Giacomo Susani

Giacomo Susani
Giacomo Susani (Photo by Luciano Tomasin, 2015)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

George Gershwin: An American in Paris | Darius Milhaud: Un français à New York, & La création du monde | Francis Poulenc: Concerto pour deux pianos et orchestre in D minor – Christina and Michelle Naughton, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin – Friday, February 16, 2018, 08:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / Saturday, February 17, 2018, 3:00 AM EET (UTC+2) – Live on Livestream

Christina and Michelle Naughton















Composers Darius Milhaud and George Gershwin both found jazz in clubs and bars and swapped them for the concert hall. Here their two travelers trade places, as Gershwin's homesick American strolls the streets of Paris and dodges taxis to the sound of the blues, while Milhaud's Frenchman visits Times Square, Central Park, and Yankee Stadium.

The award-winning piano duo Christina and Michelle Naughton will perform Francis Poulenc's Concerto for two pianos and orchestra in D minor.



Friday, February 16
Los Angeles: 05:00 PM
Detroit, New York, Toronto: 08:00 PM
Brasília: 11:00 PM

Saturday, February 17
London: 01:00 AM
Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Warsaw: 02:00 AM
Kiev, Jerusalem, Athens: 3:00 AM
Moscow: 04:00 AM
Beijing: 09:00 AM
Tokyo, Seoul: 10:00 AM

Live on Livestream



DSO's FRENCH FESTIVAL – CONCERT THREE

Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)

♪ La création du monde / The Creation of the World, Op.81a (1923)

i. Ouverture
ii. Le Chaos avant la création
iii. La Naissance de la flore et de la faune
iv. La Naissance de l'homme et de la femme
v. Le Désir
vi. Le printemps ou l'apaisement


Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

♪ Concerto pour deux pianos et orchestre / Concerto for two pianos and orchestra in D minor, FP 61 (1932)

i. Allegro ma non troppo
ii. Larghetto
iii. Allegro molto


Darius Milhaud

♪ Un français à New York / A Frenchman in New York, Op.399 (1962)


George Gershwin (1898-1937)

♪ An American in Paris (1928)



Christina and Michelle Naughton, piano duo

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Leonard Slatkin

(HD 720p)


Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit


Friday, February 16, 2018, 08:00 PM EST (UTC-5) / 
Saturday, February 17, 2018, 3:00 AM EET (UTC+2)

Live on Livestream



Christina and Michelle Naughton have been hailed by the San Francisco Examiner for their "stellar musicianship, technical mastery, and awe-inspiring artistry". The Naughtons made their European debut at Herkulesaal in Munich, where the Süddeutsche Zeitung proclaimed them "an outstanding piano duo". They made their Asian debut with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, where the Sing Tao Daily said of their performance "Joining two hearts and four hands at two grand pianos, the Naughton sisters created an electrifying and moving musical performance". An appearance with the Philadelphia Orchestra led the Philadelphia Inquirer to characterize their playing as "paired to perfection", while the Saarbrücker Zeitung exclaimed "this double star could soon prove to be a supernova". They have captivated audiences throughout the globe with the unity created by their mystical musical communication, as featured by the Wall Street Journal in their own words "There are times I forget we are two people playing together".

The Naughtons open their 2017-2018 season with recital appearances at the La Jolla Music Society and the Ravinia Festival. Additional engagements include the duo's Lincoln Center debut as well as appearances at the Gilmore Festival, Rockefeller Evening Concerts, Purdue Convocations, Portland Piano International, Society of the Four Arts, Sharon Lynn Wilson Center, Virginia Arts Festival and the National Gallery. Orchestral season highlights include performances with the Detroit, St Louis, San Diego, Midland and Puerto Rico Symphonies. The duo will also be seen in recital and orchestral engagements throughout New Zealand, Brazil, Belgium and Spain.

The Naughtons opened their 2016-2017 season with their debut at The Royal Concertgebouw playing Mozart's Double Piano Concerto with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Other season highlights included performances across the United States with the Milwaukee, Madison and San Antonio Symphonies in addition to recital engagements at the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, the Grand Tetons Festival, the Gardner Museum, Big Arts in Sanibel Island and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. The duo was seen in recital and orchestral engagements throughout Germany, Spain and Portugal including an appearance at the Ruhr Piano Festival.

In February of 2016 the Naughtons released their debut record on the Warner Classics label titled "Visions", featuring the music of Messiaen, Bach and Adams. The album received much critical acclaim with The Washington Post hailing them as one of the "greatest piano duos of our time".

Highlights from the Naughtons' 2015-2016 season included performances presented by the New World Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall, at the Classic Festival and the Bonlieu Scène Nationale in Annecy, France, at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and at the Grand Teton Music Festival. In addition to recital tours of Latin America and China, the sisters appeared with the St Petersburg Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfonica do Estado Sao Paulo, the Netherlands Philharmonic, l'Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, the Frankfurter Opern, and Museumsorchester and the Atlanta Symphony.

