CD-Präsentation: Jasmine Choi & Hugh Sung


Brahms - Schumann - Reinecke


One might easily realize that most of the well-known composers of the romantic era had not composed much for the flute. To ease the sadness as a flutist, I've been performing works from the Romantic era written for other instruments since my teenage years and many of which are now considered as standard flute repertoire.

Sonata in Eb Major Op. 120 Nr. 2 for Clarinet and Piano by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) was completed in Vienna in 1894, three years before the composer's death. Perhaps the portrait of Brahms with the shaggy, long white beard that we often encounter was painted around this time. As it was the last chamber music work and the last sonata he has written, one can expericence the simple yet deeply matured work in the most remarkable way. The first movement is led by a simple melody with such delicacy; followed by the second movement with a depiction of whirlwinds of emotions in a restrained manner; and the last movement conceys a kind of religious atmosphere in a variation.

I cannot forget of the intense feeling when I first listende to this piece, altougth it was played by flute and piano rather than the original intrumentation. But when I heard flutist Jeffrey Khaner, principal flute of the Philadelphia Orchestra and my teacher at Juilliard School back then, with Pianist Hugh Sung who also played in this recording with me, it was almost a shock for me to have found such an indescibably beautiful piece in this world. although I didn't start learning it right away as I wanted to wait till I felt i was ready to learn such a masterpiece, however when i finally started, ist simply felt like I was floating in a paradise.

The official premiers of this work was at Bösendorfer Hall in Vienna (this CD was recorded at Bösendorfer Hall in Vienna Neustadt) by clarinettist Mühlfeld with Brahms himself on the piano. it is, however, still interesting to note that these two musicians have performed the piece privately to Clara Schumann three months before the premiere. Bearing in mind the fact that Brahms later transcribed this work for viola and piano, it is wishful but pleasant imagination for me that Brahms would have been fond of this arrangement for the Boehm System flute.

 

All three works in this recording are truly precious: I tried to express the best way possible, through not only the intimate languages of these marvellous composers but also my personal experience on these works. I believe that it is the infinite power of music that can connect us all regardless of era, generation, ethnicity, nationality and gender. Even at this very moment as you listen to this recording, wherever or whoever you are, the music is connecting you and these composers and you an I, one way or another.

 

Three Romances op. 94  for Oboe and Piano by Robert Schumann (1810-1856) is the only work written for the oboe by Robert Schumann. Unfortunately, Schumann didn't get to listen to it during his lifetime: the closest he had heard was when it was performed privately by violinist Francois Schubert with Clara Schumann on the piano. Seven years after Schumann's death, this work was finally premiered at Gewandhaus in Leipzig - by oboist Emilius Lund with, ironically, Carl Reinecke on the piano in 1863.

These three romances are the unfiltered songs of deep love and affection toward his wife Clara. in all three romances, the emotions of calm yet at times rather stormy are vividly expressed. It is also interesting that in the third romance, one can moderately notice the style of Brahms, whose musical language was greatly influenced by Schumann. If anyone asks if it's too easy to play this piece because there is no such fast passages, here is a quote from Schumann himself: "Endeavour to play easy pieces well and with elegance; that is better than to play difficult pieces badly."

There was a time when I was not able to play the flute at all for six months - I was in my third year at Curtis Institute of Music, 18 years old. Numerous doctors have I visited, however, no one found a clue what it was and why I could not even lift a pencil with the right hand.

Few of them have told me that my ability to play the flute will not come back and suggested that I shall seek for another profession. in this period when no one was giving me such clear hope, Schumann's music knocked hard on my heart. It was a great deal of healing as I was endlessly listening to Arthur Rubinsteins's piano recordings on Schumann, thinking "Schumann reads my troubled mind so well!"

I remember that The Philadelphia Orchestra happened to pay this "Schumann Cycle" with then  music director Wolfgang Sawallish during that concert season, performing all works by Robert Schumann throughout the year. This troubled Korean girl went to every concert, even if they were repeating the same program in the consecutive days, thinking and hoping that if she could play the flute ever again, the first piece would be a work by Robert Schumann. Long story short, when I could finally come back to the flute like a miracle, the first piece I put my hands on was this Three Romances. In the lesson with Julius Baker ´, former principal flute of the New York Philharmonic, he had cheered me saying, "In the last six months, the technique and the sound my have fallen behind, but the music you've just played ist much deeper than before." I was in tears.

 

Brahms, Schumann und Reinecke: alle drei erlebten die glorreichste Zeit des 19. Jahrhunderts. Ihr Leben, ihre musikalische Sprache und ihre Freundschaften waren eng miteinander verwoben.

 

Carl Reinecke, who is relatively lesser konwn to us, was a musician of multi-talents. not only was he a composer, he was also a phenomenal pianist who made a debut at the age of 12, and started touring many places in Europe since he was 19 years old; as a conductor, he held as a music director of the great Gewandhaus Orchestra for over thirty years; as a devoted pedagogue, he thaught piano and composition at Leipzig Conservatory. As one can see, he had lived an extremely diverse life, enjoying different spectrums of music. At times I wish he had focused more as a composer so that he would have left more compositions to the generations to follow.

Sonata for Flute and Piano in E Major op. 167 "Undine" by Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) is the most known and most beloved compositions of Reinecke.

In this sonata of four movements, Reinecke depicts the atmosphere and the story of Undinge, an artistic fairytale written by a German poet Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué.

.Undine was a water nymph enjoying her eternal life under the water until when she decided to leave as she wanted to get a life of a human being. She was found at a beach by a fisherman and his wife who instantly became her foster parents. One day, undine meets Huldbrand, the knight who came to the fisherman's house seeking for a shelter from a storm, and immediately falls in love with him. Although the story ends rather tragically because of the betrayal from Huldbrant and the subsequent revenge from Undinge, Reinecke brought out all the detailed impressions of the breathtakingly beautiful love story, the unfathomable heartaches and even the mad and cruel scenes into this sonata of four movements.