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“Hochman led the audience through this rugged, majestic landscape with such rhetorical authority that there was no hint of movement among his listeners when he paused between sections. The minute he was done, the audience launched immediately into ovations.” – February 2014, The Washington Post
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 3, 2014: As part of 92Y Concerts at SubCulture, pianist Benjamin Hochman performs a program of variations at the newly opened Bleecker Street venue Monday March 10 at 7:30 pm. The recital includes the world premiere of Frederic Variations by Tamar Muskal and additional works selected demonstrate Mr. Hochman’s passion for the compositional technique and championship of contemporary composers. With its fine acoustics and intimate setting, SubCulture produces a unique concert experience that will allow Mr. Hochman to make a personal connection with the audience through commentary from the stage. Tickets are $30 and $35 and available by visiting 92y.org.
“To me, variations are one of the most primal and versatile of musical forms,” says Mr. Hochman. “The form provides a clear, unifying structure, but also leaves room for imagination, variety and contrasts. But what appeals to me most about playing variations is the wonderfully diverse, beautiful and fascinating music composed in this form.”
The recital opens with Variations, Op. 24 by British composer Oliver Knussen and Luciano Berio’s Cinque variazioni: “The Knussen and Berio are fairly short, dense and compact. They don’t have an easily discernible ‘theme’ in the traditional sense at the beginning of the piece, as do most variations of earlier times. Instead, they present a musical idea or mood that serves as an entry point to a rapidly evolving set of explorations of the potentialities of the material,” says Mr. Hochman.
Mr. Hochman was inspired to explore Knussen’s work after meeting him at the Curtis Institute and participating in a reading the composer conducted of Stravinsky’s Petrushka. He describes Berio as one of his favorite composers of the late 20th century.
The recital continues with the world premiere of Frederic Variations by Israeli-American composer Tamar Muskal, commissioned by Mr. Hochman and based on Chopin’s Étude in A flat major from Trois Nouvelles Études. Mr. Hochman and Ms. Muskal met at the at the Salt Bay ChamberFest in Maine, where he performed her work Zafuf bazug for soprano and piano quartet that is based on texts by Israeli author Daniel Grossman. Ms. Muskal subsequently wrote a piano trio for Mr. Hochman, Sheryl Staples and Mina Smith that was premiered at Salt Bay ChamberFest in 2011. Both Mr. Hochman and Ms. Muskal are natives of Jerusalem and attended the city’s Rubin Academy of Music and Dance.
The SubCulture program concludes with Frederic Rzewski’s 36 Variations on “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!” commissioned by pianist Ursula Oppens as a companion piece to Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations in 1975. Rzewski’s variations borrow its themes from the eponymous Chilean song by Sergio Ortega and Quilapayun as well as the Italian socialist song Bandiera Rossa and Hans Eisler-Bertolt Brecht’s Solidarity Song.
“The primary link between all four works is their cyclical nature,” says Mr. Hochman. “Whether on a small or large scale, each work gives the listener the feeling of starting somewhere relatively simple, taking a journey and returning home. While the nature of the return – and the nature of ‘home’ – may be clear or obscure, it’s the universality of this experience that gives both meaning and structure to these works and perhaps hints at transformation in some instances as well.”
Mr. Hochman’s commitment to performing works by contemporary composers extends to his recordings. In November 2013 he released Homage to Schubert for the Avie record label pairing two late Schubert piano sonatas alongside musical tributes by György Kurtág and Jörg Widmann. In 2010 he performed on a recording of chamber music by Lawrence Dillon with the Daedalus Quartet. His debut solo recording for the Artek record label released in 2009 featured works by Bach, Berg and Webern’s Variations, Op. 27, a work he says fascinated him by wielding great power of expression from a minimum of material, and which he says planted the seed for this all-variations program.
“I hope the audience will enjoy and be intrigued by hearing some excellent contemporary, new, and lesser-known works for piano. The works happen to share a unifying idea, and may reveal both similarities and contrasts to the listener.”
Monday, March 10th, 7:30 p.m. (doors open 7:00 p.m.)
BENJAMIN HOCHMAN, PIANIST
Tickets: General Admission $30; Premium Access $35 (priority entry to the venue) available from 92y.org.
©2014 Kirshbaum Demler & Associates