New Music on the Cutting Edge

2012-13 Concert Season

Moving Sounds Festival 2012

Thursday-Sunday, September 13-16, 2012
Austrian Cultural Forum website
11 East 52nd Street, New York

Argento co-curates with the Austrian Culturam Forum a festival of music, visual media, and aesthetic dialogue in collaboration with the Austrian Cultural Forum. The festival will host Mivos Quartet performing music by Reiko Fueting and Carl Bettendorf; Ensemble Mise-En performing Pasquale Corrado, Moon Young Ha, Elisabeth Harnik, Kurt Rohde, Bent Sørensen, and Wolfram Schurig; and Jack Quartet performing Clemens Gadenstätte and Georg Friedrich Haas. New York composer Annie Gosfield and Austrian composer Bernhard Fleischmann will perform their own compositions. At the Symposium, Director of the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna Christian Myer will discuss Schoenberg and the avant-garde with jazz trumpeter Franz Hackl.

Residency at Harvard University

October 13, 2012
Concert time and location TBD
Admission free

Argento workshops and performs new works by Harvard University composers.

Program - all world premieres


Saturday, October 27, 2012, 7:30 PM
St. Bartholomew's Church website
325 Park Avenue at 51st St
Subway: 6/E/M to Lexington Av-51st St
Tickets available through the St. Bart's Box Office

Argento will perform all surviving fragments of Mozart's unfinished Requiem linked together by composer Georg Friedrich Haas's Seven Soundspaces (Sieben Klangräume). Acclaimed flutist Paula Robison will perform Mozart's Andante, K. 315 for flute and orchestra to open the program.

This program is presented by Great Music at St. Bart's with support from The Reed Foundation.

More commentaries on Mozart/Haas:

Matt Mendez, Soundproof Room

Charissa Che, Downtown Magazine


W.A. Mozart - Andante for flute and orchestra, K. 315
Paula Robison, flute

W.A. Mozart - Requiem, K. 626
Georg Friedrich Haas - Sieben Klangräume
Tharanga Goonetilleke, Silvie Jensen, Steven Wilson, Peter Stewart, soloists
The College of New Jersey Chorale, John Leonard, director
Argento Chamber Ensemble, Michel Galante, conductor

Argento Performers Series: Lunar Movements

Weekends, November 30, December 1-2, 8-9, and 15-16 poster

Austrian Cultural Forum website
11 East 52nd Street, New York
Subway: B/D/F trains to Rockefeller Center; 6 train to 51st Street; E/M trains to 5 Avenue
$10 suggested donation - No reservation necessary
Information: (212) 319-5300

Argento celebrates the 100th anniversary of Pierrot Lunaire with performances of the Arnold Schoenberg masterpiece juxtaposed with recent and premiere compositions .

Program 1, Friday, November 30, 7:30 PM

Preview performance for Argento supporters

Program 2, Saturday, December 1, 7:30 PM poster

Concert review in The New York Times

As both an active painter and composer, Schoenberg’s visual artwork and compositions grew from the same inner need for expression. With this in mind, Argento offers a program of works by Matthias Pintscher that focuses on the connections between painting and music. Pintscher’s Treatise on a Veil was inspired by painter Cy Twombly’s piece of the same name and contains many associations with visual and acoustic phenomena.

Matthias Pintscher - Study III for Treatise on the Veil for solo violin

Matthias Pintscher - Study II for Treatise on the Veil for violin, viola and cello

Matthias Pintscher - On a Clear Day for solo piano

Matthias Pintscher - Janusgesicht for viola and cello

Arnold Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire

Audience discussion with composer Matthias Pintscher during intermission

David Fulmer, violin; Conor Hanick and Taka Kigawa, piano; Paula Robison, voice

Program 3, Sunday, December 2, 4:00 PM poster

A recent first prize winner of Concert Artists Guild competition, cellist Jay Campbell offers a recital of the old and new, with an emphasis on New York composers. In particular, the pairing of An Orbicle of Jasp with Pierrot Lunaire emphasizes Schoenberg’s influence on living composers and underlines continuity. Wuorinen, exceptionally among his generation, has developed implications of Schoenberg’s 12-tone as a vehicle for his own musical ends.