Previous orchestral engagements include appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston, Milwaukee, New Jersey, North Carolina, Nashville, Virginia, Hawaii, Maryland, Toledo, Delaware, El Paso, Napa Valley, Wichita, Tulsa, Gulf Coast, and Madison Symphonies; the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland's Red Orchestra, Chicago's Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra, and Erie Philharmonic; as well as with ensembles such as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Royal Flemish Philharmonic in Belgium, Solistes Europeens Luxembourg, Hamburg Chorus, Kiel Philharmonic, and Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock. Past and future seasons feature collaborations under the batons of conductors such as Stephane Deneve, Edo deWaart, Charles Dutoit, JoAnn Falletta, Giancarlo Guerrero, Emanuel Krivine, Cristian Macelaru, Andres Orozco-Estrada, Michael Stern and Leonard Slatkin.

Christina and Michelle's recitals have included venues in America such as the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, New York City's Naumburg Orchestral Concert Series at the Historic Naumberg Bandshell (Central Park) and Le Poisson Rouge, the Schubert Club in St Paul, Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Wharton Center, Houston's Cullen Theater, South Orange Performing Arts Center, the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Ramsey Hall in Athens, and Rockefeller University; as well as on series such as the Fortas Chamber Music Festival, Detroit Chamber Music Series, Harriman Jewell Series,  Steinway Society-The Bay Area, Artist Series of Sarasota, UAB Piano Series, Chamber Music San Francisco Series,  Louisville's Speed Museum Series, Kingston Chamber Music Festival.

European recital highlights for the Naughtons include the Parc Du Chateau de Florans at France's La Roque d'Antheron Festival, the Sociedad de Conciertos de Valencia in Spain, Zurich's Tonhalle,  Prague's Strings of Autumn Festival, Klavierfestival Ruhr, Rheingau Musik Festival, Dresden's Musikfestpiele, Kissinger Sommer, Berlin's Kammermusiksaal, Munich's Herkulesaal, Dusseldorf's Tonhalle, in Hannover's Kleiner Sendesaal, Ingoldstadt's Konzertverein, Reutlingen's Freidrich-List-Halle, Pullach's Burgerhaus, Concert Series in Ludwigshafen, on the Homburg-Saar series, the Bremen Music Festival, Nohant Festival Chopin and Festival Berlioz La Cote de Saint Andre, Casa da Musica Porto, Fundacion Juan March, Auditoria Teluda Moraira and Enclave de Camera in Ourense, Spain.

Recital engagements in Asia and South America have included appearances at the Beijing Forbidden City Concert Hall, Shenzhen Concert Hall, Wuhan Qintai Concert Hall in China, Pallacio de las Bellas Artes, Biblioteca de Luis Angel and Sala Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The Naughtons recorded their first album in the Sendesaal in Bremen Germany; which was released  worldwide in Fall 2012 by label ORFEO. The album has been praised by Der Spiegel Magazine for "stand(ing) out with unique harmony, and sing(ing) out with stylistic confidence", and described by ClassicsToday as a "Dynamic Duo Debut". Their performances have been broadcast on American Public Media's Performance Today, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, New York's WQXR, Chicago's WFMT, Philadelphia's WHYY,  Boston's WQED, Atlanta's WABE, Hong Kong's RTHK, Latvia's Latvijas Radio 3, Netherland's Radio 4 Concerthuis; and Germany's Bayerischen Rudfunks, Nordwest-RadioBremen, WDR and NDR Radio.

Born in 1989 in Princeton, New Jersey, to parents of European and Chinese descent; Christina and Michelle are graduates of Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music, where they were each awarded the Festorazzi Prize. They are Steinway Artists and currently reside in New York City.

Source: christinaandmichellenaughton.com

















Darius Milhaud: La création du monde / The Creation of the World, Op.81a

Milhaud discovered American jazz in a 1920 visit to London, where he encountered Billy Arnold's Novelty Jazz Band in a Hammersmith dance hall. By the time he arrived in New York two years later for a series of engagements, he was claiming that European composers, including himself, were strongly influenced by American jazz (even though the only evidence available consisted of very short pieces by the likes of Satie, Auric, and Stravinsky). In New York, he haunted Harlem clubs and bought as many jazz records as he could. Upon his return to Paris, Milhaud was primed to write a lengthy, jazz-inspired score and saw his chance in a collaboration with Swedish producer Rolf de Maré, designer Fernand Léger, writer Blaise Cendrars, and choreographer Jean Börlin. The subject was nothing less than the creation of the world, as seen through African myth. Léger based his scenery and costumes on African art, and Milhaud took his inspiration from the African American music then in the air: jazz. He created a score for 17 solo instruments, including saxophone, and made liberal use of syncopation and near-chaotic counterpoint with the feeling of jazz improvisation (all the notes were written out, however). The score falls into five sections performed without breaks, always underlined by percussion instruments (here including the piano) that evoke both African drums and American jazz styles. The more animated the music becomes, as in the fugal second section, the more frenetic, syncopated, and outwardly jazzy it grows. The slower, quieter passages early on have less to do with African or American styles, aside from the occasional blue note. Throughout, Milhaud makes liberal use of polytonality, as is the case with all his mature music. The curtain rises on darkness, through which can be dimly perceived in inchoate mass of human bodies. Soon, the African gods of creation, Mzamé, Mebère, and Nkwa materialize and through their incantations, various forms of life begin to emerge from the mass of bodies: trees, animals, and ultimately a man and woman. The couple performs a sassy, syncopated dance of creation; the music becomes gentler and the man and woman are left alone on-stage to welcome the first spring.

