A magisterial presence at the keyboard, Richard Goode is revered as “one of the finest pianists in the world” (The Washington Post). His elegantly crafted program includes Debussy’s Images, Book II, and Bach’s Partita No. 5, a buoyant work of joyous virtuosity.

“A performance of staggering virtuosity and musical insight.”—The Times (London)

    richard-goode-1-(credit-steve-riskind).png

    Richard Goode

    Richard Goode has been hailed for music-making of tremendous emotional power, depth and expressiveness, and has been acknowledged worldwide as one of today’s leading interpreters of Classical and Romantic music.  In regular performances with major orchestras, recitals in the world’s music capitals, and through his extensive and acclaimed Nonesuch recordings, he has secured a large and devoted following. 

    Gramophone Magazine recently captured the essence of what makes Richard Goode such an original and compelling artist: '‘Every time we hear him, he impresses us as better than we remembered, surprising us, surpassing our expectations and communicating perceptions that stay in the mind.”

    In the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Goode will appear as soloist with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic with David Zinman, the Chicago Symphony with Mark Elder, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin with Herbert Blomstedt, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with Peter Oundjian, with whom he will also appear in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal with the Toronto Symphony.  His always compelling recitals will be heard at Carnegie Hall in New York, in London, in Paris, and at the Aldeburgh Festival.  In addition, he will perform a chamber music concert with members of The Boston Symphony Orchestra and will hold master classes at major conservatories and music schools in Europe and North America.

    Among the highlights of the 2012-2013 season were recitals in which, for the first time in his career, Mr. Goode performed the last three Beethoven Sonatas in one program, drawing capacity audiences and raves in such cities as New York, London and Berlin.  The New York Times, in reviewing his Carnegie Hall performance, hailed his interpretations as “majestic, profound readings…Mr. Goode’s playing throughout was organic and inspired, the noble, introspective themes unfolding with a simplicity that rendered them all the more moving."  Recent seasons have also included performances with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra led by Fabio Luisi at Carnegie Hall, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel and with The Boston Symphony Orchestra. 

    An exclusive Nonesuch recording artist, Goode has made more than two dozen recordings over the years, ranging from solo and chamber works to lieder and concertos.  His latest recording of the five Beethoven concertos with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Iván Fischer was released in 2009 to exceptional critical acclaim, described as “a landmark recording” by the Financial Times and nominated for a Grammy award.  His 10-CD set of the complete Beethoven sonatas cycle, the first-ever by an American-born pianist, was nominated for a Grammy and has been ranked among the most distinguished recordings of this repertoire.  Other recording highlights include a series of Bach Partitas, a duo recording with Dawn Upshaw and Mozart piano concertos with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. 

    A native of New York, Richard Goode studied with Elvira Szigeti and Claude Frank, with Nadia Reisenberg at the Mannes College of Music and with Rudolf Serkin at the Curtis Institute.  His numerous prizes over the years include the Young Concert Artists Award, First Prize in the Clara Haskil Competition, the Avery Fisher Prize and a Grammy award for his recording of the Brahms Sonatas with clarinetist Richard Stoltzman.  His first public performances of the complete cycle of Beethoven sonatas at Kansas City’s Folly Theater and at New York’s 92Y in 1987-88 brought him to international attention being hailed by The New York Times as “among the season’s most important and memorable events.”  It was later performed with great success at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1994 and 1995. 

    Mr. Goode has served, together with Mitsuko Uchida, as co-Artistic Director of the Marlboro Music School and Festival in Marlboro, Vermont from 1999 through 2013.  Participating, initially, at the age of 14, at what The New Yorker magazine recently described as "the classical world's most coveted retreat," he has made a notable contribution to this unique community over the 28 summers he has spent there.  He is married to the violinist Marcia Weinfeld, and, when the Goodes are not on tour, they and their collection of some 5,000 volumes live in New York City.

