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One of the leading trumpet soloists of her generation, Norwegian Tine Thing Helseth has quickly proclaimed her place in the international music world, often performing transcriptions of songs and arias as well as standard trumpet repertoire.  “Tine Thing Helseth is blessed with a combination of great wind-paying attributes: a soulful – dare one say brooding, Nordic–approach to phrasing, quite astonishingly outstanding intonation and a sound which is open and honest, even and focused in all registers…. Helseth can do the ultimate in good trumpet-playing: smith a tune with seeming effortlessness,” praised Gramophone magazine. Don’t miss the Series debut of this outstanding young artist as she performs a duo recital with pianist Bretton Brown.

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    Tine Thing Helseth

    Born in Oslo in 1987, Tine Thing Helseth started to play the trumpet at age seven, studied at Oslo’s Barratt Due Institute of Music, and is now recognized as one of the leading trumpet soloists of her generation.  At the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awards in Oslo, she was honored by being asked to open the Great Gala concert, which was televised to viewers all over the world.  In the 2012-2013 season, Helseth performed with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the Ulster, BBC Scottish, Stavanger, and Kristiansand symphony orchestras.  She has made her orchestral debuts with the Zurich Chamber, Dresden Philharmonic, Prague Radio, Munich, and Sioux City Symphony orchestras, Sinfonia Viva, the Orchestre National de Lyon, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Helseth also toured Europe with the renowned British pianist Kathryn Stott, culminating in her debut at London’s Wigmore Hall in April 2013.

    Helseth recorded a disc named “Classical Recording of the Year” in 2007 by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, and another which went to Gold in the Norwegian classical chart after just three weeks.  Her two debut albums on EMI were produced in 2012 and released in Europe and worldwide:  Storyteller, a collection of songs for soprano and orchestra transcribed for trumpet, and TenThing1, the debut recording of her all-female brass ensemble tenThing. 

    In recognition of her outstanding performing abilities, Helseth is the recipient of various awards including the 2009 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, “Newcomer of the Year” at the 2007 Norwegian Grammy Awards (the first classical artist ever to be nominated), Second Prize in the 2006 Eurovision Young Musicians Competition, the Luitpold Prize as the most outstanding and interesting young artist of the year at the Kissinger Summer Festival, and the prestigious Prince Eugen’s Culture Prize of Stockholm. 

    Helseth has performed with orchestras such as the Wiener Symphoniker, Beethoven Academie, Capella Cracowiensis, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Slovenian Radio Symphony Ljubljana, Oslo Camerata, Camerata Nordica, Württemberg Philharmonic, Trondheim Soloists, as well as many Norwegian symphony orchestras, Army bands, and other brass and wind ensembles.  She has appeared at music festivals including the Bergen International, Kissinger Summer, and Usedomer Music festivals.

    The trumpeter has also toured four times to the United States:  on December 13, 2009 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington; on February 18, 2011 at Carnegie Hall; on February 20, 2011 at the Struthers Library Theatre in Warren, Pennsylvania; and her Shriver Hall Concert Series debut this evening.

    “…calmness, balance, musicality and mastery of technicality, vigour, confidence and natural authority, and her instrumental nerve demands the attention of listeners.”

    -Aftenposten

     

    “She plays with radiance strong enough to light up the entire hall—her embouchure is light and her technique impressive.  Each note is marvelous and her dynamics are based on natural and deeply felt musicality…she showed us just how wonderfully a trumpet can sing.  It sounded like a song, but there were no need for words…”

    -Zürcher Landzeitung

     

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    Bretton Brown

    Raised in Murray, Kentucky, pianist Bretton Brown holds prizes for music and poetry from Yale University, where he received his bachelor’s degree with distinction. He is the 2013 recipient of the Henri Kohn Memorial Award from the Tanglewood Music Center, where he served this summer as rehearsal pianist for the American premiere of George Benjamin’s opera Written on Skin. Brown’s recent engagements include recitals in Carmel, California; New York (Merkin Hall); and Paris, France, under the auspices of The Rothschild Foundation and The Juilliard School. Other past performance credits include a selection of Wesendonck Lieder in Alice Tully Hall as part of Juilliard’s Wednesdays at One Series and Pierrot lunaire in Jordan Hall (Boston). Brown has previously collaborated with Tine Thing Helseth at The Apple Store SoHo and on Sirius XM, and his work has also been broadcast on WQXR-FM and YouTube, the latter in the first master class ever to be streamed live from Juilliard, featuring mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

                Committed to classical-music outreach, Brown has participated in a weeklong residency in Lander, Wyoming, bringing classical music to local middle-school students, and is a member of The Juilliard School’s Gluck Community Service Fellowship, which sponsors performances by the Juilliard community in health-care facilities throughout New York City. He holds a master’s degree with academic honors from New England Conservatory and is currently a C. V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at Juilliard.

