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A Sequenza Session

Violinist Yuki Numata Resnick

Music in Buffalo’s Historic Places visits Kleinhans Music Hall

Now in its second season, the Music in Buffalo’s Historic Places series has earned a reputation for programming innovative concerts in unique venues, as at last December’s recital in the Greatbatch Pavilion, where the audience was able to view the freshly snow-draped Darwin Martin House through the ceiling-to-floor windows that framed pianist Christopher Guzman during an almost cinematically perfect light snowfall.

The next installment of the series, on Thursday, April 4 at 7:30pm, will feature five UB faculty members performing Italian composer Luciano Berio’s Sequenzas for solo instruments on the main stage of Kleinhans Music Hall. For this unique concert experience, audience members will be invited to sit on stage for an up-close and intimate concert experience.

Pianist Eric Huebner, the founding artistic director of the series, explains why he chose Kleinhans Music Hall for this program: “I always start with thinking about what music would go well in the space. Last August, when I visited Kleinhans and stood on stage with the BPO’s general manager, David Crane, and building manager Maggie Shea, the idea of taking a space so long associated with a large orchestra and making it a venue for solo performance was immediately appealing. I thought it was important for this event to be able to appreciate the interior of Kleinhans from the vantage point of the main stage, where you can take in not only the narrowing frames of the proscenium, but also appreciate the expansive shape of the hall’s interior.

“When you walk into a concert hall, the first thing you imagine is what it will sound like,” he says. “Each sequenza is really about the instrument playing it and, by extension, about the space in which it is being played. Eliel Saarinen—who, along with his son Eero, designed Kleinhans Music Hall in the mid-1930s—spoke of the need to create ‘an architectural atmosphere…so as to tune the performers and the public alike into a proper mood of performance and receptiveness, respectively.’ I thought an all Berio program would be an ideal way to honor Saarinen’s goal in designing the hall.”

Yuki Numata Resnick, one of the newest UB faculty members, will perform Sequenza VIII for violin, Berio’s virtuosic homage to the solo violin works of J. S.Bach, while Jean Kopperud will perform Sequenza IXa for clarinet and Jonathan Golove will perform the final work in Berio’s series, the Sequenza XIV for cello.

About the Sequenza IV for piano, Huebner says, “Berio’s writing for the piano is not unlike the keyboard music of famous Italian composers from the past. It is highly ornamental, fluid, and colorful. The piano sequenza makes frequent use of the middle pedal of the piano to sustain chords, clusters and even single notes over long stretches of the piece. Even as events begin to pile up and virtuosic flourishes flash by, there will be these wonderful moments of pause—long fermatas—where the listener is given a chance to enjoy the echo of the instrument. In this way, the piano is treated as its own acoustic space within the larger acoustic space of the concert hall.

“A similar use of the instrument is employed in the Sequenza X for trumpet and pianoresonace that Jon Nelson will be performing. Berio asks that a pianist be present to depress notes on the piano allowing specific strings to ring sympathetically after loud exhortations by the trumpet. It’s a magical, otherworldly effect.

“Berio was one of the most important composers of the post-World War II generation. His compositional skill, colorful and mercurial music, and sonic imagination brought him attention from a young age. He composed the Sequenzas throughout his life, and they are a wonderful testament to his ability to re-imagine the sound and expressive possibilities of the instrument he was writing for. I’m fortunate to have several colleagues who’ve known and played these pieces for some time.”

Tickets are $15; $10 for seniors and students. More information at www.kleinhansbuffalo.org.

Slee Beethoven Cycle

The Alexander String Quartet will perform the final three programs of this season’s Slee/Beethoven String Quartet Cycle on Friday, March 28 at 7:30pm, Saturday, March 29 at 3pm, and Sunday, March 30 at 7:30pm.

While the Friday and Sunday concerts will take place in Slee Hall on the UB Amherst campus, the Saturday afternoon concert will take place at the home of the Buffalo Suzuki String program (4 Webster Street, North Tonawanda).

Formed in 1981, the San Francisco-based quartet is widely admired for its interpretations of the Beethoven, Bartók, and Shostakovich cycles. Strings magazine described the group’s 2009 Beethoven cycle recording as “a landmark journey through the greatest of all quartet cycles”.

On Saturday morning at 11am, the Quartet will hold a master class in Baird Recital Hall, open for public observation. More information at www.slee.buffalo.edu.

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