Guitar Plus: Serenades and Premieres with David Leisner and Friends

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, at 7:30 PM

Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York City

Renowned guitarist/composer David Leisner and friends Tara O’Connor (flute), Jesse Mills (violin), Mark Holloway (viola), and Raman Ramakrishnan (cello), in works by Beethoven, Diabelli, and contemporary masters Pierre Jalbert and Vivian Fine

“David Leisner is among the finest guitarists currently performing … He has a probing intellect, finding insights in music that most others miss, and delivering them with a virtuoso technique.” — American Record Guide


BEETHOVEN (arr. Matiegka) Serenade, Op. 8, for violin, viola, and guitar
PIERRE JALBERT Sonatine for violin and guitar (NYC premiere)
VIVIAN FINE Canciones y Danzas for flute, cello, and guitar
DIABELLI Serenata Concertante, Op. 105, for flute, viola, and guitar

We asked David Leisner a few questions about the concert:

What is special about this program?

This concert features two large-scale serenades from the early 19th-century and two New York premieres. We are excited to present Pierre Jalbert’s thrilling Sonatine for violin and guitar and Vivian Fine’s enchanting Canciones y Danzas for flute, cello and guitar. Jalbert is an extraordinarlly gifted mid-career composer of orchestral and chamber music, who teaches at Rice University. I’m happy to report that he will be in the audience on December 5. Fine (1913–2000) was a prolific composer of orchestral and chamber music, quite well-known in her day, but like so many women composers of her time, vastly underrated. Bookending the program are the two big works by Beethoven and Diabelli. Beethoven’s well-known Serenade, Op. 8, for string trio, was arranged for violin, viola and guitar by his guitar contemporary, Wenzeslaus Matiegka, and it’s a fantastic work. So great to play Beethoven on the guitar! Ending the program is the virtuosic Serenata Concertante, Op. 105, by Diabelli; dramatic and exciting.

Who are your collaborators?

Honestly, I couldn’t be more honored to have some of the best freelancers in New York play this concert with me. Tara O’Connor is one of the world’s best flutists and one of the busiest musicians I know. Violinist Jesse Mills and cellist Raman Ramakrishnan are two-thirds of the Horszowski Piano Trio. They gave a concert recently in New York that I’ll always remember as one of the greatest recitals I ever attended. Violist Mark Holloway is always in great demand and is one of the most musical musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Rehearsals with these formidable musicians really keep me on my toes!

I see this is a special anniversary for Guitar Plus. Please tell us about that.

With this concert, we celebrate the tenth anniversary of Guitar Plus. As Artistic Director, I have been committed to presenting stimulating programs of chamber music with guitar, with a stellar bunch of performers over all these years so far. The repertoire of guitar music with other instruments and voice is so much richer than most people know. These programs have championed the rarely performed corners of the repertoire as well as its staples, and have featured 21 world and New York premieres by important composers such as George Crumb, David Del Tredici and Peter Sculthorpe. I love to balance the old and the new, the challenging and the accessible, and the December 5 program is yet another example of that.

Video: David LeisnerTara O’ConnorJesse Mills & Raman RamakrishnanMark Holloway