Ancient Structures & Inexorable Lust
-Georg Friedrich Haas, inspired by Josquin des Prez and Sappho
Wednesday, November 2 | 8PM
Cary Hall, Dimenna Center
450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018
Friday, November 4 | 8 pm
College of Fine Arts Concert Hall, Boston University
855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Produced by the Boston University Center for New Music
Free and open to the public
The Argento New Music Project opens its 2022-2023 season with the music of Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas. Soprano Sharon Harms and conductor Michel Galante join the ensemble on stage.
Tria ex Uno (2001)
Georg Friedrich Haas/Josquin des Prez
For flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, and cello
Georg Friedrich Haas
For flute, clarinet, percussion, piano, two violins, viola, cello, and bass
Georg Friedrich Haas/Sappho
Sharon Harms, soprano
For soprano, clarinet, bassoon, horn, two violins, viola, cello, and bass
In his Agnus Dei II from Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales, Franco-Flemish composer Josquin dez Prez showed that a single melodic line, played at 3 different speeds, could render a complete, full-blown musical movement. Georg Friedrich Haas said “I wish I had composed the Agnus Dei myself”. Although Haas could not travel back in time to the 14th century, he did the next best thing: he composed his own musical fantasy, called Tria ex Uno, based on Josquin’s miraculous movement. Argento opens our November concert with this work, scored for instrumental sextet.
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Performed for memory, ...fliessend... creates the aural illusion of an infinite shepard-tone, through a continuous instrumental accelerando.
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In her surviving poetry, Sappho of Lesbos (c. 630 – c. 570 BC) depicts an intense, overwhelming infatuation with a young woman named Atthis. Taking fragments from Sappho, Georg Friedrich Haas begins his 2009 composition, ATTHIS, by orchestrating the climactic emotional upheaval caused by Sappho’s all-consuming unrequited obsession.
Haas explains "In the first part, the pain of love is so overwhelming that she loses consciousness. In the second part, I attempt the most difficult thing in contemporary music: I try to compose a happy ending. We don't have a language for this in contemporary music.... We have many ideas to compose suffering, but not to compose love." Haas realizes the sublime intoxication of love by bathing the audience in vibrating, consonant harmonies that dramatically contrast the violence of the opening movement.
Argento's 2022-23 season programming is made possible by the Reed Foundation, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, the Fritz Reiner Fund, the BMI Foundation, and the generosity of individual supporters. Additional support is provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.
"AN ESSENTIAL SOURCE OF ADVENTUROUS NEW MUSIC"
- ALEX ROSS
Under the direction of Michel Galante, Argento has become an essential source of adventurous new music.
– Alex Ross, The New Yorker
The Argento New Music Project’s fierce emotional commitment onstage and relentless determination to master all technical aspects of its repertoire has inspired world renowned composers such as Tristan Murail, Beat Furrer, and Georg Friedrich Haas to regard them as the best interpreter of their music in the United States. Argento first gained prominence at New York’s “Sounds French Festival” in 2003 and were shortly thereafter invited to work closely with Elliott Carter and Pierre Boulez for the opening concert of the French American Cultural Exchange. From its inception, the group has dedicated itself to a thorough command of the microtonal challenges of contemporary Spectral composers, an effort that culminated in their first CD Winter Fragments, winner of the prestigious Record Geijutsu 2010 Record Academy Award for best recording.
Argento has presented world premiere performances of works by leading composers such as Tristan Murail, Helmut Lachenmann, Bernhard Lang, Sebastian Currier, Fred Lerdahl, and Philippe Hurel, as well as exciting emerging composers including Sabrina Schroeder, Murat Yakin, Erin Gee, Yoni Niv, Victor Ádan, Hila Tamir, Sang Song, Daniel Iglesias, and many others. Argento brought one of the most influential recent masterpieces of contemporary music, in vain, by Georg Friedrich Haas, to New York, at a time when the composer was unknown and unperformed in America. US premieres include works by Salvatore Sciarrino, Luca Francesconi, Michael Jarrell, Olga Neuwirth, Enno Poppe, Gérard Pesson, Mathias Spahlinger, Gérard Grisey, and Eva Reiter. Equally important, Argento introduced American composers to foreign audiences in its many performances at international festivals throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Argento has produced over thirty studio recordings, many of which have been professionally released on well-known labels such as Bridge, Aeon, and Harmonia Mundi. As a guest ensemble, it has worked closely to develop new works with graduate students from universities including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia.
Argento is committed to expanding the reach of contemporary music to new audiences. From 2009-2015, Argento and the Austrian Cultural Forum co-produced the Moving Sounds Festival, merging contemporary concert music with other artistic worlds including dance, architecture, sound art, electronica, and turntablism. In recent concerts, the group has endeavored to expand its reach beyond contemporary music audiences by including works by 14th, 19th, and early 20th century composers in a musically driven, innovative, and non-conformist manner.
Recent highlights include a performance with legendary soprano Frederica von Stade at Weill Hall in Sonoma, California, and world premiere performances of the following works: Ann Cleare’s eyam ii, commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland and premiered at the Library of Congress; Jérôme Combier’s Conditions de lumiere, commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation and premiered in both New York and Paris; and Beat Furrer’s spazio immergente, commissioned by the Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg and premiered in its entirety at the composer’s first American portrait concert at Carnegie Hall.
Argento's reputation builds on its cohesion as a chamber ensemble, demanding technical preparation, and a probing interpretive commitment to the music. Independent of commercial endeavors, the Ensemble relies on the hard work of its musicians, volunteers, board members, and your generous support.