What's New: Strings N Things

Nov 18, 2016

Words Fail from Yevgeny Kituk
Credit Marquis Classics

Stringed instruments vary from harps to basses, violins to folk fiddles, and guitars of all shapes. Some are plucked, and others bowed. The earliest stringed instruments, ancient lyres, were found in Mesopotamia. Throughout history, different countries had their own take on how the instruments look and sound, and how they are played.

We'll hear Ginastera, Janacek, Bach, plus new music for string quartet, harp, guitar, violin and more! 

To harpists, Alberto Ginastera was much more than a leading force in contemporary music. He wrote our piece. He created the work that pushed the harp out of its box and gave us the kind of indelible, substantive composition that makes or breaks a solo career like mine. By my best estimate, I have performed Ginastera’s Harp Concerto close to 200 times, but in every performance, I discover something new—a hidden motivic layer, a subtle orchestral color I hadn’t noticed before, or just another interpretive pathway to explore. His music speaks to performers and audiences alike, while pushing the ear beyond the expected. This kind of creation is a gift, and my gratitude to Ginastera for that gift was the inspiration for this project. - Yolanda Kondonassis

Timo Andres writes: Words Fail is a song without words for violin and piano. My relationship to music with words has sometimes been ambivalent; I’m not a singer, so I’m not one of those people for whom words naturally latch onto an existing melody. When I’m listening to a singer, I’m prioritizing the lyrics least of all—it’s almost too much data for me to process simultaneously. And that’s assuming I’d be able to understand them in the first place, since they’re so often obscured by language, diction, or setting.

So a ‘song without words’ is perhaps the most natural state of things for me. And it sounds like an easy assignment, too—less work for everyone. But in this case I tried to write something that not only lacked words, but obviated them. “Words fail” is a cliché, and it’s probably more often the case that we merely fail to find the right words. But they do fail sometimes, and the abstraction of music can help seal up the damage.

What’s New is a production of WBAA Classical, a listener supported broadcast service of Purdue University.