A journey through the musical landscapes of Western Music, interleaving works by Gibbons, Bach, Stockhausen, Stroppa, and Schumann with Kurtág’s “Játékok.”

Jenny Q Chai’s “If on a Winter’s Night…” journeys through the landscape of Western Music, visiting an array of composers with whom she feels a vibrant kinship. The featured selections, by Bach, Debussy, Gibbons, Schumann, Stockhausen, and Stroppa, are interleaved with miniatures from Kurtág’s playful Játékok (Games), in a structural gesture inspired by Italo Calvino’s intricately raveled novel examining the nature of reality and fiction, If on a winter’s night a traveler.

Ms. Chai explains: “I imagine this concert as a kind of train journey through Western Music, in which Kurtág’s beautiful music brings me to meet with each of these composers, speaking to them in their own musical language and engaging with them as the authentic innovators they were. As I laid out the order of the works, seeking to demonstrate the connections and common language I sense within them, I was inspired by Calvino’s gorgeous novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler, which in turn was inspiration for Marco Stroppa’s Miniature Estrose (from which Ninnananna is taken).

“The Kurtág ‘train’ of selections from his delightful Játékok references my own personal musical education; many of these works were given to me by my dear teacher, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and represent my own discovery of this phenomenal composer and his rich, important body of repertoire.”

Ms. Chai programmed this concert as a kind of exercise in musical expression, with no agenda or imposition beyond the most personal kind of storytelling.


Works to be performed on the “If on a Winter’s Night…” program include:

György Kurtág, Játékok (Games)*
Orlando Gibbons, Italian Ground
Claude Debussy, Ondine
J. S. Bach, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (transcription)
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Klavierstück VIII
Marco Stroppa, Ninnananna
Robert Schumann, “Marche des ‘Davidsbündler’ contre les Philistin” from Carnaval

* see complete Játékok listings in the full program enclosed below



György Kurtág, selections from Játékok:
Flowers We Are…1/a
Flowers We Are…1/b
flowers also the stars…
Let’s Be Silly
The Bunny and the Fox
Hommage a Domenico Scarlatti

Orlando Gibbons, Italian Ground

Kurtág, selections from Játékok
Quiet Talk with the Devil
Les Adieux (in Janáceks Manier)
Kondor Rock (in the manner of the aging Liszt)
A Voice in the Distance (for Alfred Schlee’s 80th birthday)
Bells for Margit Mandy
Hommage a Somlyo György (Shadowplay)
A fills aux cheveux de lin-enragée

Claude Debussy, Ondine

Kurtág, selections from Játékok
Melancholic Overtones
Little Chorale 2
Flowers We Are…3
Hommage a Beethoven
Playing with Overtones 2
Fugitive thoughts about the Alberti Bass
Falling Asleep
Flowers We Are…4/a,b
An apocryphal hymn (in the style of Alfred Schnittke) (for Ivar Mikhashoff)
Hommage a J.S.Bach

J. S. Bach, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit (transcription)

Kurtág, selections from Játékok
Hommage a Schubert
Hommage a Farkas Ferenc (3) (evocation of Petrushka)
Hommage a Farkas Ferenc (4 – Adoration,adoration,accursed desolation)
Reticent Question
Hommage a Christian Wolff (Half-asleep)
Hommage à Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Klavierstück VIII

Kurtág, selections from Játékok
Flowers we are…
Grass Blades in memory of Klára Martyn
Like the flowers of the field…(in memoriam Ligeti Ilono)
Organ and Bells in memory of Doctor László Dobszay
… [I will tell my mother Mátáról]
Guillaume Apollinaire, L’Adieu

Marco Stroppa, Ninnananna

Kurtág, selections from Játékok
and once more,Flowers We Are…
Merran’s Dream (Caliban detecting-rebuilding Mirranda’s dream)
Hommage a Pierre Boulez
Hommage a Ligeti
Hommage a Tchaikovsky
Hommage a Paganini
Perpetuum mobile

Robert Schumann, “Marche des ‘Davidsbündler’ contre les Philistin” from Carnaval