Music

Chamber Music Society: Celebration of Johannes Brahms with Jessye Norman

Live from Lincoln Center is madepossible by a major grant from MetLife, the company that helps you make sense of it all, and on behalf of MetLife's affiliate, the New England, planning for your success.

Live from Lincoln Center is also made possible by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Jr.

Charitable Trust The Fan Fox and Leslie R SamuelsFoundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Good evening and welcome.

It's an earlyspring evening on the plaza here at Lincoln Center and we're about to launch into a warm rich evening of Brahms here at Alice Tully Hall.

Tonight's program is called a celebration of Brahms but that's only half of it because thisevening also celebrates the singular joys of making music on a small scale.

Chamber music is truly family sized, in that it was meant for the home.

Fortunately for all of us who love it and don't have it at home, released liveanyway, its charms do translate to the stage.

You know, there are many chamber music fans all over the world and they all have the special smile ofthose who are in on some secret.

If you aren't already in the club, thisperformance just may be your initiation.

This evening, members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center have invited some friends who I think define the term special guest.

Jessye Norman and Pinchas Zukerman occupy that rarefied zone inhabited by a small handful of musicians who are revered by their colleagues but also admired by a worldwide public.

In a moment, the concert's going to begin and we will hear for ourselves why they take time fromconducting and recitals and operas and orchestral performances to playfamily-sized music.

And at intermission, we'll come backstage to visit withtonight's artists and I'll see you then.