Geirr Tveitt (1908-1981)

'Velkomne med æra,' from "Hundrad Hardingtonar," Op. 151

View Notes

Though it possesses one of the most glorious of all instrumental sounds, the trumpet enjoys only a very limited solo repertoire. Thus a trumpet virtuoso like Tine Thing Helseth must be very resourceful and imaginative in creating a repertoire for herself. “I can’t lie on the floor and cry and call Beethoven and ask, ‘Why didn’t you write a trumpet concerto?’” she said in a recent interview in London’s The Telegraph. Instead, she examines orchestral pieces originally composed for other instruments and adapts those she thinks might suit the trumpet. And she has also explored the song literature; in fact, the entire second half of this program is devoted to songs from Sibelius to Kurt Weill.

In Helseth’s words, “I have a need to express myself, and I do that through melody. From an early age, I always preferred playing beautiful melodies rather than technically difficult but often dull trumpet pieces. … I’ve been playing songs for two or three years now in recitals, and they are always very special to me. Although you lose the words, you have to play as if they were still there. To move the audience with a very simple tune is one of the hardest things to do … My sound is my voice. I want the audience to get the sense that I am the one playing, not my trumpet.”

Geirr Tveitt

“Vélkomne med æra,” from “Hundrad Hardingtonar,” Op. 151 

Geirr Tveitt (born Nils Tveit) is one of the most fascinating figures in Norwegian cultural history. Born into a family of traditional farmers on the picturesque Hardanger Fjord in southwestern Norway, as a child he fell in love with the distinctive folk music of that isolated region. Though he spent many years studying music in Leipzig, Paris, and Vienna, he returned to Norway in 1942 and resettled on the family farm. There he collected folk tunes from the local people as assiduously as Bartók had in Hungary. In the four suites of Hundrad Hardingtonar (A Hundred Hardanger Tunes), he captured the atmosphere of his beloved home region through song melodies that expressed daily Hardanger life and sophisticated orchestral settings that drew upon Tveitt’s own cosmopolitan musical training.

Musicologist David Gallagher, who has worked to restore Tveitt’s music, which was damaged in a catastrophic fire, explains that the haunting melody of “Vélkomne med æra” (“Welcome with Honor”) belongs to “a traditional Tveitt family song, a ceremonial greeting to neighbors arriving for harvest festival.” Tveitt gives it a delicate setting influenced by his love for French impressionism. 

Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013

Edvard Hagerup Bull (1922-2012)

Perpetuum Mobile

View Notes

A relative of the celebrated nineteenth-century Norwegian violin virtuoso Ole Bull, Edvard Hagerup Bull was a Norwegian composer who created two operas, some thirty orchestral works, and numerous chamber music pieces throughout his career. After training at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, he moved to Paris to study at the Conservatoire, where he won the 1952 Prix de  Composition Musicale. His teacher Darius Milhaud described him as “a musician with a solid technique and a truly very enthralling, vigorous, and highly imaginative personality.”

Composed in 1995, Bull’s Perpetuum mobile bears the subtitle “Hommage à Johann Strauss” and was written to salute the 170th anniversary of the Viennese waltz master’s birth. It was inspired by Strauss’ “Perpetuum mobile,” Op. 257, which Strauss called “a musical joke.” In the Strauss work, once the orchestra is set in whirling motion, it cannot stop and threatens to keep on playing forever. Bull’s piece follows this same approach with the piano and trumpet continually egging each other on at a virtuosically hectic pace. The added challenge here is that the trumpeter must also find time to continually insert and remove the mute in order to change the instrument’s tone color!

Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013

Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924)

Selected Bach Hymns

  • 1. Ich ruf zur dir, Herr Jesu Christ (Bach BWV 639)
  • 2. Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf (Bach BWV 617)
  • 3. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Bach BWV 645)
View Notes

With these pieces, we will hear what is essentially a transcription of a transcription of a transcription. The great composer/pianist/pedagogue Ferruccio Busoni (who was, incidentally, Kurt Weill’s composition teacher) devoted three decades of his life to the creation of a massive series of transcriptions of Bach’s music for the modern piano. The project originally began in the late 1880’s when Busoni became a piano teacher at the Helsinki Conservatory and was looking for ways to give his students a grounding in musical culture. Years later, he stated that “the interpretation of Bach’s organ pieces on the pianoforte [is] essential to a complete study of Bach.”

Busoni’s transcriptions of ten Bach organ chorale preludes were made between 1907 and 1909. The Bach originals were in fact transcriptions themselves: imaginative contrapuntal arrangements of traditional German chorale melodies used for Lutheran services throughout the liturgical year. Both the contemplative “Ich ruf’  zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” (“I cry to you, Lord Jesus Christ”) and “Herr Gott, nun schleuss den Himmel auf” (“Lord God, now open wide Thy Heaven, /my time nears its end”) were part of the Orgelbüchlein (“Little Organ Book”), which Bach compiled early in his career during his years at the Weimar court. In Busoni’s arrangement, this second chorale features an energetically elaborate piano part embroidering the simple lines of the chorale. “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” (“Wake, arise, loud call the voices/of the watchmen high in the tower,/Wake up your town, Jerusalem”) comes from Bach’s mature years in Leipzig. Popularly known as “Sleepers, Awake,” it is perhaps Bach’s most famous chorale prelude. Here Bach devises a wonderful, flowing countermelody, which we’ll hear at length in the piano before the trumpet sings the chorale melody itself.

Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013

Georges Enescu (1881-1955)

Légende

View Notes

Though the Romanian composer Georges Enescu is best-known today for his two Gypsy-inspired Romanian rhapsodies, there was also a very French side to this versatile artist, and that is what we’ll hear in his impressive Légende for trumpet and piano, written in 1906. After musical training in his native land, Enescu came to the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied composition with Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré. The rest of Enescu’s career was divided between the two countries: Romania, where he worked tirelessly to establish the country’s classical-music organizations, and France, where he performed extensively as a violinist while also teaching violin and composition at several important French educational institutions.

Partly a demonstration piece of the capabilities of the smaller trumpet in C, Légende was created for Enescu’s French colleague Merri Franquin, professor of trumpet at the Conservatoire.  Lasting just six minutes, it is a complete test for the trumpeter, requiring both slow, lyrical singing and the most demanding fast technical playing. In C Minor, it opens quietly with an eloquent, slightly melancholic theme in the trumpet over a chorale-like piano accompaniment. Between returns of this melody, there are increasingly more intense and virtuosic passages in which the trumpeter is challenged by intricate, fast chromatic scales and the need for triple tonguing. Then, after a dramatic pause, the trumpet, now muted, sadly reprises the theme one last time for a haunting, mournful conclusion.

Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013

Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)

Sonata for Trumpet and Piano

  • I. Mit Kraft
  • II. Mässig Bewegt
  • III. Trauermusik, sehr langsam
View Notes

Although he was not Jewish, the German composer Paul Hindemith was an outspoken opponent of Naziism and left his native land in disgust in 1938, settling first in Switzerland before moving to the United States early in 1940. As he explained to a German friend: “There are only two things worth aiming for: good music and a clean conscience. And both of these are being taken care of now.

Hindemith had embarked on a long-term project to write a series of sonatas featuring virtually all the instruments of the classical orchestra. Between 1936 and 1943, he wrote ten for the wind instruments; one of the finest of them, the remarkable trumpet Sonata, was created in 1939 during his sojourn in Switzerland, as he watched his former homeland march relentlessly toward war. Far from being a coolly abstract work, it is emotionally the deepest and darkest of the sonatas, with a strong undercurrent of protest against the madness being unleashed on Europe by the Nazi regime.

Swiftly and Mit kraft (with power), the first movement opens with the trumpet flinging out a vehement theme, which will return, enhanced by a passionately elaborate piano part, at the movement’s midpoint. Comprised of many contrasting sections, this movement, especially thanks to its urgent piano part, never loses its mood of angry protest.