Source: James Reel (allmusic.com)



Francis Poulenc: Concerto pour deux pianos et orchestre / Concerto for two pianos and orchestra in D minor, FP 61

Poulenc composed this music in 1932, and played the first performance with Jacques Fevrier on September 5 during the Fifth International Music Festival in Venice, with Désire Defauw conducting the La Scala Orchestra from Milan. It is scored for double winds and brass plus piccolo, English horn, tuba, assorted drums, and reduced strings.

While Poulenc was studying with Koechlin, Serge Diaghilev commissioned him to write Les biches (colloquially "The Girls") for his Ballets Russes. Produced in 1924, this made Poulenc famous. He solidified his reputation in 1928 with the delectable Concert champêtre for harpsichord. The saucy-sentimental Two-Piano Concerto followed in 1932, commissioned by the Princesse Edmond de Polignac (herself a composer, but more famous as a Parisian hostess and patron of the arts). Songs apart, the Two-Piano Concerto has proved to be the composer's hardiest work, clearly influenced by Ravel's G major Concerto, which was premiered at Paris in January 1932 – especially its instrumentation and "blues" passages (in their very French way). Each of the three movements has a slow central section, part-bittersweet, part-sentimental, amounting to ABA form in the first and second, but a rondo-component in the finale.

The opening Allegro ma non troppo has a sonata-form exposition and recapitulation along with bits of once-popular chansons (like croutons in salad) that complement the composer's own jaunty first and second subjects. The slow, sighing central section replaces a development group before Poulenc returns to the boulevards and boites.

The Larghetto pays homage to Mozart throughout, at one point to the slow movement of the C major Piano Concerto, K.467. Piano I leads in effect a musette, as if on a toy piano. The middle section becomes more impassioned, building to a sonorous climax before calm is restored.

Returning to the mood of the first movement, the Allegro molto finale begins with percussive flourishes before it takes off like an Alfa-Romeo in a Grand prix through the avenues and allées of day-and-night Paris, past marching bands and music halls. There is, however, an interlude lyrique et romantique when the Alfa stops for a bedroom tryst, where perfume and perspiration mix with the smoke from Gauloises, after which the race resumes, even more racily.

Source: Roger Dettmer (allmusic.com)



George Gershwin: An American in Paris

After the stunning successes of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and the Piano Concerto in F (1925), Walter Damrosch, then conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was anxious to capitalize on the young composer's growing fame. He requested a work from Gershwin for a first performance in Carnegie Hall in mid-December of 1928. Gershwin had journeyed to Paris and was thoroughly immersed in the mood of the French capital. He brought back authentic Parisian taxi horns, which were used as an integral part of the work. The piece is a true tone poem, inspired by extra-musical considerations – the sights, sounds, and moods of Paris. Deems Taylor, the 1920s composer and critic, furnished a blow-by-blow program for the piece from which I quote a brief excerpt: "You are to imagine an American visiting Paris, swinging down the Champs-Elysées on a mild sunny morning in May or June... Our American's ears being open as well as his eyes, he notes with pleasure the sounds of the city. French taxicabs seem to amuse him particularly". Although he claimed not to have a program in mind when he wrote the work, Gershwin did sketch his own general scenario: "An opening section, in which an American visitor strolls about Paris and ‘absorbs the French atmosphere’, is followed by a rich blues with a strong rhythmic undercurrent", representing an episode of homesickness on the visitor's part. But the American overcomes his spell of depression and once again revels in the sights and sounds of Paris. "At the conclusion", according to the composer, "the street noises and French atmosphere are triumphant".

A three-part form is discernible in the composition. The slow middle section includes the famous "homesickness blues" solo by the trumpet, later interrupted by a Charleston-like, highly rhythmic figure also played by the trumpet. The harmonies in this work are spiced with stacked-third sonorities: ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth chords. Gershwin admitted that some influence of Debussy bore on the work, and indeed impressionistic passages can be heard in the section before the unforgettable bluesy trumpet solo. Readers interested in an in-depth analysis should consult Steven E. Gilbert's The Music of Gershwin (Yale University Press, 1995). While there are innumerable recordings of the work available, the most authentic one (although it lacks good sound) is the first one, made on February 4, 1929, with Nathaniel Shilkret conducting the Victor Symphony Orchestra (Victor 39563 and 39564; RCA AVM1-1740); this recording was available (as of 1999) in the Smithsonian Institution's 4-CD album titled I Got Rhythm: The Music of George Gershwin. Gershwin played the celeste part on this recording and obviously was present for the session, presumably indicating that Shilkret's interpretation was acceptable to the composer.

Source: Norbert Carnovale (allmusic.com)












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