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Lincolnshire, England
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Saturday 17 November 2007

Gitarrissima (Guitar Quintet)

Programme

 

Since 2002, five young female guitarists from Austria, Hungary and Germany have been enchanting a steadily growing international audience with their sensitive
musical interplay and virtouso performances.

Thanks to their unusual line-up the quintet consists of an octave guitar (Krisztina Dobó), three concert guitars (Olga Dimitrova, Maria Benischek, Réka Mihalovics) and acoustic bass guitar (Caroline Auer) - and their original arrangements, the ensemble is breaking new ground in the genre of classical guitar music. They create a refreshingly original sound which gives a new dimension to popular classical works as well as less well known compositions. It is characterized by a wealth of musical colour and an orchestral density which is rarely heard.

The members of the ensemble are also responsible for almost all of the arrangements, which combine cleverly balanced voicings with an airy transparency and make ingenious use of the entire range of playing techniques including percussive effects. Gitarrissima were among the prizewinners at the international guitar contest „Open Strings 2002“ in Osnabrück (Germany) and have performed in Germany, England, Luxemburg, Croatia, Austria, Hungary and Turkey as well as appearing in various TV productions.

Krisztina Dobó
Born in 1977 in Budapest, she got her first guitar-lessons at the age of eight years.
1990-95 she attended the Batók Béla Music-Gymnasium in Budapest
1995-97 studies in Classical Guitar Performance at the Vienna Conservatory of Music with Heinz Wallisch
Since 1997 studies in Music Pedagogy and Classical Guitar with Melitta Heinzmann and Brigitte Zaczek at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna
2001 Bachelor of Arts with honours in Music Pedagogy
2004 Master of Arts with honours in Classical Guitar Performance
She won prizes at the international competitions Szendrey-Karper László in Esztergom (H) und Nikita Koshkin in Rust (A) and attended master-classes with Thomas Müller Pering, Alvaro Pierri, Pavel Steidl und Hopkinson Smith.
Krisztina plays an octave-guitar by Hartmut Hegewald (D).

Olga Dimitrova
Born 1980 in Bulgaria, she got her first guitar lessons at the age of eight
1993-1998: Music gymnasium in Plovdiv, graduate with excellence Awarded at international competitions for classical guitar in Plovdiv: 1st price in 1994, 2nd in 1995 and 1st in 1996
Since 1999: study of classical guitar at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna with o.Univ.-Prof. Konrad Ragossnig and Alexander Swete
2006: 1st diploma with excellence
Starting with Gitarrissima in June 2006
Attendance at several master classes
Guitar: George Ziata (Australia)

Maria Benischek
Born 1976 in Melk, Austria
First guitar lessons at the age of six in Ybbs
Successfully participated numerous regional and federal contests e.g. "Jugend musiziert"
started preparatory studies as a regular at the age of eleven in the university of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna with Prof. Konrad Ragossnig and his assistant Eugenia Kanthou.
From 1994 regular studies of Music Pedagogy and Classical Guitar Performance with Prof. Konrad Ragossnig
1999 Bachelor of Arts with honours in Music Pedagogy
2001 Master of Arts in Classical Guitar Performance
Starting with Gitarrissima in October 2004
Master-classes with Alexander Swete, Heinz Wallisch, Walter Haberl and Richard Pilkington.
Guitar: Alkis Efthimiadis (greek)

Réka Mihalovics
Born 1981 in Budapest, she got her first guitar-lessons at the age of nine
1996-2001 she attended the Bartók Béla Music-Gymnasium in Budapest
Awarded at the following competitions: 1994 3rd price in the national competition, 1996 1st price in the Hungarian national competition, 2000 2nd price conservatory competition
Attended several guitar festivals and master classes
Since 2001 studies in Classical guitar at the Vienna Univerity of Music and Performing Arts with o.Univ.-Prof. Walter Würdinger and o.Univ.-Prof. Brigitte Zaczek
2005 first diploma
Guitar: Karl-Heinz Römich (Germany)

Caroline Auer
Born in Steyr, Austria in 1978, she started playing guitar at the age of ten.
1997-2001: Studies in Classical Guitar with Melitta Heinzmann at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna
2001: Bachelor of Arts with honours in Music Pedagogy
2001-2005: Further studies in Classical Guitar Performance with Walter Würdinger
2005: Bachelor of Arts with honours in Classical Guitar Performance
2005: Master of Arts with honours in Music Pedagogy
Attendance at several master classes and guitar festivals
Since 2006: PhD studies at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts Graz
Lecture for "Mental Training" at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts Graz
Caroline plays a “Carl Hellweg & Dieter Hopf” acoustic-bass.

Programme

3 Movements from The Four Seasons Vivaldi (1678-1741)

The Four Seasons is probably the most performed of all of Vivaldi's works, and one of the most frequently recorded pieces of music from the Baroque period. Published in 1725, The Four Seasons is a set of four programmatic concertos - the first works in a huge cycle of concertos interestingly entitled The Context of Harmony and Invention.

The four concertos each have three movements and, with considerable imagination, the composer depicts several seasonal characteristics within each concerto. In Spring, we hear the call of the birds, the murmuring streams and soft breezes. In Summer, the composer evokes a summer thunderstorm. In Autumn, we hear the songs and dances of harvest-time and the sounds of hunting. And finally, in Winter, Vivaldi peppers the score with high string notes beautifully depicting icy rain showers.

