APRIL 11, 8PM
Music by Tania León, Michel Galante, Brian Ferneyhough, Michel Galante, Yotam Haber
APRIL 20, 7:30PM
to live for you, to die for you
Alma Mahler, Patricia Alessandrini, Sang Song,
catch as catch can
August 15, 2021 2pm
National Opera Center
330 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001
Suggested Donation: $20, $10 for students/seniors
Ruth Crawford Seeger - Andante from String Quartet 1931
Béla Bartók - Divertimento (1939) for string orchestra
Ann Cleare - eyam i (it takes an ocean not to) (2009-13)
Carol McGonnell, clarinet
Georg Friedrich Haas - catch as catch can (2018 )
Michael Katz, cello; Steven Beck, piano; Carol McGonnell, clarinet
After a year of online performances, Argento is thrilled to return to the concert stage
and perform in the flesh to a live audience. Author George Grella wrote "Being together for live music increases social bonds among all at hand, musicians and audiences, and that both enhances the vitality of the music making in a positive feedback loop and creates the deep and unpredictable alchemy of a live performance. The point of being present, live, is to not just hear something but feel something."
The concert will be live streamed, but audiences are encouraged to join us in person.
Ruth Crawford Seeger wrote her most famous work, her string quartet in 1931, specifying that the 3rd movement, an Andante, can be performed by a string orchestra as well. This movement is structured on a repeating inhalation/exhalation gesture.
Bartók’s Divertimento for Strings, was written as a true concert piece for pleasure (literally “divertimento”) for Paul Sacher, but have Bartók's characteristic rigor and depth. Argento performs a version for 15 strings. The outer movements burst with rhythmic energy and virtuosity, contrasting with the meditative atmosphere of the other works on the program.
The featured work on the program is a recent work (2018) by Georg Friedrich Haas entitled catch as catch can, written for Trio Catch. This work embodies Haas’ sonorous microtonal world through the resonances of the piano, played by Ning Yu, coupled with timbres from clarinet, basset horn, bass clarinet, played by Carol McGonnell and cello, performed by Michael Katz.
The concert ends with, eyam I (2009-2013) for Argento’s clarinettist, Carol McGonnell, by fellow Irish artist, composer Ann Cleare. Eyam is a small village in Derbyshire, England, that responded to the discovery of a plague there in 1665, by shutting down its borders and isolating, rather than letting the infection spread. The piece deals with isolation and infiltration.
April 11, 2022 8 PM
National Opera Center
330 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001
Tickets to in-person performance
Tania León (USA/Cuba) Parajota delaté (1988)
Ludmila Yurina (Ukraine) Shadows and Ghosts (1999) for solo piano
Brian Ferneyhough (UK) La Chute d’Icare (1988) for solo clarinet and ensemble
Alvin Lucier (USA) In Memoriam Jon Higgins (1987) for solo clarinet and Pure Wave Oscillator
Yotam Haber (USA/Israel) Bloodsnow – (WORLD PREMIERE)
Commissioned by Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund
Featuring Carol McGonnell, clarinet & Steve Beck, piano
This concert and discussion will be performed live with an in-person audience and a webstream.
We bid farewell to Alvin Lucier, who passed away in December 2021, through one of his most enduring works: In Memoriam Jon Higgins, for clarinet and slow sweep, pure wave oscillator. Here Lucier composed a slow interaction between a clarinet and a single sound wave, creating a landmark work of “process music” that would influence generations of composers to come, much like Steve Reich’s Drumming. As an extreme contrast, Carol McGonnell will perform a work of relentless complexity: composer Brian Ferneyhough’s virtuosic concerto for clarinet and ensemble La chute d’Icare. This work depicts the violent and dramatic flight, fall, and ultimate death of Icarus. According to mythology, Icarus donned wings made of feather and wax, only to mistakenly fly too close to the sun, whose hot rays melted the wax and caused him to fall to his demise.
