Bach’s serene Goldberg Variations has been described as both a beautiful keyboard work and a “Rubik’s Cube of invention and architecture.” There are over 300 recordings of the work, many in unusual arrangements. Conductor David Robertson’s striking arrangement for string quartet and piano receives its world premiere at this performance! Enjoy coffee, tea and pastries in the intimate coffee-house atmosphere of the Samueli Theater.
Orli Shaham, piano and host
Dennis Kim, violin
Bridget Dolkas, violin
Meredith Crawford, viola
Timothy Landauer, cello
Box Office: (714) 755-5799
NoteStreams are readable online but they’re even better in the free App!
The NoteStream™ app is for learning about things that interest you: from music to history, to classic literature or cocktails. NoteStreams are truly easy to read on your smartphone—so you can learn more about the world around you and start a fresh conversation.
For a list of all authors on NoteStream, click here.
Read the NoteStream below, or download the app and read it on the go!
Five Fugues For String Quartet from
THE WELL-TEMPERED CLAVIER
Arr. W.A. Mozart
Fugue No. 1 in C minor
Fugue No. 2 in E flat major
Fugue No. 3 in E major
Fugue No. 4 in D minor
Fugue No. 5 in D major
Prelude and Fugue in A Minor Originally For Organ, Transcribed for Piano, BWV 543
Arr. Franz Liszt
A GOLDBERG CONJECTURE (WORLD PREMIERE)
Perle: Classic Suite, Op. 3
Classic Suite could be called “early Perle.” His catalog lists it as a work for solo piano composed in 1938, a time when he was immersed in his Ph.D. studies. For Perle, there was no separation between writing about music and creating it, and this composition applies the work on atonality that made him famous as a theoretician. Perle performed the premiere in Louisville, Ky., in 1951.
For listeners who are not familiar with the approachability of Perle’s music, the “atonal” descriptor may raise warning flags that are somewhat misleading. This is not music that requires listeners to study an inscrutable score beforehand looking for clues to intervalic sequences like decoding a treasure map.
Though his compositions have firm theoretical foundations, the adjective critics have used most often in describing it is “lyrical,” with an appeal comparable to that of his American contemporary George Crumb. His style has been called “twelve-tone tonality.” The critic Andrew Porter described it as having “charm” and “grace,” while writer Richard Brooks said it “consistently delights the ear.”
---George Perle: Classic Suite (1938), Michael Brown, piano. Video 7:31
Perle’s Classic Suite is composed following the traditional form of the Baroque French suite, generally a series of dance movements introduced by a prelude. In familiar rhythms such as the breathlessly energetic gigue, the elegant gavotte and the graceful sarabande, we can hear wit and charm; in every movement, the suite shines with an appeal that is independent of its tonal underpinnings.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Arr. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
Five Fugues Transcribed for String Quartet from the Well-Tempered Clavier
Mozart, like his predecessors in the Baroque era, learned from other composers by recopying and transcribing their works. It is in this context that he famously told one of his patrons, Baron van Swieten, “Bach is the father, we are the children.” But his reference was not to the Bach we venerate above all others in his musical clan—Johann Sebastian— but to Johann’s second son, Carl Philipp Emmanuel, who was more famous than his father in Mozart’s day.
All the more interesting that Mozart delved further back in Baron van Swieten’s library to study Johann’s music, and particularly his fugues. Mozart clearly understood how much was to be learned from the brilliance of J.S. Bach’s contrapuntal writing, which has never been equalled. In a letter he wrote to his father Leopold in the spring of 1782 (when he was 26 and had just moved to Vienna with his wife, Constanze), he noted: “I go to the house of [Baron van Swieten] every Sunday at 10 o’clock … I am making a collection of Bach’s fugues, those of Sebastian as well as Emmanuel and Friedemann…”
Ten days later he sent the autograph manuscript of his K. 394 prelude and fugue as a gift to his sister Nannerl. In his letter to her we can see his enthusiasm for fugal composition disguised as a husbandly gesture: “Baron van Swieten… gave me all the works of Händel and Sebastian Bach to take home with me… When Constanze heard the fugues, she absolutely fell in love with them. Now she will listen to nothing but fugues, and particularly [fugues by] Händel and Bach.”
As piano students and aficionados well know, Bach had written the Well‑ Tempered Clavier in Köthen in 1722 to introduce keyboard players to all 24 major and minor keys in the new system of well-tempered tuning, which allowed free modulation into all keys. With its two parts each containing 24 preludes and fugues, the Well‑Tempered Clavier offered Mozart a virtually inexhaustible resource for study and inspiration, as it continues to do for musicians to this day.
Johann Sebastian Bach:
Prelude and Fugue in A minor, originally for organ, transcribed for piano, arranged by Franz Liszt
Bach’s greatness is universal, but organists can rightfully claim him as one of their own. About one-third of his surviving compositions are for organ, and he is credited as one of the instrument’s greatest masters. He composed the BWV 543 prelude and fugue during the period between 1709 and 1717, when he was organist to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar.