    "Mr. Goode has thought long and hard and cares deeply about what he plays, and he has much to say that is provocative and moving . . . . Perhaps his most important gift is a clarity and soundness of expression, which compels a listener to re-think familiar pieces in new ways. . . It is virtually impossible to walk away from one of Mr. Goode's recitals without the sense of having gained some new insight, subtly or otherwise, into the works he played or about pianism itself." - The New York Times

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Partita No. 5 in G major, BWV 829

View Notes

J. S. Bach was the greatest of a large family of German musicians spanning several generations. Although he spent most of his life as a hard-working church musician, his contemporaries knew him best as a celebrated virtuoso on the organ and harpsichord. He composed a wide range of secular instrumental music, from unaccompanied works for keyboard and other instruments to large-scale orchestral suites and concertos.

J.S. Bach’s six harpsichord partitas, published in 1731, were not only an artistic success but a commercial one. Bach’s early biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel described them as “brilliant, well-sounding, expressive, and always new,” adding that “such excellent compositions for the clavier had never been seen or heard before.” Bach probably performed the partitas in the public concerts he gave as director of the local Collegium Musicum ensemble, at Zimmermann’s coffeehouse in Leipzig in the 1730s and 1740s.

In the Baroque era, the word partita commonly referred to a suite of stylized instrumental dances, typically including a flowing allemande, an energetic courante, a slow sarabande, and a concluding gigue. To these might be added a variety of other dances, as well as movements of a less dance-like character. When Bach’s keyboard partitas were first issued as a set, the composer disarmingly advertised them on the title page as “galanteries, composed for music lovers, to refresh their spirits.” Yet the influential critic Johann Mattheson was perhaps more honest about the suites’ difficulty, warning potential purchasers that they were not easy-to-play dances, but formidably challenging works: “Etudes need to be practiced, and anyone who ventures to read them off at sight would be undertaking something very foolhardy….”

The Fifth Partita’s bright Preambulum has the feel of a written-down improvisation, with rippling scales and undulating arpeggios punctuated by short, sharp chords. In the Allemande, long chains of triplets are traded from one hand to the other, their motion offset by athletic leaps and subtle syncopations. The lucid, two-voice Corrente is more regular in its rhythmic impulse. The plangent Sarabande offers a marked contrast of pace and character; its melodic line, ornamented with appoggiaturas and passing notes, is harmonized sweetly in thirds and sixths. A bouncing Tempo di Minuetto, with its artful combinations of triple and duple meters, leads to an energetic Passepied, a triple-time dance closely related to the minuet. The suite ends with a bracing Gigue, whose sharply etched fugal subject is inverted in the second half.

Note by Harry Haskell, © 2019 

Leoš Janáček (1854-1928)

In the Mists

View Notes

Prior to the acclaimed production of his opera Jenůfa in Prague in 1916, Leoš Janáček was little known outside his native Moravia. His modest fame up to that point came from his activities as a teacher, organist, and musical folklorist, not as a composer. Most of the operas, chamber works, and other pieces on which his reputation rests today are from the last dozen years of his life.

Janáček completed a handful of major works he wrote for the instrument all date from before World War I. Among them are the somber Sonata 1.X.1905, titled after the date (October 1) of a Brno uprising in which a Czech worker was fatally shot by an Austrian soldier. He early suite On the Overgrown Path, by contrast, programmatically recalls “distant reminiscences” of Janáček’s beloved Moravian countryside.

In the Mists, completed in April 1912, was the 57-year-old composer’s entry for a contest sponsored by the Club of the Friends of Art in Brno. Janáček builds each of these four richly atmospheric tone poems on two or three contrasting ideas—a snatch of melody, a short repeated-note figure, a rhapsodic flourish—which he juxtaposes rather than integrates, creating mosaic effect. In the Mists contains the seeds of the composer’s mature style in its epigrammatic terseness, abrupt changes of mood, and insistent repetition of compact melodic and rhythmic motives. Despite some mild harmonic clashes, the music is securely anchored in traditional tonality; only the ending of the third tone piece remains enigmatically unresolved.

