Evanna Lai, mezzo soprano
Julia Clancy, viola
Yevgeny Yontov, piano
For your judicious and pious consideration
works by Hilary Purrington, Dmitri Shostakovich,
Maurice Ravel, and Johannes Brahms
Sunday, February 11th at 4:00 pm
Hamden Whitney Center
200 Leeder Hill Dr
Voluntary donations to Fractured Atlas
are gladly accepted.
The most iconic composition written for this ensemble, Two Songs for Alto, Viola, and Piano by Johannes Brahms, opens our program. After introducing the sound world of the ensemble, we will present three pieces that deal with the subject of death, in one way or another, beginning with Maurice Ravel’s Two Hebrew Melodies for Voice and Piano. The first of these melodies, or songs, is Ravel’s setting of the Kaddish, a Hebrew prayer regularly recited in the synagogue service. There are several forms of the Kaddish prayer, and this one is reserved specifically for mourners and is recited daily for 11 months after a parent's death, then annually on the anniversary of the parent's death on the Hebrew calendar.
Continuing the program is Dmitri Shostakovich’s Sonata for Viola and Piano, the composer’s last work, completed a month before his death. Speaking about the work, the composer called the first two movements merely a "novella," and "scherzo," respectively. He was more detailed, however, about the finale describing it as "an adagio in memory of Beethoven." He also summed up the music in general as "bright and clear." This last characterization of the work is misleading, as there is a feeling of resignation throughout, even if it is counterbalanced by a strong sense of serenity. In the end, the work listens as an expression of the composer’s coming to terms with his ineluctable and unhappy fate.
The title piece of the concert, For your judicious and pious consideration was composed by Hilary Purrington in 2015 and premiered that year by the violist and pianist performing on this program. In Purrington’s own words:
“I wanted to use a text connected with New England history, and the subject of the Salem Witch Trials struck me as particularly compelling and relevant to contemporary events. I drew the song’s text from a 1692 petition written by Mary Eastey, a condemned witch. In her petition, Eastey begs not for her own life, but appeals for the lives of the others accused. She implores the judges to conduct their investigations with greater discernment and rationality. I selected excerpts from Eastey’s petition, which I then adapted into modern English.”