Much lighter is the second movement, though its wry march still has a military character  reflecting the events of 1939.

Hindemith reveals the programmatic intent of the finale, the Sonata’s emotional heart, by calling it Trauermusik – “music for mourning.” Indeed, the composer told trumpeter Edward Teutel he envisioned a group of mourners gathered around a graveside. After the somber opening, the more lyrical and flowing music was the cantor’s song for the burial rites, said Hindemith.  Later, after a pause, we hear the trumpet solemnly intoning the seventeenth-century chorale “Alle Menschen müssen sterben” (“All Men Must Die”), which Bach set as one of his chorale preludes; Hindemith explained that this would be sung by the mourners before leaving the cemetary. His mourning for the loss of his country and a doomed Europe dies away on the trumpet’s long-sustained final note.


Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013

Intermission

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Deux Mélodies Hébraïques

  • I. Kaddisch
View Notes

Like many French composers, Maurice Ravel was fascinated by the musical exoticism of other cultures, in which a more passionate style of expression replaced French reticence. In 1914, on a commission from Madame Alvina Alvi, a soprano at the St. Petersburg Opera, Ravel set two traditional Jewish melodies and texts as his Deux Mélodies Hébraïques. At the end of World War I, he returned to the songs and orchestrated them.

We will hear the first song: “Kaddisch.” One of the most important of all Jewish liturgical texts, the Kaddish is a prayer of praise to God and exaltation of His great works that is sung at every synogogue service; it is also traditionally associated with the Jewish rites for the dead. Over a stark, intermittent piano accompaniment, we hear the voice of the cantor singing Ravel’s adaptation of the traditional chant, filled with the expressive melismatic flourishes typical of Jewish liturgical music.

Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

5 Songs, Op. 37

  • I. Den första kyssen
  • II. Lasse liten
  • III. Soluppgång
  • IV. Var det en dröm?
  • V. Flickan kom ifrån sin elsklings möte
View Notes

Though it was his remarkable orchestral works that put him on the international map, songwriting was very important for Jean Sibelius throughout his five-decade career; his secretary Santeri Levas said he considered his songs as a revelation of his innermost being. Since Sibelius came from the Swedish-speaking minority that dominated Finnish cultural life in the 19th and early 20th centuries, nearly all his 110 songs are in Swedish. Nevertheless, he was steeped in the indigenous culture of Finland; he loved the Nordic sagas and, above all, the Finnish Kalevala. Making careful notations, Sibelius listened with passion to traditional Finnish runic singers as they chanted the ancient stories. This runic vocal style mingled with the influence of the German lied into a song style uniquely his own.

Tine Thing Helseth and Bretton Brown will perform Sibelius’ Op. 37 from 1904. “Den första kyssen” (“The First Kiss”) hovers between shy reticence and outbursts of feeling as a young girl asks the evening star what is heaven’s response when she receives her first kiss from a lover. The evening star replies that heaven rejoices; only death weeps. In “Lasse liten” (“Little Lasse”), a mother far from home sings a lullaby to her infant. Though her words are tenderly reassuring, the piano’s painfully wandering lines express her fear and homesickness.

“Soluppgång” (“Sunrise”) could be a scene from one of Sibelius’ beloved sagas. The beauty of the sunrise over the quiet lakeshore is scarcely appreciated by the knight standing at the window, as he waits impatiently for the battle the day will bring. “Var det en dröm?” (“Was it a dream?”) transforms the conventional weeping for a lost love into a bold affirmation that, nonetheless, his was a dream worth having.

 “Flickan kom ifrån sin älskings mote” (“The Girl Coming from Meeting Her Lover”) begins as an almost humorous dialogue as a mother anxiously asks her daughter why her fingers and her lips are so red? But with its grandly descending line, the piano has already told us this is a more serious story. The key changes abruptly from D-flat Major to C-sharp Minor: the girl’s cheeks are now pale, not red, because she has been betrayed by her lover. The singer appropriates the piano’s dramatic phrase as the sad moral is told.

Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013

Manuel De Falla (1876-1946)

Siete Canciones Populares Españolas

  • I. El Paño Moruno
  • II. Seguidilla Murciana
  • III. Asturiana
  • IV. Jota
  • V. Nana
  • VI. Canción
  • VII. Polo
View Notes

As an adolescent, Manuel de Falla, of Spain, became acquainted with the music of Edvard Grieg, and surprisingly, its strong Norwegian character inspired in him “an intense desire to create one day something similar with Spanish music.” However, after studying in Paris, he became so enamored with French culture he almost settled there permanently. Only the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 sent him back to Madrid in neutral Spain.

 In his suitcase was a vocal work based on Spanish folksongs he had completed in Paris: Siete canciones populares españolas (Seven Popular Spanish Songs). It was the response to one of the singers in a production of his opera La Vida Breve at the Opéra Comique asking for advice about which Spanish songs she should choose for a concert. Drawing on already published collections of folksongs, de Falla chose to follow some of his folk melodies very closely (“El paño moruno” or “The Moorish Cloth,” “Nana,” and “Canción”) while in other cases (“Polo” and “Jota”) the original tunes became springboards for his own invention. To them he added superb piano accompaniments ranging from the impressionistic sensitivity of “Asturiana” to the flamenco passion of “Polo.”

Coming from the southern province of Murcia, “El paño moruno” (“The Moorish Cloth”) laments that a store’s fine length of cloth has become stained and now will sell for a lesser price. Also from Murcia, “Seguidilla murciana” warns that those who live under a roof of glass should not throw stones and decries the inconstancy of a lover who is like a coin that passes from hand to hand. The beautiful “Asturiana” is a lament from the northern Spanish province that gives the song its name; the singer who weeps beneath a green pine tree finds that it also weeps in sympathy. “Jota” is in the style of a traditional couples dance from Aragón and sings of clandestine love: “They say we don’t love each other/ because they never see us talking/ but they only have to ask/ both your heart and mine.” From Andalusia comes the gentle lullaby “Nana.” Rejected love is the theme of the last two songs. In the words of “Canción” (“Song”): “Because your eyes are traitors/I will hide from them … They say they don’t love me/ and yet once they did love me.” De Falla pulls out all the stops for “Polo,” a song in the Andalusian flamenco idiom: “Wretched is love … And he who made me understand it! Ay!”

Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013

Kurt Weill (1900-1950)

Selected Songs

  • 1. Nanna’s Lied
  • 2. Youkali
  • 3. Je ne t'aime pas
View Notes

Like his compatriot Hindemith, Kurt Weill left his native Germany in 1933 after the Nazis came to power, though as a Jew he was fleeing for his life. He spent two precarious years in Paris before moving on to the United States where a whole new career opened for him on the Broadway stage.

 In Germany, Weill had progressively moved away from conventional classical music, and his collaboration with the playwright Bertolt Brecht brought out a tough satirical edge to his music, epitomized by their joint 1928 success The Three-Penny Opera. Brecht lured Weill into the sophisticated, subversive world of the German cabaret, where Weill developed his unique song style mixing aspects of traditional lied with bracing jazz and popular elements. The ideal interpreter for these songs was Weill’s wife, the singer-actress Lotte Lenya, whose gritty voice reflected a hardscrabble childhood in the poorest neighborhoods of Vienna.

Written in 1939 as a Christmas present for Lenya, “Nanna’s Lied” sets verse by Brecht originally created for one of his plays. It is the song of an unashamed and undefeated prostitute who has been walking the streets since she was 17. “Thank God everything goes by so quickly/ both the love and even the sorrow./Where are the tears of last evening?/Where is the snow of yesteryear?”

Using French texts and written in 1934, “Youkali” and “Je ne t’aime pas” were both products of the Weills’ difficult interlude in Paris. “Youkali” was originally an instrumental piece in tango/habañera style used in Weill’s Parisian musical Marie Galante (its words were added in 1946). Youkali is a fantasy land: “Youkali/is the land of our desires/Youkali/is happiness, pleasure/But it is a dream, a folly/There is no Youkali.” On the surface, “Je ne t’aime pas” seems to dismiss an unwanted lover: “Take away your hand, I don’t love you, / … you’re only a friend.” However, as the song progresses, we realize the singer’s heart is actually broken, though she is too proud to admit it.

Notes by Janet E. Bedell, copyright 2013

Program Subject to Change Without Notice