Pianist/composer Yotam Haber’s Bloodsnow recreates the exhilaration of a violent accident while managing a team of racing dogs in Denali National Park: after his sleigh tipped over, he found one of his fingers cut off by a snow hook. “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 opens the program with 2021 Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer Tania León’s Parajota Delaté, a work of extreme concentration, energy, and rhythmic stride.
Mahler in Progress
Alma, Patricia Alessandrini, Sang Song
April 20, 2022 8 PM
450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018
Semi-staged songs by Alma Mahler arranged for narrator, voice and piano
interspersed with texts from letters written by Gustav Mahler:
Ich wandle unter Blumen
Ariadne Greif, voice & Piers Playfair, narrator
Patricia Alessandrini - Canto d’Alma (2018/2020)
for soprano, chamber ensemble, and electronics
(inspired by Alma Mahler’s fünf Lieder)
Ariadne Greif, soprano
Gustav Mahler - Purgatorio and Scherzo: Nicht zu schnell from Symphony no. 10 (1964)
Completed by Michel Galante (2022) for 15 musicians
Sang Song - Gretel (2021) for ensemble
I. To the Little House - New York premiere
II. Vein of Shame - World premiere
III. Kindertotenmusik - New York premiere
(inspired by Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder)
Post-concert discussion with Patricia Alessandrini, Ariadne Greif & Sang Song.
Argento continues its exploration of contemporary composers and their reception of Gustav and Alma Mahler. Many 21st Century composers have continued to write Mahler-influenced works since 1998, when Darmstadt Festival director Thomas Schaefer catalogued over 70 Mahler influenced works of contemporary music in his “Modellfall Mahler: kompositorische Rezeption in zeitgenössischer Musik (Modellfall Mahler : compositional reception in contemporary music). Argento performs two such recent compositions in a varied program that also includes a theatrical presentation of Alma Mahler’s songs, and two newly completed movements from Mahler’s 10th Symphony.
Composer Patricia Alessandrini writes: “After writing some very successful pieces as a promising young student of Zemlinsky, Alma Mahler was obliged to stop composing by Gustav as a condition of their marriage. Once he discovered her affair with Walter Gropius, he regretted this decision, and encouraged Alma to compose; but she found it difficult to pick up her musical life where she had left off. My idea is to bring this story to life using Artificial Intelligence techniques to represent notions of the "inner ear" and how one may (re-)learn to compose. Just as Alma sat down at the piano and played her previous compositions, I use the automata to “recall” her early compositions through the fivlter of memory. I hope in Canto d’alma to demystify the compositional process by bringing the listener inside of it, at the level of memory and intuition. As a female-identifying composer/sound artist, I feel that aspects of this story of obstructed ambition and attempted redemption are particularly relevant in the wake of the #metoo movement, and resonate with efforts towards improved inclusivity and gender balance.”
Argento juxtaposes four songs by Alma Mahler with readings from the relationship-defining correspondences between her and Gustav Mahler, including letters that outline Gustav’s obstruction of Alma’s composing (described above by Patricia Alessandrini).
Composer Sang Song writes: Gretel, my new work for ensemble, explores frequently overlooked aspects of Hansel and Gretel. The movement entitled “To the Little House,” is a quasi-passacaglia. The movement, entitled “Kindertotenmusik,” includes quotations from the last song of Kindertotenlieder , “In diesem Wetter!” The quotes are limited to the music roughly corresponding to Mahler’s setting of the following line: Sie ruh’n als wie in der Mutter Haus (They’re at peace as if in their mother’s house)
Finally, Argento premieres two new movements from completion and orchestration of Mahler’s 10th Symphony by Michel Galante: the third movement Purgatorio and fourth movement Scherzo.
Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | 7:30 PM
450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018
Tickets on sale June 1, 2022
Tear of the Clouds, 2008
Broken Mirrors of Time, 2021*
* US premiere
Mouthpiece XI , 2009
with Erin Gee, vocal soloist
Argento's 2021-22 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.