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Program Notes: May 25, 2008
Alberto Ginastera's Obertura para el "Fausto" Criollo (Overture to the Creole "Faust," 1943) comes from his period of "objective nationalism," and may be seen as a kind of comic pendant to his ballet Estancia. Both works celebrate the gaucho as a symbol of Argentine nationalism, but the overture does so more obliquely than the ballet, presenting Gounod's Faust as seen through the eyes of a gaucho. The situation derives from a nineteenth-century poem by Estanislao del Campo, in which a Creole gaucho hears Faust in Buenos Aires and then, deeply moved by the opera and abetted by gin, relates the experience to a friend. The work is especially fun for those who can recognize the bits of Faust that form its substance, but its blend of drama, musical caricature, and sheer exuberance make it easily accessible to all.
Maurice Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole (1907-08) and Pavane for a Dead Princess (1899, orchestrated 1910), while roughly contemporaneous, contrast in nearly everything but their delicately masterful treatment of the orchestra. Thus, the former is all sensuousness, the latter all exquisite ethereality. The Rapsodie plays to the Parisian taste for music with a Spanish tinge, proceeding with a series of dances after an opening Prelude wrapped in a nocturnal exoticism. The Malagueña (deriving from Malaga, in Andalusia) is in a gypsy-inflected triple meter, eventually dissolving back into the mysterious atmosphere of the Prelude. The Habanera (of Afro-Cuban derivation) is borrowed from a movement Ravel wrote in 1895 for two pianos, offering a subtle alternative to the more famous Habanera of Bizet's Carmen, though equally seductive. The concluding Feria, which displays Ravel's orchestration at its most brilliant, is the most substantial movement of the Rapsodie, and forms its climax. In sharp contrast to the mysterious and exotic spices of the Rapsodie, the Pavane represents Ravel at his most serenely poetic, in an orchestral elegy reminiscent of Gabriel Fauré, his teacher between 1897-1903.
Claude Debussy's Première rapsodie for Clarinet and Orchestra (1910, orchestrated 1911) is a stunning demonstration of what a superb orchestrator can do with a work originally conceived and executed for piano. In its piano version, it doesn't quite escape its intended function, as a competition piece for clarinet students at the Conservatoire. But it comes alive in its orchestral setting, owing to the myriad ways the clarinet relates to the larger group. Thus, the orchestra sometimes paints a subdued background for the clarinet; at other times it offers rich sonorities in which the clarinet can immerse itself; but it is also ready to respond dramatically and in kind to the clarinet's capricious flights of virtuosity.
David Newman's Music for Clarinet and Orchestra, which premieres this evening, is an orchestration of a movement from an earlier piece: his Concerto for Winds (2007), a work in eight movements for wind quintet, in which five of the movements feature members of the ensemble as featured soloists. The clarinet movement (the basis for tonight's Music) explores the outer limits of the instrument's register, and sets the clarinet's bebop style against an orchestra that for the most part doesn't seem to "understand" it, forging a dramatic shape from the stylistic divide between them.
-- Raymond Knapp
Gary Bovyer, clarinet
April 27, 2008 Benefit
Clarinetist Gary Bovyer, "a virtuosic and passionate soloist" according to the Los Angeles Times, is principal clarinetist of the Long Beach Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Santa Monica Symphony. His playing has been described as "soulful and astute...sparkling with grace and warmth", Los Angeles Times and "flexible and elegant" Ha'aretz Israel. The Long Beach Grunion Gazette said of his performance with the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra," Quiet perfection marked the Mozart Clarinet Concerto as performed by Gary Bovyer... the perfection came from the balance, the musicality, the just-right tempos and the sense of total authority. Bovyer was poised, his sound creamy and luscious... what came through was fabulous Mozart, in all its glory."
In addition to his orchestral responsibilities Gary Bovyer is in much demand as a soloist. In 2007 he gave the world premiere of David Newman's Concerto for Winds with the Long Beach Symphony and recently appeared with the Mozart Classical Orchestra in Orange County's new Segerstrom Hall. He has performed as soloist several times with the Santa Monica Symphony in Weber's Concerto no. 1, Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and in the West Coast premiere of Dan Welcher's Concerto for Clarinet. He has appeared as soloist with the Jerusalem Symphony, the Santa Maria Philharmonic, the Bremerton Symphony and the Berkeley Orchestra and in the summer of 1999 he performed the Artie Shaw Clarinet Concerto with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra on two sold out performances at the Hollywood Bowl. He is also featured on the Philips recording Always and Forever by The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra with John Mauceri conductor.
Currently Gary Bovyer is a member of Pacific Classical Winds, a period instrument ensemble which has recorded for New World Records. He was formerly a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Winds, and was principal clarinetist with the Los Angeles Opera for several seasons. He was also principal clarinetist of the Jerusalem Symphony for three seasons and was a founding member of the Ariel Ensemble Jerusalem making several recordings for the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Gary Bovyer is also heard on numerous motion picture soundtracks and albums. Composers who have featured his playing include John Debney, Danny Elfman, James Horner and David Newman.
A native of Oakland, California, Gary Bovyer received his Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School where he was a pupil of the legendary Joseph Allard. He also worked with the British virtuoso clarinetist, Gervase DePeyer in New York and with the woodwind and chamber music coach, Mordechai Rechtman in Israel. Currently he resides in Sierra Madre with his wife Michele, a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's first violin section, their daughter Joanna and son Isaac. In his spare time he enjoys motorcycling, hiking and tennis.
David Newman, composer
Widely recognized as one of Hollywood's foremost composers, David Newman has scored over 100 films, ranging from War of the Roses, Hoffa, Bowfinger and Heathers, to the more recent Serenity and Ice Age. The recipient of numerous honors from the motion picture and classical music industries, Newman is revered not only for his original voice but for his expert versatility in film projects ranging from critically acclaimed dramas to top-grossing comedies and award-winning animated films.
His Concerto for Winds was premiered by the Long Beach Symphony in 2007. Each of the piece's first five movements was written for individual wind soloists of the orchestra, among them clarinetist Gary Bovyer. Santa Monica Symphony Music Director Allen Robert Gross was so taken with the clarinet movement that he asked Newman to expand it into a stand-alone concert piece for clarinet. The resulting composition will be premiered by the Santa Monica Symphony and Gary Bovyer on May 25.
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