Dr. Thomas Loewenheim leads the FOOSA Philharmonic in two works from the first quarter of the 20th century: Russian composer Sergei Lyapunov's Piano Sextet and Swiss-born composer Ernest Bloch's Concerto Grosso.
Sergei Lyapunov studied piano and composition at the Moscow Conservatory with Sergei Taneyev. He moved to St. Petersburg, where he became friends with the composers of the Nationalist School, in particular Balakirev. He eventually became a professor of piano at the Petersburg Conservatory, and in 1893, along with Liadov and Balakirev, was commissioned by the Imperial Geographical Society to collect folksongs from the northern provinces of the Russian empire. Toward the end of his life, he was widely considered the foremost living composer of the Nationalist School. The Piano Sextet Op.63 was composed in 1915 and revised in 1921 and is the sole significant piece of chamber music he composed.
Ernest Bloch was trained in his native Geneva, and in Brussels, Paris, and Germany. By 1916, he had emigrated to the United States, where he became a citizen in 1924. In 1920, Bloch became the founding director of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and later directed the San Francisco Conservatory. Though he lived in a time of modernist experimentation, his music remained essentially Romantic and conservative in style. In 1917, he published a lengthy essay that argued against what he saw as the intellectual sterility of much of the music of the avant-garde. The Concerto Grosso No.1 reflects his conservative tastes, but it is also a truly “neo-classical” work in the same sense as contemporary pieces by Ravel and Stravinsky, adapting 18th-century forms in a 20th-century idiom.
Sergei Lyapunov (1859-1924)
Piano Sextet in B-Flat Minor, Op. 63
I. Allegro maestoso
II. Scherzo. Allegro vivace
III. Nocturne. Lento ma non troppo
IV. Finale. Allegro risoluto
Year/Date of Composition: 1916 (rev. 1921)
First Publication: 1924 – Leipzig: J. Heinrich Zimmermann
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
Concerto Grosso No. 1 for String Orchestra with Piano Obbligato
III. Pastorale and Rustic Dances
Year/Date of Composition: 1924-25
First Publication 1925
Darien Marquez Rivera
Kelvin Diaz Inoa*
** concert master
Recorded Saturday, June 26, 2021
California State University, Fresno
Department of Music Concert Hall