Dream Within a Dream program features newly commissioned music by Israeli prodigy Talia Amar and acclaimed American composer Judith Shatin, as well as music of 20th-century masters, such as Bela Bartok, Haim Alexander and Maurice Ravel. Continuing their thematic approach,
this program ranges across a spectrum of dreams, from the personal to the political, from the mysterious to the psychological. The repertoire spans many moods – from the poetics of Talia Amar’s A Dream within a Dream, to the energetic Dances by Bela Bartok. From the dark drama of Shatin’s Gregor’s Dream to the vanished world of Ilya Levinson’s Shtetl Scenes.
The project includes also a collection of Hebrew folk songs arranged and performed by the Trio's pianist, Ofer Shelley.
This annual project brings contemporary American music to Israel, as well as sharing the best of contemporary Israeli music in America.
Is all that we see or seem But a dream within a dream? Edgar Allan Poe
A Dream within a Dream, by the Israeli-French-American composer and pianist Talia Amar, composed especially for this program, is a reflection on the poem of that name by Edgar Allen Poe. The composer asks the question: “if hope is a dream, does that mean that we live in a dream? And if it is a dream does it mean that when we wake up hope will disappear?” The electronics include recordings of the text, with the words gradually revealed as the piece progresses, mimicking the transition between the difference levels of a dream. A hallmark of her music is the existence of a philosophic idea that, while external to it, gives the audience a thread to follow.
When the Atar Piano Trio approached me about composing a piece for their Dream within a Dream program, I immediately thought of Gregor Samsa, the protagonist in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.Gregor waks from an anxious dream transformed into a horrible bug. I interpreted this to suggest a type of people, of which there are more than 400,000 species, approximately one-quarter of all plants and animals. I am most grateful to bioacousticans Martin Brandstetter (Austrian Institute for Forest Protection) for sharing his recordings of Asian Longhorn beetles (Anoplophora glabripennis), and Jayne Yack and Amanda Lindeman (Carleton University, CA) for their recordings of mountain pine beetles (D. ponderosae, Ips pini and D. valens), from which I fashioned the electronics. The mood of the anxious dream, and the ominous world into which Gregor wakes, suffused my musical imaginings, as did Kafka’s position as a Jew, navigating the Czech and German attitudes of his environment. Fear of the ‘other’ permeates the story. This poignant story is an important reminder that the ‘other’ is part of our own family, an important reminder in our tribalistic times.–JS.
Shatin frequently combines acoustic and digital elements in her music, called
‘highly inventive on every level; hugely enjoyable and deeply involving…” by The Washington Post.
Shtetl Scenes is a cycle of five pieces about a world that is lost and not coming back. It uses genres of Klezmer music such as Doina, Freylakh, Nigun, and Chosidl to capture scenes from an everyday life in an imaginary shtetl, a small Jewish village in pre-World War II Eastern Europe. The harmonic language intertwines Klezmer melodic idioms with elements of extended tonality, while the rhythmic energy of Klezmer permeates the entire cycle. The five movements: Forgotten Dreams, Freylakh, Lullaby and Nigun, Introspection, and Chosidl comment on the nostalgia, joy, lyricism, mysticism, self-reflection and humor so common in Jewish life. The piece was originally composed for
French pianist Stéphane Seban and arranged for piano trio upon the request of Chicago pianist Susan Merdinger.
This fresh and vivid dance cycle was composed by the German-born Israeli pianist and composer Haim Alexander (1915-2012). First published in 1950 as a piano duo, it was later arranged by the composer for violin and piano and the Atar Trio has now created a version for piano trio. The cycle is based on six short country-folk episodes. Alexander used a modest, almost minimal language, combining modality and modernistic elements with typical Jewish-Israeli rhythms. Alexander, a gifted piano improviser and a popular lecturer, was one on the founders of the Jerusalem Music Academy. He worked to create a national Israeli music based on traditional Jewish folk music and Mediterranean elements. At the same time,
he was involved in the Avant-garde music scene, such as that found in Darmstadt, Germany..
Between 1903 and 1914, Maurice Ravel produced three magnificent chamber music works that are among the finest in the repertoire of early modern music. Ravel defined a new revelatory style of French music that made a sharp break from the 19th century Romantic tradition overwhelmingly dominated by German angst. while the piano and orchestral works create entirely new forms, organic, and fluid as the indistinct atmospheres they express, the chamber works tend to work their magic within more traditional formats. Ravel’s string quartet and piano trio are structured around a traditional plan with the immediately recognizable four-movement character. Of the piano trio, Ravel famously remarked, “My Trio is finished. I only need the themes for it”, suggesting that he had fastidiously mapped out the structure including its harmonic plan in an intentional quest to conquer the time-honored form within the equally traditional genre of the piano trio. What makes this trio such a masterpiece, besides its immediate sensual appeal, is the blending of both a skillfully crafted structure and the indescribably fresh voice of Ravel and a new musical era. The A minor trio includes many wonderful details
of construction and expression including novelties both exotic and presciently neoclassical.