Singapur (SGP): Quartet New Generation – High Voltage

17. Juni 2008
18. Juni 2008

QNG – Quartet New Generation recorder collective

Susanne Fröhlich – Hannah Pape – Andrea Guttmann –  Heide Schwarz

High Voltage

Dorothée Hahne – Dance macabre (2007)* (b. 1966)

Samuel Scheidt – Fantasia super lo son ferito lasso (1587-1654)

Paul Moravec – Mortal Flesh (2008)* (b. 1957)

Gordon Beeferman – Passages (2006)* (b. 1976)

J.S. Bach – Fuga a tre soggetti (1685-1750) (from The Art of the Fugue, BWV.1080)


Michiel Mensingh 2007 – – A Space Odyssey (2007)* (b. 1975)

Petros Ovsepyan – Arak (2008)* (b. 1966)

Anton Bruckner – Vexilla regis (1892) (1824-1896)

Chiel Meijering – Sitting Ducks (1991) (b. 1954)

*written for QNG

QNG is First Prize Winner of the 2004 Concert Artists Guild International Competition

QNG appears by special arrangement with Concert Artists Guild–850 Seventh Ave., #1205, New York, NY 10019

HIGH VOLTAGE – program notes

Dorothee Hahne (b. 1966) – Dance macabre [in memoriam Ingrid Kreutz] for 4 descant recorders & taped accompaniment [2007]

Starting from the danse macabre ”ad mortum festinamus” from the medieval Codex Libre Vermell de Montserrat and inspired by its text, the ”dance macabre” for recorder and live electronics was composed for the recorder-player Maria Hoffmann on the occasion of the 2006 ERTA competition in Austria. This version for four recorders was composed for QNG- Quartet New Generation. The electronics consist of a stereo accompanying tape for which the sounds of the cemetery gate in the Münsterland town of Schöppingen were recorded and processed in various digital variations. By transposition and stretching, the sounds of the cemetery gate become virtual instruments, over which the notes of the recorders, played live, duplicate themselves, with a time lag, in a meditative ostinato. The overlayering of four recorder parts gives rise to complementary rhythms, which allow associations with the medieval dance steps of the original. The text and original melody of the medieval danse macabre show that death is an event joyfully awaited, and that live until then was understood as a kind of phase, or as preparation for life after death.

The original text of ”ad mortum festinamus”: We hurry towards death, we want to sin no more. I have decided to write of the contemptible in the world so that these degenerate times do not pass by in vain. Now is the hour to awake from the evil sleep of death. Life is short and shortly it will end, death comes more quickly than anyone thinks. Death destroys everything and no one is spared. If thou turnest not around to become pure as a child and change thy life through good deeds, thou canst be among the blessed to enter God’s kingdom. When the last trump sounds on the last day, the judge shall appear and call for all eternity, the chosen to his kingdom and the damned to hell. How happy will they be, who rule with Christ and looking Him in the face will cry: Holy Lord of hosts, how sad will they be who are eternally damned. They cannot free themselves, they will go to ruin. Alas, alas, the wretched will cry, never will they escape from there. All the worldly kings, all the powers of this earth, all the clerics and all the statesmen must change; they must become like children, and cease to boast. Oh dearest brethren, it behoves us to contemplate our Lord’s bitter passion and weep and vow not to sin again. Dear Virgin of virgins, crowned in heaven intercede for us with Thy Son and be our mediator after this exile. Thou shalt be a worthless cadaver. Why dost thou not protect thyself against sin? Why strivest thou to grow angry? Why seekest thou after money? Why wearest thou costly garments? What honours dost thou expect? Why dost thou not confess thy guilt? Why dost thou not help thy neighbour?

Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) was the first internationally significant German Baroque composer for the organ and, next to Heinrich Schütz and Johann Hermann Schein, he is mentioned as one of the three best German composers of their time. They were all born between 1585 and 1587, worked in close geographical proximity and knew one another. But Scheidt was the only one to distinguish himself as an instrumental performer and the only one whose lasting fame rests on his instrumental music. Scheidt’s music is divided into two principal categories: instrumental works, including a large amount for keyboard (mostly for organ); and sacred vocal music, some of which is a cappella and some which uses a basso continuo or other instrumental accompaniment. Sheidt’s musical output represents the flowering of the new north German style, which occurred largely as a result of the Protestant Reformation.

