zondag 12 april 2015 – 15.00 uur

Michael Tsjalka – piano
Die Kunst der Fuge

Twee middagen Bach in ’t Mosterdzaadje

Michael Tsjalka

Met op zaterdagmiddag 11 april de Goldbergvariaties en op zondagmiddag 12 april de Kunst der Fuga van de Johan Sebastiaan Bach uitgevoerd door Michael Tsjalka, heeft ’t Mosterdzaadje wel twee zeer bijzonder concerten te bieden. Aanvang van beide concerten zijn om 15.00 uur.

The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 is the last and most monumental of Bach’s great monothematic cycles, the other three being The Musical Offering, BWV 1079, the “Goldberg” Variations, 988, and The Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch, BWV 769. But whereas the 14 contrapunctus or fugues and 4 canons of The Art of Fugue are based on the musical principle of thematic transformation, The Musical Offering and the Variations on Vom Himmel hoch, are demonstrations of the technical and expressive possibilities of the canon; the Goldberg Variations, on the other hand, develops a variety of keyboard styles unified by a two-part form and a recurring bass line.
By any measure, The Art of Fugue is a formidable work, with eighteen sections of intense counterpoint, which take more than eighty minutes to perform. Although Bach comes up with an almost miraculous variety of musical ideas, it is important to remember that the whole work is grounded in D minor and is derived from a single musical phrase or subject, the first four measures or first twelve notes of Contrapunctus I.
Bach wrote The Art of the Fugue during the last years of his life. He probably began work around 1742 or 1743, shortly after the publication of the Goldberg Variations.  Around 1749, Bach, by then blind and very ill, thought the work advanced enough to begin the publication process with the aid of his son Emmanuel Bach. The engraving work, nevertheless, was left incomplete at the time of his death in July 1750.  As a result of this, the order of The Art of the Fugue’s movements (and even its instrumentation) has been widely debated by musicologists and interpreters, especially as there are significant differences between Bach’s manuscripts and the printed editions appearing immediately after Bach’s death.  In the hand program for tonight’s concert, one can see what is now arguably the closest reconstruction of Bach’s original intentions.
Because of its firm grounding on D minor and a seemingly simple recurring subject, The Art of the Fugue has developed the reputation of being monotonous. I have heard many recordings of the cycle, and while a few capture the real breath and imagination of Bach, many are rather dull. Yes, to some extent, the music is didactic, even encyclopedic, but it is essential to remember that underpinning the music’s intellectual rigor, there is incredible emotional sweep and variety, and to miss this is to miss the point of the composition. 
The key to interpreting The Art of the Fugue, I believe, is to take Bach’s lead: for him, the cycle was a deeply personal work. It is no coincidence that the third subject of the final Contrapuncuts begins with a clear, long statement of the notes B-flat – A – C – B-natural, which in the German key spelling is B-A-C-H. In other words, Bach literally coded himself and the sum of his human and artistic experiences into this music. In a similar fashion, he would have expected the interpreter to gather all his or her power as musical orator to present a convincing and moving rendition of his dense polyphonic structure. 

Pianist and early keyboard performer Michael Tsalka (Israel/Netherlands) has won numerous prizes and awards in Europe, the U.S.A., the Middle East and Latin America. A versatile musician, he performs with equal virtuosity a wide span of repertoire from the early Baroque to our days on the modern piano, harpsichord, fortepiano, clavichord, square piano and chamber organ. Tsalka was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree from Tel-Aviv University, he continued his studies in Germany and Italy. In 2001, he received a piano solo diploma from the Scuola Superiore Internazionale del Trio di Trieste, where he studied with Dario di Rosa. From 2002-2008, he studied at Temple University under the guidance of Joyce Lindorff, Harvey Wedeen, and Lambert Orkis. Tsalka holds three degrees from that institution: a Master’s degree in chamber music/accompanying, a Master’s degree in harpsichord performance and a Doctorate in piano performance. Other teachers included Sandra Mangsen, Klaus Schilde, Malcolm Bilson, and Charles Rosen.
Dr. Tsalka maintains a busy concert schedule. Recent engagements include performances at the Boston Early Music Festival, the Forbidden City Hall in Beijing, Bellas Artes Theater in Mexico City, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, St. Denis Festival in Paris, Der Gasteig in Munich, Beethoven House in Bonn, the Jerusalem Music Center, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and interviews and live performances for radio stations in Hong Kong, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Munich, St. Petersburg, Beijing, Stockholm, Helsinki, Auckland, Amsterdam and Jerusalem. From 2006 to 2015, he has been an artist-in-resident every July at the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Red Wing, Minnesota (www.andersoncenter.org).
Dr. Tsalka has released twelve CDs for labels such as Naxos, Grand Piano, Ljud & Bild (Stockholm), and Paladino (Vienna). Current and future recording projects include CDs dedicated to keyboard works by J. S. Bach, Daniel Gottlob Türk, Johann Baptist Wanhal, Carl Dittersdorf, Ferdinand Ries, Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Viktor Ullmann, Leonardo Coral, Paul Ben Haim, and Yehezkel Braun. Together with Dr. Angelica Minero Escobar, he is preparing a critical edition of Türk’s 30 keyboard sonatas for Artaria Editions in New Zealand (artaria.com). Sonatas 1-12 were published in 2013. Tsalka often collaborates with composers: In 2015-2016, he will perform fourteen world premieres dedicated to him by composers of eleven different nationalities.
Dr. Tsalka has presented seventy master classes and lecture-recitals in academic institutions and conferences around the world. Six of his scholarly articles have been published by music journals, including De Clavicordio (Italy), Piano Bulletin EPTA (Netherlands), The Early Keyboard Journal and Early Music America (U.S.A.). He taught at the Esther Boyer College of Music, the National Center for the Arts (Mexico), and at Lilla Akademien (Stockholm). Currently, he is a visiting professor at Celaya Conservatory in Guanajuato, Mexico, and at Auckland University’s department of Music, NZ.
In 2011, Tsalka was the artistic director of a concert cycle dedicated to J. S. Bach, with presentations at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, Qingdao Grand Theatre and Wuhan’s Qintai Concert Hall. Together with Anna Maria McElwain, he is the artistic director of the Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival in Kuopio, Finland. Tsalka is also the artistic director of the Geelvinck Fortepiano Festival in The Netherlands (www.geelvinckfestival.nl). Last December, he was the artist director of a mini-festival for the Dutch Embassy in Stockholm. 

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