- Featured: Margaret Fangman
- Release Date: 1/9/2007
Mary Margaret Fangman, dynamic classical pianist, has just returned to her native Omaha after two years of studies and performances in England, where she received the Post-Graduate Degree in Piano Performance from the Royal Academy of Music. Meg made her debut with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra in 1999 under the direction of Ernest Richardson, a year before earning the prestigious Howard Hanson Merit Scholarship to attend The Eastman School of Music in New York. In college, Meg studied under world-renowned pianist Fernando Laires, and has briefly studied with or performed for pianists such as Alicia de Larrocha, Anton Nel, Vladimir Feltsman, Leon Bates, Aldo Mancinelli, Valerie Tryon, Blanca Uribe, Ursula Oppens, Lilya Zilberstein, and the late David Golub. Miss Fangman has made solo appearances across several states, including Colorado for the Aspen Music Festival, Nebraska for the Bagels and Bach Concert Series, New York, as well as central London. An avid collaborator, Meg performed in piano and harpsichord ensembles for many years with the Omaha Area Youth Orchestra and was an active chamber performer during her time in New York for outreach venues in schools across the state. In London, she co-established the Alexandra Trio, whose members are Claire Hawkes, esteemed Junior Fellow at the Royal College of Music (clarinet), Shulah Oliver, postgraduate performance major at the Royal Academy of Music (violin) and Miss Fangman (piano). Meg's teachers and pedagogues at the Royal Academy include the celebrated international performer and recording artist, Martin Roscoe, as well as Aaron Shorr and Patsy Toh. All have praised her "exceptional range of style", and her "vivid sophistication and keen ear," all of which traits continue to endear her to audiences both near and far. While in England, Meg also earned the Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music and in addition to teaching privately, is currently an adjunt faculty member at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. PROGRAMME NOTES FOR THIS ALBUM: Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) Variations in F minor, Hob. XVII:6 Amongst Joseph Haydn's prolific outpouring of church music, oratorios, stage works, vocal music, symphonies (which number over 100) and orchestral works, chamber music and keyboard works, the Variations in f minor of 1793 stand out as a radiant gem. The work was originally intended as the opening movement of a sonata, but evolved into a free-standing composition later titled "Un Piccolo Divertimento" and was dedicated to Barbara von Ployer, a student of Mozart's. Striking for it's unique mixture of humor and pathos, simplicity and complexity, Variations also exhibits great novelty of form and departure from typical variation standards. In the 1770s, Haydn began to engage in "double variation" or "alternating variation" forms of writing, in which the theme and variations contain two themes. As Haydn perfected this form of writing, his trademarks became evident. The themes typically are andante in tempo and divided into two sections which repeat. Whereas the minor variations are typically strained and tinged with angst, the major variations are charming and light-hearted. Charles Rosen's comment regarding one of Haydn's piano trios could be applied to the f minor variations. Rosen notes that Haydn had created 'an emotion that was completely his own and that no other composer, not even Mozart, could duplicate - a feeling of ecstasy that is completely unsensual, almost amiable.' It is precisely that ecstatic "unsensual, almost amiable" quality that lends a particular kind of mysterious and unmistakably spiritual dimension to Haydn's compositions. Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006) Arc-en-ciel from Études pour piano, premier livre György Ligeti, born in 1923 in a small town in Transylvania (subsequently Romanian territory after the Second World War), possessed an extraordinary imagination. By the time he was a teenager, he had fashioned an imaginary world called "Kylwiria," for which he invented a language and detailed civic plans. It was this vivid mind that soon served as the master architect from which Ligeti's compositions would spring forth. In the early 1940s, Ligeti studied with Pál Kadosa, who adhered to a very strict method of analyzing classical masterpieces. A careful study and admiration of such composers as Mozart, Beethoven, Richard Strauss, Grieg and Brahms (to whom he dedicated his famous horn trio) combined with later exposure to Bartok, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Stockhausen, Webern and Boulez helped to shape Ligeti's personal vision of composition. Ligeti began venturing into a world of atonality, without abandoning the world of tonality. An unprecedented mixture resulted. His work is studded with elements of jazz and