Program Notes Samuel Barber (1910-1981) Sonata for piano in E-flat minor, op.26. The Barber Sonata is among the greatest piano works of the twentieth century, combining choice elements derived from classical, romantic and modern styles bristling with splendid difficulties. The first movement (sonata form) is comprised of one chromatic theme powerfully stated - fast and energetic. The 'scherzo' opens in a blithe, carefree mood, blending alternate light and dark textures, including a delightful waltz. The lambent strains of the 'adagio' fashion a melancholy song in the traditional manner while, simultaneously incorporating a twelve-tone technique. A vertiginous fugue closes the work. Within the strictly contrapuntal fabric, Barber exhausts his storehouse of classic and contemporary genres of piano writing. Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Reflets dans l'eau. 'Reflections in the Water (from 'Images 1') In this colorful work, the listener may hear the rhythms of water, often at low dynamic levels - monotonic and hypnotic - through the use of arpeggios and picturesque chords covering an extensive area of the keyboard. Pedal tones and melodies in the lower register are found in the secondary theme and the entirety concludes with a restatement of the opening melody in rhythmic alteration and languorous, haunting sustained chords coupled with an open octave melodic motive. Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Jardins sous la Pluie. "Gardens in the Rain" (from "Estampes") For all the beauties found in earlier works, Debussy was in his early forties when he seriously confronted the challenge of writing for piano solo. Written a few years before 'Images,' 'Estampes' or 'Prints' may represent the series of impressions herein imagined by the composer. 'Jardins' could be self-explanatory when pictured in the mind's eye: the splattering rain, the flowers, the return of the sun dispelling the storm. Robert Schumann (1810-1856) Papillons, op.2. Robert Schumann was at his greatest in his character piece cycles for the piano. 'Papillons' is a succession of waltzes and polonaises, a ballroom scene, rounded off and unified by the reappearance of the first waltz in the final piece. The miniatures that make up this op.2 are as personal and recognizably Schumannesque as anything he wrote later; the style, to be sure, deepened and ripened, but it's essentials remained unchanged. 'Papillons' is a cornucopia of lyrical ideas with the most imaginative use of harmonies and rhythms. Schumann-Liszt Widmung Franz Liszt's (1811-1886) transcription of Schumann's song, 'Widmung,' was published in 1849 and is dedicated to Clara Schumann. It is a perfect demonstration of Liszt's devotion to make the song literature accessible to the general public while providing the virtuoso pianist the opportunity to show that the keyboard instrument can sing, too. Franz Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody no.12 Few works are as closely associated with their composers as the ubiquitous Hungarian Rhapsodies are to Franz Liszt. A large portion of Liszt's piano music consists of arrangements, transcriptions, operatic arias, fantasies and the twenty Hungarian Rhapsodies, based on gypsy folk-tunes. Most of these free-form works open with a slow, passionate introduction, followed by a gradual quickening of tempo until the music becomes dizzying, culminating with a feisty, impelling section in imitation of the Hungarian dance called 'czardas.' In the twelfth Rhapsody, a haughty introduction in a grand manner sets the stage for the first of several frisky melodies. The flurry of excitement is broken by the entrance of a soulful theme, leading to development of the opening chords. Another dancelike theme enters, but before a breath can be caught, the devilishly difficult 'stretta vivace' blazes with a vigorous display of technical fireworks. Program Notes by James Leeds © James Leeds,1984, revised notes 2009. Encores The Nightingale, Alabieff-Liszt Alexander Alabieff (1787-1851) was a prolific Russian composer whose works have faded into obscurity except a song for soprano and piano, Le Rossignol (the Nightingale). With this short song, Alabieff set the Russian soul to music. Franz Liszt took this song and made one of his most affecting transcriptions. Prelude in B minor, Bach-Siloti Alexander Siloti (1863-1945) was an eminent Russian pianist and a student of Liszt. He taught Goldenweiser as well as his first cousin Rachmaninoff at the Moscow Conservatory and later became a faculty member at the Juilliard School. The Prelude was found in the Clavier-Buchlein for W.F. Bach and later expanded in the E minor prelude, WTC Book 1. It remains a favorite encore. Waltz in D flat minor, Op. 64, No.1 (Minute Waltz) One of the most popular pieces, this waltz flows forth famously in bursts of perpetual motion interrupted by a beautiful lyrical section before it returns to the opening. Encore notes by Howard Aibel © Howard Aibel, 2009 HOWARD AIBEL, pianist Howard Aibel has won international acclaim as both a performer and teacher. The New York Times, reviewing a performance at Carnegie Hall, called him "a very impressive and authoritative artist." In Russia, where he recently delighted audiences with his performances of the Schumann and Tchaikovsky Piano Concerti No. 1, a top critic in St. Petersburg wrote: "His playing was remarkable, evoking the memory of the golden age of piano playing." Aibel's career was launched in 1959, with a highly successful New York debut as the winner of that year's Naumburg Award. He soon won a Fulbright Award and top prizes in the International Busoni and International Casella Piano Competitions as well, leading to highly successful tours of the United States, Europe and Mexico. He has since made six tours of Asia, where he performed with orchestra and in recital, and gave master classes in Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. In a performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Aibel shared the stage with his son, the gifted conductor Anthony Aibel. Aibel has also performed and given master classes in Dublin, Ireland; Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia; and Salzburg, Austria. He recently performed at the Polish Consulate in New York City to raise funds for The Chopin Society of New York. He was invited to Russia for the fourth time. He will perform, lecture and give master classes at the famed Moscow Conservatory. Aibel graduated from Juilliard as a scholarship student in the class of the eminent Mme. Rosina Lhevinne, later becoming her assistant for 10 years. He is a much sought after juror at many national and international piano competitions and was recently presented with a Bravo Award at Carnegie Hall, for "Lifetime Artistic Achievement in the field of Performing Arts" by the Italian Academy Foundation. He celebrates the 50th Anniversary of his New York Town Hall Debut, as the 1959 winner of the Naumburg Award, with a performance of the Schumann Concerto at New York City's Merkin Concert Hall in November, 2009. Howard Aibel is listed in Benjamin Saver's recent book The Most Wanted Piano Teachers in the USA, and in The International Who's Who in Music. He has recorded for Capitol Records, TR Records and Sonar Records. This is his first CD for Impromptu Classics. Howard Aibel is a Steinway Artist.