Program notes for 2/15/2015, at Pianoforte Studio, Chicago
This program, Masquerade Ball, lives in the moment. There is transience in each moment, as Jimmie Leblanc’s work suggests, we are perched on “the threshold of the moment.” (…au seuil de l’instant…) There is little stasis, so change becomes the constant. Each moment is fleeting and each new one is becoming, and this is where we rest.
Schumann, the master of miniature musical statements, or “character pieces” as it is typically called, leads us through a maximalist adventure of musical material in the relatively short amount of time of a single piano recital. Like a masquerade ball, we are introduced abruptly to different characters, only to be supplanted by the next, as if mingling at a party. And each character does not request invitation, rather they storm the scene, unaware to what came before, and what will follow.
The first half begins not with Schuman himself, but contemporary retellings of his work. In this program, we are presented with the masks of others – Schumann’s figure redressed to give a new impression. In both Jimmie Leblanc’s …au seuil de l’instant… and John Rea’s Las Meninas, there is heavy use of musical material previously written by someone else, including Debussy, Wagner, Webern, Schubert and Schumann himself, to name a few. Schumann’s musical material swirls around us in a contemporary landscape, playing tricks on our musical memory for what we are to hear in the second half.
And the second half takes the shape of the first (perhaps memory is a form of premonition). …au seuil de l’instant… is inspired by Intermezzi, Op. 4, and Las Meninas corresponds to Kinderszenen, Op. 15. In a sense, the masked faces are revealed, to reveal the equally anomalous and ungraspable masked characters of Robert Schumann’s own creation.
My sincerest thanks to New Music School, PianoForte Foundation, composers Jimmie Leblanc and John Rea, the Conseil des arts et des Lettres du Quebec, and to you, the audience, without which there would be no concert.
JOHN REA (b. 1944): Las Meninas (extraits)
JIMMIE LEBLANC (b. 1977): …au seuil de l’instant…
ROBERT SCHUMANN: Intermezzi, Op. 4
R. SCHUMANN : Kinderszenen, Op. 15