unique rhythmic twists, and these reflect his fascination with the literary images of writers like Lewis Carroll. Intense contrapuntal and polyrhythmic qualities emerged in his compositions, alongside a motley combination of fractal imagining. The year 1985 saw the completion of Ligeti's first book of six Etudes, which includes Arc-en-ciel, for which he was awarded the Grawemyer Award. Arc-en-ciel (which translates from the French as "rainbow") is a reflection of the amalgamation of Ligeti's influences and inventive nature. Perhaps we can best understand Ligeti's musical intentions through his own words: "I don't like post-modernism, neither in architecture nor in music. I don't want to go back to tonality or to expressionism or all the "neo" and retrograde movements, which exist everywhere. I wanted to find my own way and I finally found it. I have found certain complex possibilities in rhythm and new possibilities in harmony which are neither tonal nor atonal. Maybe the Six Études for piano are the most typical." Claude Debussy (1862-1918) The Little Shepherd from Children's Corner Suite In 1901, Debussy wrote: 'I envisage the possibility of a music especially written for the open air, flowing in bold broad lines from both the orchestra and the voices. . . . [Music] could be regenerated, taking a lesson in freedom from the blossoming of the trees.' Here he is calling upon the regenerative forces of nature while explicitly describing a Monet-esque aesthetic. The Children's Corner Suite is the fulfillment of this aesthetic. Debussy completed the Children's Corner Suite in 1908 and dedicated it to his three year old daughter, Emma-Claude (affectionately referred to as "Chou-Chou"). While many believe he wrote it with the abilities of a child in mind, the pieces require a delicate yet controlled sense of tonal color, and a mature technical ability. The Little Shepherd appears after Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum (a delightful musical ode to Muzio Clementi's book of musical exercises), Jimbo's Lullaby, Serenade for the Doll, and The Snow is Dancing, exquisitely evocative of gentle flakes falling from a misty sky. The Suite's finale, Golliwog's Cakewalk is filled with humorous references to Wagener's Tristan und Isolde. Alongside Jimbo's Lullaby, The Little Shepherd is the most introverted part of the Suite - a playful, yet eerie, exchange between a shepherd's fluting and short dance-like tunes. The Little Shepherd is an exquisite microcosm of the characteristics prominent in Debussy's writing, namely modality, augmented chords, harmonies that are tonal but not necessarily "functional", and exotic scales (particularly whole tone, pentatonic and octatonic). The simple melody, evocative of a shepherd's flute playing, draws on these characteristics. The very opening line is extracted from a whole-tone scale, and simultaneously outlines a tritone. The most heightened sense of tension occurs at the climactic major-seventh chord- an extremely dissonant sound- tempered only slightly by the very tonal perfect-fifth played by the left hand. Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Klavierstücke, Op. 118 Brahms' Opp. 116 through 119 are all devoted to the solo piano realm and are made up of 20 pieces, his last forays in the genre. The Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118, were some of the most beloved items that the composer wrote for the solo instrument. Completed in 1893 and dedicated to Clara Schumann, the collection was the penultimate composition to be published during Brahms' lifetime. The Op. 118 Klavierstucke include six pieces: Intermezzo in a minor, a passionate, sweeping two-part piece reminiscent of the Capriccios of Op. 116; Intermezzo in A Major, a lyrical counterpart to the preceding, with canonic imitation and a chorale found in it's middle section; Ballade in g-minor, a vigorous work filled with cross-rhythms and a lyrical section in B Major; Intermezzo in f minor, a coup de gráce in canonic writing; Romance in F Major, the opening section of which is placid and slightly somber in character, then breaks into a lilting pastoral melody that hovers over a bass ostinato. Florid trills that sing like a shepherd's pipe prepare for the recapitulation of the opening material. The final piece, Intermezzo in e-flat-minor, is unique for it's opening line, an unaccompanied right-hand melody (reminiscent of the Dies Irae) which is answered in the left hand by an arpeggiated configuration. The work ends in a grave hush, as if it's wise and graying composer was bidding the dear instrument and his listeners adieu. In the words Philipp Spitta, a musicologist contemporaneous with Brahms, "[the Intermezzos] are to be absorbed slowly in silence and solitude...they are appropriate not only for meditative afterthought but also for contemplative forethought." Meg Fangman © 2006.
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