Double Concerto for Two Violins in D minor Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
The Double Concerto for Two Violins in D minor is considered a prime example of the Baroque concerto grosso form, in which a soloist or small group of soloists, typically consisting of two or three instruments, alternate passages with a larger ensemble. Bach composed the piece in 1717 and brought it with him to Leipzig from his previous job in Cöthen. Seven years after arriving in Leipzig, he transcribed the piece for two harpsichords, to increase its utility. Eventually the original Cöthen version of the work was lost, but Bach specialists restored it from the harpsichord version.
The first movement is marked by incredible vitality and energy. As with most of Bach’s work, the instrumental writing is complex and intricate, featuring richly ornamented melodic lines interwoven using harmonic counterpoint. The two solo violins engage in a captivating conversation, each responding to the other with virtuosic runs, trills, and arpeggios. This epic battle of musical wits showcases the prowess of the two soloists as well as that of the orchestra.
The second movement is marked Adagio ma non tanto: “slow but not too much.” Here the orchestral instruments recede into the background, allowing the solo violins to take center stage. Their beautiful solo melodies are supported by a gentle accompaniment from the ensemble. The violins take turns playing the melody, then eventually layer their melodies atop each other, creating a lush soundscape. The third movement is marked Allegro and fully carries out the direction to play in a lively manner. This movement showcases Bach’s sense of humor and playfulness. The violins engage in a joyful dance, light and frothy, with the two soloists trading phrases back and forth. It is a fitting conclusion to one of Bach's most beloved works.
Artemis, Her Silver Bow Stanley Grill (1953 - )
Stanley Grill’s obsession with music first took the form of playing piano at every possible moment while growing up in New York in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and then music theory studies at the Manhattan School of Music streamed his energy into composing. His passion for medieval and Renaissance music has greatly influenced his writing - a contemporary expression of ageless techniques based on melody, modal harmonies, and contrapuntal, extended, interweaving lines. Two main themes permeate many of his works – music composed in an attempt to translate something about the nature of the physical world, and music composed to inspire and promote world peace. His music has been performed from Ecuador to Poland; Toulouse to Tokyo; Brooklyn to Vienna, by the New World Symphony, Camerata Philadelphia, Camerata Arkos, Duo+ Ensemble, Englewinds, Pandolfis Consort, the Umbria Ensemble, the Diderot Quartet, the Bronx Arts Ensemble and One World Symphony among others.
Composer’s notes for Artemis, Her Silver Bow: We are living through dark times. My recent work has been written largely in response to the events of the day, music composed as reminders that we can be better. In between pieces, feeling rather like composing music in the face of it all is akin to fiddling while Rome burns, I was pleased to open my email to read a request from Nurhan Arman, conductor of Sinfonia Toronto, to compose music for the Sinfonia’s 25th anniversary season next year. For that, I would pen cheerful, buoyant music! The world needs it, I suppose.
The title came, like most thoughts do, via a stream of associations. A 25th anniversary is a silver anniversary. Yeats’ famous line, golden apples of the sun, silver apples of the moon, popped into mind - but that phrase has already been taken for music far more renowned than this will be! Silver, that bright metal, is also associated with Artemis, goddess of the moon, who carries a silver bow, shooting silver arrows. As I composed the music, images of the goddess, silvery beams of light flitting through woods as she hunts and the twang of her bow string turned into music.
Serenade for Strings in C major Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893)
Tchaikovsky was a solidly romantic and nationalistic composer, but he adored Mozart, whom he once called "the Christ of music." Tchaikovsky wrote that a performance of Don Giovanni he attended when he was 10 was what first showed him music’s power to express deep emotion.
In September 1880 Tchaikovsky was working on his bombastic 1812 Overture, and perhaps needed to balance it with something more delicate. He decided to write an orchestral serenade as an homage to Mozart's serenades. Inspired by his love of Mozart’s music, he completed this work very quickly, and was much more satisfied with it than the 1812 Overture.
