This program centers around Valence (2016), a new piece for solo cello by composer Tashi Wada, written expressly for Charles Curtis, which broadens their ongoing work together around harmony and tuning, while working outwards from the physical makeup, or body, of the cello. The concert will also include work by 18th century composer J.S. Bach, 14th century composers Guillaume de Machaut and Sylvestro di Ganassi, and 20th century composer Luigi Dallapiccola. The cello suites of J. S. Bach offer not only an “absolute music” of pure tonal relations and implied harmony, but also a very conscious mapping of the instrumental resources of the cello. They can be seen as a manifesto declaring the arrival of what was at the time a relatively new instrument. Bach’s intricate tailoring of thematic and contrapuntal material to the lay-out and native resonances of the instrument suggest a kind of “inside-out” process, even a kind of compositional empiricism.
Guillaume de Machaut: Chansons Balladées (ca. 1360)
C’est force, faire
Dieus, biaute, douceur
Tuit mi penser
Hélas! et comment
J. S. Bach: Suite à Violoncello Solo senza Basso (ca. 1720)
No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008
Minuet 1 and 2
Sylvestro di Ganassi: Four Ricercars from Regola Rubertina (1542)
in C major
in D minor
in C minor
in G minor
Luigi Dallapiccola: Adagio (1945)
Tashi Wada: Valence (2016)
Cellist Charles Curtis has created a new body of work for solo cello through his collaborations with composers La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, Alvin Lucier, Éliane Radigue, Christian Wolff and Tashi Wada, artists Alison Knowles and Mieko Shiomi, and filmmakers Raha Raissnia, Luke Fowler and Jeff Perkins. Rarely-heard works of Terry Jennings, Morton Feldman and Richard Maxfield have also been signposts in Curtis’s interpretive life. In the 1980’s Curtis participated in weirdo rock bands such as King Missile, Dogbowl and Bongwater and he performed with the noise formation Borbetomagus. Trained at Juilliard with Leonard Rose and Harvey Shapiro, Curtis received the Piatigorsky Prize of the New York Cello Society. For ten years Curtis was Principal Cellist of the Symphony Orchestra of the NDR in Hamburg; a former faculty member at Princeton and Brooklyn College, since 2000 Curtis has been professor of music at the University of California, San Diego.
As soloist in the traditional repertoire, Curtis has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony at Kennedy Center, the Baltimore Symphony, the Symphony Orchestra of the NDR Hamburg, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Florence and the Symphonisches Orchester Berlin among many others, performing concertos with conductors such as André Previn, Herbert Blomstedt, Max Rudolf, Christoph Eschenbach and others. At the Ostrava New Music Days Curtis performed concertos of Feldman and Lucier with the Janacek Philharmonic under Petr Kotik. A devoted chamber musician, Curtis played for two summers at the Marlboro Festival and toured with Musicians from Marlboro, and he taught at the Steans Institute at Ravinia with Walter Levin of the La Salle Quartet. Curtis has been featured at numerous international festivals including the MaerzMusik Berlin, Sound and Music London, Festival d’Automne Paris, Inventionen Berlin and Angelica Festival Bologna.
Recently, Curtis has presented solo works of Alvin Lucier at the Auditorium du Louvre and premiered new works of Eliane Radigue at the College des Bernardins in Paris; presented La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s three-hour-plus solo cello work in the permanent La Monte Young-Marian Zazeela Dream House in Polling, Bavaria as well as in the Kampnagelfabrik Hamburg; premiered Tashi Wada’s new work for solo cello and modified tape deck at Issue Project Room, New York; given solo recitals in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Paris, Providence and Colorado Springs featuring Christian Wolff’s new work “One Cellist”; hosted a retrospective concert of Christian Wolff’s music in San Diego; and performed solo concerts in the Rothko Chapel and the new James Turrell Skyspace in Houston. ArtForum has called Curtis “one of the great cellists” and the New York Times recently noted that his “performance unfailingly combined lucidity and poise… lyricism and intensity.” His occasional writing on music has appeared in the Dutch architecture journal Oase, Leonardo Music Journal, Attention Patterns and in “±1961: Founding the Expanded Arts” for the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid.
Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach’s compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and over three hundred cantatas of which around two hundred survive. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth. Bach’s abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognized as a great composer until a revival of interest in and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time
Luigi Dallapiccola (February 3, 1904 – February 19, 1975) was an Italian composer known for his lyrical twelve-tone compositions.
Sylvestro di Ganassi (1 January 1492 – mid-16th century) was a Venetian musician and author of two important treatises on instrumental technique. Ganassi’s Regola Rubertina is among the earliest sources of advice to the viol player on how to hold the bow.His first treatise covers recorder playing: Opera intitulata Fontegara (Venice, 1535). His second (in two volumes) is about the viola da gamba: Regola Rubertina (Venice, 1542) and Lettione Seconda (Venice, 1543). They cover both technicalities of playing and the subtleties of expression. There is also guidance on ornamentation—passaggi. The revival of interest in historically aware musical performance has resulted in renewed interest in Ganassi’s writings. His treatises are now available in modern editions.
Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300 – April 1377) was a medieval French poet and composer. He is one of the earliest composers on whom significant biographical information is available. According to Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, Machaut was “the last great poet who was also a composer”. Well into the 15th century, Machaut’s poetry was greatly admired and imitated by other poets, including Geoffrey Chaucer. Machaut composed in a wide range of styles and forms. He is a part of the musical movement known as the ars nova. Machaut helped develop the motet and secular song forms (particularly the lai and the formes fixes: rondeau, virelai and ballade). Machaut wrote the Messe de Nostre Dame, the earliest known complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to a single composer.
Tashi Wada grew up in New York and lives in Los Angeles. His compositions use apparently simple structures and carefully calibrated tuning systems to generate rich and unanticipated perceptual effects. Wada presents his music often in collaboration with other artists including Charles Curtis and Stephan Mathieu, in addition to performing regularly with his father, Fluxus artist Yoshi Wada.
Parking is available at the public structure at the northeast corner of Kings Road and Santa Monica Boulevard.
This performance is made possible in part by a City of West Hollywood City Arts Project Grant.