Timothy Chooi brings down the house every time he performs with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
THE YOUNG, JET-SETTING VIOLINIST's BIO INCLUDES phrases like “compelling stage presence” and “sumptuous sonorities.” These are modest ways of communicating Timothy Chooi’s Jimi Hendrix-like ability to totally shred on his strings. Combine this strength with Timothy’s sensitivity and subtlety as an interpreter, and we have one of Canada’s greatest soloists in the making.
La Presse’s summary of Chooi gets right to the point: “the miracle.”
On top of megahits by Tchaikovsky and Dvořák, Timothy plays romantic-flavoured treats by Kreisler and Sarasate. Kreisler is famous for writing work in the style of Vivaldi and other old greats. Mischievously, he sometimes even tricked people into thinking his work was theirs! Kreisler applies these copycat powers to their fullest in Tambourin Chinois (1910). With a pinch of world music, and a heavy helping of European styles, this free-form fantasy is, above all, a jaw-dropping showpiece for virtuosos. Obviously, Tim will more than rise to the occasion.
Also on the menu is Giovanni Sollima’s Viaggio in Italia (Journey in Italy). Sollima is probably best known for his Daydream music video, which has racked up millions of online streams. This composer is a populist in the best sense, and his genius gifts for melody make Viaggio in Italia irresistible. Lucky for us that our Music Director Anne Manson, based in London, is in town to conduct this rousing concert. We can’t wait.
The concert begins at 7.30pm on Wednesday, October 4th, in Crescent Arts Centre, 525 Wardlaw Avenue. Casual tickets will be available 7 July 2023 here and on MCO’s Ticketline at 204-783-7377.
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
Crescent Arts Centre, 525 Wardlaw Avenue
7.30pm, Wednesday, 4 October 2023
Anne Manson, conductor
Timothy Chooi, violin
String Quintet No. 60 in C Major (G 324), ‘La Musica della strade di Madrid’
Romance in F Minor, Op. 11
—arr. for solo violin and full strings
Viaggio in Italia – 1 Federico II
Pablo de Sarasate
Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20
—arr. for solo violin and full strings by Peter von Weinhardt
Peter Il’yich Tchaikovsky
Sérénade mélancolique, Op. 26
—arr. for solo violin and full strings by Ignacio Massun
Tambourin chinois, Op. 3
—arr. for solo violin and full strings by Seva Youdenitch
Timothy Chooi is represented by Colbert Artists Management, Inc.
Music Director sponsors / Erin Wolfe & Ryan Palmer
Powerful and finely nuanced interpretations, sumptuous sonorities, and a compelling stage presence are just a few of the hallmarks of internationally acclaimed violinist Timothy Chooi. A popular soloist and recitalist, he is sought after as much for his passionate performances as for his wide-ranging repertoire.
Chooi’s recent artistic collaborations include a tour with Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Mutter Virtuosi where they performed across Europe’s most notable concert halls such as the Musikverein in Vienna, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, and the Berlin Philharmonie. Recent performances include engagement with Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra with Peter Oundjian and a live on-air recital on New York City’s WQXR classical radio station; and recital tours across Europe, North America and Asia. In addition, Chooi has also collaborated with Brussels Philharmonic under Stéphane Denève, with Santa Barbara Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Liége, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.
In addition to his performing career is a founding member of The VISION Collective, a three-year-old ensemble of musicians and composers that uses music to highlight refugee and immigrant voices and stories, raising awareness for the global refugee crisis, and brings together individuals from all walks of life together to create diverse and meaningful art. This ensemble was the recipient of the 2020 Harold W. McGraw Family Foundation’s The Robert Sherman Award for Music Education and Community Outreach.
Chooi studied at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Catherine Cho. An avid educator with a passion for sharing his international experience with young musicians, Timothy Chooi is the Professor of Violin at the University of Ottawa. He performs on the ‘Titan’ Guarneri Del Gesu made in 1741 from Canimex Inc., from Drummondville, Quebec, Canada and the 1709 ‘Engleman’ Stradivarius on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation in Japan.
Giovanni Sollima is an internationally renowned cellist and the Italian composer whose works are most performed in the world. He has collaborated with Riccardo Muti, Yo-Yo Ma, Ivan Fischer, Viktoria Mullova, Ruggero Raimondi, Mario Brunello, Kathryn Stott, Giuseppe Andaloro, Toni Florio, Yuri Bashmet, Katia and Marielle Labeque, Giovanni Antonini, Ottavio Dantone, Patti Smith, Stefano Bollani, Paolo Fresu, and Antonio Albanese, as well as with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Liverpool Philharmonic (Artist in Residence 2015), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Moscow Soloists, Berlin Konzerthausorchester, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Il Giardino armonico, Cappella Neapolitana, Accademia Bizantina, Holland Baroque Society, and Budapest Festival Orchestra.
