Friday, March 11, 2011

Early Inspirations

I was recently asked to provide some artist's notes on the "Early Inspirations"  program at Alice Tully Hall on March 25th hosted by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center I will be joined by a wonderful group of musicians (Ani and Ida Kavafian, Paul Neubauer, Anne-Marie McDermott and Nicolas Alsteadt) in some great early works by Mahler, Berg, Shostakovich and Bartok.
Here's my two cents. As you can see this program strikes a very special chord with me.


The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is well known for its enterprising and illuminating programs and tonight's selection is no exception.
I have to say that I was always incredibly fascinated by a composer's early works. These works are often dismissed as being derivative, but I believe that all great art needs to come from somewhere. No artist can create a masterpiece from scratch, for great art needs not only inspiration and vision, but also history and knowledge. 
In a composer's early output we can clearly see two elements at play: the culture and traditions in which the composer was raised and his/her trajectory in creating a unique voice. 
As a performer I find early works to be exciting and particularly revealing. For instance, there is a possibility that Bartok never completely abandoned the romanticism of his youth, and that we need to be aware of that side of him to make sense of his more abstract works. Or that perhaps Berg's later works could be just as extreme, passionate and aching as his Sonata op. 1. Most importantly, being exposed to these early works gives us a key to the composers' psyche and their world. 

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