The Four Seasons is one of the most imaginative and colourful pieces of the period.

Selection from Nutcracker Suite Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Dance of the Flutes
Chinese Dance
Cossack Dance

The ballet The Nutcracker was based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and it presents us with a story of a little girl and her Christmas presents. Written towards the end of the composer's life, the famous Suite from the ballet contains some of Tchaikovsky's most enchanting music. Note Tchaikovsky's delightful music for Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Here, the orchestral score makes use of a new instrument of the time - the celesta. With the appearance of a small upright piano, the celesta has a sound akin to a glockenspiel. (In later times, Bartok gave the instrument a pride of place in his exciting Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.)


Hungarian Dance No.5 Brahms (1833-1897)

Brahms' set of twenty-one Hungarian Dances, all based upon (or in the style of) Hungarian themes, are among the composer's most popular works. Originally for piano duet, these pieces were later arranged by the composer for piano solo. There are also orchestrated versions of many of the dances - a few by Brahms and some by Dvo?ák and others. This famous Dance no.5 (in F minor) has always been one of the best loved of the set.


Danza Espanola no.1 Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

It has been said that Manuel de Falla wrote some of the most alluring and sensuous music of any Spanish composer. De Falla, who wrote the musical score for the well-known ballet The Three-Cornered Hat for Diaghilev and his Russian Ballet Company, was a distinguished pupil at the Madrid Musical Conservatoire where he studied under the same teacher who had formerly tutored the composers Albéniz and Granados. De Falla's style is colourful, spirited and evocative.


Valse no.2 and Tahiti Trot Shostakovich (1906-1975)

In spite of Shostakovich's unquestioned talent, he was denounced twice by the Soviet authorities for his compositional style of which they did not approve. The catalogue of Shostakovich's work is large and varied and contains magnificent symphonic works and finely crafted chamber music of all kinds. He also wrote many lighter pieces, and the original version of Tahiti Trot was Shostakovich's own orchestration of "Tea for Two" from the musical No No Nanette by Vincent Youmans.


Romeo and Juliet (op.64) Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Montagues and Capulets

This delightful extract from Romeo and Juliet forms the opening of Sergei Prokofiev's Second Orchestral Suite composed in 1935. The pieces that make up the Suite are taken from his ballet based upon Shakespeare's famous play. Prokofiev later used the same music again for another Suite of ten pieces for piano (op.75) which he premiered himself in 1937.


Overture - Marriage of Figaro Mozart (1756-1791)

The music from this famous opera by Mozart will need little introduction. Composed in 1786, the work is a comic opera (opera buffa) based upon a stage comedy by Beaumarchais. In spite of the immediate popularity of Mozart's opera, Beaumarchais's play was at first banned in Vienna due to its satirical portrayal of the aristocracy of the time. The Overture is frequently played as a splendid concert piece for orchestra and in many instrumental arrangements.


giss… Philipp Troestl

Philipp Troestl lives and works in Vienna. He studied both classical and jazz guitar at Vienna University and jazz composition at Miami University.

In this new piece, the composer makes full use throughout of Gitarrissima's available range of five full octaves.

After a fiery start where important elements for the whole piece are born, the middle instruments soon form a percussive, 'cluster-like' background for solos on the octave and bass guitars.

The slow middle section of the piece is modelled after the improvising style of Frank Zappa. A cloud of sound then approaches, and bursts forth with the former stamping cluster chords. Following a sudden silence, a chorale arises - the original theme in a new radiance.

(We thank Gitarrissima for providing all the information on which this note is based.)

Ballet Suite - Gayaneh Khachaturian (1903-1978)
Nuneh's Dance
Dance of Nuneh and Karen
Uzundara
Sabre Dance

Just like Shostakovich, Khachaturian was also condemned by the Soviet authorities for "formalistic musical tendencies" which tended to ignore the patriotic and melodic styles of music favoured by Stalin. However, no one could complain that Khachaturian did not spice his famous ballet scores with sufficiently memorable melodies!

Gayaneh is a story of a young girl employed on a Russian collective farm who falls in love with a Red Army officer. The score is full of sparkling, colourful, folk-inspired tunes and concludes with the furiously exciting Sabre Dance.

The Wizard of Oz Lars Wüller (b. 1975)
Dorothy
The Scarecrow
The Tin Woodman
The Cowardly Lion
The Wizard of Oz
Lars Wüller has written extensively for the guitar, and his musical fairytale ballet "Oz" was premiered in April 2006 at Liberec in the Czech Republic.


Csárdás Vittorio Monti (1868-1922)

The Csárdás (or Czardas) is a traditional Hungarian folk dance and was popular throughout most of Eastern Europe. The origins of this colourful dance can be traced back to the eighteenth century. Many composers (including Johann Strauss and Brahms) have used csárdás themes in their music, though probably the most well known is the Csárdás for violin and piano by the violinist, Vittorio Monti.

Written around 1904, Monti's Csárdás was adopted and further popularised by many gypsy orchestras, and arrangements of this piece can now be found for almost every instrumental combination imaginable - both conventional and utterly bizarre. This is a wonderfully exciting and virtuoso tour-de-force with which to end the concert!

Programme notes and articles by Peter Case
for South Holland Concerts © 2007

 
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