Inbal Segev’s playing is “characterized by a strong and warm tone . . . delivered with impressive fluency and style” (The Strad); and “first class,” and “richly inspired” (Gramophone). Segev brings interpretations that are both unreservedly natural and insightful to the vast range of music she performs.
Juho Pohjonen is one of today’s most exciting and vibrant instrumentalists. The Finnish pianist performs widely in Europe, Asia, and North America, with symphony orchestras, in recital and chamber music.
Juho Pohjonen returns to our series, this time in partnership with Inbal Segev, in a program of sonatas for cello and piano by Beethoven and Grieg. The program also includes a world premiere of Timo Andres’ piece Agita.
J. S. Bach (1685–1750): Sonata No. 3, BWV 1029 in G Minor
L. van Beethoven (1770–1827): Cello and Piano Sonata No. 5, Op. 102, No. 2
Allegro con brio
Adagio con molto sentimento d’affetto – Attacca
Allegro – Allegro fugato
Timo Andres (b. 1985): Agita (world premiere)
— Intermission —
Edvard Grieg (1843–1907): Ballade in the Form of Variations on a Norwegian Folk Song, in G Minor, Op. 24 for solo piano
Edvard Grieg: Sonata for Cello and Piano in A Minor, Op. 36
Andante molto tranquillo
Allegro molto e marcato
Program is subject to change
Sonata No. 3, BWV 1029 in G Minor …………………………….. J. S. Bach (1685 –1750)
This work is the final of three trio sonatas that Bach composed while living in Leipzig during the late 1730s and early 1740s. In 1729 he was appointed as the director of the Collegium Musicum, a chamber society that put on weekly concerts at the Café Zimmermann, one of Bach’s favorite coffee shops. Modern performances tend to use cello and piano, but the work was originally written for viol de gamba and harpsichord. The viol de gamba is a bowed instrument that looks like a cello with a flatter fingerboard, and it covers the tenor range of the cello and the alto range of the viola. The harpsichord’s plucked strings don’t resonate nearly as long as the piano’s hammered strings, so ornamentation like trills and mordents were used to sustain a melodic line.
The first movement of the piece begins with a theme in the cello that is quickly picked up by the keyboard. Bach weaves the theme together with dazzling figurations, spinning out a lively texture that explores several key areas related to G minor. The second movement modulates to Bb Major, the relative major of G minor, and takes on a much slower tempo where the two instruments become fully interwoven with one another. The final movement returns to a fast tempo, and repeated notes that begin in the cello are picked up in the lower range of the keyboard.
Cello and Piano Sonata
No. 5, Op. 102, No. 2 ………….. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 –1827)
- Allegro con brio
- Adagio con molto sentiment d’affeto – Attacca
- Allegro – Allegro fugato
Beethoven composed his fourth and fifth sonatas for cello and piano between May and December of 1815. From 1812 to 1817 Beethoven’s health and hearing deteriorated significantly. Still, he had established a more mature compositional voice, and this sonata is counted among the pieces that herald his so-called “third period.” Beethoven dedicated the piece to Countess Anna Maria von Erödy, a Hungarian noblewoman who was instrumental in securing Beethoven a lifelong annuity from members of the Austrian nobility. The two were close friends and appeared together in public often. Some musicologists believe Countess von Erödy is the woman Beethoven referred to in a letter as his “Immortal Beloved,” though he does not name her directly.
This sonata is similar to the forms of more traditional cello sonatas, like those written by Haydn and Mozart. As is characteristic of many of his later works, each movement thrashes violently between tempestuous figurations and tender, lyrical melodies. The final movement of the sonata includes contrapuntal devices that anticipate his Hammerklavier sonata and later string quartets. Though this sonata was received with some trepidation at first, it has now found its place as a standard piece of the cello and piano repertoire.
Agita………………………… Timo Andres (b.1985)
Timo Andres was born in California, grew up in rural Connecticut, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Yale University for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Andres also graduated from Julliard’s pre-college program. He rose to prominence after his orchestral piece Nightjar was commissioned by the LA Philharmonic and the composer John Addams. Andres’ music has also seen performances at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center. His music is marked by a blend of traditional and contemporary composition styles. Alex Ross of The New Yorker called Andres “quietly awesome” and described his music as “the kind of sprawling, brazen work that a young composer should write.” Andres cites among his own influences Radiohead, Brahms, Brian Eno, Mozart, and Charles Ives.
