Events & Tickets
Sounds of the Times: Pintscher and Barnatan
Matthias Pintscher—famed Music Director of Ensemble intercontemporain—returns to perform the music of today, including the U.S. premiere of his own piano concerto NUR with Inon Barnatan.Translating to fire in Hebrew and Arabic, NUR was hailed as spellbinding and seductive in its 2019 premiere. The program also features innovative works by Brazil’s Marcos Balter, Germany’s Enno Poppe and the U.S.'s own George Lewis.
Approx. Duration: 6 minutes
Abby Easterling, flute; Kelsi Doolittle, clarinet
Alan Tolbert, trumpet; Sergio Carleo, violin
Stephanie Block, viola; Vivian Chang, cello
Approx. Duration: 10 minutes
Corbin Castro, horn; Morgen Low, trumpet
Guangwei Fan, trombone; Wesley Ducote, piano
Marcelina Suchocka, percussion
Approx. Duration: 14 minutes
Leah Stevens, flute/piccolo/bass flute
Jakob Lenhardt, clarinet/bass clarinet
Noah Sonderling, piano
Marcelina Suchocka, percussion
Ka-Yeon Lee, violin; Peter Ayuso, viola
Ben Fryxell, cello
Approx. Duration: 28 minutes
NUR for Solo Piano and Ensemble
(2018; U.S. premiere)
Inon Barnatan, piano
Elizabeth Lu, flute/piccolo
Katherine Velasquez, flute/bass flute
Jesse McCandless, clarinet
Alex Dergal, clarinet/contrabass clarinet
Jesse Gilday, bass clarinet
Justin Cummings, bassoon/contrabassoon
Scott Leger, horn; Jessica Elder, horn
Gianluca Farina, trumpet
Kevin Ritenauer, Charlie Rosmarin,
Sean Van Winkle, percussion
Phoebe Powell, harp
Thomas Steigerwald, celeste
Margeaux Maloney, Scott Jackson, violin
Spencer Ingersoll, Jacquelyn O’Brien, viola
Clare Bradford, Amy Sunyoung Lee, cello
Levi Jones, bass
Approximate duration: 6 minutes
After studying piano and composition in his native Rio de Janeiro, Marcos Balter moved to the United States for postgraduate studies at Texas Christian University and Northwestern University. His “whimsical” and “surreal” scores (to quote The New York Times) have made Balter a fixture of the new music community in his adopted home of New York City, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and Tanglewood Music Center, among others, have elevated him to the top tier of contemporary composers.
Balter composed Bladed Stance in 2013 for yMusic, a New York-based chamber ensemble consisting of trumpet, flute, clarinet, violin, viola and cello. The score calls for the music to be played in a manner that is “mournful, lontano [distant], like an echo,” and all instruments are amplified in a way that increases their reverberation and blend. This sonic treatment unifies the many layers of interlocking material into a smooth composite, and the additional component of whistling—performed by the string players while they also execute complex rhythmic swells and fades—adds a subtle shimmer to the upper register of the ensemble. The overall effect creates music that is pulsing with energy but also somewhat oblique, not unlike the “bladed stance” used in fencing and martial arts, with one foot in front of the other and the body turned partly to the side.
Approximate duration: 10 minutes
“I like to be surprised by music,” says Enno Poppe; “I like the incomprehensible.” In his extensive career working as a composer, conductor and teacher in the upper echelon of Germany’s contemporary music scene, Poppe has found a balance between mathematical precision and organic freedom that endows even his most complex scores with vitality and caprice. He often takes lessons from patterns that appear in nature, and such basic materials as wood, bone and oil have provided fodder for his ornate compositions.
In Brot, composed for trumpet, horn, trombone, piano and percussion, the subject is bread—not a literal depiction of bread as foodstuff, but rather an artist’s reaction to the process that occurs on the inside as the raw material activates, expands, and ultimately settles into a sturdy and durable new form.
Approximate duration: 14 minutes
George Lewis has always seen contemporary music through an unusually broad lens, starting with his formative training in Chicago at the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a hotbed for boundary-breaking performances rooted in “Great Black Music,” as members of that collective scene described it. As a composer, trombonist, computer music innovator and professor, Lewis has brought together every corner of his field, often developing his own procedures along the way, alone or in his many collaborative relationships. Fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim foundations are among the many honors that have affirmed Lewis’ invaluable contributions to American music.
Lewis was a philosophy major at Yale University, and his philosophical lens still informs his music, as seen in Mnemosis, composed in 2012 for the Talea Ensemble. As Lewis explained in an interview, “Mnemosis draws inspiration from two conceptions of time, history and memory in Western philosophy: Nietzsche’s notion of the eternal recurrence, and Wittgenstein’s conception of Unzeitlichkeit, which is to my mind inadequately translated as ‘timelessness.’” These functions of memory play out in short, repeated chunks of music in which the instruments remain staggered and misaligned, a process he likened to paintings by the multimedia artist Jack Ox that visualize the unfolding of music through an array of vertical bars. To create the specific musical materials, Lewis performed spectral analysis of recordings of saxophone and bassoon multiphonics (essentially two or more tones sounding simultaneously, created with irregular fingerings on wind instruments). This swirl of multimedia reference points might overwhelm a less adroit creator, but for a polymath like Lewis, they only serve to crystallize his distinctive musical vision.