He has composed music for Peter Greenaway, John Turturro, Bob Wilson, Carlos Saura, Marco Tullio Giordana, Peter Stein, Lasse Gjertsen, Anatolij Vasiliev, Karole Armitage and Carolyn Carlson. Sollima has performed at Alice Tully Hall, Knitting Factory, Carnegie Hall (New York), Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), Salle Gaveau (Paris), Teatro alla Scala (Milan), Opera House (Sidney), Suntory Hall (Tokyo).
Since 2010 he has been teaching at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, where he was awarded the title of Academic. In 2012, together with Enrico Melozzi, he founded the 100 Cellos. In 2015 he composed the sound logo of Expo in Milan and inaugurated the new museum space of Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini. Giovanni explores different genres using ancient, oriental, electric and inventive instruments, playing in the Sahara desert, underwater, and with an Ice Cello.
His discography started up in 1998 with a CD produced by Philip Glass for Point Music which was followed by eleven albums for Sony, Egea and Decca. He has brought to light the 18th century musician, Giovanni Battista Costanzi, of whom he has recorded the Sonatas and Symphonies for cello and basso continuo for the Glossa label In October 2018 he received the Anner Bijlsma Award at the Cello Biennale in Amsterdam.
Giovanni Sollima plays a cello by Francesco Ruggieri (Cremona, 1679).
Romance in F Minor, Op. 11
Arranged for violin solo and full strings.
This lovely work had its origins in a string quartet that Dvořák composed in 1873. Unable to interest anyone in performing it, he never authorized it for publication. Reluctant to let the music go to waste, he took a theme from the slow movement and reworked it as the principal melody of this wistful piece for violin and orchestra. It is an early example of the warm-hearted melodiousness which would later win him worldwide fame. He dedicated it to František Ondříček, who 10 years later gave the first performance of Dvořák’s full-scale Violin Concerto.
The main theme is hinted at throughout the orchestra before the entry of the soloist. It is a slightly melancholy tune in gracefully lilting rhythm, like a siciliano. The middle section becomes more animated and agitated, but then the music gradually winds its way down to a peaceful, contented conclusion.
String Quintet No. 60 in C Major (G 324), ‘La Musica della strade di Madrid’
- The Ave Maria Bell
- The Soldiers’ Drum
- The Minuet of the Blind Beggars
- Il Rosario
- The Passacaglia of the Blind Singers
- The Drum
- The Retreat
Equally celebrated as composer and cello soloist, Boccherini spent most of his life outside his native country, Italy. In 1766, he embarked on a concert tour that took him first to Paris, where he earned considerable acclaim, then on to Madrid in 1769. He won additional accolades at the Spanish court, where he received the patronage of Infante Don Luis, brother of King Carlos III. He spent the years 1787-1797 in Berlin, as court composer to King Frederick William II of Prussia, himself a good amateur cellist. After the king’s death, Boccherini returned to Spain and spent the rest of his life there.
His music has much in common with that of his contemporary, Joseph Haydn. Musicologists of the day noticed the resemblance, but having formed the opinion that the Italian’s compositions lacked the depth and fire of the Austrian’s, they dismissed Boccherini as “the wife of Haydn.” In a letter that Boccherini wrote in 1798 to Ignaz Pleyel, his Paris publisher, he offered the following more temperate self-appraisal: “Everyone who knows me does me the honour of regarding me as a man of probity, honourable, sensitive, good-natured and affectionate as my musical compositions show me to be.”
His numerous chamber music compositions are widely counted his finest creations. Especially valued are the attractive quartets (102 of them) and quintets (125) for strings. In an act of innovation, the latter pieces feature a second cello rather than the second viola that was the standard instrumentation of the time. The result is music of exceptional tonal warmth and richness. Franz Schubert would use the identical scoring for the glorious quintet he composed in 1828, at the very end of his tragically brief career. The MCO will be performing it on 17 April.
Boccherini had little interest in program music, the kind that tells a story or portrays a place or character. This quintet is one of his few such pieces. He composed it in 1780. He stated that it was an attempt to recreate what residents of the Spanish capital could expect to hear each night. It begins with the Ave Maria of the main church, in which the instruments imitate the tolling of the church bell. Then comes the Minuet of the Blind Beggars. Boccherini directed the cellists to take their instruments upon their knees and strum them, imitating a guitar. This is followed by another slow section, The Rosary. Then there is what Boccherini sarcastically termed The Passacaglia of the Street Singers, known as Los Manolos. These were lower class loudmouths vulgarly dressed. The movement is not a passacaglia (a set of variations), but imitates the way Los Manolos sang, which the Spanish called passacalle and meaning to pass along the street, singing to amuse oneself. An imitation of a soldier’s drum leads to the finale, The Retreat. It is a set of variations on a traditional Spanish melody: Procession of the Military Night Watch in Madrid. It imitates the approach and retreat of the Military Night Watch, bringing the curfew and closing down the streets.
