Elegy for Strings, Timpani & Accordion (Dachau Reflections)
The composer wrote the following about this composition
"The work was inspired by two visits I made some years ago to the Dachau concentration-camp, near Munich, Germany. The first visit was with my wife and children, the second, with members of the Israel Chamber Orchestra, during our German concert-tour under my conducting. In a memorial ceremony we held at Dachau, the principal cellist of the orchestra played the ‘Sarabande’ for Solo Cello from the Suite in c-minor of J.S. Bach.
In the process of writing the Elegy, I have used different borrowed material, which assisted me in constructing a collage of passing images from past and present. Thus, one can hear a Jewish song from the Ghetto ("Under the Starry Sky") as well as Bach's Sarabande for solo Cello. A theme from Gustav Mahler's "Kindertotenlieder” serves as a Cantus Firmus in the fugal entrances that open the Elegy. Another theme from the "Kindertotenlieder" 'is quoted towards the conclusion of the work, as a postlude of silence and acceptance.
The Elegy was written in 1997, partially in Israel, partially in San Diego and is dedicated to my grandparents - whom were killed during the 2nd World War.”
The Elegy was premiered in September 1997 by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway, under the composer’s conducting.
Symphony No.7 in D Minor, op.70
I. Allegro maestoso II. Poco adagio III. Scherzo. Vivace IV. Allegro
Although Dvořák (1841-1904) had remarkable stamina and worked at alarming speed, his career took a while in taking off. At the age of 34, he was virtually unknown outside his home country, and had numerous orchestral and chamber music pieces behind him, as well as a great many failures. It was then that he entered a competition organised by the Vienna artistic curatorium and won the generous support of the jury, headed by such names as Eduard Hanslick and Johannes Brahms, for three straight years. What was more important was that it led to his friendship with Brahms, while the commercial judgement of publishers rewarded him with world fame. In the 1880s, in a few short years, he conquered Vienna, Berlin and London, and while he had taken Prague by storm years earlier, he was tempted from his prestigious job as professor at the Czech Conservatoire to New York in 1892, where he was promised a twenty five fold increase in salary. As the director of the New York Conservatory, he was stunned one day when the husband of the lady president of the Conservatoire announced his company had gone bankrupt. As he was one of the most generous patrons of American music education, it meant the New York teaching assignment was over and Dvořák had to return home for good.
When he went to England in 1884 for the first time, Dvořák enjoyed enormous success with his concerts and was commissioned by the London Philharmonic Association to compose a symphony. At the time, Dvořák was planning a symphony, under the influence of Brahms's recently premiered Third Symphony. He had already completed six symphonies and Dvořák was well aware of the most important aspects of the classical heritage, the large forms, thematic motific work and the requirements demanded by the example of Beethoven. Dvořák found all genres came easily to him, from the classical quartet to modern symphonic poems, from string trios to romantic grand operas, from folk dance music to symphonies for vast orchestras, and felt at home in all styles, be it from Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms or Bruckner. While the Sixth Symphony, which was intended for the Viennese, is permeated with allusions to Beethoven, the Seventh Symphony written for London seems more to evoke the spirit of Wagner. And naturally, the Czech melodic world. Unlike Vienna which was hardly famous for its tolerance of national aspirations among those unfortunate not to be Austrian, in London, Dvořák had nothing to fear from his nationality or that his works would ever be judged on political grounds.
The opening movement of the symphony is a grand scale sonata form. The orchestration emphasises the austere D minor tone colours: the opening theme is heard on cellos and violas over a D major pedal point, played on the timpani. The whole orchestra takes it over and develops the theme, which leads to a subsidiary theme played on woodwind. Following a text book development section, the recapitulation ensues, whereupon we hear the opening chord of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, the notorious Tristan chord, in a different tonality but with identical orchestration. The miraculously orchestrated slow movement is followed by a true Central European scherzo, the mood of which was later reflected in more than one Mahler symphony. In the monumental fourth movement, there is again the fleeting appearance of the Tristan chord, this time in the original tonality, evoked by the famous cello entry from the opera. Although the symphony finishes in D major, the closing movement does not resolve its austere mood: the gloom of the chromatic melody in the final bars is not lightened just because the final chord contains a major, rather than a minor third.
Well known and celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Yoav Talmi is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Quebec Symphony in Canada, Principal Guest Conductor of the Israel Chamber Orchestra in Tel Aviv and Head of Orchestral-Conducting Department at the University of Tel Aviv Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, In collaboration with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
In the past, he has served as Chief Conductor of the Hamburg Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, Music Director of the San Diego Symphony, Music Director of the Arnhem Philharmonic (Netherlands), and Music Director of both - the Israel Chamber Orchestra and the New Israeli Opera.
Maestro Talmi’s long and impressive guest conducting career spans several continents. His European engagements include all the major London orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Symphony Orchestras of Vienna and Prague, the Philharmonic Orchestras of St. Petersburg, Oslo, Stockholm, Warsaw and Israel, the Orchestre National de France, Zurich’s Tonhalle, Rome’s Santa Cecilia, and numerous radio orchestras in Israel, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland and Sweden. He has also made several appearances with the NHK Symphony and the New Philharmonic Orchestras in Japan.
Yoav Talmi’s summer activities includes the Aspen Music Festival, Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, Bergen Festival in Norway, Chautauqua Festival (NY), Helsinki Festival, Houston’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Jerusalem Festival, Montreal’s Lanaudière Festival and the Waterloo Festival in New Jersey.
