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Both Modern and Rare

Daniel Bassin, music director for the UB Symphony Orchestra.

Dan Bassin leads the Slee Sinfonietta and the UB Symphony

Now in his third academic year as the UB Symphony Orchestra’s music director, Daniel Bassin enjoys his hectic schedule of music making. In addition to his duties as the UBSO music director, Bassin has also been conducting some very challenging works on this season’s Slee Sinfonietta series, yet he also somehow manages to find the time to perform often as a trumpeter with jazz ensembles in venues throughout the city. And he does this all while pursuing his PhD in musical composition at the University.

The second Slee Sinfonietta concert of this season takes place in Slee Hall Tuesday, October 30 at 7:30pm, and features works by acknowledged masters of post-World War II musical modernism such as Stockhausen’s Kreuzspiel, a work the composer considered to be his first truly original composition, as well as works by Lutosławski and Boulez, and Vues aeriennes, composed by Tristan Murail, one of spectral music’s principal founders and theoreticians.

Morton Feldman enjoyed a close relationship with UB for many years, and his reputation has only continued to grow since his death. Feldman, a good friend of the painter Willem de Kooning, composed his De Kooning, written for an unusual instrumental combination, to accompany a film about the artist by the German-American director Hans Namuth.

“Feldman once remarked of de Kooning’s work that at first impression it seemed as if his canvases were painted quickly, but when watching de Kooning paint, he saw that he was painstakingly deliberate and slow, and I think Feldman’s piece, in a way, mimics de Kooning’s process,” Bassin says. “In Feldman’s composition, the individual instrumental tones succeed one another without regard to metric pulse, but rather with a cryptic instruction from the composer that each sound only begins when the preceding one starts to fade away.”

In addition to the works performed by the larger forces of the Sinfonietta, the concert will feature a rare performance of György Ligeti’s virtuosic Trio for horn, violin and piano, by French hornist Adam Unsworth, violinist Yuki Numata, and pianist Eric Huebener. Bassin says, “Ligeti considered his Trio to be the first work of his late period, representing the culmination of the musical ideas he had been working with during the late ’60s and ’70s, and so a maturation into his lyrical and autumnal style.”

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UB Symphony Orchestra

One very welcome tradition that Dan Bassin has been quick to develop during his short tenure as the UBSO music director has been the unearthing of significant works in the traditional symphonic orchestral repertoire never previously performed in Buffalo. While this may seem to be a somewhat daunting challenge, given the rich, 75-plus-year tradition of programming by the BPO, Bassin has proven himself up to the task, no more so than in the program that he has selected for his orchestra’s season-opening concert in Slee Hall on Friday, November 2 at 7:30pm. The concert features three works by the prolific late-19th-century German composer Josef Rheinberger, the Overture to Schiller’s Demetrius, Op. 110, the Organ Concerto No. 2, Op. 177, and the Academic Overture, Op. 195, all of which will be making their area premieres.

While Bassin jokes that Rheinberger is the only composer that he knows of who is a native of the tiny European country of Lichtenstein, no less an authority than the great German conductor, Hans von Bülow, the first conductor in history to become a musical superstar, had high praise for Rheinberger, who he described as “a truly ideal teacher of composition, unrivalled in the whole of Germany and beyond in skill, refinement, and devotion to his subject; in short, one of the worthiest musicians and human beings in the world.”

Organist Patrick Davis, a winner in the orchestra’s annual Concerto Competition, will be the soloist in the Rheinberger concerto, while flutist Jamie Swieringa, who is also a winner of the Concerto Competition, will play Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach’s Concerto for Flute in D-minor, Wq. 22, H.425. The program will open with another work by C. P. E. Bach, the eldest and most talented son of J. S. Bach, his short but delightful Symphony in D Major, Wq. 183/1, H 663. This may also be an area premiere, Bassin says, since Michael Tilson Thomas “may or may not have done this with the BPO back in the day—they list a Symphony No. 1 in D Major but Ed Yadzinski [the BPO archivist] and I haven’t been able to track down any more than this. The problem is there are at least three sets of symphonies by C. P. E, Bach which begin with a D major work.”

Bassin will give a pre-concert introduction to the program, which is free and open to the public, at 7pm.

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