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ENESCU re-IMAGINED

TUE, October 20, 2009, 8 pm

MERKIN CONCERT HALL
at Kaufman Center, Goodman House, 129 West 67th St.,
New York, NY 10023

Admission: $18; Students, Seniors: $12. To purchase tickets call 212-501-3330 or http://www.merkinconcerthall.org/

Discount tickets code "RCINY": $12 available by phone (see above) or at box office


GET A TASTE OF IT
Orchestral Suite no. 1 in C major, op.9 (1903): Prélude à l’Unisson (short version, mp3 file, 3 M)

Ban and New Orleans–bred bassist John Hébert are the arrangers for this evening of the undervalued musician’s works. Some of Enescu’s melodies have the rubato quality of Ornette Coleman’s early unison themes; Ban’s rhythm section is spacey enough to keep the lines atmospherically suspended, hovering like a chopper. Both orchestrators look far afield: Added to a frontline of cornet, reeds and two violins (respectively, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tony Malaby, Joyce Hammann and Mat Maneri), Indian percussionist Badal Roy shifts momentum even farther east. Overall, the chamber-jazz expressionism of, say, Jimmy Giuffre will hold sway, even when drummer Gerald Cleaver kicks the volume level beyond ruminative territory. -
K. Leander Williams, TimeOut New York

Enescu Re-Imagined assembles eight of the city's most avant-garde underground players for a wild, contemporary bop re-envisioning of Enescu's sonatas and symphonies. Trust us, this kind of night only happens once every three centuries. – Stacey Anderson, Village Voice

The Romanian Cultural Institute in New York presents the US premiere of ENESCU re-IMAGINED, by Lucian Ban and John Hebert, following its world premiere as one of highlights of the "George Enescu" Festival in Bucharest, Romania, on September 20th, 2009.

More than a century after Romanian composer George Enescu was first introduced to American audiences, Romanian New York-based pianist Lucian Ban, together with renowned jazz bassist John Hebert, takes on Enescu’s music legacy in this daring contemporary jazz re-imagination of some of his unique works for a stunning group of New York jazz iconoclasts, featuring: Mat Maneri, viola; Joyce Hammann, violin; Tony Malaby, tenor sax; Taylor Ho Bynum, trumpet; Lucian Ban, piano, orchestrations; Badal Roy, tablas; John Hebert, double bass, orchestrations; Gerald Cleaver, drums.

A famous composer, an even more famous violinist, a conductor and pianist George Enescu was one of the most unique musicians of the past 2oth century, one whose influence spans both Europe and America and countless musicians and fellow composers. His most renowned pupil, the great violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin calls him "the greatest musician I have ever known" and would often speak, prophetically about the 21st century as "The Century of Enescu".

Conceived as a workshop in 2006 by Romanian born, NYC based jazz pianist & composer Lucian Ban, the project evolved today in an 8 piece ensemble that blends the music of George Enescu with jazz and contemporary music. Working at the edge of classical, jazz, downtown improv and contemporary music, the ensemble re-orchestrates and re-interprets scores from George Enescu’s impressive body of work – from the famous 3rd Sonata for Violin & Piano in Romanian Folk Character to the unfinished 4th Symphony to the various chamber pieces and the larger orchestral works of this amazing 20th century Romanian composer. Although his music is present on the classical stages today, it was never, so far, been re-interpreted from a contemporary jazz angle.

The Octet features some of the most "forward thinking musicians that push the music into the new millennium”: master violist and a Grammy nominee Mat Maneri, the New York Times “contemporary master saxophonist” Tony Malaby, virtuoso violinist Joyce Hammann, trumpet player Taylor Ho Bynum, “one of the most brilliant of the new third millennial masters of his generation”, “Down Beat winner bassist” John Hebert and visionary drummer Gerald Cleaver. Add to this line-up the foremost exponent of tabla in jazz music, the legendary Badal Roy, a collaborator of legends like Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Yoko Ono and you’re sure to witness an unlike anything you’ve ever heard performance.

”I have come to truly discover and fall in love with Enescu’s music long after I moved from Romania to New York City to study at Mannes School of Music, one of the US universities where Enescu regularly taught,” says pianist and composer Lucian Ban. “I’ve found that many of Enescu’s works, some of which are lesser known, have a structure and a feeling resembling that of jazz; this was the starting point for wanting to present his music in a new light, together with an ensemble featuring some of the most daring musicians of today."


ENESCU re-IMAGINED CELEBRATES THE SPECIAL RELASHIONSHIP THAT ENESCU HAD WITH THE UNITED STATES

The 21st century will be The Century of Enescu Yehudi Menuhin

I have known very many great musicians, and very few geniuses. Enescu was a genius. - Leopold Stokowski

An exceptional composer, violinist, conductor, and teacher (1881–1955), Enescu's first public appearance in the United States took place on January 2, 1923 in New York City. He kept returning to the US, performing as violinist and conductor in at least twenty-five states and the District of Columbia, becoming known both as a Violin Virtuoso and Conductor, most notably with the New York Philharmonic in 1936-37, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 1936, he was one of the candidates considered to replace Toscanini as its permanent conductor. 

Known and remembered also as a great teacher, Enescu regularly lectured in the US, Yehudi Menuhin featuring among his many pupils. He was a frequent visitor to Harvard University where his work with students centered on composition rather than performance. After World War II he was invited to teach at the David Mannes School of Music, and he also lectured at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where, during a single season (1949-50) three renowned composers visited for extended residencies: Enescu, Aaron Copland, and Igor Stravinsky.

But it was chiefly as a composer that he was recognized and appreciated in the US, unlike in Europe at the time. “I was simply delighted, Enescu noted, when America welcomed me first as composer and only afterwards as conductor and violinist. I was first and foremost awarded the title of composer, which was the supreme bliss for me.” 

He was introduced to the American audience long before 1923, through many performances of his orchestral works (including many premieres) conducted by such luminaries as Gustav Mahler, Walter Damrosch, Frederick Stock, and Leopold Stokowski. 

Besides this great connection with, and recognition in the US, the composer George Enescu remains underappreciated and little known in the diversity of its work. This concert aims to shed a new light on a variety of his works, including little known unfinished pieces, hoping, as Enescu’s pupil and friend Yehudi Menuhim would say, that “the 21st century will be The Century of Enescu”.


CONCERT PROGRAM

Octet for Strings in C major, op.7 (1900) – Part 1: Très Modéré

Sonata no. 3 for violin and piano
in A minor “dans le caractère populaire roumain”, op.25 (1926): Part 1

Sonata no. 3 for violin and piano
in A minor “dans le caractère populaire roumain”, op.25 (1926): Part 2

Orchestral Suite no. 1
in C major, op.9 (1903): Prélude à l’Unisson

Aria et Scherzino for violin, viola, cello, bass and piano (1909): Aria*

Suite no. 1 for piano in G minor, op.3 (1897): Adagio

Symphony no. 4
in E minor (unfinished) – Part 2: Marziale*

Ballad for violin and orchestra, op.4A (1895)*

*) Performed courtesy of the George Enescu National Museum in Bucharest

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