Note by Harry Haskell, © 2019 

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Images, Book II

View Notes

At once radical and traditionalist, Debussy rebelled against the French Wagner cult and the ponderous academic style of establishment composers like Saint-Saëns and d’Indy. Proudly signing himself “compositeur français,” he exhorted his compatriots to return to the “pure French tradition” exemplified by the 18th-century master Jean-Philippe Rameau. Debussy first made his mark in the early 1890s with a series of boldly unconventional yet quintessentially Gallic works such as the String Quartet, La damoiselle élue, and Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. The success of his symbolist opera Pelléas et Mélisande made him a household name after the turn of the century. The term impressionist became attached to Debussy through his association in the public’s mind with Manet and other contemporary painters. But the composer rejected the label, insisting that his music depicted not superficial “impressions” but essential “realities.” Musicians alone, he declared, enjoyed “the privilege of being able to convey all the poetry of the night and the day,” whereas painters could “recapture only one of her aspects at a time.”

Enamored of the early French cinema, Debussy likened his music to a series of moving images that “bring together all variations of color and light.” His determination “to apply to pure music the techniques of cinematography” bore fruit in the six Images for piano (divided in two books of three pieces each) that he composed between 1901 and 1907. (An earlier set of “forgotten” Images was written in 1894 but not published until the late 1970s.) In choosing titles with visual connotations, Debussy invited listeners to focus more on the music’s sound than on its structure, although all three pieces in Book II are crafted with the greatest ingenuity. These three miniature tone poems provide an entrée to Debussy’s sound world, with its shimmering harmonies and richly embroidered melodies. The pinging whole-tone motive in “Bells Through the Leaves” appears within a wash of quavering figurations. “And the Moon Sets Over the Temple,” employs Eastern-sounding pentatonic scales amid translucent harmonies that seem to dissolve before our ears. “Goldfish” is all gauzy tremolos, trills, and arabesques that flit capriciously up and down the keyboard.

Note by Harry Haskell, © 2019 

Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)

Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 55, No. 2

View Notes

One of music’s bona fide revolutionaries, Chopin enriched the piano repertoire with dozens of nocturnes, waltzes, mazurkas, and other solo pieces that imbued the superficial brilliance of the salon style with unprecedented poetic depth. Schumann, himself a master of character pieces, extolled the Polish master’s accomplishment, in which, he wrote, “imagination and technique share dominion side by side.” Liszt memorably characterized his friend (and sometime rival) as “one of those original beings” who are “adrift from all bondage.” Chopin demonstrated an uncompromising independence as both composer and pianist. In fact, it was arguably the unparalleled range and subtlety of his keyboard technique that enabled him to cast off the shackles of musical convention so successfully. Contemporary accounts of his playing vividly attest his phenomenal powers. One witness marveled at Chopin’s effortless arpeggios, “which swelled and diminished like waves in an ocean of sound.” Another recalled how the pianist’s apparently delicate hands “would suddenly expand and cover a third of the keyboard. It was like the opening of the mouth of a serpent about to swallow a rabbit whole.”

Introverted by nature, Chopin had a special affinity for the wistful, romantic character of the nocturne, a mini-genre invented by the Irish composer-pianist John Field but developed to its richest potential by Chopin. Franz Liszt wrote that the nocturne reflected “those hours wherein the soul, released from all the cares of the day, is lost in self-contemplation and soars toward the regions of starlit heaven.”

Dating from the early 1840s, the two nocturnes of Op. 55 were among the last of Chopin’s 21 contributions to the genre. Their gracefully embellished, song-like melodies evoke the bel canto idiom of opera composers like Vincenzo Bellini, a friend of Chopin’s. (Prominent members of the Polish émigré community in Paris repeatedly pressed Chopin to write a patriotic opera on a Polish subject, but he insisted—probably wisely—that his gifts lay elsewhere.) Recent scholarship has highlighted the works’ connection to the more intimate genre of vocal nocturnes, or love duets, that were heard in contemporary Parisian salons. Despite its limpid lyricism, the E-flat Nocturne embodies Chopin’s later style with its attraction to counterpoint and chromatic harmonies, albeit of an elegantly cloaked kind. Metrically irregular groupings of notes lend a bittersweet quality.

