January 29: Heinrich Christensen, organ, and Scott Woolweaver, viola — Pinkham, Weaver, Hindemith, and Metzler
February 26: Krosnick-Dionne Duo, cello and piano — Bach, Brahms, Schumann, Carter, Shapey
March 26: Steinberg Duo, violin and piano — Dvorak, Grieg, and Franck
April 9: Max Schwimmer, saxophone, and Natasha Ulyanovsky, piano — Bernstein, Gershwin, and Tarras
Concerts are at 4pm in the sanctuary.
The Jean C. Wilson Music Series is held early each year, usually from January through April. A wide range of professional ensembles and soloists have been presented over the years, including choral groups, early music groups, string, woodwind, and brass ensembles, and solo pianists, organists, singers, and instrumentalists.
Suggested donation $20, seniors $10, students and children free.
The Krosnick-Dionne Duo will perform on Sunday, February 26, at 4:00 p.m. in the third of four concerts in the 2017 Jean C. Wilson Music Series.
Gwen Krosnick and Lee Dionne will present a program spanning more than 250 years, including J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major for unaccompanied cello; Elliott Carter’s “Figment No. 1 for cello alone;” Robert Schumann’s “Adagio and Allegro” for cello and piano; Ralph Shapey’s “Prelude and Scherzando” for cello and piano; and Johannes Brahms’s “Sonata No. 2 in F major for cello and piano, Op. 99.”
The five works use cello and piano as singing instruments, emphasizing the different vocal ranges of each, use complex counterpoint to heighten emotional drama, and in different languages, share a wide, intense range of human experience.
Described by the Daily Forward as “an exuberantly gifted cellist,” Gwen Krosnick has played across the world as a joyous communicator and advocate of music. In her life as a chamber musician, educator, and concert presenter, Krosnick creates space for audiences to connect and react, champions serious contemporary music, and encourages a lively dialogue between great pieces of music, old and new.
Pianist Lee Dionne holds passion, imagination and play at the core of his artistry. Currently based in NYC, he enjoys an active career as both a soloist and chamber musician, performing frequently as a core member of Cantata Profana and with Ensemble Connect (formerly Ensemble ACJW, a joint program of Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School, and the Weill Institute).
Krosnick begins the program alone, with Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Suite No.1 in G major.” The work uses the different registers of the cello to create dialogue within the space of a single instrument. The next work, Elliott Carter’s 1994 “Figment No. 1 for cello alone,” is an example of the American composer’s late style. Much like the Bach suite, it uses the full range of the cello to present a playful dialogue, joyous rhythms, declamatory rhetoric, and exalted melodies.
The program continues with three works for cello and piano. The Schumann and Brahms – written in the middle of the 19th century – are in dialogue with Shapey’s 2001 work, which he wrote for Gwen Krosnick. The Schumann and Shapey are both two-section character pieces. They begin with intimate dialogue between the cello and piano, and quickly give way to playful, exuberant fast music.
The Brahms sonata takes these elements and extends them into a four-movement work: a soaring, transcendent first movement; a vulnerable, tender slow movement; a dangerous, rhythmically-driven scherzo; and a whimsical last movement that closes the piece with contrasting vignettes and considerable magic.
Contemporary music and Bach highlight
organ and viola concert at Unitarian Church
Organist Heinrich Christensen and violist Scott Woolweaver will perform the contemporary music of Pinkham, Weaver, Hindemith, Metzler, and for good measure, Bach in the first of four concerts in the 2017 Jean C. Wilson Music Series.
The program includes “Sonata in G Major” by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Partita über den Choral” by Friedrich Metzler, “Trauermusik” by Paul Hindemith, Three American Hymns: “Wondrous Love,” “Land of Rest,” and “Foundation” by John Weaver, and “Sonata da Chiesa” by Daniel Pinkham.
“German composer Friedrich Metzler may not be a household name,” Christensen said, “but nevertheless he enjoyed a long and successful career as a composer, teacher, and church musician in Berlin and elsewhere. His Partita on the evening hymn “Die Sonn hat sich mit ihrem Glanz gewendet” (The Sun has averted its light) is very much inspired by Baroque form – as it happens, J.S. Bach used this chorale in Cantata 297 – but simultaneously distinctly of the 20th century, in the fashion of many other neo-Baroque composers of northern Europe.”
The story of Paul Hindemith’s “Trauermusik” is “truly unique,” Christensen said. Hindemith, a professional violist in addition to his work as a composer, had been engaged to perform the British premiere of his viola concerto with the BBC Orchestra in London in January 1936.
“However, the night before the scheduled concert, King George V passed away, and the performance was cancelled,” Christensen said, “BBC producers decided they wanted to broadcast some music by Hindemith in its place. So Hindemith wrote “Trauermusik” (Mourning Music) that day and performed it live in studio with a string orchestra that same evening.”
“Sonata da Chiesa” was written in 1988, for the dedication of the organ at Plymouth Congregational Church in Belmont, MA, and premiered by Patricia McCarty and James David Christie.
“The present Sonata da Chiesa (Church Sonata) is fashioned after the 17th century model with its many short movements in contrasting tempi,” composer Daniel Pinkham wrote. “The Sonata opens with a brooding recitative played on the viola in its lowest register. The organ enters with an allegro, which introduces a dotted rhythm subsequently heard in both instruments. After an extended interplay the movement ends quietly.
“The hushed second movement is cast in the form of a baroque trio sonata movement. The third movement opens with an urgent toccata on full organ, which alternates with soft high harmonics on the viola. This is followed by a serene and graceful aria. The dashing final movement, a jaunty and jocose rondo, drives to a brilliant conclusion.”
Rounding out the program will be Bach’s “Sonata in G Major,” which, Christensen said, “was originally written for viola da gamba, but works beautifully on its smaller cousin.”
Violist Scott Woolweaver founded the Boston Composers String Quartet, which won the silver medal at the 1993 String Quartet Competition and Chamber Music Festa in Osaka, Japan, and was also a founding member of the Vaener String Trio, Grand Prize winners at the Joseph Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. From 1999 to 2006 he was a member of the Ives Quartet, based in San Francisco, and for over 25 years he was a member of the New England Piano Quartette.
A champion of the music of our time, Woolweaver has premiered many new works, including pieces written especially for him. Since 1980 he has been a member of Alea III, a contemporary music ensemble in residence at Boston University. Woolweaver is a regular guest of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society and is Director of the Adult Chamber Music Institute at Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine. He plays a Johan Georg Thir viola made in Vienna, 1737.
A native of Denmark, Heinrich Christensen came to the US in 1998, and received an Artist Diploma in Organ Performance from the Boston Conservatory where his teacher was James David Christie.
He was appointed Music Director King’s Chapel in the year 2000, after serving as the affiliate organist under Daniel Pinkham for the last two years of Dr. Pinkham’s 42-year tenure at the church. Christensen was a prizewinner at the international organ competitions in Odense and Erfurt and has given solo recitals on four continents.
An avid proponent of contemporary music, he has premiered works by Daniel Pinkham, Carson Cooman, Graham Gordon Ramsay, James Woodman and several others. The solo CD “Heinrich Christensen plays the C.B. Fisk Organ at King’s Chapel” was hailed by Gramophone Magazine as a “smorgasbord” of “enormous stylistic flexibility.”