Click here to learn more about Andrey Kasparov’s piano duet arrangements of these and other works, which are readily available for performance.

In fact, at a house concert in February of 2017, XX Digitus Duo performed Andrey Kasparov’s arrangements of the three abovementioned songs by Paul Bowles.

Pianists Maria Garcia and Momoko Muramatsu have each enjoyed successful careers as solo artists that have taken them around the world, to the Aspen, Tanglewood, Bergen and Casals Festivals, as well as having enabled them to perform with groups like the Mark Morris Dance Group, among others.

Momoko Muramatsu & Maria Garcia

Friends and colleagues since their years together at the New England Conservatory, in 2014 they joined forces to explore the duo piano and piano four hands repertoire, with the creation of XX Digitus Duo (“Twenty Fingers”).

Together Momoko and Maria explore the classical standards, along with a vast repertoire from their shared Latin American musical heritage. They are deeply committed to collaboration with composers — in the creation of new works for the medium. Their goal is to excite and entertain audiences with an eclectic catalogue, complementing other art forms such as film, visual arts, poetry and dance.

E-mail invenciaduo@gmail.com for further details.

© Invencia Piano Duo & XX Digitus Duo

Andrey Kasparov: On the Record & Off the Podium

In July of 2017 Invencia Duo’s Dr. Andrey Kasparov sat down to talk with Tigran Arakelyan, founder and host of the podcast “Off the Podium.”

The conversation ranged from Dr. Kasparov’s childhood in Baku, Azerbaijan, to his observations as a seasoned contemporary composer of classical music. From his earliest years on the shores of the Caspian Sea to his arrival at the then Soviet capital of Moscow at the age of 15, Andrey would eventually enter the State Conservatory. He studied composition with Tatyana Chudova and Tikhon Khrennikov; he later continued in the independent studio of Alexandr Chaikovsky.

(ca. 1992)

By the end of the 1980s, with increased tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Andrey’s family was evacuated from Baku. His family’s flight to the Armenian capital of Yerevan and Andrey’s graduation from the Moscow State Conservatory all coincided with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Thankfully, however, in attendance of a meeting of student leaders at Sochi, Russia, with the added advantage of his superior knowledge of English, Andrey was befriended by a delegation from Indiana University at Bloomington. Ultimately, while it would represent for Andrey a stark contrast with the booming metropolis of Moscow, Bloomington would become the setting his for further academic and professional development in the immediate post-Soviet era.

Tikhon Nikolayevich Khrennikov

Dr. Kasparov also shared with Tigran personal impressions of his instructors at the State Conservatory, including the formidable and historic figure of Tikhon Khrennikov, longtime and influential leader of the Union of Soviet Composers. Andrey also contemplated the future of composition as an artform and as a profession, contrasting the last generation of great figures like Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov, John Cage and George Crumb, with the younger more modest set of today. In turn, this segued into a thorough examination of Andrey’s work on the music of Béla Bartók, and his participation as soloist in the 1994 premiere of the revised edition of Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

The conversation ended with some insight into Andrey’s personal interests, which served merely to reinforce just how competitive he can be, on and off the podium.

Created by Tigran Arakelyan, “Off the Podium” is intended to facilitate discussion on a variety of topics in music, culture, and the arts. Alongside his own observations Tigran’s guests come to share their stories, ideas and perspectives on all things in the world of music.

Click here for more “Off the Podium” podcasts.

E-mail invenciaduo@gmail.com for further details.

© Invencia Piano Duo & Off the Podium

Heavenly Slug: A Return to the Skies

Heavenly Slug (1945)

Following the end of the 900-day Siege of Leningrad (1941–1944), Joseph Stalin ordered into production a lighthearted musical comedy. Filming soon commenced at Lenfilm, then the Soviet Union’s 2nd-largest film studio, on what would come to be known as “Heavenly Slug.” Lenfilm had been idled during the siege, with much of the studio’s personnel dispersed to locations in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, so there was great enthusiasm for the new project.

The movie opens with Major Vasily Bulochkin, a fighter pilot of the Soviet Air Force, bailing out of his damaged and burning airplane. Bulochkin parachutes to safety, but is injured when he lands in a tree. During his subsequent convalescence, he is visited by his fellow pilot officers and friends, Senior Lieutenant Semyon Tucha and Captain Sergei Kaisarov. As they stroll through the gardens of the sanitarium, they vow not to fall in love for the duration of the war.

Polikarpov Po-2 and friends during production of Heavenly Slug

It doesn’t take long, however, before their plans are thwarted; first by the pilots and staff of a women’s air squadron, and then by a young journalist, Valya Petrova. At the same time, Major Bulochkin, not yet fully recovered from his injuries, must come to terms with his new machine: the slow, old-fashioned and ungainly Polikarpov Po-2.

Vasily Pavlovich Solovyov-Sedoi (1907–1979), among his many accomplishments as one of the greatest songsmiths of the Soviet Union, composed the full score to “Heavenly Slug.” The creative output of this People’s Artist, Laureate of Lenin and the State Prize, and Hero of Socialist Labour remains well-known in the former USSR and abroad.

