Variations And Invocation:
Duration: 10 minutes.
In memoriam Bela Bartók.
Katerina Stamatelos, piano.
Composers’ Workshop Concert, Clapp Recital Hall, The University of Iowa School of Music, Iowa City, IA, October 13, 1996.
Variations And Invocation develops around two main themes, the "Kyrie Eleison" and the "Anathema," set in an a, b, a', b' a'', b'', etc...(Rondo) form. The "Kyrie Eleison" is a Byzantine-influenced melody harmonized only basically and kept in an enervating monotony. The "Anathema," just a rhythmic presence, represents the 'disturbance' which tries to displace the "Kyrie Eleison" and destroy the structure on the whole.
Finally, and after becoming more and more aggressive, the "Anathema" dissolves itself, while the last variation of the "Kyrie Eleison" flows into the Invocation: a simple, Adagio religioso procession.
Sunday, November 6, 2011 @ 4 p.m.
Sunday Concert Series
Applewood at Amherst
The Loomis Communities
Wednesday, November 9, 2011 @ noon
Wednesday Concert Series
The Interchurch Center
New York, NY
Saturday, November 20, 2011 @ 3 p.m.
Music in Williamsburg
First Congregational Church of Williamsburg
Katerina and I “met” on Twitter! Both she and her work sounded interesting, so I visited her web site to read her bio and listen to some of her compositions. Once there, I discovered that she is also a pianist, a painter, a poet, and a fashion designer!
I feel a connection with her through the University of Iowa, where she earned two of her degrees. I grew up 75 miles from Iowa City, attended music camp there 4 times beginning in 7th grade, and studied piano and organ there in high school.
After looking at this piece several times, then putting it away, these concerts came along. I’m so happy to be programming Katerina’s beautiful piece!
Here the challenge is learning the composer’s style with no previous knowledge. Beyond that, some of the tempi are fast. The fastest marking is quarter note = 168.
When learning chordal passages in traditional music, I “block” the hand positions and practice getting to each spot early. With triads and inversions, that becomes standard procedure.
Now I’m practicing chord clusters the same way! Noticing the similarities between clusters helps. In one passage, the 2 middle notes stay the same. The 1st chord is higher on the keyboard than the 2nd. Using the same fingering for the middle of each is working. If I keep my hand in that shape, then head for the middle of the 2nd chord (with the center of my hand), finding the 2nd chord quickly is no problem. (I lead with the thumb or 5th finger most of the time.)
In this piece, the Kyrie has variations. In addition, the Anathema has its own variations. As you can imagine, the possibilities for alternating sections are many.
The Anathema is fast, and faster with each of its new sections. These alternate with, or are interspersed with, the Kyrie theme.
The performer has to be alert and ready to go. No matter whether the practicing is at tempo or slower, I practice the transitions every time. If you arrive at the beginning of a section late, insecurity immediately gets in the way. I’m practicing for success. Switching from slow to fast, and also not waiting after “making it” to the end of a fast section, are crucial to the flow of the music.
(October 24, 2011)
Bach/Busoni, "Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ"
Bach, Prelude and Fugue No. XXII in B-flat minor, BWV 867, WTC Book I
Mendelssohn, "Songs Without Words" (selections)
Liszt, "Consolation No. 3"
Liszt, "Nuages Gris"
Katerina Stamatelos, Variations and Invocation Upon a 'Kyrie Eleison' and an 'Anathema,' Op. 4
In Memoriam Béla Bartók
Melody No. 17
Novelette in Fourths
Following Katerina Stamatelos’ piece, I asked for a show of hands from people who liked part of it. It’s a retirement home, after all. Several people did! And one resident told me afterwards that she has been to Greece, and she loved the whole piece. She hadn’t expected to get into anything that was in homage to Bartók.
When I said that I’d “met” Katerina Stamatelos on Twitter, some people said, “Oh!” Others smiled ~ all looked intrigued. I told them that Katerina lives in Greece and earned 2 degrees at the University of Iowa, and why I felt a connection with her.
Everyone in the audience loved this piece! Big smiles, long and enthusiastic applause, true appreciation without reservation.
From Gretchen's blog:
Another woman asked about Katerina’s “In Memoriam Béla Bartók,” wondering whether they knew each other, or what that was about.
I just noticed this remark, and is is...March 2023! Anyhow, I have to respond-even for the sake of my readers. "I Memoriam" is not only used for a deceased person we have known personally, but also to honour this person after his/her death. Since the first time I was introduced to Bartok's music, at age 16, he has "opened" the door to the intense emotional world of music for me. J. S. Bach did the same, but Bela Bartok has served as a sort of "relief" in a turbulent age of mine: adolescence. Later on, during my piano studies in Vienna I performed Bartok's "Improvisations" op. 20: this composition is the perfect example of an intricate form and, without noticing it, the influence of this masterwork appeared in my first piano composition decades later! Therefore, In Memoriam was the best description of my gratitude to the Master...
I grouped the Liszt and Stamatelos together with the goal of introducing Katerina’s piece with Liszt’s “Nuages Gris.”
Everyone LOVED Katerina’s piece! I was surprised, as this is a country church with an “older” congregation. Describing how the piece was composed made a difference and piqued their interest. And mentioning that Katerina and I “met” on Twitter wasn’t a bad thing to say, either. They were also quite attentive when they learned that she lives in Greece.
This 3rd performance went so smoothly! I am completely comfortable with the transitions between variations now, and could focus on expressing the music.