He wrote to his patron, Nadezhda von Meck, "The overture will be very showy and noisy, but will have no artistic merit because I wrote it without warmth and without love. But the Serenade, on the contrary, I wrote from inner compulsion. This is a piece from the heart." Later he also told von Meck, "I am violently in love with this work and cannot wait for it to be played." The Serenade was premiered in St. Petersburg in 1881 and became a hit immediately. Tchaikovsky was gratified to receive congratulations on it from one of his living idols, the pianist and composer Anton Rubenstein.
This first movement, Pezzo in forma di Sonatina, moves from a measured Andante introduction into a simple four-note theme that develops into vigorous scale passages in the Allegro which show off the varied tone colors available within the strings alone. The rapid passagework is brilliant but not forced or too prominent; it complements and supports the flowing movement of the Allegro theme.
The second movement Waltz is Tchaikovsky's 19th-Century replacement for the minuet movements in Mozart's serenades. As with waltz sections in some of his symphonies too, this movement resonates with Tchaikovsky's ballets. And in the next century this movement and parts of the rest of the work were used by George Balanchine for his 1936 Serenade. Balanchine later expanded his ballet to include Tchaikovsky's entire Serenade, but with the second and third movements reversed. Each string section takes their turn to play the waltz melody poised against rhythmic lines in the other sections.
The second movement ends in a gentle pianissimo, leading to the third movement Elegia. Like the first two movements, the Elegy is developed from a scale passage, this time rising in steadily increasing fervor. The lower strings carry much of the singing melody which is more reflective than mournful. This movement is a beautiful example of the kind of the openly emotional, highly lyrical writing for which Tchaikovsky is so beloved.
The Finale is subtitled Tema russo and includes two authentic Russian folk tunes; both had been catalogued by the composer and musicologist Mily Balakirev. The first tune, a slow song sung by Volga carters, is the content of the Andante introduction to the movement. The second tune is a lively folk dance. Tchaikovsky underlines this theme’s village origins here and there with pizzicato (plucked) octaves that mimic the sound of balalaikas. A third sweeping motif appears over the vigorous dance, creating contrast and grandeur that blossom into an audible impression of the vast Russian landscape. The first movement’s Andante theme returns, seemingly to round out the entire work, but Tchaikovsky wittily transforms the descending portion of what had been a stately motif into the throbbing downward scale of the dance to conclude the Serenade in bravura style.
Violinist Christos Galileas had his first lessons at the age of four from from his father, Kosmas Galileas, the distinguished Greek violinist and conductor, and continued studying with Professor Stelios Kafantaris. He was awarded first prize and the gold medal for outstanding musical abilities upon graduating from the Athens Conservatory in 1994.
He made his public debut at sixteen with the Thessaloniki Symphony in Paganini’s Violin Concerto No 1. From 1994 to 1995 he studied in Lubeck, Germany, and then at Oberlin Conservatory where he received the “Dean’s Talent Award” and completed a bachelor’s of music. In 1999 he continued his studies at the Juilliard School with the legendary violin pedagogue Dorothy Delay and received his master’s degree. In 2005 he received his doctorate in Violin Performance (from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Highlights of Christos’ appearances include the Brahms Double Concerto with Mischa Maisky and conductor Andris Nelsons, the Chausson Concerto for violin, piano, and string quartet with the Borodin Quartet, and the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the Berlin Symphony. He has appeared as a soloist at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Carnegie Hall, the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Gasteig and Hercules Hall in Munich, Smetana Hall and the Rudolfinum in Prague, the Athenaeum in Bucharest, the Athens and Thessaloniki Megarons and many others.
He has appeared at the international festivals of Nafplio, Dimitria, the Music Festival of Armenia, the Festival Kypria of Cyprus, Patra, Heraklion Summer Art Festival, Festival of Classical Music of Larnaca in Cyprus, Catania in Sicily and the Lake Como Festival in Italy.
