carte blanche concert ii: Sasha Cooke and Kelly Markgraf with 2012. 7. 13.آ  Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano;

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Text of carte blanche concert ii: Sasha Cooke and Kelly Markgraf with 2012. 7. 13.آ  Sasha Cooke,...

  • 43www.musicatmenlo.org

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    t Srobert Schumann (1810–1856)

    Minnespiel op. 101 no. 3: “Ich bin dein Baum, o Gärtner” (1849) Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Kelly Markgraf, baritone; Gilbert Kalish, piano

    edvard grieg (1843–1907) Selected Songs “Jeg elsker dig”; “En svane”; “Med en vandlilje”

    Kelly Markgraf, baritone; Gilbert Kalish, piano

    JohanneS brahmS (1833–1897) Selected Songs “Sapphische Ode,” op. 94, no. 4 “Die Mainacht,” op. 43, no. 2 “Nicht mehr zu dir zu gehen,” op. 32, no. 2 “Unbewegte, laue Luft,” op. 57, no. 8

    Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Gilbert Kalish, piano

    hugo WolF (1860–1903) Liederstrauss (1878) “Sie haben heut’ Abend Gesellschaft” “Mir träumte von einem Königskind” “Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen” “Mein Liebchen, wir sassen beisammen” “Das ist ein Brausen und Heulen” “Es blasen die blauen Husaren” “Aus meinen grossen Schmerzen”

    Kelly Markgraf, baritone; Gilbert Kalish, piano

    FranciS Poulenc (1899–1963) Cinq poèmes de Max Jacob, FP 59 (1931) “Chanson bretonne”; “Berceuse”; “Cimetière”; “Souric et Mouric”; “La petite servante”

    Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Gilbert Kalish, piano

    INTERMISSION

    ned rorem (b. 1923) War Scenes (1969) “A Night Battle” “Inauguration Ball” “A Specimen Case” “The Real War Will Never Get in the Books” “An Incident”

    Kelly Markgraf, baritone; Gilbert Kalish, piano

    george crumb (b. 1929) Three Early Songs (1947) “Night”; “Wind Elegy”; “Let It Be Forgotten”

    Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Gilbert Kalish, piano

    Jerome kern (1885–1945) Selected Songs “Make Believe”; “You Are Love”; “Why Do I Love You?”

    Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Kelly Markgraf, baritone; Gilbert Kalish, piano

    July 28 saturday, July 28, 8:00 p.m., st. mark’s episcopal Church

    Program overvieW The husband-and-wife team of Sasha Cooke and Kelly Markgraf returns to Music@Menlo with a program exploring personal artistic choices. Singers have countless options in approaching repertoire, not only of composer but of poet and language, aesthetic and expression. How do artists make such choices? And why? Joined by pianist Gilbert Kalish, Cooke and Markgraf have assembled a program exploring the different elements that move us to make music. The program features the aching poetry of Heine and Whitman, the lyricism of Schumann, Brahms, and George Crumb, and songs that pay tribute to each singer’s heritage, from Edvard Grieg to Irving Berlin.

    SPECIAL THANKS

    Music@Menlo dedicates this performance to Kathleen G. Henschel with gratitude for her generous support.

    carte blanche concert ii:

    Sasha Cooke and Kelly Markgraf with Gilbert Kalish

  • 44 Music@Menlo 2012

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    Along with the honor of receiving a Carte Blanche recital came the challenge of living up to the programmatic influence and incredible standard here. It should be no surprise then that about five or so ideas and truly “carte blanche” desires melded into this one program. At the start we couldn’t help but consider Menlo’s thematic plan for the summer and, in turn, why we as musicians come to music or more spe- cifically how we as singers put together a vocal recital. Hoping to offer a mirror image, we decided to explore the music from a musician’s perspective. This perspective is particularly interesting among the phe- nomenal cast of instrumentalists at Menlo, as we often have different reasons for selecting repertoire and setting the pace. Chamber music here is just about as close to being an instrumentalist as a singer can get, and yet we embrace our roots and want to explore the immense landscape that the vocal repertoire offers. Inspirations can be deeply meaningful or seemingly random. Going from the rich chromatic world of Wolf’s Liederstrauss to the often intentionally simple Poulenc Max Jacob songs, you can’t help but witness how a song’s text plays a huge part. The variety is essential to both audience and performer. Just as with a dinner party, one wants to have a main course and a side dish or two, maybe a salad: we plan the evening for your consumption and don’t want you to leave feeling too heavy—not to mention that there is a vocal and emotional toll on our side. Undoubtedly, the poetry is our great privilege and responsibility as singers, and sometimes, as in the case of Kelly’s Wolf, it is even our reason for choosing the songs. Other influential facets include the simple fact that we are married! It’s not so often that we get to sing with each other so we figure that we should take advantage of the opportunity. This reason brought us to the beautiful wedding vow–esque Schumann and playful American duets. Our nuptial union and new family of three may have been the seeds that attracted us to the idea of performing music from the countries of our ancestors, another theme thrown into the mix. We also were com- pelled towards some repertoire knowing we’d be with our friend from last summer and incredible colleague Gil. It essentially meant we could do anything! The question was what might he love to do. In reflecting on our process, it seems that Menlo was the driving force. The almost salon-like culture of expressing ideas and sharing them so generously here awakened our many recital dreams—so we decided to embrace them all.