Note by Harry Haskell, © 2019

Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)

Mazurka in C major, Op. 56, No. 2

View Notes

One of music’s bona fide revolutionaries, Chopin enriched the piano repertoire with dozens of nocturnes, waltzes, mazurkas, and other solo pieces that imbued the superficial brilliance of the salon style with unprecedented poetic depth. Schumann, himself a master of character pieces, extolled the Polish master’s accomplishment, in which, he wrote, “imagination and technique share dominion side by side.” Liszt memorably characterized his friend (and sometime rival) as “one of those original beings” who are “adrift from all bondage.” Chopin demonstrated an uncompromising independence as both composer and pianist. In fact, it was arguably the unparalleled range and subtlety of his keyboard technique that enabled him to cast off the shackles of musical convention so successfully. Contemporary accounts of his playing vividly attest his phenomenal powers. One witness marveled at Chopin’s effortless arpeggios, “which swelled and diminished like waves in an ocean of sound.” Another recalled how the pianist’s apparently delicate hands “would suddenly expand and cover a third of the keyboard. It was like the opening of the mouth of a serpent about to swallow a rabbit whole.”

Chopin often revealed an extraverted, proudly Polish aspect of his personality in his mazurkas, triple-meter folk dances that were taken up by the beau monde of Paris. The diverse sixty-odd mazurkas that he composed between the mid-1820s and the last year of his life are distinguished by a blend of quasi-rustic simplicity and great musical sophistication. Although the Paris-based composer had little first-hand experience of Polish folk music, he knew e the mazurka form well enough to reproduce its characteristic two-part texture, with a lyrical descant voice floating and droning bass (originally played by a bagpipe). The modally inflected melodies of the Op. 56 and Op. 59 mazurkas, composed in the mid-1840s, reveal Chopin’s intimate identification of the genre he so elevated.

Of these six pieces, only two—Op. 56, No. 2, and Op. 59, No. 3—conform to the basic model of the keyboard mazurka: a symmetrical ABA song structure in which the outer sections frame a middle section in a contrasting key, with simple oom-pah-pah accompaniments set against florid, metrically playful figurations in the right hand. The other four mazurkas are considerably freer and more expansive, both formally and harmonically. For instance, the languidly looping theme of the A-minor mazurka ventures, as no folk mazurka would, into the remote territory of G-sharp minor. Meanwhile, Op. 59, No. 2 is content to remain in A-flat major throughout, its regular four-bar phrases underlying a succession of transformations.

Note by Harry Haskell, © 2019

Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)

3 Mazurkas, Op. 59

View Notes

One of music’s bona fide revolutionaries, Chopin enriched the piano repertoire with dozens of nocturnes, waltzes, mazurkas, and other solo pieces that imbued the superficial brilliance of the salon style with unprecedented poetic depth. Schumann, himself a master of character pieces, extolled the Polish master’s accomplishment, in which, he wrote, “imagination and technique share dominion side by side.” Liszt memorably characterized his friend (and sometime rival) as “one of those original beings” who are “adrift from all bondage.” Chopin demonstrated an uncompromising independence as both composer and pianist. In fact, it was arguably the unparalleled range and subtlety of his keyboard technique that enabled him to cast off the shackles of musical convention so successfully. Contemporary accounts of his playing vividly attest his phenomenal powers. One witness marveled at Chopin’s effortless arpeggios, “which swelled and diminished like waves in an ocean of sound.” Another recalled how the pianist’s apparently delicate hands “would suddenly expand and cover a third of the keyboard. It was like the opening of the mouth of a serpent about to swallow a rabbit whole.”

Chopin often revealed a more extraverted, proudly Polish aspect of his personality in his mazurkas, triple-meter folk dances that were taken up by the beau monde of Paris. The diverse sixty-odd mazurkas that he composed between the mid-1820s and the last year of his life are distinguished by a blend of quasi-rustic simplicity and great musical sophistication. Although the Paris-based composer had little first-hand experience of Polish folk music, he knew e the mazurka form well enough to reproduce its characteristic two-part texture, with a lyrical descant voice floating and droning bass (originally played by a bagpipe). The modally inflected melodies of the Op. 56 and Op. 59 mazurkas, composed in the mid-1840s, reveal Chopin’s intimate identification of the genre he so elevated.

