≈ 90 minutes · No intermission
Tonight’s concert closes with a witty sparkler by Parisian composer Francis Poulenc (1899–1963): his Trio for oboe, bassoon, and piano. He began work on it in 1924 (following the sensational success of his ballet score Les biches for Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballet russes) and, through a rather painstaking creative process, finally completed it in 1926. The composer himself performed the piano part at the Trio’s premiere at Paris’s Salle des Agriculteurs on May 2, 1926.
Poulenc considered this work to be one of importance for him, and later in his life, expressed that “I’m rather fond of my Trio because it sounds well and its sections balance each other.” Along with textural clarity and formal balance, the Trio displays other signature Poulencian aspects from the early period of his compositional career—clever twists on 18th century European music styles; a tonal harmonic palette though spiked with acerbic dissonances; and expressive melodies for which he had an evident gift. After an introduction of somewhat mock seriousness and grandeur, a vivacious theme begins the first movement proper. This melody bookends a sequence of sections, each presenting a new tune or motive, unfolding like vignettes of an operatic drama in which the oboe and bassoon are the main characters.
The Andante is the emotional heart of the piece, with the oboe and bassoon singing a “sweet and melancholic” (Poulenc’s words) duet. Shifting harmonies in the piano part create a dreamy and poignant atmosphere. A perky theme of unrelenting good cheer launches the concluding Rondo; it alternates with contrasting moments of martial spirit and lyrical tenderness, the latter incorporating lush romantic harmonies and rhapsodic piano writing.
Program notes by Dr. Hannah Chan-Hartley
“The Carrefour residency is a one-of-a-kind orchestral training ground. As an emerging composer who aspires to write music for the orchestra, I am truly honoured and thrilled to be one of the Carrefour composers in residence. I look forward to my upcoming collaborations with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and its music director Alexander Shelley, and hope to create meaningful works by learning from and exchanging ideas with musicians of this amazing Canadian orchestra as a Canadian artist.”
Chinese-Canadian composer Alison Yun-Fei Jiang (b. 1992) explores the intersections of genres and cultural ideologies by drawing inspirations and influences from an array of sources such as Chinese traditional folk music, film music, popular music, literature, Canadian landscapes, and Buddhism, creating music with epic melodic gestures in a lyrical, dynamic and colourful nature.
She has collaborated with ensembles such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Esprit Orchestra, JACK Quartet, the Wet Ink Ensemble, Imani Winds, Molinari Quartet, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, American String Quartet, Quartetto Apeiron and FearNoMusic. Her music has been broadcast on CBC Radio 2 and performed in venues including Symphony Center (Chicago), Koerner Hall (Toronto), and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music (New York), featured in the Royal Conservatory of Music 21C Festival and the University of Toronto New Music Festival. Awards and recognitions come from ASCAP, the SOCAN Foundation, the Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers, the American Prize and International Alliance for Women in Music.
Alison is a current Ph.D. candidate and Division of Humanities Fellow at the University of Chicago. She holds degrees in music composition from Manhattan School of Music (B.M.) and New York University (M.M.).