After many concerts accepted with enthusiasm we realized that the music of the following composers is extremely attractive, exciting and wonderful at all for us the performers as well as for the audience. So we present you, with joy and pride, our common musical journey through both American continents.
George GERSHWIN (born in New York, 1898; died in Hollywood, 1937) is certainly one of the most important personalities in the history of the American music, for he managed to create, in a unique and matchless way, a synthesis of jazz and classical musical forms which was – for the composition of his time – a deed of extremely daring and also lived through many a critical judgement while today his »serious« works are very popular and lots of times a part of concert repertoires, many stage and film works, however, have become jazz standards.
One of such works which reached approval and world fame only after the composer's death is Porgy and Bess in which the elements of jazz, blues and classical music are mixed, and influences of Negro spirituals, gospel and Afro-American dancing rhythms are evident, as well.The attractive and virtuoso Ouverture, with a sudden passage, leads us to a tender and today extremely popular song Summertime which, as to the temper, could also be called a cradle song. We are again and again enchanted at the immense beauty and warmth that its melodies radiate. More gentle is the movement I got plentey o' nuttin' with a funny theme of a dancing character, a short piano solo, however, leads it into a passionate love declaration Bess, you is my wooman now. As the last movement of the story of Porgy and Bess It Ain't Necessarily So was chosen where, along with rhythmic piano accompaniment the tender and melodious violin and the contrasting, daring clarinet are quarrelling. Short improvisational sections offer them a still greater expressive power.
Three Preludes indicate a classical musical form, but they are full of jazz and blues elements. The first one is vivacious and energetic, the theme opens with a characteristic »blue-note«. The second one, contrasting, is a tripartite blues with fascinating harmonies which are velvet-like coloured by the bass clarinet. The third one, however, is, similarly to the first one, full of exciting rhythms and exuberating joy, only that along with jazz harmonies also Caribbean rhythms appear. Paris charmed and inspired many Americans, and also Gershwin who wrote a composition full of pleasant melodies and rompishness, An American in Paris. Here also a double bass helps us to express the hero's manifold emotions when he loiters in the streets of Paris. In spite of enthusiasm and high spirits that this glorious composition reflects, a deeply felt blues melody emerges which may tell of the hero's homesickness?
Alfredo da Rocha Viana PIXINGUINHA (born in Piedade, 1898; died in Rio de Janeiro, 1973), a virtuoso in playing the flute, a master of improvisation and the beginner of orchestration in Brazil, became a model of numerous South American musicians. As a grandson of an African woman, he is a genuine representative of the characteristic culture of Brazilian negroes. He created a new style, permeated with popular music, »Chôro«, with which he made a real musical revolution in Brazil. His work that comprises over two thousand »songs« can be designated as the basis of Brazilian popular music with which he acquired the sympathies and became a legend. On the musical scene Pixinguinha stepped in 1911 when he began to appear in Brazilian cinema halls with the ensemble Os oito Batutas. At that time, this was a great honour for a musician because only the best ones got such an opportunity. Although people enjoyed in the rhythms of batuques and ucateretês which he used in his works, the critics resolutely wrote against them. But the opposition to this style lasted only till his enthusiastic guest appearance in Paris and Buenos Aires.
Suite de Chôros consists of his four best known compositions. Carinhoso (lovingly, tenderly) with its meaning tells us all and even more! Um a Zero is full of rhythm, freshness and joy. Lamentos serves with kindness and easiness. Segura ele, however, doesn't let us breathe – neither us as performers nor you as audience … Paquito D'RIVERA (born in Havana, 1948) began his musical career as an infant prodigy who played the clarinet and saxophone in Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. As early as a teenager, he took part in various ensembles and established an ensemble group Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna and an innovatory musical group Irakere which as the first in the history enraptures with an explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban music. In his career he received a lot of prestige awards, among which there are also six Grammies. Paquito D'Rivera is also the first musician who got Grammy both in classical and Latino jazz category. He published more than 30 soloist albums in jazz, bebop and Latino music, and his contribution to classical music is enormous, too. He is one of the most sought musicians of our time. Beside such an incredible career as a soloist one must not forget his fame of an excellent composer and writer. The Cuban music is rooted both in Europe and Africa. Two most important sorts of Cuban popular music are Son and Danzón that has an interesting history. At the end of the 18th century, after the bloody revolution in Haiti, many natives and French colonists fled to Cuba. With them came also Contradanza, their popular dancing music originating from Europe. Contradanza is slowly converted into Danza, out of which Danzón arises later on. In the course of time Danzón developed and changed but the original structure mostly remained the same and it can be designated as a unique form of the arts. The original form of Danzón was written down by Miguel Faílde Pérez in 1879.
Paquito's Danzón is a classical Latino jazz composition which has many lyric and melodious parts. It is written in a recognizable style of the Cuban Danzón which has special »montuno« (the middle part) comprising a line of pizzicato characteristic of this sort of music (the composer got the inspiration with the legendary bass player Israel Lopez Cachao). It is followed by a Latino improvisation of the upper voice (clarinet) which leads to an appeased end. The sensual romantic atmosphere charmed by Danzón left a great impression on our ensemble and we hope it will send into raptures also you.
A real contrast to Danzón is Contradanza out of which a waggish Latino dancing melody springs up. D'Rivera dedicated it to the legendary Cuban composer Ernest Lecuona. It can be performed also without the piano accompaniment and is played in many variants. This time listen to ours at which you can also »beckon« a little. We did.
Bill DOUGLAS (born in Ontario, 1944), in his musical career, engaged with various kinds of music. He took a degree in classical piano and played many years the bassoon in a symphony orchestra. As a composer he made progress under the influence of Webern, Carter, Stravinsky and modeled himself on and sought inspiration with the giants of jazz (Bill Evans, Miles Davis, John Coltrane) as well as with the music and rhythms of Africa, India and Brazil. He lectured at California Institute of the Arts and now he is a teacher at Naropa Institute in Colorado. We can say he successfully builds a bridge between classical music and jazz. During the study at Yale University he got acquainted with the clarinetist Richard Stoltzman with whom he is associated in friendship and love of music. Once, the legendary Benny Goodman listened to their interpretation of Douglas's music and exclaimed: »It sounds like Brahms!« From seven albums which Douglas published at renowned publishing houses we chose three compositions that are the fruit of the artist's many year cooperation with the above mentioned master of the clarinet. So we dared to name them Songs for Richard. Infant Dreams is a lost in dreams melody which leads one into the world of most beautiful dreams. Morning Song with its tenderness conjures up colourfulness and beauty of morning. You need only listen to and enjoy. Feast with its Irish melody and the influence of African rhythms invited laughter on our cheecks. Douglas's style is simple, pure, full of humour, and with its warmth touching every listener.