The piece begins with a single note that is shared between the cello and the piano. He calls for the pianist to reach into the piano and mute the string playing this one note, and the cello takes turns bowing, plucking, and tapping this note with the bow, a technique known as col legno battuto. As the piece unfolds, Andres includes a recurring chordal motif in the piano that grows more frantic with each iteration. He also briefly includes quartertones, or notes that fall between the twelve chromatic notes in tonal music, in the cello part. This enriches a falling chromatic line that appears several times throughout the piece. Though the harmonic and melodic material is relatively restrained, Andres demonstrates serious control over subtle changes in instrumental color and texture.
Ballade in the Form of Variations
on a Norwegian Folk Song
in G Minor, Op. 24 for solo piano …………………………………. Edvard Grieg (1843 –1907)
Edvard Grieg is one of the most famous Romantic composers to come out of Norway. He is best known for his orchestral work, In the Hall of the Mountain King, which comes from incidental music that he composed for the play Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen. Grieg also composed a significant amount of music for chamber ensembles, solo instruments, and piano. He was plagued by health issues throughout his life, including a collapsed left lung and a spinal deformation. Grieg ended up befriending many of the doctors who treated him.
His Opus 24 is based on a Norwegian folk tune that translates to “The Northland Peasantry.” The gentle melody is treated to wandering chromatic harmonies during the theme, and blooms into a lush texture as each variation becomes increasingly dense with music. A young Percy Grainger performed this piece at his London debut in Steinway Hall. Four years later the two men ended up meeting, and Grieg became one of Grainger’s most vocal supporters. The Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt arranged the Ballade for orchestra, and the copy of this score was thought to be lost until it was rediscovered in the early 1990s.
Sonata for Cello and Piano in A Minor, Op. 36 …………………. Edvard Grieg (1843 –1907)
- Allegro agitato
- Andante molto tranquillo
- Allegro molto e marcato
Grieg hails from Bergen, Norway on the west coast of the country. His father was a merchant and his mother was a music teacher. His family name used to be spelled Greig rather than Grieg and is associated with the Scottish Clan Gregor. Grieg’s mother gave him his first piano lessons before he attended the Leipzig Conservatory after showing immense promise at the instrument. By the time Grieg composed his Sonata for Cello and Piano, he was the director of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. While working in this capacity Grieg met Tchaikovsky, who praised the originality, beauty, and warmth of his music.
This is the only piece for cello and piano that Grieg composed, which he wrote after a long period of neglecting his compositions. Grieg had been preoccupied with his conducting post and his various illnesses. The piece borrows melodic material from a funeral march that he wrote for Richard Nordraak, the composer of the Norwegian national anthem. This work, however, is dedicated to his younger brother John, who was himself an amateur cellist. The gentle, effervescent character of the second movement contrasts significantly from the fiery material in the first movement. The third movement begins with a gentle cello melody that turns into a fevered dance between the cello and the keyboard.
Inbal Segev, cello
Inbal Segev is “a cellist with something to say” (Gramophone). Combining “thrillingly projected, vibrato-rich playing” (Washington Post) with “complete dedication and high intelligence” (San Francisco Classical Voice), she makes solo appearances at leading international venues and with preeminent orchestras and conductors worldwide. Celebrated for her fresh insights into music’s great masterworks, the Israeli American cellist is equally committed to reinvigorating the cello repertoire, and has commissioned and premiered major new works from an international who’s who of today’s foremost contemporary composers.
Segev is personally responsible for commissioning, premiering, recording and championing new works by important contemporary composers from the U.S., Israel and beyond. Most recently, she launched the “20 for 2020” project, commissioning new chamber works from 20 of today’s most compelling composers, including Vijay Iyer, Viet Cuong and John Luther Adams, for a music video series and four-volume Avie Records set to document the challenging year. Other recent projects include Anna Clyne’s concerto DANCE, which Segev co-commissioned and premiered under Cristian Măcelaru’s leadership at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California (2019), before recording the work alongside Elgar’s iconic concerto with Marin Alsop and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Released by Avie, the album was an instant success, topping the Amazon Classical Concertos chart and inspiring glowing praise from The Guardian, BBC Radio 3 and other outlets; DANCE’s opening movement was named among NPR Music’s “Favorite Songs of 2020,” receiving more than five million listens on Spotify.
