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E SE SEI SOLO?

BACH SONATAS & PARTITAS

Elicia Silverstein, violin

Program

J.S. Bach: Partita N.3 in E Major, BWV 1006

Preludio – Loure – Gavotte en Rondeau – Menuet I – Menuet II – Bourrée – Gigue

J.S. Bach: Sonata N.2 in A minor, BWV 1003

Grave – Fuga – Andante – Allegro

J.S. Bach: Partita N.2 in D minor, BWV 1004

Allemanda – Corrente – Sarabanda – Giga – Ciaccona

Title Page from the manuscript of the Sonatas & Partitas by J.S. Bach

Bach writes Sei Solo in big letters on the title page of his Sonatas & Partitas for violin solo. Though he clearly intended “Six Solo Pieces”, by an ironic coincidence of the Italian language, Bach’s text more accurately reads, “You are Alone.” While the soloist in these epic works is clearly physically alone to grapple with complexities both musical and human explored within their pages, the universality of this music, studied tirelessly by generations of musicians and music students worldwide is felt strongly by the musician immersed in the experience of bringing this music to life, highlighting her connection to the rest of humanity. Therefore, in reality, although this is surely repertoire that takes the musician to task, exposing and obliging her to confront her limitations, technical, intellectual and expressive, it is anything but lonely. Revered by violinists as the “holy grail” of violin repertoire, this music is, for me personally, my mother tongue, my native language. My father, an amateur musician, who had studied composition with Nadia Boulanger (who taught him to study fugues by singing one voice, whilst playing the others… a technique passed on to and treasured by me), would hold me in one arm and practice bits of the Well-Tempered Clavier with the other hand… every Sunday, on his stereo, we would listen to the Bach Cantata of the week. When I was nine years old, I first studied and performed the Preludio from the E Major Partita, and I continued on from there. I have been no less fascinated by what the brave pioneers who first performed and recorded this solo Bach repertoire in the early twentieth century (Casals, Szigeti, Joachim) have had to say, as I have by what our more recent pioneers of the early music/ historical performance movement have had to say. No one performance or interpretation feels definitive, but rather a point on a vast continuum (I even catch my own performances transforming significantly from one to the next as knowledge and experimentation build upon each other), and what an honor it is to be a part of the wonderful, rich, living history of the infinite source of inspiration, invention, beauty, humanity and Music that is the Sonatas & Partitas of J.S. Bach by engaging with this Music both as a performer, and in the transfer of knowledge to the many students around the world with whom I have the privilege to work. This project is for them, for the curious, aspiring, music-loving “students” young and old, at all stages of the journey.

Elicia Silverstein, New York, August 2023

Other projects

Leipzig Metamorphosis

Elicia Silverstein, violin
Accademia dell’Annunciata
Riccardo Doni, harpsichord, chamber organ & conductor

In this program, Elicia Silverstein, Riccardo Doni and his Accademia dell’Annunciata offer the listener a window into a dialogue between the musical world of J.S. Bach and that of his Leipzig compatriot, the young Felix Mendelssohn, who, through his knowledge of the music of Bach is able to “remember the future,” as Luciano Berio later put it, forging a new musical language, informed, colored and perfumed by the past.

BIBER MYSTERY SONATAS

Elicia Silverstein, violin
Francesco Cera, harpsichord & portative organ
Silverstein and her esteemed musical collaborator, harpsichordist and organist Francesco Cera, explore the highly spiritual world of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas (also known as the “Rosary Sonatas”), some of the most fascinating music ever composed for the violin. Rich with symbolism, each sonata depicts one of the fifteen Mysteries of the Cross described in the Catholic liturgical tradition. With unusual scordatura tunings and symbolically charged harmonic and rhythmic devices, Biber brings each Mystery of the Cross vividly to life. The fourteen different scordatura tunings help establish the unique character of each sonata by varying the tension on the violin and thereby eliciting from the instrument a distinctive resonance, color, and affect matched to the Mystery depicted. In order to equip themselves to recreate for both themselves and modern listeners the scenery, action, and emotions of each Mystery, Silverstein and Cera have delved deeply into the liturgical texts associated with each.  Their aim is nothing less than the fully immersive meditative experience they believe Biber envisioned when he composed the sonatas in the seventeenth century.

Harmonia Artificiosa

BIBER - BERIO - PANNI

Elicia Silverstein & Marco Bianchi, violins
Francesco Cera, harpsichord & chamber organ

Created by Elicia Silverstein for the Ravenna Festival 2023, Heinrich  Ignaz Franz von Biber’s remarkable Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa for two violins in various scordatura tunings and basso continuo, six of Luciano Berio’s 32 Duetti for two violins, and seven new duets for two violins by Berio’s longtime friend and collaborator Marcello Panni, written on commission from Ravenna Festival for this project, make up this program’s fascinating mosaic of sounds past, present and future explored by Silverstein and her most extraordinary travel companions, violinist Marco Bianchi and harpsichordist/organist Francesco Cera.

THE REVOLUTIONARY WORLD OF J.B. VIOTTI

CHERUBINI - VIOTTI - MOZART
Elicia Silverstein, violino
Atalanta Fugiens
Vanni Moretto, conductor
Elicia Silverstein, conductor Vanni Moretto and his phenomenal period-instrument orchestra Atalanta Fugiens celebrate the 200th anniversary of the death of J.B. Viotti, a musical figure of immeasurable impact on the critical transition that took place in music history at the turn of the nineteenth century. Though undervalued today, Viotti had a profound influence, both as violinist and composer on the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, and his lifelong friend Cherubini, as well as François Xavier Tourte, with whom he developed the modern violin bow. This program seeks to create a sort of sound “photograph” of the musical world in the years that directly surrounded the French Revolution, with Viotti as the protagonist at the center of one of the most important transformations of the western European musical language in modern history.

The Dreams & Fables I Fashion

BIBER - SCIARRINO - MONTANARI - BERIO - BACH

Elicia Silverstein, violin

This highly personal program, which Silverstein recorded to critical acclaim for Rubicon Classics in 2018 and which won her the BBC Music Magazine’s “Best Newcomer” Award in 2020, takes its title from a 1733 sonnet by Pietro Metastasio, which poignantly expresses the emotionally-charged, sometimes inevitably solitary nature of creating art. Moving seamlessly between works that span from the 17th to the 20th centuries by Biber, Sciarrino, Montanari, Berio and Bach, Silverstein ‘traces the mental circuits that capture and link points distant from each other in place and time’ (Italo Calvino), and aims to highlight the universal nature of the inner human experience, connecting us in ways that transcend the boundaries of time and place.