FOLK INFLECTIONS WITH ANGELA AND JENNIFER CHUN Performs at Symphony Space, 10/11
As WQXR.com wrote in 2011, "A touring violin duo cannot exactly draw on a rich literature, but the Chun sisters keep their programs surprisingly varied. … One reason for the slender literature may be the inherent homogeneity in the sound of a violin duo. Yet the Chuns are very much a study in contrast."
Since 2010, the violin duo of Angela and Jennifer Chun, called "dynamic violinist sisters" by The New York Times, have released a recording of Bartók's 44 Violin Duos-one of the harmonia mundi label's best-selling discs of that year-and performed selections of them in concert, eliciting praise from The Strad magazine for their "incisive, colourful approach to the duos."
On October 11, 2012, at New York's Symphony Space, the Chuns continue their tribute to the Hungarian composer with "Folk Inflections with Angela and Jennifer Chun," a program featuring a second set of selections of the Bartók duos along with some of Luciano Berio's Duetti per due violini, which were written in homage to Bartók; Edmund Rubbra's Phantasy for two violins and piano; and Bartók's Roumanian Folk Dances for violin and piano, which the performers have arranged for two violins and piano.
The concert also features pianist Nelson Padgett, who collaborated with the Chuns on their first harmonia mundi recording, Fantasy, and a specially-designed lighting component by Iranian-born artist Mahmoud Hamadani.
The concert is part of the Symphony Space Salon Series, events enhanced by conversations with the artists. After performing the Bartók duos, the Chuns and Nelson Padgett will talk about the music with the Symphony Space Artistic Director, composer Laura Kaminsky.
In his notes for the harmonia mundi Bartók recording, John Henken writes, "Rather than technical studies, the Duos [c. 1933] are etudes in musicianship and the integration of folk song in Bartók's personal idiom. … Above all, these are fully musical expressions, as well as pedagogical and ethnological wonders. The moods are as various as the human experience." For the Roumanian Folk Dances, the Chuns and Nelson Padgett have arranged these favorites of the violin chamber repertoire so that they can all three play them together.
Written between 1979 and 1983, Luciano Berio's Duetti per due violini, a nod to Bartók's duos, is a set of 32 brief pieces named for and inspired by colleagues and composers: the first is called "Bela" (Bartók), and others bear the names "Bruno" (Maderna) and "Igor" (Stravinsky). British composer Edmund Rubbra, known primarily as a symphonist and for his orchestration of Brahms's Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, wrote his Phantasy for two violins and piano in 1927, at the age of 26, when he was beginning to find his own compositional voice, one that rejected standard large-form musical architecture-such as sonata form-in favor of counterpoint and his own musical logic.
Angela and Jennifer Chun have forged a niche in the music world as a violin duo of uncommon distinction. Not content to tour with the "Bach Double"-Bach's Concerto for Two Violins-the Chuns continually seek out both new music and new and unusual opportunities to perform. Since 2006 they have performed regularly at New York City Ballet star Jacques d'Amboise's National Dance Institute, the arts education organization that recently opened a new home facility in Harlem.
In 2009, Angela and Jennifer premiered a work written for them, a two-violin concerto by George Tsontakis titled Unforgettable (based on the Nat King Cole song) at the Aspen Music Festival. In the coming seasons they will premiere a piece being written for them by Osvaldo Golijov. They have worked with composers Behzad Ranjbaran and Sebastian Currier. And the Chuns have brought to light duo-violin music by composers including Berio, Schnittke, and Arvo Pärt. Their 2008 disc, Fantasy, features, in addition to works by Martinu, Milhaud, and Shostakovich, two pieces by Isang Yun.