NUR for Solo Piano and Ensemble
(2018; U.S. premiere)
Approximate duration: 28 minutes
The German composer and conductor Matthias Pintscher has established himself as a formidable musical presence on both sides of the Atlantic. Following in the footsteps of another noted composer-conductor, Pierre Boulez, Pintscher spends part of his time in Paris, where he is Music Director of the Ensemble intercontemporain. He also keeps a residence in New York, where he teaches at The Juilliard School, and he maintains a busy schedule of guest conducting appearances at such orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic. Pintscher’s recent works for The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra place him in the highest echelon of contemporary orchestral composers.
Pintscher composed NUR in 2018 for pianist Daniel Barenboim to perform with the Boulez Ensemble, and the composer was on the podium to lead the premiere the next year. Instead of a traditional concerto that pits the solo piano against an orchestra en masse, Pintscher crafted NUR more like a Socratic dialogue, with the piano taking a leading role within a collective investigation. All 21 members of the accompanying ensemble play highly differentiated parts, and extended passages bring individual instruments into the foreground. In writing for Barenboim—a great musical statesman who has poured much of his energy in recent years into an orchestra and music academy that promotes peace and understanding between Israel and Palestine—it is fitting that Pintscher chose a title that means “fire” in both Hebrew and Arabic.
-- © 2021 Aaron Grad
Aaron Grad is a composer, guitarist and writer based in Seattle. Besides providing program notes for the New World Symphony, he has been the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s program annotator since 2005 and also contributes notes to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Seattle Symphony.
Matthias Pintscher, conductor
The 2022-23 season is Matthias Pintscher’s final season as Music Director of the Ensemble intercontemporain (EI), the world’s foremost contemporary music ensemble, founded in 1980 by Pierre Boulez and winner of the 2022 Polar Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in music.
In his most successful decade-long artistic leadership of EIC, he continued and expanded the cultivation of new work by emerging composers of the 21st century, alongside performances of iconic works by the pillars of the avant-garde of the 20th Century. In this, his valedictory season, Mr. Pintscher has a robust season of concerts in Paris including collaborations with the Conservatoire de Paris and IRCAM, operas-in-concert and tours throughout Europe and the United States, including performances in Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
As a conductor, Mr. Pintscher enjoys and maintains relationships with several of the world’s most distinguished orchestras, among them the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony. He is also Creative Partner for the Cincinnati Symphony. As guest conductor in Europe, he makes debut appearances this season with the Wiener Symphoniker and Gurzenich Orchester of Cologne, and returns to the Royal Concertgebouw, BRSO, BBC Scottish SO, Barcelona Symphony and Berlin’s Boulez Ensemble. In North America, he will make prominent debuts with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kansas City Symphony, in addition to regular visits to Cincinnati Symphony, and repeat guest engagements with
the Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New World Symphony. Mr. Pintscher has also conducted several opera productions for the Berliner Staatsoper (Beat Furrer’s Violetter Schnee, Wagner’s Lohengrin), Wiener Staatsoper (Olga Neuwirth’s Orlando) and the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. He returns to the Berliner Staatsoper in 2023 for Der Fliegende Holländer.
Mr. Pintscher is well known as a composer, and his works appear frequently on the programs of major symphony orchestras throughout the world. In 2021 he was the focus of the Suntory Hall Summer Festival—a weeklong celebration of his works with the Tokyo Symphony, as well as a residency by the EIC with symphonic and chamber music performances. His third violin concerto, Assonanza, written for Leila Josefowicz, was premiered in January 2022 with the Cincinnati Symphony. Another 2021-22 world premiere was neharot, a co-commission of Suntory Hall, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Staatskapelle Dresden, where he was named Capell-Compositeur. In the 2016-17 season, he was the inaugural composer-in-residence of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, and from 2014 to 2017, he was artist-in-residence at the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Pintscher began his musical training in conducting, studying with Pierre Boulez and Péter Eötvös in his early twenties, when composing soon took a more prominent role in his life. He rapidly gained critical acclaim in both areas of activity and continues to compose in addition to his conducting career. A prolific composer, Mr. Pintscher's music is championed by some of today's finest performing artists, orchestras and conductors. His works have been performed by such orchestras as the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris, among many others. He is published exclusively by Barenreiter, and recordings of his works can be found on Kairos, EMI, Teldec, Wergo, and Winter & Winter.
Inon Barnatan, piano
“One of the most admired pianists of his generation” (The New York Times), Inon Barnatan is celebrated for his poetic sensibility, musical intelligence and consummate artistry. He inaugurated his tenure as Music Director of California’s La Jolla Music Society SummerFest in 2019.
Mr. Barnatan is a regular soloist with many of the world’s foremost orchestras and conductors. He recently served for three seasons as the inaugural Artist-in-Association of the New York Philharmonic and recreated Beethoven’s legendary 1808 concert with the Cincinnati Symphony.
The recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, Mr. Barnatan is also a sought-after recitalist and chamber musician. He recently made his solo recital debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and reunited with frequent cello partner Alisa Weilerstein. Passionate about contemporary music, he has commissioned and performed works by many living composers, premiering pieces by Thomas Adès, Sebastian Currier, Avner Dorman, Alan Fletcher, Joseph Hallman, Alasdair Nicolson, Andrew Norman and Matthias Pintscher.
This season Mr. Barnatan released Beethoven’s complete piano concertos, recorded with Alan Gilbert and Academy of St Martin in the Fields on Pentatone. Mr. Barnatan’s acclaimed discography also includes Rachmaninov & Chopin: Cello Sonatas, recorded with Weilerstein for Decca Classics, and Darknesse Visible, named one of the The New York Times’s “Best of 2012.”
For more information, visit www.inonbarnatan.com.