Masterworks 1: Beethoven Triple
Scott Seaton | Conductor
Free pre-concert talk one hour before each performance.
Single Tickets range from $18 to $55 with discounts available for students and seniors.
We begin the season celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday with the monumental Triple Concerto featuring soloist favorites of the past four years. Michael Torke’s Ash pays homage to Beethoven with his rhythmic, feisty shards of melody in search of a theme. Written when Franz Schubert was a mere 18 years old, his Third Symphony is transparent and is full of fresh melodic invention, a true example of classical elegance and flair.
Guest Artist Bios
"It's not often that one finds this kind of sheer awe-inspiring talent in such a young musician, but Andrew Sords is an impressive example..."
American-born violinist Andrew Sords is acclaimed as a soloist with extraordinary abilities. Appearing on 4 continents with both his piano trio and with orchestras, his performances have been cited for combining visceral virtuosity and ravishing tone, while international critics have endorsed Sords as “a fully formed artist” (Kalisz-Poland News), “utterly radiant” (Canada’s Arts Forum), and “exceptionally heartfelt and soulful” (St. Maarten’s Daily Herald). Closer to home, Cleveland Classical gushed: “the stunner of the afternoon was a breathless but magnificently controlled performance of Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata, which Sords charged through with giddy aplomb.” Sords has received numerous awards and distinctions reflecting his career trajectory, including the 2012 Pittsburgh Concert Society Career Grant and the 2005 National Shirley Valentin Award.
Born in Newark, Delaware, Sords was raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and asked for piano lessons at age five. A year later, he began studying violin with Liza Grossman, and continued studies with Linda Cerone, David Russell, and Chee-Yun Kim at the ENCORE School for Strings, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Southern Methodist University. As a teenager, Sords garnered prizes from concerto competitions, signed with management, and has since collaborated with 300 orchestras worldwide. Of Sords’ debut in Australia, the Melbourne Age declared, “Sords made a voluble soloist in the A Major Turkish concerto, forging his statements with an admirably firm clarity and bringing out the work's virtuosity as often as possible. His bowing arm showed an attractive suppleness and an attention to variety of phrasing that made even the episodic finale a pleasure.”
Andrew Sords maintains a heavy schedule of touring to both orchestral subscription concerts and recital series. In the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, Sords traverses the complete oeuvre of Beethoven's works for violin: the sonata cycle, piano trio cycle, piano quartets, violin concerto, and triple concerto in observation of the composer's 250th anniversary. These appearances take place in Australia, Europe, several Canadian provinces, and across the United States.
Sords makes his home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and can be found on the web at http://www.andrewsords.com.
Pianist, Dianna Anderson performs frequently as a solo recitalist and collaborator, her repertoire ranging from classical standards to new music. As a founding member of the piano trio, Luminus, with violinist Jon Rumney, and cellist Erik Anderson, she has performed hundreds of concerts bringing the intimate art of chamber music to stages throughout the Midwest. Also with cellist, Erik Anderson, she has a more than 20-year relationship as a duo, performing recitals across the US and in Canada.
Much sought-after as a collaborator, she performs regularly with the Minot Symphony Orchestra, Western Plains Opera Company, her colleagues at Minot State University as well as guest artists. Recent highlights include collaborative performances with the Ying Quartet and a series of concerts given in Minot, ND of the complete works for cello and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven with cellists Yehuda Hanani and Erik Anderson. She has recently been a featured soloist with the North State Symphony, Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, Minot Symphony Orchestra, Bismarck-Mandan Youth Symphony, and Bismarck-Mandan Symphony. World premiers include works by Matthew Saunders, David Lefkowitz, Robert Bradshaw, Sean Neukom, and Richard Neukom.
A passionate educator, she teaches piano, piano pedagogy, collaborative piano, music theory, aural skills, and Music Students’ Survival Guide, a first-year experience course at Minot State University, as well as maintaining a studio of young pianists. A member of NDMTA, she has presented and/or performed at state conventions in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Oklahoma, as well as the MTNA National Convention. She frequently adjudicates regional festivals and competitions and is on faculty at Dakota Chamber Music and International Music Camp. Her degrees are from the University of Idaho, and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where her principle instructors were Jay Mauchley and Frank Weinstock.
An avid runner, Dr. Anderson has run numerous marathons. She also enjoys cooking, traveling, back-packing, and gardening. She lives in Minot in a home designed on Brahms’ Intermezzo Op. 118, No. 2.
As a cellist, bassist, conductor and teacher, Erik Anderson’s charismatic personality and thoughtful approach to music appeals to audiences of all ages and musical tastes. Whether in pre-concert lectures for the Minot Symphony Orchestra, Jazz combo presentations in school classrooms, or on stages from the Great Plains to Europe, he communicates not only a deep love and respect for the music he performs, but also a passion for education and exploration. A native of Washington State, he began his cello studies at the age of three, earned his BM and MM from the University of Idaho, and completed his DMA at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. His principal teachers have been Wayne C. Smith, William Wharton, and Yehuda Hanani. In 2003, after seven years as a free-lance cellist, assistant conductor, and business owner in Cincinnati, OH, he joined the faculty at Minot State University (Minot, ND) where he currently resides with his wife and four sons. Apart from music, Dr. Anderson loves to cook, golf, run, play games with the family, and chase any type of ball as though his life depended on it.
