7:30 p.m. — Saturday, April 22, 2023
Vernon Cook Theater – Clinton High School
Pianist Lorraine Min returns following her exciting performance with Clinton Symphony Orchestra in 2019. This time she will perform the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1. A native of Victoria, Canada, she has dazzled audiences internationally with her poetic artistry and brilliant virtuosity. She has caught the attention of a local patron of the arts, who for the second time underwrites her performance with us. Conductor Brian Dollinger has also chosen the overture to Haydn’s opera L’isola disabitata (The Uninhabited Island), and the Brahms Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn to complete the program.
Steinway Artist and critically acclaimed pianist, LORRAINE MIN has dazzled audiences internationally with her poetic artistry and brilliant virtuosity.
Cited by the New York Times for her “impeccable phrase-shaping (and) crystalline sound,” and by the Washington Post for her “admirable playing,” Min has performed extensively throughout Canada and USA, in Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, India, and in South America. She has performed solo recitals and has made concerto appearances in some of the world’s most important concert halls such as New York’s Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Town Hall, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre, and the Chan Centre, to name only a few.
A dynamic chamber musician, Min has performed in prestigious North American venues including at the Ravinia and Tanglewood Festivals, in Europe, Asia, Australia, notably in Perth’s Western Australia Symphony Orchestra’s Amberley Mozart Day concerts where she was a featured guest artist. She can regularly be heard on CBC and ABC (Australian) radio.
Min’s success in prestigious international competitions include top prizes and special awards of distinction in the Washington International, D’Angelo, Frina Awerbuch, and the William Kapell Competitions. She was the top ranking Canadian pianist at nineteen years old in the Harveys Leeds and Busoni International Competitions, and laureate in the Van Cliburn Competition.
Min’s discography includes her solo CD of Schubert and Liszt and a CD featuring chamber music of Beethoven and Brahms for Canada’s esteemed Eine Kleine Music Festival. In 2013, Min released two CD’s, her subsequent solo CD, “In Recital” which features works by Chopin, Liszt, and Bartok, as well as a CD of Violin and Piano Sonatas by Franck, Debussy, and Prokofiev.
Born in Victoria and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Min studied on full scholarship at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and earned her Bachelor degree, Pi Kappa Lambda. On generous scholarships and numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Min received her Masters and Doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School.
Franz Josef Haydn 1732-1809
Composer Franz Josef Haydn was born in Austria in 1732 and is known as one of
the greatest masters of classical music. His capacity for both musical wit and depth of
feeling, as well as his sheer productivity have won him the title of “father” to both the
string quartet and the symphony. His compositions include 104 symphonies, 50
concertos, 84 string quartets, 24 stage works, and 12 masses, among numerous other
Given great scope for composition, Haydn became musical director for the
Esterhazy family for whom most of his musical output was produced during 29 years of
service. In the 1780s, Haydn received commissions from London and Paris and honors
from all over Europe. He formed a close friendship with Mozart, an association that
influenced the music of both. Hayden’s works were known for his originality, liveliness,
optimism and instrumental brilliance, and became the model and inspiration not only for
Mozart, but also for Beethoven, who studied under him.
Two great oratorios, The Creation, based on Milton’s Paradise Lost, and The
Seasons were written later in life, planned on the grand scale for solo voices, chorus
and orchestra. Haydn’s output was so large that at the end of his life, he could not be
sure how many works he had written. He died in Vienna on May 32, 1809.
L’isola Disabitata Overture
While working for Prince Esterhazy, Haydn composed 14 operas, 9 in Italian and 5 in
German. Since the Prince loved opera, Haydn had a ready audience, and as he was
contracted to write an opera a year, he had many opportunities to experiment with the
form. Said to be his favorite, L’isola was number 10 and composed in 1789 during a
season that premiered 3 of his own operas.
The overture, sometimes likened to a miniature symphony, is an example of Haydn’s
Storm and Drang style. Manifested primarily between the late 1760s and early 1780s,
Sturm and Drang refers to the practice of releasing sudden, wild emotion in contrast to
the enlightenment values of rationalism and control. Evident in literature and music, its
purpose was to counter polite control with sudden shock, exuberance and energy.
Haydn embraced this element in highly emotional music with sudden fits and starts,
agitation and loud dynamics.
In this piece, the Largo begins with 6 unisons before a tiny theme is introduced
quietly by the strings, ending with 3 repeated eighth notes, a final sustained tone and
unexpected silence. Then a sudden explosion bursts from the entire orchestra, strings
leading with racing notes and accents. A soft, gasping second theme adds a contrast
before being swept away in the full sturm and Drang conflagration. A small minuet
dances with poise and elegance until the orchestra again explodes in a furious
conclusion with 3 firm chords.