    sasHa anD KeLLY: Schumann is very much a friend to the Menlo family and without a doubt one of the most towering figures of the vocal realm. It’s fitting then that he introduce us, not only as a very familiar mentor throughout our vocal studies but also for the well- documented and legendary love of his spouse. The ballad “Ich bin dein Baum, o Gärtner” was written at a time in his marriage when Brahms was not yet in the picture and the couple had already had several chil- dren. One can hear the grounded, simple sincerity right at the start. The duet comes from his Minnespiel of 1849, a collection of eight Friedrich Rückert songs in solo and chamber settings. Psychologically speak- ing, Schumann was beginning to deteriorate at this point, dealing with depression and severe anxiety, among other things. Some critics have found these circumstances to be the reason behind the awkward and edgy musical writing of this period or that much of it, like this cycle, is rarely performed. Outside of Carmen or Don Giovanni, there aren’t many duets for baritone and mezzo-soprano, so we are grateful to Schumann for this beautiful and heartrending ode.

    KeLLY: There’s nothing like having a child to pique your interest in your family history. This little being makes you ponder your own mortality, if for no other reason, simply because you know how greatly his or

    her life would be affected if you were gone. It also makes me wonder whether she will be interested in her history—where her grandparents came from and what makes them who they are. I’ve tread an intriguing path while exploring my Norwegian heritage, discovering new names on faded records, reconnecting with estranged family members to hear hidden stories, and even driving blindly into the rolling hills of Wiscon- sin’s western farmlands to locate the ancestral farmstead. In the midst of this searching, I wondered why I hadn’t ever sung any songs by a Norwegian composer. Much like Scandinavian history in general, Nor- wegian musical history doesn’t exactly take a front seat in the course books. Who were the primary composers? What did they write? Edvard Grieg was a natural entry point, and I was thrilled to find a wealth of songs that are rich in both harmony and feeling. “Jeg elsker dig” is perhaps Grieg’s most famous song. Direct and charmingly simple, it has impassioned harmonies that show us a composer who knew powerful love. Nina Grieg, Edvard’s wife, was an acclaimed singer and interpreter of his songs, traveling through Europe and performing with her hus- band until the end of their lives. I like to imagine what this song would have been like for her to sing, knowing that her husband had composed it for her. Notably, both “En svane” and “Med en vandlilje” invoke the Nøkken character of Scandinavian folklore, a dangerous water troll that lures unwary travelers, only to pull them into the depths and drown them. In both pieces, Grieg manages to create concrete and compel- ling musical ideas out of Ibsen’s terse, symbolic poetry.

    sasHa: What words come to mind with the mention of Brahms? For me it is lyricism, melody, beauty, torment, and immense, long-awaited joy. Within the vocal world he has become known as one of the compos- ers performed by the great voices or singers of the “golden era”—in addition to those singers who don’t feel entirely comfortable venturing too far into the recital realm or who mostly do opera. The reason lies in his vocal writing and the space and depth he provides for breath, support, and ideal vocalism. I particularly recall the voices of Christa Ludwig, Marilyn Horne, and Jessye Norman, to name a few. For this reason Brahms has always scared me! And I have avoided singing any of his vocal solos. So I wanted to finally face my fear at Menlo and take on the challenge. It not only is a matter of singing with grounded legato and good technique but also involves a fearlessness that comes into play in the live performance itself. That, I suppose