During the season 2010-2011, Yoav Talmi will continue his impressive international career, conducting among others, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv, the Rochester Philharmonic in the USA, Calgary Philharmonic, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City to name but a few.
Also a seasoned recording artist, Yoav Talmi has collaborated with Chandos, Decca, EMI, Naxos, Teldec. CBC Records (Toronto), Atma and Analekta (Montreal). His recording of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony with the Oslo Philharmonic won the prestigious “Grand Prix du Disque” in Paris. Mr. Talmi’s recording of Schoenberg and Tchaikovsky with the Israel Chamber Orchestra for Teldec was chosen “Record of the Month” by Germany’s Fono-Forum magazine. The London Penguin Guide gave this same recording its highest rating. His recent recording French Showpieces with the Quebec Symphony and violinist James Ehnes was chosen “Record of the Month” by the French media magazine Repertoire, who gave this recording a perfect rating. Talmi’s Naxos recordings with the San Diego Symphony feature an all-Berlioz cycle that includes the Symphonie fantastique, the complete overtures, Roméo et Juliette, Harold in Italy, Rêverie et Caprice, excerpts from Les Troyens, and more. He has recorded also as pianist, accompanying his wife, flutist Er’ella Talmi.
Born in Israel, Yoav Talmi is a graduate of the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv and The Juilliard School in New York, where he earned degrees in both composition and conducting with grants from the America Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF). He was a recipient of the Koussevitzky Memorial Conducting Prize at the Tanglewood Festival  and the Rupert Conductor’s Competition in London .
In July 2008, Yoav Talmi was awarded the ‘Frank Pelleg’ prize of the Israeli Cultural Ministry, for his high-level artistic achievements through many years of activity. In August 2008 he received the Quebec-City Medal, honoring his special contribution to the city’s 400 anniversary celebrations and on June 17, 2009 Yoav Talmi was named “Officer of the National Order of Quebec”, the most prestigious honor in Quebec and French America.
Maestro Talmi holds an Honorary Doctorate from the Laval University in Quebec, Canada.
“A strong individualist with glittering fingers… He has a pronounced musical profile which puts him in a class far above the cut and dried exponents of the international school of modern pianists.”
(Excerpt taken from “The Great Pianists – from Mozart to the present”, by Senior Music Critic Emeritus of the New York Times, Harold C. Schonberg)
Cyprien Katsaris, the French-Cypriot pianist and composer, was born on May 5th 1951 in Marseilles. He first began to play the piano at the age of four, in Cameroon where he spent his childhood. His first teacher was Marie-Gabrielle Louwerse.
A graduate of the Paris Conservatoire where he studied piano with Aline van Barentzen and Monique de la Bruchollerie (piano First Prize, 1969), as well as chamber music with René Leroy and Jean Hubeau (First Prize, 1970), he won the International Young Interpreters Rostrum-Unesco (Bratislava 1977), the First Prize in the International Cziffra Competition (Versailles 1974) and he was the only western-European prize-winner at the 1972 Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Competition. He was also awarded the Albert Roussel Foundation Prize (Paris 1970) and the Alex de Vries Foundation Prize (Antwerp 1972).
He gave his first public concert in Paris.
His major international career includes performances with the world’s greatest orchestras.
In addition to his activities as a soloist he founded the “Katsaris Piano Quintet”. This has received a very enthusiastic response from both the press and audiences in the Americas, Europe and Japan.
His discography consists of solo works by most of the greatest masters as well as works for piano and orchestra including Bach Concertos with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Brahm’s Concerto no. 2 with Eliahu Inbal conducting the Philharmonia (London), both Concertos of Mendelssohn with Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (of which Mendelssohn had been music Director), and the complete Concertos by Mozart, recorded live and performed in Salzburg and Vienna with Yoon K. Lee and the Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie.
In addition to the standard repertory, Cyprien Katsaris has recorded, as world premières, long lost works such as the Liszt/Tchaikovsky Concerto in the Hungarian style with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Beethoven’s own piano arrangement of his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus and Gustav Mahler’s original piano version of Das Lied von der Erde with Mezzo Brigitte Fassbaender and Tenor Thomas Moser.
In 1992, the Japanese NHK TV produced with Cyprien Katsaris a thirteen-program series on Frédéric Chopin which included masterclasses and his own performance. This concert was recorded (audio and video) and has been issued on the Piano 21 label. In March 2006 Cyprien Katsaris was the first pianist ever to give masterclasses in Franz Liszt’s house in Weimar since Liszt, who taught there for the very last time in 1886, the year of his death. In August 2008, he was invited to give two concerts on the occasion of the Beijing Olympic Games at the National Centre for the Performing Arts.
Mr. Katsaris’s work has been honoured and recognized by the following awards: “Artist of Unesco for Peace” (1997), “Commandeur de l’Ordre de Mérite du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg” (2009), “Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters” (France 2000), and “Knight of Merit of Cameroon” (1977). He also received the “Vermeil Medal of the City of Paris” (2001).
“I am convinced that Cyprien Katsaris represents the greatest artistic value of his generation.”
“He is a major pianist and, even better, a major artist. And he has a true feeling for the romantic style.”
Harold C. Schonberg
For more info on Cyprien Katsaris please visit www.cyprienkatsaris.net