Enjoy the Journey
The letters SCH form the core of the listening experience of this recording as we radiate out from Schubert and Schumann to the masterful four-hand reimagining of the past by two living composers, Steven Stucky and Roberto Sierra. Both composers welcome the inspiration of their musical brethren; to quote T.S. Eliot, “What might have been and what has been, point to one end, which is always present.”
Our ears find new context for the refracted sounds, from the brilliant Caribbean sunshine in Roberto’s case, to the more muted and melancholy tones in Steve’s. Miri and I are inspired by the contrasts of explosive passion and dreaming, lyrical redemption in this music, as the prismatic colors unfold before us.
Xak has appeared with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall. He has performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Konzerthaus in Berlin as well as at Alice Tully Hall, Weill Hall and the Kennedy Center. For many years, he has performed nationally as a member of the Los Angeles Piano Quartet and was co-director with Steven Stucky of Ensemble X, a new music ensemble. Read more
Miri made her orchestral debut as a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and maestro Zubin Mehta at the age of 16, playing Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.1. Since then, she appeared with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Mainz Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Valencia, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, National Orchestra of Johannesburg, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Peninsula Music Festival orchestra and Cornell Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. Read more
Franz Schubert Rondo in A major, D951
Xak Bjerken, primo; Miri Yampolsky, secondo
Steven Stucky Allegretto quasi Andantino (Schubert Dream) 2010
Miri Yampolsky, primo; Xak Bjerken, secondo
Robert Schumann Papillons, Op. 2
Roberto Sierra Sch. 2009
Xak Bjerken, primo; Miri Yampolsky, secondo
Robert Schumann Sonata in G minor, Op. 2
SCH pairs the traditional with the new, the inspired with the inspiration - reflections, refractions, echoes, and fulfillment of the past illuminate our path to the present, all filtered through the music of four master composers.
Steven Stucky's Allegretto quasi Andantino (Schubert Dream) was inspired by one of the greatest works for piano, four hands, Schubert's Rondo in A, D951. Stucky writes this about the work:
Allegretto quasi Andantino is the tempo marking of Schubert's Grand Rondo in A Major (D. 951) from 1828. My Schubert dream is sparked of a few, half-remembered bits of that wonderful work: here a typically Schubertian patch of chromatic voice leading, there a bit of cantabile melody. As in any dream, events do not always follow one another with the logic of daytime, and surprising associations (Mussorgsky, for one) might float past on the surreal narrative stream. Like John Harbison in his celebrated November 19, 1828, I gravitate towards the last year of Schubert's life, which found him increasingly preoccupied with darker subjects. Even the sunny Grand Rondo plays out, I think, against a backdrop of melancholy, and that same melancholy is the dominant mood of my Allegretto quasi Andantino.
Roberto Sierra's work, sch., which gives this record its name, was inspired by Schumann's lovely and personal masterwork for solo piano, Papillons. It is also inspired by Schumann's musical "signature", Eb-C-B, or in German notational spelling, Es-C-H (hence, SCH). Sierra writes this about the piece:
The letters that form the title of this work represent three musical notes: E flat, C natural and B natural; they also represent the abbreviation of the last name of Robert Schumann, to whom I pay homage. This motive, which happens to be a topos in my work, is present on every page of Sch.; in addition, each movement is a reflection on either a specific character Schumann’s world (Eusebius, Florestan and Maestro Raro), or on one of his miniatures (the opening gesture of Papillons, Abschied from Waldszenen, Träumerei from Kinderscenen, Blumenstück and Phantasiestücke). These are not quotations intended to be at the surface of the music, instead they are deeply embedded in the musical structure of the work, and are filtered through my own musical language. Sch. was written for Miri Yampolsky and Xak Bjerken.
SCH closes with Miri Yampolsky's powerful, yet tender performance of Schumann's piano sonata in G minor, No. 2. It is a prodigious and fitting close to an album of new and old masterworks for the piano.