Michael Torke’s (“Tor-kee”) Ash is part of his collection of “Color Music.” He writes: “I experience color when I hear music. I hear it in keys and pitches … Whether it is a hyper-association I developed at age four or five when I first started listening to music or whether it truly is a physiological phenomenon of truly mixing up the senses, I don’t know …” While attending the Eastman School of Music and Yale he composed a series of pieces based on his synesthetic perception. Each piece explored a single color; compositions that would, in his words, “celebrate without modulation a single color.” His Color Music, all written in this three-year period, included Ecstatic Orange (1985), Bright Blue Music (1985), Green (1986), Purple (1987), and Ash (1988). John Adams conducted the premiere of Ash in 1989 with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Torke uses only tonics and dominants to produce his ashen shades of F-minor. The form and harmony are very fundamental and serve to define a monochromatic structure for the spectral flow, while rhythm and orchestration serve as the primary musical ingredients. Dark, rhythmic strings course through most of its length, propelling a single sprite melody that bounces and bathes in shades of the orchestra until a calm melody in the relative major key brightens the middle section. The mood of the opening section returns as the momentum builds again and returns to the minor. The Los Angeles Times described it as “an ingenious homage to Beethoven… a gallop in search of a bolero,“ and the New York Times described Torke as “a master orchestrator who’s shimmering timbral palette makes him the Ravel of his generation.” But unlike Ravel, Torke describes his orchestration as one that “does not seek color for its own sake, as decoration is not a high priority, but the instruments combine and double each other to create an insistent ensemble from beginning to end.” The small orchestra includes flute, 2 oboes, clarinet, 2 bassoons, 3 horns, trumpet, timpani, synthesizer, and strings.
Beethoven composed his “Triple” Concerto for Piano, Violin, Cello and Orchestra in late 1803 about the time that he began to realize that his hearing was deteriorating, and around the same time that his “Eroica” Symphony was written. The piano part was written for his pupil, Archduke Rudolph, the youngest son of Emperor Leopold II. Rudolph was the only person to whom Beethoven gave regular lessons in composition, and as his teacher he had privileged access to the highest ranks of European society and remained a life-long friend of the family. With Beethoven’s music, Rudolph was a royal success while only 16 years old. The piano part was tailored to suit his skill level and still showcase his better qualities. The strings, however, required virtuoso players, in fact the best of the day were recruited, e.g., cellist Anton Kraft, the Principal in Haydn’s orchestra, and likely the work was first played privately in aristocratic salons. The soloists are accompanied by 1 flute, and oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, and trumpets in pairs, along with timpani, and strings.
The opening Allegro is the most expansive of the work’s three movements owing to its sonata form modified to present three soloists. The themes are brief, made up of simple chord and scale patterns. Clashing sonorities and badinage among soloists and orchestra provides its cohesion, and its energy is more technical than passionate. Cellos and basses quietly present a rhythmic motif that persists throughout the ensuing movement as the full orchestra takes up the theme. The soloists enter in turns, the cello first with the main theme. The second theme begins, again in the cello, with a bouncy triad played in an unexpected key - cutting-edge in 1804. The rest of the movement is characterized by repetitive figuration with scant melodic development. The second movement Largo presents a peaceful melody from the solo cello; the theme is hardly developed though, and it soon leads into the finale without a break. The closing movement is a rousing Rondo alla Polacca in the style of the traditional Polish polonaise. The cello again starts the theme passing it on to the soloists in turn. The incessant rhythmic texture pushes it into frenzy when the meter changes from triple to duple and back again to bring some “off the rails” energy to the end.
Schubert's Symphony No. 3 in D major, D 200, was written in 1815, a few months after his eighteenth birthday and only two months after the completion of the second symphony. He was extremely prolific in these early years of his short life, even though he worked as a full-time schoolmaster. The Symphony was probably heard only among the composer’s friends and was not published during his lifetime; not until thirty-two years later in 1881 was it first performed in public at London’s Crystal Palace led by August Friedrich Manns.
The symphony presents with a broad introduction in two parts, the first slow and dramatic, the second more lyrical, leading up to an Allegro con brio exchange between a solo clarinet and syncopated strings and timpani. The movement then builds continuously in dynamics and orchestration to a dramatic climax. Haydn's influence is apparent. A delightful Allegretto follows, replacing the typical slow movement with a cheerful tune that has the character of a Bavarian peasant dance. Schubert was a natural tunesmith, and his brilliant sense of melody is manifest throughout the Third Symphony. The bright melody in the second movement trio is a prime example. The clarinetist introduces it and then the flutist follows as he begins its development. The finale has an Italian Rossini-like presto vivace tarantella rhythm with bold harmony and orchestral contrasts. Schubert characteristically modulated the tonal center abruptly, often stepping in thirds, that portends a sense of change. Listen for Schubert’s characteristic orchestration, for example the back-and-forth between the winds and the strings. The modest orchestra includes 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings.
- notes by Theodore Bell