Vasily Pavlovich Solovyov-Sedoi

Solovyov-Sedoi was born on 25 April, 1907, in St. Petersburg, to a peasant family that had come to the city from the Vitebsk region to earn a living. Folk music surrounded Vasily Pavlovich in his childhood. He himself learned to play balalaika and picked out tunes he heard the adults singing. After the Bolshevik Revolution, when family circumstances were improved, he began his studies on piano. It was then that Vasily Solovyov revealed his astonishing gift for improvisation. Following the advice of composer Aleksey Semyonovich Zhivotov, he entered a musical college and was later transferred to the Leningrad conservatory. The young composer tried his hand at various genres, but songwriting appealed to him most.

Solovyov-Sedoi

Solovyov-Sedoi’s gift for the composition of popular songs achieved its greatest recognition during the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945). After the war Vasily Pavlovich dedicated himself to the composition of new songs, musical comedies, two ballets, a symphony, chamber works, and scores to more than thirty motion pictures. Among the best remembered of these works was “Let’s Go!”, written for the 1956 Lenfilm production, “Maxim Perepelitsa.” The song would eventually earn for Solovyov-Sedoi the coveted Lenin Prize in 1959.

Yakovlev Yak-3M, © Classic Aircraft Photography

The language of the composer is distinguished by the vastness of melodic inspiration at his disposal. At the same time the way in which these melodies are interpreted is purely unique. Sincerity, ease of lyrical expressiveness, rhythmical liberty and improvisation make the distinctive style of Vasily Pavlovich Solovyov-Sedoi extremely charming, and have endeared him to generations of loyal fans.

In anticipation of the 2017 Flying Proms at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA, Dr. Andrey Kasparov was invited to prepare a suite for orchestra. The basis for the project was Solovyov-Sedoi’s original themes from “Heavenly Slug.”

The completed “Orchestral Suite after Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi” is comprised of five movements, each inspired by music from the 1945 motion picture:

    1. Before We Fly
    2. Because We Are Pilots!
    3. Behind German Lines
    4. Waltz: Planes First, Love Later
    5. Spell of Lady Aces

Polikarpov Po-2

It was intended that airworthy examples of two of the many airplanes featured in the original Lenfilm production would fly to accompany the premiere performance of Dr. Kasparov’s suite. These included a veteran Polikparpov Po-2 and a genuine Yakovlev Yak-3M, both resident to the Military Aviation Museum.

Vasily Pavlovich Solovyov-Sedoi

The effort to prepare this music for performance was undertaken over a period of several months and required a considerable amount of research. A breakthrough was achieved when a rare six-volume compendium of Solovyov-Sedoi’s body of work, encompassing songs from “Heavenly Slug” and many other obscure scores, was uncovered at the Library of Congress, Music Division, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Kasparov visited the Performing Arts Reading Room at the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress on 13 January, 2017, to make a thorough review of this archive. The successful extraction of Solovyov-Sedoi’s musical structures from these six volumes of material enabled the accurate and authentic reconstruction of Vasily Pavlovich’s stirring melodies from “Heavenly Slug.”

Dr. Kasprov’s finished suite for orchestra was premiered by Symphonicity, under the direction of Dennis Zeisler, on Saturday, 10 June, 2017, at the Military Aviation Museum’s 7th-annual Flying Proms.

E-mail invenciaduo@gmail.com for further details.

© Invencia Piano Duo

Grand Piano: The Key to Florent Schmitt

Invencia Piano Duo is pleased to have been included among the renowned artists on a new album from Grand Piano, issued to mark the label’s 5th anniversary.

Launched in 2012, the Grand Piano label gained a reputation for producing high quality recordings of rare masterworks for keyboard. Dedicated to the exploration of undiscovered piano repertoire, the label specializes in premiere recordings and complete cycles by less well-known composers, those whose output might otherwise have been neglected or unrecorded.

Spanning three centuries of music from around the world, the Grand Piano catalogue includes music by past composers such as Leopold Koželuch, Alexander Tcherepnin and Mieczysław Weinberg, as well as works by living composers such as Valentin Silvestrov, Martial Solal and Philip Glass. Grand Piano artists are very often authorities on these composers and experts on their chosen repertoire, giving their performances a unique stamp of authenticity. Invencia Piano Duo is no exception.

A 3-CD sampler of the Grand Piano catalogue, The Key Collection includes single tracks from complete works for piano. Presented in chronological order, among these is the Mazurka from Feuillets de voyage, Book 2, Op. 26, by Florent Schmitt.

It is unclear whether many of Schmitt’s works for piano duet had ever received formal public performances in Europe, prior to the Invencia Piano Duo’s revival of Schmitt’s compositions. Feuillets de voyage first appeared on Volume 3 of Invencia’s Complete Original Works by Florent Schmitt. Volume 3 also heralded the debut recordings of a six-movement work composed between 1895 and 1902, Musiques foraines, Op. 22, and the Marche du 163 R.I., Op. 48.

Now packaged as a singular compilation, you may enjoy all four of Invencia’s albums of Florent Schmitt’s music on a 4-CD set by Grand Piano.

