Monthly Archives: May 2010

Network’s Anniversary wishes on YouTube

In conjunction with their 25th Anniversary and Diabelli project, Network for New Music videotaped a couple of us with our greetings. Here’s mine, taped in the Fleisher Collection, with a little bit about the Diabelli Variation I wrote:

Anna Weesner’s tribute is here.

Canadian choral conference

This weekend, May 20–23, 2010, the Association of Canadian Choral Communities and the Saskatchewan Choral Federation are sponsoring Podium 2010: Experience the Harmony: L’harmonie, une expérience à vivre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Many of Canada’s choral conductors, choirs, composers, and publishers will attend seminars and concerts there.

I can’t be there, but my music will. Brett Scott is Assistant Professor of Ensembles and Conducting at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. Originally from Canada, he’ll lead a session on choral music from the U.S., and include Where flames a word and Two Laudate Psalms.

Things got snarky early on

The Diabelli Variation, reviewed by Peter Burwasser in the Broad Street Review:

…The story of the origins of the Diabelli Variations became the inspiration for a landmark celebration for a vital Philadelphia musical institution, the Network for New Music, now a quarter-century old. Founder and artistic director Linda Reichert returned to Diabelli’s original conceit, calling for 25 new variations on the original theme, as composed by 25 composers, mostly Philadelphia-based, and all with some connection to the ensemble over the years.…

After the same original theme that Beethoven used was heard on the solo piano, the full ensemble of flute, clarinet cello and piano carried off the first variation, that of Robert Maggio, a jaunty, easy-to-digest number designed to put a smile on the listener’s face. As with Beethoven’s set, things got snarky early on, with a wispy fantasia for solo piano by Kile Smith leading to anxious, even angry music by Cynthia Folio, Richard C. Broadhead and Robert Capanna. Beethoven used sly humor to break up the flow of his pieces, as was the case here, with quicksilver gracefulness from Melinda Wagner, Andrea Clearfield, Maurice Wright and Arne Running.…

More here.

Diabelli Variation reviewed

The Diabelli Variation made its debut last Sunday night, along with 24 other take-offs on the famous theme immortalized by Beethoven, all to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Network for New Music. The night was fun from beginning to end and was more fun, I confess, than I thought it would be. It was a hoot. A hoot and a half. Why don’t more groups do things like this? I liked everything, loved some things, and wanted to steal a few bits: it was everything a composer could want from a concert. Peter Dobrin from the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote it up on the Tuesday following, and said this about my hog-wild 90 seconds:

Smith’s Diabelli Variation was an extravagant gesture for piano alone, with something of Britten in it, played with appropriate drama by Charles Abramovic.

The rest of his review is here. I didn’t envy him the job of assessing such a gallimaufry of styles from all these Philadelphia composers, younger, older, and everywhere in between. But he appropriately took into account the spirit of the evening. Britten, what do I know, who doesn’t like Britten? Well, there is something of Peter Grimes going through my head right now, trying to insinuate itself into a new piece I’m writing. Maybe there’s something to it.

Jan Krzywicki was the lion of the night, for programming the order, conducting some, and composing the finale which hilariously aped all the preceding variations. Over all was Linda Reichert, Network’s Music Director and founder. The ovation that met her when she first walked onto the stage to introduce the concert was stunning in its fervor. And absolutely right.

We all wish Network another 25.

Paul Kletzki

My latest CD mini-review for the WRTI E-newsletter:

Paul Kletzki
Piano Concerto, Three Piano Pieces, Fantasie
Joseph Banowetz, piano, Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, Thomas Sanderling, cond.
Naxos 8.572190

I had no idea of the highs and lows contained in this one life. Born in Poland, Paul Kletzki (1900-1973) was a child prodigy on the violin, and then at 15, he was the youngest member of the Lodz Symphony Orchestra. In the Polish-Soviet War, a bullet grazed the skull of this now-20-year-old soldier, coming within an inch of killing him. By age 25, he was conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. He fled the Nazis at 33, his German publisher destroying his works and melting down the plates. Fleeing anti-semitic Italian Fascists and Soviet Communists, at age 36 he was fortunate to find a haven in Switzerland, but with little work. At 42, he gave up composing forever, while trying to cobble together a few conducting jobs into a career.

This CD is a remarkable look through a 20-year window onto the unknown world of Paul Kletzki’s own compositions. Spearheaded by the adventurous pianist Joseph Banowetz, these world-premiere recordings resurrect the Piano Concerto (re-orchestrated since the full score was destroyed), and lavishly chromatic solo works, some of which tantalizingly skirt the edges of tonality. Kletzki’s music is suffused with an air of poignant rumination, and draws us closer to this man trying to find a home during a turbulent time. With the sadness, though, is a confidence that is both moving and winning.

Ultimately, he was known throughout the world as a conductor of deep instincts. He worked with the great orchestras of the world, ending his career as Music Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. But open the window to his music and enjoy a wider view of this remarkable life.