Both prelude and fugue sections have a familiar structure: a bassline that descends chromatically, underlining flights of higher, arpeggiated chords, finally leading onto a highly ornate development. The tempo switches from 4/4 in the prelude to 6/8 in the fugue, but this rhythmic shift, too, is characteristic of Bach’s organ preludes and toccatas that are paired with fugues. Even if you’re not familiar with time signatures, you’ll recognize the shift when you hear it.
Organ fanciers will immediately understand what makes this kind of composition an apt subject for one of Franz Liszt’s dazzling virtuoso transcriptions: while the organist plays with both hands and feet, the pianist has only two hands and one keyboard to work with. The pedals can create coloristic effects, but not introduce new notes.
---Performed by Violetta Khachikyan. Video 9:10
We can assume that Liszt, who was both a virtuoso pianist and an organ enthusiast, relished the challenge: this transcription is one of six in his Six Great Preludes and Fugues, all of which are based on Bach compositions for organ.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Arr. David Robertson:
A Goldberg Conjecture (World Premiere)
Early in David Robertson’s tenure as music director of the St. Louis Symphony, Alex Ross—one of America’s most thoughtful and thought-provoking music critics— published an essay that emphasized the bond that Robertson created to link audience, players and music. Ross reserved his highest praise for Robertson’s ability to create a sense of partnership between players and audience. With his arrangement of Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations for five instruments, Robertson the composer takes this philosophy into the composer’s realm in a most challenging way.
The Goldberg Variations, after all, are known not for their beauty of melody, but for the depth of craftsmanship that transforms an innocuous theme into a universe of form and expression. Professional musicians venerate the “Goldbergs” as one of the supreme achievements in music design, challenging the keyboard soloist and audience to locate structural nuances without limit.
We can expect that by arranging the variations for five players rather than one, Robertson delineates individual voices with instrumental texture and color—bringing us closer to the myriad details of counterpoint and voicing, like shining more light on a complex image.
Will the richness of the Goldberg Variations be newly revealed to us in this version? In the premiere performance of Robertson’s arrangement, it is for us to decide.
The suite itself begins with that near- neutral aria melody in the rhythm of a sarabande, a popular dance movement that made its way throughout continental Europe. Some versions (such as the Spanish zarabanda) were so notoriously erotic that they were banned, but the French sarabande rhythm is stately, halting and apt for variation.
For enthusiasts who take note of Bach’s numerology), the Goldberg Variations have plenty to offer: 32 movements based on a 32-note bassline; each movement precisely bisected into halves that are played twice and constructed of phrases of two, four or eight bars. And with the suite itself divided into two halves of 16 movements each, we have a perfect arc fitted entirely in powers of two.
But for the duration of the music, these details are distractions. The Goldberg Variations take both performer and listener on a sublime journey that only becomes newer and deeper with time.
Michael Clive is a cultural reporter living in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. He is program annotator for Pacific Symphony and Louisiana Philharmonic, and editor‑in‑chief for The Santa Fe Opera.
Thank You to our Sponsors: Dot & Rick Nelson
The Nelsons are enthusiastic supporters of Pacific Symphony and we are very grateful for their sponsorship of this Café Ludwig performance. Dot and Rick are passionate supporters of Classical music for all generations and they have a real love of the Café Ludwig Series. In support of Pacific Symphony, Dot serves on the Youth Ensembles Board as well as on the Governing Committee of the Board of Counselors and she is a member of Symphony 100. We extend our sincere appreciation to Dot and Rick Nelson.
A consummate musician recognized for her grace and vitality, Orli Shaham has established an impressive international reputation as one of today’s most gifted pianists. Hailed by critics on four continents, Shaham is in demand for her prodigious skills and admired for her interpretations of both standard and modern repertoire. The New York Times called her a “brilliant pianist,” The Chicago Tribune recently referred to her as “a first-rate Mozartean” in a performance with the Chicago Symphony and London’s Guardian said Shaham’s playing at the Proms was “perfection.”
Shaham has performed with nearly every major American orchestra, as well as many in Europe, Asia and Australia. A frequent guest at summer festivals, her appearances include Tanglewood, Ravinia, Verbier, Mostly Mozart, La Jolla, Music Academy of the West and Aspen. Shaham’s acclaimed 2015 recording, Brahms Inspired, is a collection of new compositions alongside works by Brahms and his compositional forefathers. Other recordings include John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music with the pianist Marc-André Hamelin and the San Francisco Symphony, with the composer conducting, American Grace, a CD of piano music by John Adams and Steven Mackey with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, David Robertson conducting, and Nigunim ‑ Hebrew Melodies, recorded with her brother, the violinist Gil Shaham.
Dennis Kim is the new concertmaster of Pacific Symphony. A citizen of the world, Kim was born in Korea, raised in Canada and educated in the United States. He has spent more than a decade leading orchestras in the United States, Europe and Asia. Most recently, he was concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in New York. He was first appointed concertmaster of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra at the age of 22. He then served as the youngest concertmaster in the history of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, before going on to lead the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in Finland.