Charles Wuorinen - An Orbicle of Jasp

Toru Takemitsu - Orion

Claude Debussy - Sonata in D minor

Arnold Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire

Audience discussion with the artists during intermission

Jay Campbell, cello; Taka Kigawa, piano; Paula Robison, voice

Program 4, Saturday, December 8, 7:30 pm poster

In Pierrot Lunaire, Schoenberg originally instructed his violinist to double on viola. Today, performances typically use two separate players to cover the part, effectively minimizing the violist’s role. Considering this, Argento presents a program featuring the viola, the “forgotten” member of the Pierrot ensemble. Included is Feldman’s seminal “viola-plus-Pierrot” composition, The Viola in My Life 2, along with a solo work for the instrument by Jason Eckardt.

Lei Liang - Garden Eight for solo piano

Jason Eckardt - To be held... for voice, viola, and electronics

Morton Feldman - The Viola in My Life 2 for viola and ensemble

Arnold Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire

Audience discussion with the artists during intermission

Stephanie Griffin, viola; Joanna Chao, piano; Paula Robison, voice

Program 5, Sunday, December 9, 4:00 PM poster

Musically encapsulating modernity’s cultural and social dislocations, the heterogeneous timbres of Schoenberg’s Pierrot ensemble have served as an endless source of fascination and inspiration for living composers. Featured are works by Feldman and Sciarrino that explore the various potentials of this most quintessential of twentieth-century instrumental contingents, along with contrasting solo compositions by Elliott Carter and Max Grafe.

Max Grafe - Parthenogenesis for piano and electronics

Salvatore Sciarrino - Lo spazio inverso for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and celeste

Elliott Carter - Gra for solo clarinet

Morton Feldman - I met Heine on the rue Fürstenberg for soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion

Arnold Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire

Audience discussion with the artists during intermission

Sharon Harms, soprano; Joanna Chao, piano; Carol McGonnell, clarinet; Paula Robison, voice

Program 6, Saturday, December 15, 4:00 pm (note special time) poster

Rarely employing full ensemble tuttis, the restraint with which Schoenberg marshals his instrumental forces in Pierrot Lunaire has long been recognized as one of the work's most noteworthy qualities. Indeed, many important moments in the score are actually reserved for the reciter and a single monophonic instrument. Highlighting the delicate, chamber-like scoring of Pierrot, Argento presents mold-breaking solo and duo works by Lillios and Zorn, exploring the unique string and wind timbres that Schoenberg had at his disposal.

Elainie Lillios - Among Fireflies for alto flute and live electronics

John Zorn - Apophthegms for two violins

Arnold Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire

Audience discussion with the artists during intermission

Erin Lesser, flute; David Fulmer and Christopher Otto, violins; Paula Robison, voice

Program 7, Sunday, December 16, 4:00 PM poster

Argento presents a pair of virtuosic duos by Carter and Galante for subsets of the “expanded Pierrot” line-up, followed by a new work for the full ensemble by Fulmer. The Lunar Movements concert series is capped with a final performance of Schoenberg’s century-old masterpiece, the work Igor Stravinsky famously dubbed the “solar plexus” of twentieth-century composition.

Elainie Lillios and Bonnie Mitchell - 2BTextures for video and electronics

Elainie Lillios and Bonnie Mitchell - Sweeping Memories world premiere

Elliott Carter - Esprit Rude / Esprit Doux for flute and clarinet

David Fulmer - New Work for soprano and ensemble
world premiere

Michel Galante - Duos and Trios for flute and marimba

Arnold Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire

Audience discussion with the artists during intermission

Sharon Harms, soprano; Erin Lesser, flute; Carol McGonnell, clarinet; Matt Ward, marimba; Paula Robison, voice

Ralph Kaminsky Memorial Concert

February 4, 2013, 7:30 PM

Remembering a ardent supporter of new music, this program will feature some of the works Ralph admired, performed by new music groups he tirelessly advocated for—Argento, Alarm Will Sound, Either/Or, ICE, JACK Quartet, and Talea.


Grisey - Périodes

... and others

Residency at Smith College - SmithArtsFest 2013: Storytelling

Concert: Sunday, February 10, 2013, 8 PM *** NEW RE-SCHEDULED TIME ***
Sweeney Concert Hall
Admission free

Argento performs Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and works by Elliott Carter, Morton Feldman, and Michel Galante.

Symphonies of Song

Saturday, February 23, 2013, 7:30 PM

DiMenna Center
450 West 37th Street, New York
Subway: A/C/E trains to 34th Street or 42nd Street
Suggested donation $15/$10 students

Argento brings a taste of the Salzburg Biennale to New York City. This preview program features …wie stille brannte das Licht by the 2013 State of Salzburg International Composition Prize winner Georg Friedrich Haas, and Canto by runner-up Aureliano Cattaneo, along with a continuation of Argento’s tribute to Robert Schumann with the first performance of Kimmy Szeto’s intimate ensemble arrangement of his Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish" for 11 instruments.

