18-year-old American violinist Chad Hoopes has been appearing with numerous ensembles throughout the world since he won the first prize at the Young Artists Division of the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. He is a violinist possessing vibrant virtuosity “with an inspiring blend of emotional expression and technical ease” (Press Democrat), and his mastery is described as “way beyond his years” (Press Democrat).
During the 2011-12 season, Chad was the third Artist-in-Residence in the history of the Classical Minnesota Public Radio. As part of MPR's Artist-In-Residence program Chad performed concerts throughout the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area and also participated and led educational activities at local schools.
Chad’s recent debuts include such orchestras as the Vancouver Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Utah Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Houston Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Brussels Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, and Trondheim Symphony. Chad is a frequent guest artist at the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland since his debut in August 2009.
Beyond the concert hall, Chad's virtuosity and exuberant personality have been featured on the CBS Early Show, NBC affiliate station WKYC (Cleveland), NPR station WCLV in Ohio, ABC affiliate station KSTP Twin Cities Live, and on PBS's From the Top: Live at Carnegie Hall. He was the soloist on the Emmy Award-winning June 2007 television commercial for the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball team produced by SportsTime Ohio Network, which aired on NBC on SportsTime Ohio and on ESPN.
Chad was born in Naples, Florida, in 1994 and at the age of four began his violin studies in Minneapolis. He later studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music under David Cerone and Joel Smirnoff and has additionally studied at Ottawa’s NAC Young Artists Program and at the Heifetz Institute.
Chad plays the 1713 Antonio Stradivari Cooper; Hakkert; ex Ceci violin, courtesy of Jonathan Moulds.
Espagña, Rhapsody for Orchestra
Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894)
Chabrier’s parents wanted their son to study law, so he did. Music was his real love, however; so after writing music whenever he could find the time during his eighteen years with the Ministry of the Interior, he resigned his clerking job to devote himself entirely to composing. His obvious talent and colorful writing quickly earned him the admiration of other composers, particularly Maurice Ravel, who is reported to have remarked that all of contemporary French music owed its direction to Chabrier’s compositions.
Chabrier visited Spain in 1882 and was entranced by the music he heard and the dancing he enjoyed watching at a café, writing to a friend, “If you could see them wiggle and contort their hips, I believe you wouldn’t want to leave the place!” So when he returned to Paris, he promised a conductor friend that he would write a piece that would make audience members jump up and hug each other. Espagña, which was the piece he wrote first for piano and then for orchestra, may not have caused that sort of behavior, but it definitely established Chabrier as a serious and popular composer.
The orchestral version takes full advantage of the orchestra’s colorful resources. Within a traditional sonata form, Chabrier uses his two themes to dramatically juxtapose the energetic Spanish jota with the lyrical Malagueña, hinting in his development at what he referred to as “the endless variety of rhythms” that he had heard superimposed over the dance’s basic rhythmic pattern. A new theme, played by trombones, is introduced before a conventional recapitulation leads into a rousing coda that revisits the trombone theme to bring the piece to a brilliant conclusion.
Symphonie espagnole in D minor, Op. 21
Édouard Lalo (1823-1892)
Although Édouard Lalo falls short of being one of the most famous and immediately recognized French composers, his Symphonie espagnole quickly became and has remained a major concert favorite. His earlier works received only minor attention, but that changed when he became interested in writing “Spanish” music – an interest that was inspired by the playing (and probably also by the dynamic personality) of the great Spanish violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate.
Sarasate, whose extraordinary virtuosity, richly sweet tone, and expressive interpretations gained him dedicated solo works from several major composers, including Saint-Saëns and Dvořák, attracted Lalo’s attention in the 1870s, and he wrote and dedicated both a violin concerto and then the Symphonie espagnole to him.
For the Symphonie espagnole, Lalo decided to depart from the usual concerto format and create something entirely different -- a five-movement compositional hybrid that makes no pretense at evoking musical impressions of Spain and is in truth neither a concerto nor a symphony. Although the central (third) movement, an intermezzo, arguably contains some of Lalo’s most virtuosic and expressive music, it was unaccountably omitted for the 1900 Chicago Symphony premiere of the work; and its omission has become a standard practice, in spite of the efforts of violinist Yehudi Menuhin and others to re-include it.
The first movement (Allegro non troppo), which begins with a fanfare, also introduces an intermingling of duplet and triplet rhythms that lend a Spanish flavor to the music. The solo violin enters after three measures with the fanfare motive and thereafter remains at center stage. Although virtuosic pyrotechnics are on full display, the music’s inventively managed lyrical and rhythmic treatment is even more impressive.
The second movement (Scherzando: Allegro molto), although a scherzo, is a stunning serenade, imbued with a seductive seguidilla dance rhythm, with the sound of the violin soaring over a guitar-like accompaniment of pizzicato strings and harp.