Paul Moravec (b. 1957), winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Music, has composed over ninety orchestral, chamber, choral, lyric, film, and electro-acoustic compositions. His music has been described as “tuneful, ebullient and wonderfully energetic” (San Francisco Chronicle), “riveting and fascinating” (NPR), and “assured, virtuosic” (Wall Street Journal). The New York Times recently praised his quartet, Vince & Jan: 1945, with, “This masterly miniature conveyed warm nostalgia, buoyant swing and wartime unease.” For the 2007-2008 season, he will be the Artist-in-Residence with the Institute for Advanced Study, while continuing his tenure as University Professor at Adelphi University. Both positions are unique to their respective institutions. Mr. Moravec has been commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera to compose The Letter, with libretto by Terry Teachout, for premiere in July, 2009. He is also composing a commissioned work entitled Brandenburg Gate for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to be premiered in fall 2008 at Carnegie Hall. In September, 2008, Mr. Moravec’s evening-length oratorio, The Blizzard Voices, about the Great Plains blizzard of 1888, with text by Ted Koozer, will be premiered at Opera Omaha. Among Paul Moravec’s numerous awards are the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, a Fellowship in Music Composition from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, a Camargo Foundation Residency Fellowship, two fellowships from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, as well as many commissions. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University, he has taught at Harvard, Columbia, Dartmouth, and Hunter College, as well as Adelphi University.

The composer writes….
The title of this piece comes from the ancient hymn text known in English as “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” set to the haunting 17th century French carol called “Picardy.” Mortal Flesh is a free fantasia on fragments of the melody, rather than, say, a rigorous set of variations on the whole. Among other things, this is an etude on instrumental doubling, requiring each of the four players to move gracefully from bass upward through tenor, alto, soprano and sopranino recorders. Very slow and low at the outset, the composit ion accelerates in tempo and rate of musical exposition, quickening and ascending to final evanescence in the highest possible register. Mortal Flesh is dedicated with great admiration to the members of Quartet New Generation.

Gordon Beeferman (b. 1976) is a composer and pianist. His works have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, Albany Symphony, pianist Winston Choi, soprano Lisa Bielawa, eighth blackbird, Anti-Social Music, and many others; commissions have come from the BMI Foundation, Fromm Foundation, and Concert Artists Guild. He has performed at Roulette, the Merce Cunningham Studio, on the MATA, Improvised and Otherwise, and X Avant (Toronto) festivals, and elsewhere. His recordings of improvised music are available on Generate Records. The New York City Opera will present a scene from his chamber opera-in-progress “The Rat Land” on their VOX: Showcasing American Composers series in May.

The composer writes…..
The title Passages refers to various aspects of the work: passages in the musical sense, clearly defined sections of distinct sound-worlds; passages in the sense of journeys, movement, the process of change; and of course the passage of time. The work focuses particularly on the transformational aspect: the inevitable change from section to section (passage to passage), taking us through closely related but ultimately wide-ranging musical territories, ultimately bringing us to a very different place, far from where we started. Passages, which was commissioned for by Concert Artists Guild and premiered by QNG on the New Works series at Symphony Space’s Thalia Theatre in New York City in February 2007, is written in memory of my grandmother Shirley Beeferman, and is dedicated to my parents.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s work the Art of Fugue, BWV 1080, explores an intensive monothematic conception and it was accomplished in two stages – from about 1740 to about 1745, and then in the period from 1748–50. His second version was published after Bach’s death in 1750. This didactic keyboard work contains fourteen fugues and four canons. It demonstrates Bach’s complete mastery of the most complex musical expression in European classical music known as counterpoint. The piece starts with simple fugues – Bach avoided this term, instead using the word ‘contrapunctus’ – progressing through counter-fugues, double fugues and triple fugues, with interpolated canons, and culminating in a mirror fugue.

Dutch composer Michiel Mensingh (b. 1975) studied composition with Hans Timmermans and Barbara Woof in the art, media and technology department at the University of Art in Utrecht, and he also participated in master classes with Guus Janssen. He has written works using many varied kinds of instrumentations, from solo through large ensembles, both with and without electronics. In addition to his career as a composer of art music, Mensingh is also active as a producer, writer and arranger of popular, film and commercial music. In 2001 he won the Matthijs Vermeulen Aanmoedigingsprijs for his drum’n’bass inspired composition Wicked, written for the recorder collective QNG for performance on the group’s set of square bass recorders. Since then, Mensingh’s music has been performed throughout Europe, the USA, South America and Japan. Currently he is writing the compositions “-L-I-N-E-S-“ and “Rien Ne Va Plus!” for the Dutch orchestra De Ereprijs and the dance company of Pieter de Ruiter and Eva Villanueva, commissioned by the Fonds voor de Sheppende Toonkunst.