Segev has also brought to life a host of other new works. It was she who gave the world premiere performance of Timo Andres’s concerto Upstate Obscura at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (2018); premiered Dan Visconti’s Cello Concerto with the California Symphony (2017); commissioned and premiered Gity Razaz’s multimedia piece Legend of Sigh at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust (2015); premiered and recorded Lucas Richman’s Declaration with the composer conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony (2015); co-commissioned and premiered Avner Dorman’s Cello Concerto with the Anchorage Symphony (2012); and commissioned and premiered Paola Prestini’s Oceano at Columbia University (2002). She also gave the overdue U.S. premiere of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s long-lost, posthumously reconstructed Cello Concerto, and joined the Albany Symphony for the first performance of Christopher Rouse’s Violoncello Concerto since its premiere 24 years earlier by Yo-Yo Ma.
The cellist’s premiere recordings crown a rich and wide-ranging discography. Having studied Bach’s solo cello suites for many years, she recorded the complete cycle over a six-month period with Grammy-winning producer Da-Hong Seetoo at New York City’s Academy of Arts and Letters for release by Vox Classics in 2015; documenting this process behind the scenes, a companion film by Nick Davis Productions was screened at Lincoln Center and in Maine and Bogotà. Segev’s other recordings include a Romantic program of Schumann, Chopin and Grieg with pianist Juho Pohjonen (Avie, 2018); Dohnányi serenades with the Amerigo Trio (Navona, 2011); and cello sonatas by Beethoven and Boccherini with pianist Richard Bishop (Opus One, 2000). The cellist can also be heard playing music by Peter Nashe on the soundtrack of Bee Season, a 2005 feature film starring Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche.
A prodigy who first played for the Israeli president at just eight years old, Segev came to international attention ten years later when she made concerto debuts with both the Berlin Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Since then she has appeared as soloist with such leading orchestras as the London Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Dortmund Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Baltimore Symphony and St. Louis Symphony, collaborating with Marin Alsop, Stéphane Denève, Lorin Maazel, Cristian Măcelaru, Zubin Mehta and other of the world’s foremost conductors. She co-curated the Baltimore Symphony’s New Music Festival from its inception in 2017.
Segev has given solo performances of Bach’s cello suites at international venues from New York’s Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Shanghai Concert Hall and Jerusalem Theatre. Her other recital highlights include appearances at New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, Brooklyn’s National Sawdust, Los Angeles’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chicago’s Harris Theater and Bogotá’s Teatro Mayor. Also a dedicated chamber artist, she has undertaken international tours with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and collaborated with such esteemed musicians as Emanuel Ax, Jeremy Denk, Anthony McGill, Jason Vieaux and the Vogler Quartet. With former New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and violist Karen Dreyfus, she is a founding member of the Amerigo Trio.
Besides holding regular interactive live-streamed masterclasses and Q&A sessions at the CelloBello resource center, Segev has been featured in a live Q&A session at Lincoln Center’s Kaplan Penthouse and a dedicated episode of The Musical Life podcast series. Available at her YouTube channel, the cellist’s popular masterclass series, Musings with Inbal Segev, has thousands of subscribers around the world and almost two million views to date.
A native of Israel, Inbal Segev began playing the cello at the age of five. At 16 she was invited by Isaac Stern to the U.S., where she continued her cello studies with Aldo Parisot, Joel Krosnick, Harvey Shapiro and Beaux Arts Trio co-founder Bernard Greenhouse, earning degrees from Yale University and the Juilliard School. Today she lives in New York City with her husband, their three teenage children and her cellos, made by Francesco Ruggieri (1673) and Carl Becker & Son (1958) respectively.
Juho Pohjonen, piano
Juho Pohjonen is regarded as one of today’s most exciting instrumentalists. The Finnish pianist performs widely in Europe, Asia, and North America, collaborating with symphony orchestras and playing in recital and chamber settings. An ardent exponent of Scandinavian music, Pohjonen’s growing discography offers a showcase of music by Finnish compatriots such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kaija Saariaho and Jean Sibelius.