With its folksong-like lyricism, the third movement (Andante), which is actually the work’s fourth movement, is warmly, even darkly seductive. In sharp and dramatic contrast, though, the final movement (Rondo: Allegro) is a colorful and brilliant display piece. The pace slows towards the middle to accommodate a contrastingly quiet and seductive melody before the work concludes with a dazzling display of musical fireworks.
Molambo from Estancia
Alberto Ginastera (1916--1983)
Alberto Ginastera, who became recognized as the foremost creative representative of South American music after the death of Villa Lobos in 1959, wrote his one-act ballet Estancia, based on Argentine country life, on commission from an American ballet company in 1941. The company failed before the ballet was to go into rehearsal, however; so ten years passed before Estancia received its first performance as a ballet. In the meantime, though, Ginastera put together a suite of four of the ballet’s dances that quickly became a concert favorite after it was premiered in 1943.
The energetic final dance, Malambo, takes its title from a fast dance in 6/8 meter that is traditionally used as an accompaniment for a violently athletic dancing competition among gauchos (Argentine cowboys).
Ernesto Lecuona y Casado (1895-1963)
Like his contemporary, George Gershwin, whom he knew, admired, and outlived by many years, Ernesto Lecuona had a talent for writing beautiful hit songs one after another; so it comes as no surprise that he eventually became known as “the Cuban Gershwin.” All in all he wrote 406 songs, 176 piano solos, fifty-three theatrical works, thirty-one orchestral scores, six works for piano and orchestra, three violin solos, a trio, five ballets, and eleven film scores. As a note of interest, it was Desi Arnaz, a fellow Cuban and also the husband of comedienne Lucile Ball, who introduced much of Lecuona’s music to American audiences.
Although he ardently loved his native Cuba, in 1960 he became so unhappy about and vehemently opposed to the Castro regime, that he moved to Tampa, Florida, where he spent the remaining three years of his life with relatives. He died in 1963 of a heart attack while visiting friends in the Canary Islands and was buried in a cemetery in Hawthorne, New York, leaving a request in his will that his remains be returned to his native land after the end of the Castro rule.
In addition to his prowess as a composer, Lecuona was also an accomplished and popular concert pianist, and it was while on a performance tour of Spain in 1924 that he became enamored of that country’s music and culture, particularly in the various cities and villages of Andalusia. So on returning to Cuba he composed his most famous large-scale piano work, his Andalucia Suite, which he later orchestrated. Each of the suite’s six distinctive movements musically reflects Lecuona’s impression of a particular place in Andalusia. The best known among them are the second selection, Andalucia, and the final Malagueña, his most famous piece, which exists in innumerable versions and arrangements.
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Ravel, who was born in the Basque region of France close to the Spanish border and whose mother had been both born and reared in Madrid, was once described by Manuel de Falla as “more Spanish than the Spanish themselves.” The truth behind that observation is perhaps most evident in the Rhapsody espagnole, Ravel’s first orchestral composition, in which he already demonstrated an impressive mastery of the power and expressive colorations of orchestration. Ravel’s music is essentially French, of course; but his comment to a friend that, while composing, he often found that Spanish colorations and rhythms had somehow mysteriously found their way onto his music score was an admission of an obvious affinity for things Spanish.
Although Ravel was markedly precise in his approach to composition, knowing that his music is “impressionistic” might justify an imaginative listening approach. Encouraged by the first movement’s title, Prelude to Night, we might respond to the persistent repetition of a descending four-note motive in the strings, along with high-pitched violin tremolos, as suggestive of a slight nervousness at the uncertainties of oncoming darkness. The sudden splash of orchestral color from the sound of a harp and the upward-moving onrush of strings might easily seem evidence of the night’s beauty, with two slightly intrusive little cadenzas, the first for two clarinets and the second by a pair of bassoons, possibly evoking imagined aural awareness of the scurrying on small animals. All this is all mind-painting, of course; but musical impressionism invites an imaginative response.
The Malagueña seems almost to emerge from the first movement, with only the slightest pause. Pizzicato from the double basses marks the familiar rhythmic pattern, with guitar-like strumming from the cellos. Even energetic blips from a muted trumpet, though, fail to enliven the relaxed mood or suggest a dance; and whatever energy has been built up is ultimately dispelled by a languid English horn solo before the movement quietly ends.
The third movement, Ravel’s orchestration of a Habanera he had composed earlier for two pianos, is a slow, seductive dance that rhythmically balances twos against threes. Its spirit is wonderfully suggested by Ravel’s tempo marking, “Rather slow and with a weary rhythm,” and the piece’s intended impression is equally well suggested by the quotation from the poet Beaudelaire that Ravel had written on the original two-piano score: Au pays parfumé que le soleil caresse – “In the perfumed land that the sun caresses.”
The tension built up through restraint in the preceding movements explodes into riotous passion in the final Feria. Vibrant rhythms and strong, colorful orchestration create an atmosphere of celebration. Another rather languid English horn solo finds its way into the mix, but even that fails to dampen the overall exuberance brought on by all the contrasting melodies and sensations.
Program notes by Courtenay Caublé