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Charles Curtis – July 22, 2016

Charles Curtis, cello
Performs J. S. Bach and Tashi Wada

J. S. Bach Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 (ca. 1720)
Tashi Wada untitled (2016) World Premiere
Luigi Dallapiccola Ciaccona, Intermezzo e Adagio (1945)

This program centers around a new piece for solo cello by composer Tashi Wada, written expressly for Charles Curtis, which broadens their ongoing work together around harmony and tuning, while working outwards from the physical makeup, or body, of the cello. The cello suites of J. S. Bach offer not only an “absolute music” of pure tonal relations and implied harmony, but also a very conscious mapping of the instrumental resources of the cello. They can be seen as a manifesto declaring the arrival of what was at the time a relatively new instrument. Bach’s intricate tailoring of thematic and contrapuntal material to the lay-out and native resonances of the instrument suggest a kind of “inside-out” process, even a kind of compositional empiricism. Dallapiccola’s Ciaccona, Intermezzo e Adagio does much the same thing, but in 1945, some 200 years after Bach. The tonal language is now that of Alban Berg, and the piece was composed in close collaboration with Dallapiccola’s friend, the Catalan cellist Gaspar Cassado. Cellist Charles Curtis has created a new body of work for solo cello through his collaborations with composers La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, Alvin Lucier, Éliane Radigue, Christian Wolff, Alison Knowles and Tashi Wada, and filmmakers Raha Raissnia and Jeff Perkins. Rarely-heard works of Terry Jennings, Morton Feldman and Richard Maxfield have also been signposts in Curtis’s performing life. Trained at Juilliard with Leonard Rose and Harvey Shapiro, Curtis received the Piatigorsky Prize of the New York Cello Society. Since 2000 Curtis has been Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego. He is a former member of King Missile. Tashi Wada grew up in New York and lives in Los Angeles. His compositions use apparently simple structures and carefully calibrated tuning systems to generate rich and unanticipated perceptual effects. Wada presents his music often in collaboration with other artists including Charles Curtis and Stephan Mathieu, in addition to performing regularly with his father Yoshi Wada.

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