Boccherini said, “one must imagine sitting next to the window on a summer’s night in Madrid, and that the band can only be heard in the far-off distance in some other part of the city, so at first it must be played quite softly. Slowly the music grows louder and louder until it is very loud, indicating the Night Watch are passing directly under the listener’s window. Then gradually the volume decreases and again becomes faint as the band moves off down the street into the distance.”
ΠΣ In 1975, Boccherini’s fellow Italian composer, Luciano Berio, was commissioned by the orchestra of the renowned Milan opera house, La Scala, for a work to be used as a concert opener. He responded by orchestrating the finale of this quintet in spectacular fashion.
Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs), Op. 20
Pablo de Sarasate
Arranged for solo violin and full strings by Peter von Einhardt
Sarasate first showed promise as a composer, but in the end he chose the career of concert violinist instead. He became one of the most widelytraveled performers of his day, welcomed on both sides of the Atlantic for his dazzling technique and sunny personality. Several renowned composers created works especially for him, including SaintSaëns (Concertos Nos. 1 and 3; Introduction and Rondo capriccioso); Lalo (Symphonie espagnole); and Bruch (Concerto No. 2 and Scottish Fantasy). He did not abandon composition entirely, writing some 50 pieces for his own performance. One of the most famous is Zigeunerweisen, which he based on authentic Gypsy/Romani melodies. Each half of the piece mirrors a major characteristic of the renowned school of Gypsy virtuoso violin playing: soulful expressiveness in the opening, flashing bravura to close.
Sérénade mélancolique (Melancholy Serenade), Op. 26
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky
Arranged for violin solo and full strings by Ignacio Massun
For a composer so immersed in lyricism, it is surprising that Tchaikovsky composed only a handful of works featuring that most songful of instruments, the violin. He wrote three pieces with orchestra: Sérénade mélancolique (Melancholy Serenade, 1875), Valse-scherzo (1877), and the full-scale Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 (1878), as well as the suite with piano, Souvenir d’un lieu cher (Souvenir of a Dear Place, 1878).
In 1868, the renowned Hungarian violinist soloist Leopold Auer was appointed as professor of violin at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Although he and Tchaikovsky had never met, Auer was well acquainted with the composer’s music, having taken part in the first performances in St. Petersburg of Tchaikovsky’s two string quartets. Once they had been introduced by their conservatory colleague, Nikolai Rubinstein, Auer offered Tchaikovsky a commission for a new piece for violin and orchestra. The result was this serenade.
Auer showed no interest in it at first, however (he later felt the same way about Tchaikovsky’s full-scale concerto). German violinist Adolf Brodsky premiered both works. Auer eventually changed his mind and took them into his repertoire. The serenade is highly expressive music, filled with sweet, romantic yearning.
Tambourin chinois (Chinese Tambourin), Op. 3
Arranged for violin solo and full strings by Seva Youdenitch
As a violinist, the Vienna-born Kreisler was a familiar and beloved figure on the world’s concert stages for half a century. With seemingly effortless grace and beauty, he illuminated all the great Classical and Romantic literature for the instrument. He appeared with all the great orchestras and conductors of his day, commissioned and premiered important new works (including the expansive Concerto by Sir Edward Elgar), and left a legacy of recordings that musiclovers everywhere continue to cherish.
Kreisler also composed music, in forms large and small. His more substantial works included an operetta and a string quartet, but the pieces that keep his name alive on concert programs are the dozens of brief encore works. Many of them, such as Liebesfreud (Love’s Joy) and Schön Rosmarin (Beautiful Rosemary), paint sentimental portraits of the warmhearted musical style that was popular in central Europe during his youth. He claimed at first that some of these miniatures were composed by violin masters of the Baroque and Classical eras, which he had discovered in outoftheway libraries. He eventually confessed that he had written them himself. Some authorities were outraged, possibly from embarrassment at being ‘taken in’ by Kreisler’s expert powers of imitation! Audiences were quick to forgive him, and they have happily been enjoying these delightful bonbons ever since.
The title Tambourin chinois (Chinese Tambourin) does not refer to the familiar round percussion instrument with jingles, but a lively eighteenth-century French folk dance of which prominent Baroque composers such as Jean-Philippe Rameau created numerous delightful examples. Kreisler added to this one (which was published in 1910) a postcard type of Asian flavour.