Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sang Woo Kang: Concert Program and Notes

The Program

Fantasia on an Ostinato by John Corigliano

 Piano Sonata in C major, K. 330  by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I. Allegro Moderato
 II. Andante Cantabile
 III. Allegretto


 Etude Fantasy by  John Corigliano
I. Left Hand Alone
 II. Legato
 III. Fifths and Thirds
 IV. Ornaments
V. Melody

 Nocturne in D-flat major, Op. 27 No. 2 by Frederic Chopin

 Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, Op. 61 by Frederic Chopin

Program Notes by Performer, Sang Woo Kang

 This program is a study in contrasts: dynamic contrasts, contrasts of character, and contrasts of texture. Corigliano’s Fantasia on an Ostinato and Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C major may seem like polar opposites, but through their dissimilarity offer productive resonances. The obsessive rhythms and relentless ostinato of Fantasia on an Ostinato throws Mozart’s lyricism into relief. In the latter half of the program, the extroversion of the Etude Fantasy further serves to emphasize the intimacy and delicacy of the Nocturne in D-flat major. Through these sharp juxtapositions, this program also offers an exploration of the range and capabilities of the instrument.

Program Notes by Composer John Corigliano

Fantasia on an Ostinato (1985)

“The first half of my Fantasia On An Ostinato develops the obsessive rhythm of the Beethoven [Symphony No. 7] and the simple harmonies implicit in the first half of his melody. Its second part launches those interlocking repetitions and reworks the strange major-minor descending chords of the latter part of the Beethoven into a chain of harmonies over which the performer-repeated patterns grown continually more ornate. This climaxes in a return of the original rhythm and, finally, the reappearance of the theme itself.”

 Etude Fantasy (1976)
 My Etude Fantasy is actually a set of five studies combined into the episodic form and character of a fantasy...

The first etude is for the left hand alone—a bold, often ferocious statement which introduces both an opening six-note row (the first notes of the work) and a melodic germs which follows the initial outburst. This etude reaches a climax in which both the row and the thematic germ are heard together, and ends as the right hand enters playing a slow chromatic descent which introduces the next etude: a study of legato playing.

 In the short second etude both hands slowly float downward as a constant cross of contrapuntal lines provides melodic interest. The sustaining of sound as well as the clarity of the crossing voices is important here.

 The third etude, a study on a two-note figure, follows—a fleet development on the simple pattern of a fifth contracting to a third. In this section there is much crossing of hands; during the process a melody emerges in the top voices. A buildup leads to a highly chromatic middle section, with sudden virtuosic outbursts, after which the melody returns to end the etude as it began.

The fourth etude is a study of ornaments. Trills, grace notes, tremolos, glissandos and roulades ornament the opening material (Etude 1) and then develop the first four notes of the third etude into a frenetically charged scherzando where the four fingers of the left hand softly play a low cluster of notes (like a distant drum) as the thumb alternates with the right hand in rapid barbaric thrusts. This leads to a restatement of the opening 6-note row of the fantasy in a highly ornamental fashion.
 After a sonorous climax comes the final etude, a study of melody. In it, the player is required to isolate the melodic line, projecting it through the filigree which surrounds it; here the atmosphere is desolate and non-climactic, and the material is based entirely on the melodic implications on the left hand etude, with slight references to the second (legato) study. The work ends quietly with the opening motto heard in retrograde accompanying a mournful two-note ostinato.

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