|Franz Joseph Haydn||Keyboard Sonata in A-flat major, Hob. XVI:46||1768|
|Maurice Ravel||Gaspard de la nuit, M. 55||1908|
|Robert Schumann||Humoreske, Op. 20||1839|
About the Music
No Haydn sonata is more indebted to Emanuel Bach’s brand of Empfindsamkeit—the language of heightened sensibility that had its literary roots in the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the German poet Klopstock—than the Sonata in A flat, No 46, composed around 1767–8. Beyond any specific influence, this beautiful work reflects the striking intensification of Haydn’s musical idiom in the years immediately following his elevation to full Kapellmeister at the Esterházy court in 1766.
Richard Wigmore (2007)
The name “Gaspard” is derived from its original Persian form, denoting “the man in charge of the royal treasures”: “Gaspard of the Night” or the treasurer of the night thus creates allusions to someone in charge of all that is jewel-like, dark, mysterious, perhaps even morose.
Aloysius Bertrand, author of Gaspard de la Nuit (1842), introduces his collection of prose poems by attributing them to a mysterious old man met in a park in Dijon, who lent him the book. When he goes in search of M. Gaspard to return the volume, he asks, “ ’Tell me where M. Gaspard de la Nuit may be found.’ ‘He is in hell, provided that he isn’t somewhere else’, comes the reply. ‘Ah! I am beginning to understand! What! Gaspard de la Nuit must be…?’ the poet continues. ‘Ah! Yes… the devil!’ his informant responds. ‘Thank you, mon brave!… If Gaspard de la Nuit is in hell, may he roast there. I shall publish his book.’ ”
Of the work, Ravel himself said: “Gaspard de la Nuit has been a devil in coming, but that is only logical since it was Gaspard who is the author of the poems. My ambition is to say with notes what a poet expresses with words.”
SCHUMANN, a devoted disciple of Bach, was nearly obsessed with mastering techniques of counterpoint. And he lived in awe of Beethoven, who established the model of the symphonic ideal that intimidated so many composers in his wake. Yet Schumann was also the ultimate Romantic, with a phantasmagoric and childlike imagination.
Schumann best reconciled these seemingly disparate aesthetic stands in his remarkable piano works. Among his most astonishing, and most overlooked, piano works is the “Humoreske.” As its fanciful title suggests, this multimovement suite abounds in wistful reveries, mock-heroic marches and coyly charming melodic flights. Yet just below the surface the music teems with rigorous contrapuntal writing and wandering chromatic harmonies.
Anthony Tommasini (2010)
About the Artist
Pianist Jonathan Mak is from Toronto, Canada. At age four, Jonathan made his solo debut with the Canadian Sinfonietta orchestra.
An avid chamber musician, Jonathan has performed the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, Ottawa Chamberfest, and the Edinburgh International Festival. He has also attended a number of summer festivals, including the Aspen Summer Music Festival and the Sarasota Music Festival.
Jonathan earned his undergraduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied piano with Dr. Daniel Shapiro. While in Cleveland, he also earned a minor degree in viola performance and a minor degree in German from nearby Case Western Reserve University. Jonathan is currently pursuing a Master of Musical Arts degree at the Yale School of Music, where he studies with Boris Slutsky.
Jonathan is a proud recipient of the 2021 Sylva Gelber Music Foundation Award.