As guest concertmaster, Kim has performed on four continents, leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lille, KBS Symphony Orchestra, Montpelier Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Western Australia Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra of Navarra. He served as guest concertmaster with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra on their 10-city tour of the United Kingdom and led the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in their BBC Proms debut in 2014.
After making his solo debut at the age of 14 with the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra, Kim has gone on to perform as a soloist with many of the most important orchestras in China and Korea. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and Yale School of Music, Kim’s teachers include Jaime Laredo, Aaron Rosand, Peter Oundjian, Paul Kantor, Victor Danchenko and Yumi Ninomiya Scott. He plays the 1701 ex-Dushkin Stradivarius, on permanent loan from a generous donor.
Bridget Dolkas (Pacific Symphony Principal Second Violin, Elizabeth and John Stahr Chair) is a passionate and vibrant member of the Southern California musical community.
As first violinist and founding member of the California Quartet, she co-founded the Connections Chamber Music Series (connectionsmusic.com), of which the Orange County Register wrote, “a worthy series.” Since the year 2000, the California Quartet has performed in Europe and the United States to great acclaim.
Dolkas has performed world-wide since the age of 10. In recent years, she has performed as soloist with South Coast Chamber Orchestra and Poway Symphony. She performed for eight years in the San Diego Symphony and the San Diego Opera Orchestra. Studying chamber music under such masters as Joseph Silverstein, Kim Kashkashian, Fred Sherry, Toby Appel, as well as the Juilliard, Alexander and Miro Quartets, it has made a tremendous musical impact on Dolkas.
As a student of Alice Schoenfeld, she earned her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Southern California, continuing her studies with Isaac Malkin and completing a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music. She is near completion of a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from UCLA, where she studied with Mark Kaplan. Dolkas resides in the beautiful town of Carlsbad with her husband Sean (a trombonist) and two wonderful children, Miles and Ruby.
Violist Meredith Crawford, a Maine native, studied under the tutelage of Professor Peter Slowik at Oberlin College and Conservatory.
She graduated in 2009 after completing Oberlin’s double-degree program with both a B.M. in Viola Performance and a B.A. in English Literature. After being inducted into the Pi Kappa Lambda honor society, she received the prestigious Prize for Musicianship, awarded to students judged to be “the most outstanding of those elected to Pi Kappa Lambda.” Crawford was the first prize winner of the Ohio Viola Society’s annual competition in 2007, the 2009 Skokie Valley Symphony Annual Young Artist Competition and the 2009-10 Oberlin Conservatory Competition—the first win for a violist in over a decade.
At the age of 22—before the completion of her senior year at Oberlin Conservatory—she won her first orchestral audition and a seat with Pacific Symphony. In September 2012, she was awarded the position of assistant principal viola and five years later, she won her current position with the orchestra as principal viola, Catherine and James Emmi Chair. Additionally, she has been performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic since April 2010, and more recently with the Riverside Philharmonic (as principal viola), the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Irvine’s Mozart Classical Orchestra.
Crawford is also an active chamber musician, performing frequently with the L.A.-based Salastina Music Society, the Historic Portsmouth Chamber Music Series in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and the High Desert Chamber Music series in Bend, Ore.
Crawford is also on the faculty of the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, where she is assistant principal viola of the faculty orchestra under the baton of Gerard Schwarz. She currently resides in beautiful Belmont Shore (where her neighbors include Pacific Symphony’s principal flutist Benjamin Smolen and principal oboist Jessica Pearlman) with her two cats, Twinkie and Rahula.
Pacific Symphony Principal Cellist Timothy Landauer was hailed “a cellist of extraordinary gifts” by the New York Times when he won the coveted Concert Artists Guild International Award in 1983 in New York. Landauer is the winner of numerous prestigious prizes and awards, among them the Young Musicians Foundation’s National Gregor Piatigorsky Memorial Cello Award, the Samuel Applebaum Grand Prize of the National Solo Competition of the American String Teacher’s Association and the 1984 Hammer-Rostropovich Scholarship Award.
Landauer’s extensive engagements include his highly acclaimed recitals at Carnegie Recital Hall, the Ambassador Auditorium in Los Angeles, the Orford Arts Center in Montreal, the City Hall Theater in Hong Kong and in Hanover, Germany. He has performed as a soloist with orchestras across three continents. They include the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Taiwan National Symphony, the Beijing Symphony and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. In the United States, he has appeared with the Maryland Symphony and the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra. Landauer was born in Shanghai, the son of musician parents. He first studied with his father and later attended the Shanghai Conservatory Middle School, a pupil of Ying-Rong Lin. He continued his studies in the United States with Eleonore Schoenfeld at the University of Southern California where he, upon receiving his master’s degree, was immediately invited to join the faculty as a lecturer and assistant to Piatigorsky Chair Professor Lynn Harrell. Landauer was the recipient of “The Outstanding Individual Artist Award 2004” presented by Arts Orange County.