Although Robert Schumann completed his third symphony years after his famous settings of Liederkreis and Frauenliebe und -leben, the same ruminative and lyrical lines and the private, intimate modes of expression of his song cycles remain in his symphonic work. Over 150 years later, Georg Friedrich Haas’s cycle for soprano and ensemble, …wie stille brannte das Licht (…how still burns the light) and Aurelius Cattaneo’s Canto follow Schumann’s lyric impulse and vocalize complex textures. Kimmy Szeto’s re-scoring brings out the shining lyricism, stirring drama, sweeping force, and noble solemnity of the "Rhenish" while retaining the intimacy of Schumann’s song cycles.

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Georg Friedrich Haas - ...wie stille brannte das Licht for soprano and ensemble
Sharon Harms, soprano
U.S. premiere

Aureliano Cattaneo - Canto for chamber ensemble
U.S. premiere

Michel Galante - Megalomania for solo piano
Stephen Gosling, piano
U.S. premiere

Robert Schumann - Symphony No. 3, "Rhenish"
arranged for chamber ensemble by Kimmy Szeto
World premiere

Notes on the Program

Program notes for …wie stille brannte das Licht
for soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion, piano, 2 violins, viola, cello, and double bass

In an interview, Georg Friedrich Haas explains …wie stille brannte das Licht: “…was inspired by the love cycles of Schubert and Schumann. When these cycles were written, there existed two great dangers between hopeful lovers: enormous social conventions, and also a real danger of syphilis and venereal disease, so it was a triumph when lovers could actually unite. But in the modern world, these once constricting social conventions have relaxed and even AIDS is nowhere near the danger that syphilis was in Schumann's time. The great risk for modern lovers is that they are able to unite, but once they do, they have nothing to say to each other. …wie stille brannte das Licht deals with this experience, so it’s a modern song cycle.”

Program notes for Canto
for soprano saxophone, trombone, percussion, piano, violin, and cello

Aureliano Cattaneo writes: “Why Canto? In Canto I try to find continuity, the continuity of the sung note and the subtle vibration of messa di voce. I search it in two different ways: with the long dash, or the merging of fragments. With the first system you follow a line that winds and accompanies us in time. With the second one you have to rebuild the line through the reflected image of possible unions of points. So is the musical material that unravels as the skein of wool, or it shrivels like a thin strip of aluminum into the fire.”

Program notes for Megalomania
for solo piano

Over the course of seven years, I grew to trust and believe in someone who, unbeknownst to me, suffered from severe mental illness. Our interactions became a source of total bewilderment and confusion until it became clear that the illness was an extreme personality disorder. When I finally understood the situation, I experienced disillusion in the true sense of the word: my previous perception of a sane friendship had quite literally been an illusion. The paradigm shift in my mind was so extreme that it made my head spin: you can mourn the loss of a friend, but you cannot mourn the loss of someone who you only thought was a friend. You can only mourn the thought.

I wrote NPD while I experienced real 1984-style alienation over this. The piece is not biographical, but I wrote it while I had a bitter, nagging, dystopic knot in my stomach, and during a period when I saw, up close, that the sane faculties of the human mind were not stronger than its volatile and destructive tendencies. I did, however, trust my musical instincts, and NPD’s obsessive repetitive textures are part of an ongoing meditation on the irrational, unpredictable, unstable nature of the mind. Writing this piece was my way of taking something constructive out of an overwhelmingly negative experience.

Program notes for Symphony No. 3 “Rhenish”
arranged for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 violins, viola, cello, and double bass

All of Schumann’s symphonies follow his “lyric impulse”: the private, intimate modes of expression of his song cycles such as Liederkreis and Frauenliebe und -leben. Kimmy Szeto’s arrangements of Schumann’s symphonies bring out the shining lyricism, stirring drama, and noble solemnity that Schumann produced in his original orchestrations, while retaining the intimacy of his song cycles.

On June 23, 2010, Allan Kozinn reviews Kimmy Szeto’s arrangement of Schumann’s second symphony in The New York Times: "Chamber versions of symphonies inevitably seem suspect, if only because they reverse a composer’s intentions by transforming grand gestures into intimate ones. Mr. Szeto avoided that. Through skillful allocation of his resources—a string quartet, bass, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon and a pair of horns—he found ways to suggest orchestral heft when necessary... But the real beauty of Mr. Szeto’s rescoring was in the symphony’s more ruminative and lyrical sections, which thrive in reduced proportions."