Token Creek Chamber Music Festival

Program IV

The Piano

Saturday, August 31, 4:00 P.M.
Sunday, September 1, 4:00 P.M.

Works of Beethoven, Harbison, Liszt, Mozart, and Ravel

Tickets: General Admission $32 / Student $12


Allegro in G major, K. 357 (completion by R. Levin) Mozart Gaspard de la Nuit Ravel Réminiscences de Don Juan Liszt Piano Sonata No. 2 (excerpts) Harbison Piano Concerto in G major Beethoven

Program Notes

Program 4 welcomes our close friends Robert Levin and Ya-Fei Chuang, playing together and as soloists. The pieces on the program, Mozart (as completed by Levin), Ravel and Liszt (as performed by Chuang) and Harbison and Beethoven (the last a concerto arranged by the composer for chamber ensemble), raise an interesting question. What effect on the music does the composer’s own ability as a player have? At the top of the scale we have Liszt, a pianist of the highest rank, someone whose music for all its difficulty falls in some way logically under skilled hands, is “tested” and proved by the player-composer. Mozart was also a sovereign player, one whose distinctions were especially noticeable in terms of finesse and subtlety. At a somewhat less lofty performance level we have Ravel, whose piano music, superbly athletic, remains in the player-composer practical realm, difficult but conceived in the central line of pianist discipline.

In another category, there is Beethoven, in whose piano music the thought often seems to challenge comfort and agreeability, where “Idea” sometimes forces sounds from the instrument we recognize as far from conventionally beautiful.

(In a much lower category of pianistic awareness is the music of some composers who are below professional standards, by repute the later Brahms, certainly Schubert ‐ neither of whom are on this program. Schubert’s lack of pianistic finish caused him to write some of the most original and uncomfortable music in the piano repertoire, music for which we are grateful and for which we are clearly willing to pay a price.) In this category is also, regrettably, my own piano music, which would be much more solvable if I had learned more about the instrument.

— Notes by John Harbison
Artistic Co-Director, Token Creek Chamber Music Festival