In 2007: A Space Odyssey for recorder quartet QNG and electronics, Mensingh is probing the boundary that divides popular and contemporary classical music more than ever. This “twilight zone” has proven to be an everlasting source of inspiration for the composer, especially after writing his award-winning composition Wicked, which was a modern classical work based on transcriptions of original drum‘n’bass rhythms. In 2007: A Space Odyssey, Mensingh takes this concept a step further by using electronics to add ‘real’ drum ‘n’ bass material, like drumloops and aggressive samples. This is paired with the unique sound of QNG’s square-shaped Paetzold bass recorders, providing the foundation for a very exciting search for the boundaries of two musical genres. The title of this piece is obviously inspired by the famous Stanley Kubrick film and has everything to do with this artistic quest for boundaries. Mensingh feels that this surrealistic journey through musical genres is comparable with the fabulous ending of Kubrick’s classic movie.

A native of Baku, Azerbaijan, Petros Ovsepyan (b. 1966) emigrated to the United States in 1979. Mr. Ovsepyan holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and Masters and Doctorate degrees from Indiana University. His teachers have included Claude Baker, Giampaolo Bracali, Brian Ferneyhough, Klaus Huber, Eugene O’Brien, and Harvey Sollberger. Petros Ovsepyan is a recipient of several international awards and distinctions, including BMI (1992) and ASCAP (1992). In 1995 he was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship to study with Theo Loevendie at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He has been a composer-in-residence of several international festivals including Gaudeamus Muziektheater Festival (2004), Musica Nova (2001), Fondation Royaumont (2000), Virginia Waterfront International Arts Festival (2000), MATA (2000), American Music Week (1999), Gaudeamus Music Week (1996, 1998), Time of Music (1998), and “Words and Music” Latin-American Festival (1994). He has also received fellowships from Bogliasco Foundation (2005), Rockefeller Foundation (2002), Netherland-America Foundation (2002), Soros Foundation (1999), “International Ferienkurse für neue Musik” Darmstadt (1998), Fondation Royaumont (1996,1997), Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (1995), and Latin-American Music Festival, Bloomington, Indiana (1994). His works have been performed by ensembles such as l’Instant Donné, Nieuw Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, Nouvelle Ensemble Moderne, l’Itenereire, Aquarius, Doelen Ensemble, Het Amsterdams Kwintet, and Insomnio.

The concept of Arak is fundamental – an instrumental sound is transformed into a physical and voiced sound. The goal of the piece is to experiment with the growing spatial exchange of energy and the tension within the space. The name Arak comes from Armenia and means “fast.” The word is derived from Arabkir Bar – a special, very fast dance from the village Arabkir in historic Armenia. One of the most well-known and popular native Armenian dances, this is one of the most significant things, along with their language, which Armenians regard as representative of their homeland.

The piece begins with four high recorders, which are playing in a very fast tempo. After about three minutes the instrumental sound starts to disperse and disappears totally; leaving only the heartbeat of the performers as a track for their physical gestures. The second and final part continues the transformation of the sound from the instrument to the body – the visual aspect comes into the foreground.

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) was a man of humble origin who retained his modest nature to the end of his life, fortified by a strong and traditional religious faith. As an organist he excelled in improvisation and this ability clearly had some effect on his extended symphonic works. Another aspect of his genius is shown in the liturgical works that he wrote throughout his life, starting with an early simple setting of the Mass written at Windhaag in 1842 to the splendours of the Te Deum of 1881. Bruckner wrote a number of shorter choral works for liturgical use, and he wrote this setting of the Passion Sunday Vexilla regis in 1892. The last of his motets, Vexilla regis is modal in its opening, it is meditative in mood, a modified strophic setting of the Latin hymn, ending with a hushed Amen.

The text of the hymn is by the Christian poet Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers. It takes its title from its opening stanza:
Vexilla regis prodeunt,
fulget crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.

The royal standards are raised,
the mystery of the Cross shines,
where the creator of all flesh was hung
in the flesh upon the crossbar.

This hymn was first sung in the procession (November 19, 569) when a relic of the True Cross, sent by the Byzantine Emperor Justin II from the East at the request of St. Radegunda, was carried in great pomp from Tours to her monastery of Saint-Croix at Poitiers. Its original processional use is commemorated in the Roman Missal on Good Friday, when the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession from the Repository to the High Altar.

Chiel Meijering (b. 1954) is one of the most controversial contemporary Dutch composers, and because of his enormous productivity, he is also one of the most frequently played. The energy he puts into his compositions like Sitting Ducks (1991) he also demands of the performers. In an interview in 1986, Meijering said “My ideal is to see instrumentalists, bathed in sweat, frothing at the mouth and playing their instruments to pieces, finally to be carried away on a stretcher!”

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