Johannes Brahms 1833-1897
Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1833 and died in Vienna,
Austria in 1897. He was the great master of symphonic and sonata style, writing
symphonies, concerti, chamber music, piano works, choral compositions and over 200
songs. He championed the Classical tradition of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven at a
time when the standards of this tradition were being questioned by the Romantics.
Although considered a traditionalist by his contemporaries, his music also embeds
innovative and deeply romantic motifs. Enshrined as one of the “Three B’s” along with
Bach and Beethoven, his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire.
Brahms learned piano by age 8, improvised a piano sonata at 11, and made his
public concert debut conducting a choir at age 14. Young Johannes was even able to
supplement his family’s income playing piano in Hamburg’s rough dock area. In 1850 he
met Hungarian violinist Eduard Remenyi, who introduced him to Roma music, which
was to become one of his strongest influences. His first big break came in 1853 when
he met violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim who recognized his talent and recommended him
to Robert Schumann. Schumann’s enthusiastic support introduced him to the public with
the prophetic words, “This is the chosen one!”
From 1857 to 1860, posts teaching piano and conducting gave him time to compose
2 serenades, a string sextet and his turbulent Piano Concerto No. 1. He eventually
settled in Vienna directing a choral society. As his reputation grew, so did rivalry
between his supporters and those of the New Romantic school, such as Wagner and
Bruckner, who deemed him too old-fashioned. By 1872 he was directing the Vienna
Philharmonic. His composing skills flourished during this period, including his most
famous choral work, his German Requiem, based on the Bible story of Good Friday, still
seen today as one of the most significant works of 19th century choral music. Light
works from this period included his Hungarian Dances for piano duet, a brilliant
arrangement of Roma tunes which enjoyed phenomenal success. He also published his
Liebeslieder (love songs) for vocal quartet, using Viennese waltzes with sparkling
By the 1870s he was moving to purely orchestral works, including Variations on a
Theme by Haydn, which gave him the confidence to continue work on his tempestuous
1st Symphony completed in 1876. His 2nd Symphony followed in a more serene, idyllic
mood. Six years later he finished his 3rd Symphony which begins calmly, but ends in a
gigantic conflict of elemental forces. His 4th Symphony was inspired by Sophocles’
Greek tragedies. Further demonstrating his creative genius, he also took a simple
theme from a Bach cantata, spinning it into 30 intricate variations.
Brahms’ fame spread and he was able to tour to great acclaim all over Europe. He
composed his Academic Festival Overture in 1881 as a thank you to Poland. He never
married, and some credited his “immense reserve” to an inability to express emotion
except through his music. Brahms dedicated his later years to composing and died in
Vienna in 1897.
Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn
When Brahms turned 40 he began composing a set of variations based on a Wind
Divertimento by Haydn. An irregular structure based on five rather than the usual four
measures in length became the basic theme for his eight variations with a concluding
passacaglia and finale. Credited as the first set of independent variations for orchestra
ever composed, the success of his composition gave Brahms the confidence to move
forward with orchestral works. Although the simple theme was likely not from Haydn, the
name lives on in a series of meditations and rhapsodic developments, unlike common
variations which merely embellish the central melody.
The finale wonderfully illustrates Brahms’ mastery of traditional composition, a
veritable textbook of counterpoint, canons, double counterpoint and more. Beginning
with a hymn-like statement, the chorale grows in powerful elaboration, bursting into a
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, op. 15
Brahms spent his life struggling to emerge from Beethoven’s shadow, so intimidated
by his master that more than half his career would pass before writing his first
symphony. Beginning in 1854, the young Brahms wrestled for four years with the form
and his own uncertainty. It began as a symphony, then turned into a massive sonata for
two pianos which he played with his dear friend Clara Schumann. Finally, it emerged as
a piano concerto, but not the traditional solo with orchestral accompaniment. Instead, it
became a work on symphonic scale in which piano and orchestra are equals. As with
many monumental new works, when it debuted in Leipzig, the audience hissed, not yet
ready for its stormy, ferocious intensity. It would only begin to be accepted years later.
The ominous opening theme returns throughout the first movement, rising like some
awesome supernatural power. When the piano enters, it is in a different world of quiet,
restless melancholy. A second theme of passionate warmth is echoed in a distant horn
The Adagio begins in quiet majesty, weaving in lines of the bassoon, strings and
oboe. The piano’s elaborate trills introduce the final statements of the orchestra and a
The final Rondo alternates a principal theme, surging forward with spirited
momentum as the soloist begins with a furious, Bach-inspired melody. The movement
continues with rhythmic vigor including a string fugue, and comes to a transcendent
close filled with warmth and grand drama.