Dr. Galileas has been invited to teach violin and chamber music at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University, University of Illinois, Northwestern University, University of North Carolina, New York University, Penn State University, University of Houston, Texas Tech University, Roosevelt University, State Conservatory of Thessaloniki and Athens Conservatory, among others. He has held administrative positions including Director of the North City Conservatory in Thessaloniki, Artistic Director of the “Dimitria” International Festival in Thessaloniki, member of the Board of Directors of the State Conservatory of Greece and State Orchestra of Thessaloniki, and Artistic Director of the Summer Music Academy in Afytos, Greece. In 2007 he joined the faculty at Georgia State University where he currently serves as associate professor of Violin and Coordinator of Chamber Music.
His recordings can be found on the Albany Records label. He plays on a 1705 Joseph Guarneri violin.
Violinist Jannis Georgiadis was born in Athens into a musical family and developed his gift from an early age. He started his studies at the Athens Conservatory with Tatsis Apostolidis and also attended violin masterclasses with Sandor Vegh at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. During his teenage years he represented Greece in the European Union Youth Orchestra for two consecutive years,performing under the batons of Claudio Abbado, Daniel Baremboim and Sir Georg Solti.
He was awarded his Diploma from the Athens Conservatory and after having received scholarships from the Alexandros Onassis Foundation and the Austrian government, he continued his studies with professor Franz Samohyl at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts, graduating with Highest Distinction.
A recitalist and soloist in international demand, Jannis has performed as soloist with orchestras such as the London Philharmonia, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Philharmonic, the Radio Orchestra of Bucharest, the Vienna United Philharmonic the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra (SOČR), the Israel Sinfonietta Beer Sheva, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, the Monterey Symphony Orchestra, the Jeju Symphony Orchestra, the Athens State Orchestra, the Athens Camerata Orchestra and the Salonika State Orchestra.
He has also performed in many renowned concert halls including the Vienna Musikverein, Carnegie Hall, Palais de Congres et de la Musique, Linzer Brucknerhaus and the Athens Megaron. He has collaborated with distinguished artists such as Steven Isserlis, Gary Hofmann, Jeremy Menuhin, Dimitris Sgouros, Dimitris Toufexis, Vassilis Varvaressos, Alexandros Kapelis, Sam Haywood and has played under the music direction of maestros Alun Francis, Enrique Batiz, Vladimir Valek, Uri Mayer, Horia Adreescu, Hobart Earl, Miltiades Karydis, Constantinos Karydis, Michalis Economou, Felix Carrasco, George Petrou, Nikos Athinaios, Byron Fidetzis and others.
In 2000 Jannis founded the “Feminarte Chamber Orchestra” and as its artistic director and conductor he collaborated with many Greek and foreign soloists, focusing his attention on unconventional and innovative repertoire. Since 2006 he has been the Concertmaster at the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra.
He plays on a Francesco Gobetti violin made in 1721.
Sinfonia Toronto now celebrating its 25th season, has toured twice in Europe, in the US, South America and China, receiving glowing reviews. It has released four CD’s, including a JUNO Award winner, and performs in many Ontario cities. Its extensive repertoire includes all the major string orchestra works of the 18th through 21st centuries, and it has premiered many new works. Under the baton of Nurhan Arman the orchestra’s performances present outstanding international guest artists and prominent Canadian musicians.
Maestro Nurhan Arman has conducted throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada and the US, returning regularly to many orchestras in Europe. Among the orchestras Maestro Arman has conducted are the Moscow Philharmonic, Deutsches Kammerorchester Frankfurt, Filarmonica Italiana, St. Petersburg State Hermitage Orchestra, Orchestre Regional d’Ile de France, Hungarian Symphony, Arpeggione Kammerorchester, Milano Classica and Belgrade Philharmonic.
Sinfonia Toronto respectfully acknowledges that we work in the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee peoples