Tristan Lee

August Concert

Tristan Lee

(piano)

Sunday 4 August 2013, 2pm Wyselaskie Auditorium

29 College Crescent, Parkville

Meet the Artist

Tristan Lee, a UK-based Australian pianist, is rapidly gaining international recognition for his distinctive style and musicianship.  He appears regularly playing concertos, and in solo and chamber music recitals. Recent highlights have included performances of concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Grieg and Rachmaninoff; and solo recitals throughout the UK, Italy, Lithuania, France, the Netherlands, Cuba and Australia.  Widely sought as a chamber musician and associate artist, Tristan has appeared twice at the Wigmore Hall to critical acclaim. As a keen interpreter of contemporary music, he regularly performs the music of the present day and has given numerous world premieres of works by leading British and Australian composers.

Tristan Lee completed his postgraduate study at the Royal Northern College of Music following his undergraduate study at the University of Melbourne. He has won many notable prizes and scholarships including the Geoffrey Parsons Trust 2012, the Ian Potter Cultural Trust 2010, and first prize and the gold medal of the Australian Youth Piano Recital 2008. His past teachers have included Glenn Riddle and Graham Scott. Since completing his formal studies, Tristan has been mentored by Leslie Howard and Benjamin Frith.  Due to the generous support of the Geoffrey Parsons Trust and a University of Melbourne graduate award, Tristan Lee has recently commenced lessons with renowned French pianist, François-Frédéric Guy in Paris.

Franz Liszt (Wagner) (1811-1886)Ludwig van Beethoven(1770-1827)

Franz Liszt (Wagner) (1811-1886)

INTERVAL

Johannes Brahms

(1833-1897)

Fantasy on Themes from Rienzi, S.439Piano Sonata No.15 in D major, Op.28 PastoraleAllegro

Andante

Scherzo: Allegro vivace

Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo

Isoldens Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde S.447

Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5

Allegro maestoso

Andante espressivo

Scherzo. Allegro energico – Trio

Intermezzo. Andante molto

Finale. Allegro moderato ma rubato

Program Notes

Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883)/Franz LISZT (1811 – 1886) Fantasy on Themes from Rienzi, S. 439

Liszt was a tireless champion of the music of his contemporaries. As a conductor and pianist he regularly gave performances of some of the greatest works of the 19th century by composers such as Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Berlioz and, of course, Wagner who acknowledged Liszt as the only one of his peers whose music had influenced his own.

In Wagner’s troubled early years, Liszt was a constant source of support, not just creatively, but financially, professionally, and emotionally. At one particularly harrowing point in 1849, Liszt even sheltered Wagner from the authorities (who were attempting to apprehend him for his role in the May Uprising in Dresden) and provided him with a fake passport.

As well as conducting Wagner’s operas, Liszt also made a number of transcriptions and arrangements based on themes from the operas. Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen (“the Last of the Tribunes”) was Wagner’s first great success, a welcome reprieve since he finished composing it while serving time in a Parisian debtors’ prison in 1840, having abandoned or been hounded out of a number of cities in flight from his creditors.

In its music, as Paul Bekker observes, “the gestures are those of demigods rather than of men, the rhythm…is based on the march, now in hymn-like guise, now in the broad flow of choral song”.  Composed in 1859,  Liszt’s bravura Fantasy is a 10-minute tour de force that incorporates much of the main material from the opera and culminates in a thunderous climax.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827) Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major,  Op. 28 (Pastoral)

At the turn of the 19th century, Beethoven had been living in Vienna for nearly eight years. In that time he had established a reputation as a formidable pianist of the highest calibre, and as one of the most prominent of the new generation of composers after Haydn and Mozart. At the same time, he was struggling with the increasingly serious onset of his deafness. The Pastoral Sonata, published in 1801, follows some of his most progressive works for the piano, including the Moonlight Sonata. As was common for Beethoven, he followed this period of musical boldness with a return to relative restraint and convention. While the Pastoral sonata itself is somewhat traditional and classical (the last of his piano sonatas to be like this) it is conceived on a symphonic scale lasting upwards of half an hour. The cheerful and melodic character of the music is

 

contrasted by the powerful and dramatic climaxes of the outer movements and the dark and forlorn chorales of the mysterious slow movement in D minor .

