Left Coast Chamber Ensemble kicks off its 25th season with a tribute to Mieczys?aw Weinberg (1919 - 1996) who is one of the 20th century's greatest hidden treasures. Born in Poland and emigrated to Russia in perilous circumstances, Weinberg is slowly being rediscovered as a 20th century genius, a figure of immense significance in the landscape of post-modern classical music. In this concert Weinberg’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano Op. 28 will be performed by two of Left Coast’s longtime members, Jerome Simas (clarinet) and Eric Zivian (piano).
"I first became intrigued by the clarinet sonata of Weinberg when I recently had the pleasure of hearing my former teacher, the legendary clarinetist Franklin Cohen, perform it in recital,” explains Simas. “Having played through much of the standard classical, romantic, and 20th repertoire for clarinet, I am always interested in discovering new pieces to learn and perform. This 20th century masterpiece deserves a wider audience and it is a joy and honor to learn it with my colleague and friend, Eric Zivian.”
Weinberg's music mixes traditional and contemporary forms, combining a freely tonal, individual language with ethnic influences and a unique sense of form, harmony and color. In keeping with the Left Coast tradition of presenting concerts of classical music old and new, the Ensemble has commissioned two contemporary composers to create new works inspired by Weinberg to be premiered at these concerts: Concertino by Stephen Blumberg and Writing the Letter by Julie Herndon.
“My tribute to Mieczys?aw Weinberg evolved as a dialogue across time, with several hidden Weinberg quotations interwoven and fully integrated within my own material,” said Blumberg of his new work. “The piece is a string quintet featuring violin supported by the other strings, the traditional three-movement concerto form compressed into a single movement. The moods in Concertino range from austere to playful, melancholy to quirky; it’s densely contrapuntal at times, and at others, thin and still.”
Composer Julie Herndon takes a different approach with her new piece. “Writing the Letter is a look at Weinberg's life through the lens of his most important relationships,” said Herndon. “Blending influences of spectral pop and improvisatory counterpoint, Writing the Letter explores the ways in which we communicate and reach out to those we need. I use the gesture and subverbal nuances of a written letter as the sonic material for this piece, processing the sounds of writing into temporal harmonic and soloistic shapes.
A Garland for Weinberg culminates with music of Weinberg’s fellow countryman Krzysztof Penderecki. Left Coast plays Leaves of an Unwritten Diary in the composer’s new version for string quartet with double bass.