Of these six pieces, only two—Op. 56, No. 2, and Op. 59, No. 3—conform to the basic model of the keyboard mazurka: a symmetrical ABA song structure in which the outer sections frame a middle section in a contrasting key, with simple oom-pah-pah accompaniments set against florid, metrically playful figurations in the right hand. The other four mazurkas are considerably freer and more expansive, both formally and harmonically. For instance, the languidly looping theme of the A-minor mazurka ventures, as no folk mazurka would, into the remote territory of G-sharp minor. Meanwhile, Op. 59, No. 2 is content to remain in A-flat major throughout, its regular four-bar phrases underlying a succession of transformations.

Note by Harry Haskell, © 2019

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Selections from Etudes, Book I

View Notes

Late in his life, partly in an effort to cast off the “impressionist” moniker, Debussy largely abandoned titles that evoked the visual arts (Images, for example) in favor of generic designations like Étude and Prélude. His 12 technically exacting études, split in two books of six, date from the late summer and early fall of 1915. Debussy had just finished editing a complete edition of Chopin’s piano music for his publisher, Durand, and was inspired by the Polish composer’s ability to blend poetry and virtuosity. Debussy’s études, like Chopin’s, are full-fledged works of art, not exercises at all, yet each takes a technical problem as its jumping-off point. The composer Alfredo Casella, who heard Debussy at the piano, might have had the misty soundscape of “For Opposed Sonorities” in mind when he wrote that the composer’s “sensibility of touch was incomparable; he made the impression of playing directly on the strings of the instrument with no intermediate mechanism; the effect was a miracle of poetry.” “For Octaves” capitalizes on the wide-open sound of that interval, filled in with characteristically Debussyan harmonies and textures. “For Composed Arpeggios” layers arpeggios in myriad configurations and rhythms, creating a kaleidoscopic effect.

Note by Harry Haskell, © 2019 

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

"La soirée dans Grenade" from Estampes

View Notes

Composed in 1903, the three short tonal sketches that comprise Debussy’s Estampes may have been inspired by the sounds of the Javanese gamelan orchestra that the composer encountered at the world expositions held in Paris in 1889 and 1900. But the title Estampes, or “Prints,” suggests that he was responding to visual as well as aural stimuli. Debussy’s close ties to the Parisian artistic community are suggested by the dedication of Estampes to the portraitist Jacques-Émile Blanche. La soirée dans Grenade (Evening in Granada) casts a sultry spell with its rocking habañera rhythm, hazy textures, and Moorish-flavored harmonies, anchored by repeated C-sharps. A piano roll that he made of “La soirée dans Grenade” in 1913, with its restrained pedaling, demonstrates that the piece is about than color and effects; the composer demonstrates a persistent attention to textural clarity and rhythmic discipline. 

Note by Harry Haskell, © 2019 

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

L'isle joyeuse

View Notes

By the time L’isle joyeuse (Isle of Joy) was published in 1904, Debussy and his aesthetic principles—known as “Debussyism”—were the object of both praise and censure. The pianist Ricardo Viñes, one of Debussy’s most stalwart supporters, recalled hearing the composer play early drafts of L’isle joyeuse and another work a few months earlier. “I told him that the pieces reminded me of paintings by Turner, and he replied that, precisely, before composing them he had spent a good while in the Turner gallery in London.” Viñes’ anecdote sheds light on the dramatic vitality of L’isle joyeuse, whose title was inspired by another painterly precedent, Watteau’s L’embarquement pour Cythère (Embarkation for Cythera). The piece, beginning with a free, cadenza-like introduction, builds to an ecstatic pyrotechnical climax. When the first edition of the score arrived, even Debussy was nonplussed by its pianistic demands. “Seigneur!” he exclaimed to his publisher. “How hard it is to play . . . the piece seems to combine all ways of attacking a piano, uniting strength with grace . . . if I may say so.”

Note by Harry Haskell, © 2019 

Program Subject to Change Without Notice