Although Beethoven’s love of nature is well known, the term Pastoral was not Beethoven’s choice but the publisher’s. It was chosen to highlight the bird-like imitations in the middle movement, the bass droning sounds in the outer movements, and the rustic quality of many of the themes.

Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883) / Franz LISZT (1811 – 1886) Isolde’s Liebestod – Final Scene from Tristan und Isolde, S. 447

Unlike the Rienzi Fantasy, which is a free exploration and elaboration of the music from the opera, Liszt’s arrangement of the final scene from the epic opera Tristan und Isolde is a magnificent transcription of the orchestral score (introduced with a four-bar motto from the Love Duet of Act II). In spite of the absence of the vocal line, it still lucidly evokes Isolde’s ecstatic lament.

As a result of Liszt’s arrangement, the final scene was brought to people all over the world long before they were able to see and hear a full, staged performance of the opera, and so Liszt’s title, Isoldens Liebestod (“Isolde’s Love-death”), became the name by which it is universally known.

Tristan und Isolde was the last opera that Liszt himself heard before his death, and it held a special place in his heart. He made his transcription in 1867, two years after the opera’s premiere. In the final scene, Isolde finally reaches her beloved Tristan, but too late – he has just died from his wounds. For one last instant, he opens his eyes, and her face, full of love and anguish, is the last thing he sees. Before she follows him into death, Isolde sings the following words:

Program Notes

Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883)/Franz LISZT (1811 – 1886) Fantasy on Themes from Rienzi, S. 439

Liszt was a tireless champion of the music of his contemporaries. As a conductor and pianist he regularly gave performances of some of the greatest works of the 19th century by composers such as Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Berlioz and, of course, Wagner who acknowledged Liszt as the only one of his peers whose music had influenced his own.

In Wagner’s troubled early years, Liszt was a constant source of support, not just creatively, but financially, professionally, and emotionally. At one particularly harrowing point in 1849, Liszt even sheltered Wagner from the authorities (who were attempting to apprehend him for his role in the May Uprising in Dresden) and provided him with a fake passport.

As well as conducting Wagner’s operas, Liszt also made a number of transcriptions and arrangements based on themes from the operas. Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen (“the Last of the Tribunes”) was Wagner’s first great success, a welcome reprieve since he finished composing it while serving time in a Parisian debtors’ prison in 1840, having abandoned or been hounded out of a number of cities in flight from his creditors.

In its music, as Paul Bekker observes, “the gestures are those of demigods rather than of men, the rhythm…is based on the march, now in hymn-like guise, now in the broad flow of choral song”.  Composed in 1859,  Liszt’s bravura Fantasy is a 10-minute tour de force that incorporates much of the main material from the opera and culminates in a thunderous climax.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827) Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major,  Op. 28 (Pastoral)

At the turn of the 19th century, Beethoven had been living in Vienna for nearly eight years. In that time he had established a reputation as a formidable pianist of the highest calibre, and as one of the most prominent of the new generation of composers after Haydn and Mozart. At the same time, he was struggling with the increasingly serious onset of his deafness. The Pastoral Sonata, published in 1801, follows some of his most progressive works for the piano, including the Moonlight Sonata. As was common for Beethoven, he followed this period of musical boldness with a return to relative restraint and convention. While the Pastoral sonata itself is somewhat traditional and classical (the last of his piano sonatas to be like this) it is conceived on a symphonic scale lasting upwards of half an hour. The cheerful and melodic character of the music is contrasted by the powerful and dramatic climaxes of the outer movements and the dark and forlorn chorales of the mysterious slow movement in D minor .

Although Beethoven’s love of nature is well known, the term Pastoral was not Beethoven’s choice but the publisher’s. It was chosen to highlight the bird-like imitations in the middle movement, the bass droning sounds in the outer movements, and the rustic quality of many of the themes.

Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883) / Franz LISZT (1811 – 1886) Isolde’s Liebestod – Final Scene from Tristan und Isolde, S. 447

Unlike the Rienzi Fantasy, which is a free exploration and elaboration of the music from the opera, Liszt’s arrangement of the final scene from the epic opera Tristan und Isolde is a magnificent transcription of the orchestral score (introduced with a four-bar motto from the Love Duet of Act II). In spite of the absence of the vocal line, it still lucidly evokes Isolde’s ecstatic lament.

As a result of Liszt’s arrangement, the final scene was brought to people all over the world long before they were able to see and hear a full, staged performance of the opera, and so Liszt’s title, Isoldens Liebestod (“Isolde’s Love-death”), became the name by which it is universally known.

Tristan und Isolde was the last opera that Liszt himself heard before his death, and it held a special place in his heart. He made his transcription in 1867, two years after the opera’s premiere. In the final scene, Isolde finally reaches her beloved Tristan, but too late – he has just died from his wounds. For one last instant, he opens his eyes, and her face, full of love and anguish, is the last thing he sees. Before she follows him into death, Isolde sings the following words:

How softly and gently / he smiles, / how sweetly / his eyes open… / Do you see, friends? / Do you not see? / How he shines / ever brighter… / Star-haloed / rising higher… / Do you not see?

Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897) Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5

The genesis of Brahms’s third and final piano sonata in 1853 ran in parallel with events of momentous significance in his life, events which would launch the unknown 20-year-old pianist from Hamburg into the forefront of the musical world.

Weary of eking out a trivial income playing in the dance halls, Brahms decided in April to set out with his friend, the Hungarian violinist Eduard Reményi, on what was supposed to be a small concert tour of a few villages in the Hamburg hinterland. Eight months later, Brahms returned home to his family, hailed by Liszt in Weimar, adored by the Schumanns in Düsseldorf, and having found in Hannover a life-long friend in Joseph Joachim.

Prior to Brahms’ return, Robert Schumann had exalted him in the German press as the saviour and great hope for the future of music, and Brahms didn’t disappoint. This F minor sonata was among the creations that launched his career and upon which his renown was built.

Of his three piano sonatas, the F minor is the largest, and already it demonstrates Brahms’s singular blend of counterpoint and lyricism, and his trademark capacity for containing surging Romantic emotion within a solid, coherent Classical structure.

The opening theme is one of heroic battle which subtly incorporates the rhythm of the famous fate motif from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The incredibly tender theme which follows is its direct opposite, a conflict which is defused by the impetuous buoyancy of the Scherzo (third movement).

Separating these stormy movements, however, is the idyllic refuge of the stunningly beautiful second movement. Here in the score, Brahms prefaced the movement with a stanza of poetry by C. O. Sternau, which is perfectly evoked in the music:

Twilight falls, the moonlight gleams, / two hearts in love unite, / embraced in rapture. / A breeze ripples through the air / as if all the roses exhaled their scent, / as if all the angels have descended.

The fourth movement, subtitled Rückblick (“Retrospection” or “Looking Back”), begins with the initial theme of the second movement, but cast in a minor key. It then changes into a tragic lament, with solemn triplet rhythms for its base. While Brahms did not supply any poetic text with this movement, another Sternau poem is found in his notebook, which reads in part:

O if you knew how soon, how soon / the tree withers, and the forest is barren … A year is short, and short is the time, / for the delight and bliss of love to thrive, / how soon then comes the sad day / for the heart’s beat to fall silent.

The final movement creeps into being on clipped rhythmic tiptoes. It gradually builds into a swaggering march figure; but throughout Brahms keeps any extreme vehemence or aggression on a tight leash, until the very end. At the conclusion he gives a youthful, brazen salute to optimism, leaps abruptly into the major key and bounds towards a triumphal finish.

Program Notes by Douglas Rutherford