a winter solstice concert
December 21, 2021 7:30 PM
National Opera Center
330 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001
Arnold Schoenberg - Pierrot Lunaire (1912) for voice, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano
Sharon Harms, soprano
Yotam Haber - Bloodsnow (2020) for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cell, and piano
Commissioned by the Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund
Franco Donatoni - Clair (1980) for solo clarinet
Tania Leon - Atwood Songs (2018) for voice and piano, words by Margaret Atwood
Sharon Harms joins the Argento Chamber Ensemble in Arnold Schoenberg’s 1912 masterpiece Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21. Pierrot Lunaire broke ground by incorporating many new musical innovations: a new form of vocal performance (Sprechstimme), a psychedelic, theatrical interpretation of traditional Commedia dell’Arte characters, and the mixed, five member “kleines Kammerorchester.” Pierre Boulez once called Pierrot an “inexhaustible resource,” also pointing out that even though its formal and harmonic innovations are famous, it also introduced a completely new rhythmic language.
Pierrot also expands on the tradition of Austrian Lieder, the intimate genre for voice and piano, which Schoenberg previously explored in 1908 and 1909. On this program, Argento pairs Pierrot Lunaire with the Atwood Songs for voice and piano, by Pulitzer Prize winning Cuban-American composer Tania Leon.
Carol McGonnell brings biting wit and relentless virtuosity to post-serial composer Franco Donatoni’s Clair. In Clair, Franco Donatoni controls procedures that generate audible patterns of variation and repetition. Through these “automatic techniques,” Donatoni renders relentless music of extraordinary power, speed, and risk, often giving the impression of an organized attack.
Finally, Argento gives the world premiere of pianist/composer Yotam Haber’s Bloodsnow, which recreates the adrenaline surge of a violent accident, in which Haber, a Guggenheim fellow, cut one of his fingers off while managing a team of racing dogs in Denali National Park. He writes, “It was both one of the scariest moments of my life, and also one of the most exhilarating moments of my life, and it’s those moments when you really feel most alive.”
Argento’s winter solstice celebration will be an explosive, imaginative celebration of darkness that will put Halloween to shame!!!
This concert will be live streamed, but audiences are encouraged to join us in person.
Argento's 2021-22 season programming is made possible by the Reed Foundation, the Fritz Reiner Fund, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, 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 the Governor 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.