Florent Schmitt (1937)

Florent Schmitt (1870 – 1958) was one of France’s less well-known classical composers. Born in the small town of Blâmont (Meurthe-et-Moselle, Lorraine), Schmitt’s German surname belied his irrespressible French musicianship.

Schmitt was a contemporary of Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, although he outlived both men by decades. Educated at the Conservatoire de Paris by Théodore Dubois, Albert Lavignac, André Gédalge, Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré, among others, Schmitt developed a style of composition that, while distinctly French, exploited the grandiose aspects of orchestration more typical of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

His last large-scale work, the Symphony No. 2, was premiered at the Strasbourg Festival by the French National Radio Orchestra, conducted by Charles Munch just months before Scmitt’s death in 1958 at the age of 87.

E-mail invenciaduo@gmail.com for further details.

© Invencia Piano Duo, Phillip Nones, Naxos Records

Old Friends in the New Year: Florent Schmitt

Invencia Piano Duo invite you to join them in a Champagne toast this New Year’s!

They begin 2017 with the release of a box set that will include their complete four-album cycle of Florent Schmitt’s original works for piano duet and duo, first issued by Naxos Records on its Grand Piano label between 2012 and 2013.

Issued in 2012, Volume 1 contained Schmitt’s Trois rapsodies, Op. 53, and the first-ever recording of Schmitt’s Sept pièces, Op. 15, composed in 1899. The album concluded with a previously unpublished work, Rhapsodie parisienne. Composed in 1900, it is one of two unpublished duets by Schmitt. The first volume was voted “Recording of the Month” and “Critics’ Choice” by MusicWeb International and Naxos Records, respectively, in May of 2013.

It is unclear whether many of Schmitt’s works for piano duet had ever received formal public performances in Europe, prior to the Invencia Piano Duo’s revival of Schmitt’s compositions. A number appear to have been composed by Schmitt as piano études, particularly the two premiere recordings, Sur cinq notes, Op. 34 and Eight Easy Pieces, Op. 41, which were included on Volume 2.

Volume 3 heralded the debut recordings of a six-movement work composed between 1895 and 1902, Musiques foraines, Op. 22, and the Marche du 163 R.I., Op. 48. Volume 4 featured Trois pièces récréatives, Op. 37. The same album contained the first-ever issue of the Lied et Scherzo, Op. 54, in Schmitt’s version for piano four-hands, played on two pianos; composed in 1910 for double woodwind quintet; alternate editions of this piece were also prepared by the composer for horn and piano, as well as cello and piano.

Now packaged as a singular compilation, you may enjoy all four of Invencia’s albums of Florent Schmitt’s music on this latest release by Grand Piano.

Florent Schmitt (1870 – 1958) was one of France’s less well-known classical composers. Born in the small town of Blâmont (Meurthe-et-Moselle, Lorraine), Schmitt’s German surname belied his irrespressible French musicianship.

Schmitt was a contemporary of Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, although he outlived both men by decades. Educated at the Conservatoire de Paris by Théodore Dubois, Albert Lavignac, André Gédalge, Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré, among others, Schmitt developed a style of composition that, while distinctly French, exploited the grandiose aspects of orchestration more typical of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

His last large-scale work, the Symphony No. 2, was premiered at the Strasbourg Festival by the French National Radio Orchestra, conducted by Charles Munch just months before Scmitt’s death in 1958 at the age of 87.

E-mail invenciaduo@gmail.com for further details.

© Invencia Piano Duo, Phillip Nones, Naxos Records

Perestroika: 25 Years Later

Perestroika (перестро́йка) refers to a series of reforms widely associated with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev — an extension of Glasnost (гла́сность) — instituted during the latter half of the 1980s. Literally translated, Perestroika means “restructuring”, an allusion to Gorbachev’s attempts to restructure his country’s centralized political and economic systems. These collective reforms are said to have contributed to the dramatic events that unfolded in Eastern Europe and across the constituent republics of the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991.

On 25 December, 1991, in a televised announcement, Mikhail Gorbachev tendered his resignation as President of the Soviet Union. He declared the office extinct and ceded all power to Boris Yeltsin, then President of the Russian SFSR. On the night of 25 December, at 19:32 MSK, the Red Banner of the Soviet Union was lowered for the last time over the Kremlin in Moscow. The tri-colour of the Russian Federation was raised in its place, thus marking the symbolic end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The following day, on 26 December, the upper chamber of the USSR’s Supreme Soviet voted both itself and the Soviet Union out of existence.

From 1998, Andrey Kasparov’s “Perestroika” features an orchestra that re-tunes sans order, and, before a final collapse, changes its seating. The crowd’s roar is imitated by the speech of the musicians, where words borrowed from the lexicon of political prisoners and Russian euphemisms, with usage of extended vocabulary, are vocalised. Included are musical quotations from the 1930s, La Marseillaise, and the Hymn of the USSR.

vmm3049

 
E-mail invenciaduo@gmail.com for further details.

A performance of this original work is available from Vienna Modern Masters (VMM3049), recorded in 1999 with conductor Jiri Mikula and the Moravian Philharmonic.