In 2020-2021 Pohjonen opens the season at the Tampere Philharmonic following his debut with the orchestra in 2017-2018. After a highly successful debut last year with Minnesota Orchestra, he returns to perform Mendelssohn’s concerto for violin, piano, and strings, beside Erin Keefe and Maestro Juanjo Mena. He performs Daniel Bjarnason’s Processions with Finland’s Tapiola Sinfonietta and Sweden’s Norrlandsoperan Symphony Orchestra; the composer conducts Tapiola.. Continuing his longstanding relationship with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Pohjonen plays Brahms and Dohnanyi on a two-week national tour with CMS. In recital, Pohjonen will film a recital program for the Friends of Chamber Music in College Station, TX.
Following the September 2019 performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota, Pohjonen returned to the orchestra in January 2020 to repeat the program at Indiana University in Bloomington. Additional highlights included two orchestra debuts: with the New Jersey Symphony performing Grieg, conducted by Markus Stenz; and with the Rochester Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Fabien Gabel. Pohjonen made his Philadelphia recital debut at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and returned to Howland Chamber Music Circle in Beacon, NY with a recital. Pohjonen’s chamber performance took him to San Francisco Performances and Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach with violinist Bomsori Kim. An alumnus of The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), Pohjonen enjoys an ongoing association with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with whom he played two performances in New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Chicago’s Harris Theater. Also in 2019, Pohjonen launched MyPianist, an AI-based iOS app that provides interactive piano accompaniment to musicians everywhere. Designed and programmed by Mr. Pohjonen himself and infused with his keen musical sensibility, MyPianist acts as a “virtual pianist” for musicians looking to hone their skills or learn new material. MyPianist carefully “listens” to the musician’s playing and recreates the piano part in real time, matching the timing and nuances of the live performance. More information at https://mypianist.app.
Pohjonen’s illustrious resume of concerto performances reveals a musician in demand internationally. He has appeared as a soloist with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Danish National Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony & Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras, Philharmonia Orchestra of London, with the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York City, and a large number of additional North American orchestras. This includes the Atlanta Symphony where Pohjonen has performed three times. Pohjonen has collaborated with today’s foremost conductors, including Marin Alsop, Lionel Bringuier, Marek Janowski, Fabien Gabel, Kirill Karabits, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Markus Stenz, and Pinchas Zukerman.
The pianist has previously appeared in recital at New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and in San Francisco, La Jolla, Detroit, Savannah, and Vancouver. He made his London debut at Wigmore Hall, and has performed recitals throughout Europe including in Antwerp, Hamburg, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, and Warsaw. Festival appearances include Lucerne; Savonlinna Finland; Bergen, Norway; and Mecklenberg-Vorpommern in Germany, as well as the Gilmore Keyboard Festival. With CMS he has performed significant chamber music repertoire with Escher and Calidore String Quartets in New York, Chicago, and at Wolf Trap, among many other programs. Other highlights of recent seasons include a recital debut at the 92nd Street Y in New York, in which Pohjonen performed a program that featured Scriabin’s Sonata No. 8 and Dichotomie by Salonen. In a review comparing Pohjonen’s performance of the same piece in 2019 to his 2009 performance, the New York Times commented that the Salonen “no longer seemed nearly impossible. You might say he played it like a master.”
Pohjonen’s most recent recording with cellist Inbal Segev features cello sonatas by Chopin and Grieg, and Schumann’s ’Fantasiestücke, hallmarks of the Romantic repertoire. Plateaux, his debut recording on Dacapo Records, featured works by late Scandinavian composer Pelle Gudmundsen Holmgreen, including the solo piano suite For Piano, and piano concerto Plateaux pour Piano et Orchestre, with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Ed Spanjaard. His recital at the Music@Menlo 2010 festival was recorded as part of the Music@Menlo Live series. Entitled Maps and Legends, the disc includes Mozart’s Sonata in A major, K. 331, Grieg’s Ballade (Op. 24), and Handel’s Suite in B-flat Major. Pohjonen joins violinist Petteri Iivonen and cellist Samuli Peltonen to form the Sibelius Trio, who released a recording on Yarlung Records in honor of Finland’s 1917 centennial of independence. The album, described by Stereophile as “a gorgeous debut,” included works by Sibelius and Kaija Saariaho.
Pohjonen began his piano studies in 1989 at the Junior Academy of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, and subsequently earned a Master’s Degree from Meri Louhos and Hui-Ying Liu-Tawaststjerna at the Sibelius Academy in 2008. Pohjonen was selected by Sir Andras Schiff as the winner of the 2009 Klavier Festival Ruhr Scholarship, and has won prizes at international and Finnish competitions.