[applause] [strings begin] well it's really challenging I think youtwo have played in addition with great orchestras a lot of chamber music I havea brother who does chamber things with these a flute player all of you talkabout the rapport between players in a chamber situation is it more so than inan orchestra situation and if so why well being an orchestra of course youhave the whole sound of the orchestra you're you're part of this big ensembleand you have a conductor who's basically giving you his ideas and you're tryingto interpret that in your best fashion in chamber music we have maybe moreconductors on stage except that we all have to suppress our egos a little bitbecause we're not also Lois we're solos yet chamber players so we have tocombine these two forms together to come to a common ingredient to commonperformance it's almost literally more in concert and then with a largeOrchestra that is exactly how do you do you feel differently when you're playingin I feel it's really all about listening and I find any orchestra it'sit's even more challenging because you need to listen to the horn solo and theclarinets and you have to make sure that you're fitting together in a very largetexture the smaller ensemble you listen as well but you feel like it's it's moreintimate because there's only five of you instead of 100 onstage and there'sno conductor also see you're not having to interpret sure that would make whathe wants for the large crew this particular piece is is magnificent andthe fact that Brahms said that it was the last thing he was going to writefortunately he didn't he didn't keep this promise there and there's nothingabout it that sounds fair well you know like that like the Tchaikovsky's sixthor than bollar ninth or tenth what do you suppose he had in mind when hedecided well when to hang it up he also was gonna write this I think originallyfor two pianos and then for another sort of string quintet with two cellosinstead of two violas and then he finally decided upon this version andbasically he maybe he couldn't make up his mind but it's so such a big piecesactually quite orchestral talk about myselfyeah orchestras so he finally came up with this to be olace and we like tocall the the quintets because they're two violasand obviously it works in a grand scale and it works fabulous wayit sure does when I listen to you guys playing it's magnificent and we're gonnahear more Brahms very shortly and thank you for visiting with us now thank you Oh well magnificent – here I she'sfantastic one thing you're like that and and in that that kind of a setting towhich is really chamber music and then just soul over the cord is chamber musicwhat is it is a written for small chambers but that's all I can think ofyou know a chamber music is what is yours there the process of listeningwhich musicians or yeah that's what Jamie music is if you don't playchairman music you're not a musician as far as I'm concerned you've got thepicture music yeah and if you're a composer you've got a write real musicyou can't cover it up with a battery of percussion and brass and that's felonywhatnot well I won't have to ask you what lured you to this particularprogram what part did the program play and getting you here to participate wellit's a celebration of Brahms and when David called me a couple of years ago toparticipate I said by all means I'd love to play as much music as I can withcertain people we talked about and of course these are the people I wanted toplay with and I don't I I don't have a problem with playing first second thirdfourth you know I'm utility infielder it's fine to I can't sing I wish I couldand then we could do some brown to do it so something with this abut I can Ican't play the piano to thank God you know it's our provement sings where hethought he sings where are you sang a little bit you knowone of the notes here and there what kind of adjustment do you have to makeas opposed to solo you know performing solo I've made him a lot Ipaid him a lot of money so they follow what I say we get together we play withdiscussion we change everything in the performance you know we do a there's noadjusting you have to listen you just have to listen to you as you have tolisten to each other what's that theater you know actors we can't do it alone wehave to play with other people that's the essence of chamber music musicmaking in general if it would be a free-for-all with a large Orchestra ifthere wasn't a conductor but in chamber music who makes the decisions that aconductor would make seriously the music makes the decision those nodes that weplay today they've been there for a hundred years it's some more that's thedecision we have to come to in a group of four a group of five group of 150 itdoesn't matter as conductor what you're trying to do is given the opportunity toexpress the words through you in playing you're doing it through the instrumentimmediately but when you have a group of four or five you have to do the samething it's essentially the same thing it's a team it's not one or the othernow in this quintet coming up that we're gonna hear after intermission whatspecial thing should the listener look be on the lookout for to appreciate itmost the interplay between voices there's a lot going on inside insidevoices viola cello the piano has an enormous a million notes to play veryheart beats for the piano which David does very easily because he's so giftedand again a keyboard where all of the arrogance of composers would you saythat's their problem all right at this time we look forwardto hearing it though and nice talking with you person and not just on thetelephone a thank you thank you what a beautiful sound there was greatto hear and I'm gonna ask you what what adjustment you make if any in performingof chamber piece like that as opposed to doing a solo where you're accompanied bya piano or a big Orchestra well the wonderful thing about chambermusic is that of course what everybody else has said is this wonderful and toplay and the intimacy of our working together and interaction of themusicians that's a wonderful thing it's marvelous if one could achieve that whenperforming with a larger group but that is very rare and with chamber music it'svery simple because we're close together everybody has a solo at some pointeverybody is accompanying everybody else and we all sort of sometimes we sharethe musical phrase sometimes one instrument might start a phrase and it'staken up by another one and it's just it's a wonderful quiet intimate way tomake music I love it yeah I'm sure you've sung a lot of otherchamber music is there anything special about Brahms that you like and thesethese particulars well I like problems because it's very tuneful yeah I reallylove it I think a lot of music 20th century music contemporary music where Idon't have these lovely melodic lines all the time but I do i do love Brahmsand I love these songs I love the the fact that the viola is very close to thesound that the solo voice the singer is meant to make that the colors are verysimilar and that I enjoy very much particularly since this for alto and yesthe piano and you have tremendous range so you can say soprano and Alto well Ido reckon is there a preference or that's a awful question to ask man isthere anything special about singing in the alto range that you that appeals toyou well I do it because it's comfortable for me and because I lovethe music I mean that's why I do anything that I do I sing the music thatsuits my voice whether is meant to be soprano or lyric soprano or contraltowhatever if I really feel that I have empathy for what it is I'm going to singor what it is I want to sing and then I will do it and it doesn't matter thevocal registration that's supposed to be there with a rage appears to be not onlyvocally but you have quite a range from singing solo and operatic arias andand chamber music of this kind you get in the right gear for each one yes I doand I I don't really have to make an adjustment vocally I think that theadjustment is more a mental one because I know I know yes when I'm singing witha small group like this I mean we can change things much more easily there'smuch more flexibility than one would have with a large Orchestra and we canchange things and I think I said do it completely differently than we did isn'tvery soft that's amazing I'm able to be more challenging and more nerve-wrackingbut apparently you feel very much at home oh no it's it's somehow somehowmore more comfortable because we are we are there together and everybody as Isaid before supporting you know one the other is great well it's certainly agreat thing to be on the listening end of it I really appreciate the chance tochat with you thank you thank you Jesse Norman I'll start with you David askswhat what goes into making a decision about what constitutes the program nowwe know it's going to be a Brahms chamber concert what made you decidewhich ones to play to do well you can't go very far wrong with Brahms because hewas such a perfectionist he composed a great deal of music which was neverheard he was his own worst critic and best editor so only his favorite musicgot published so for those of us who perform and make programs there's onlygreat music of Brahms there are no duds and so for a concert like tonight wehave the opportunity of featuring the great artists that who are theperformers that we have on hand and choosing from an array of wonderfulworks and of course the centerpiece for tonight's concert were the viola songswith with Jesse Norman and dingus Aukerman and david golub because Pinkushad told me that they had done them together before and it was a great wayof having a centerpiece for a program like this and then the first work in thelast work are two really big pieces that we're using to end a year-longcelebration of music of Brahms and Brahms wrote some really big music andwe have some really big players and by that I mean not just big loud soundsgreat range motion and I don't mean physicallyacidic about great range of emotion and colors and the ability to do to realizewhat Brahms did with his chamber music which was to take enormous concepts andideas and compose them for really smaller groups yes and you're right hewas a perfectionist it didn't like to have any unfinished early sketches orstuff get get out out of his control with so many composers you can say thisis a good worker this is a strong work with problems they're all master seesthat way that's true how do you feel about about a selection like this andyour participation do something seem more daunting thanothers and then make up it the first piece was very dauntingyou know it's been at such a I just have to say it's been such a rush playingwith all these people I mean of course the music has been absolutely you knowstellar but to work with the artists that I've been working with this weekand to perform these last few nights it's just it's it's something that's areal high point of my year and to sit there and have that sound of pick asucker man next to me it's just it's a privilege it really is so I've had agreat time a really great time we're gonna hear a work of a younger Brahms itwas the last one on them on the concert how does that compare with that opus 111that we heard earlier Gary the piano quintet is a piece that that has anincredible amount of almost unbridled passion to it it's it's it's wild it hasincredible abandoned to it the the work that we've that we heard at thebeginning that we played at the beginning is a piece that that's reallythe product of the very mature Brahms is much more compact it's it's much morewell structured in the sense that things move easily from one thing to the nextthe piano quintet is a piece that's rugged it's passionate andit has a tremendous amount of momentum and force I think that's that's it'sgreat appeal a lot of weights gonna be on you on that piece but what's yourappraisal of it well I one thing I love about the pieceabout the music of the chamber music of Brahms in general is its orchestralnature and this piece is this aspect is certainly typifies by the quintet butBrahms is really for me the first composer that really blurs thedistinction between what's orchestral and what's chamber that the chambermusic is obviously very orchestral in nature and the orchestra music incompensation is oftentimes very chamber like and when you play a piece like theBrahms quintet you really participate in the visceral thrill of a great deal ofpower but also a lot of intimacy at the same time and it's a great rush surelook forward to it we gotta let it everybody go back to work not on we'regonna be enjoying it and thank you all for the chance to chat with you Oh Oh live from Lincoln Center was madepossible by a major grant from MetLife the company that helps you make sense ofit all and on behalf of net life's affiliate the New England planning foryour success live from Lincoln Center was also made possible by grants fromthe Robert Wood Johnson jr.

Charitable Truststhe fan Fox and Leslie R Samuels Foundation and the National Endowmentfor the Arts.

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