June 24, 2007

  Huls Clark Duo
  Max Huls violin     Christine Clark piano

CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918) : Sonata in G minor (1917)
Allegro vivo — Intermède, fantasque et léger — Finale: Très animé

GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845-1924): Sonata No. 2 in E minor, Op. 108 (1917)
Allegro non troppo — Andante — Finale: Allegro non troppo

CÉSAR FRANCK (1822-1890): Sonata in A major (1886)
Allegretto ben moderato — Allegro — Ben moderato — Allegretto poco mosso

Violinist Max Turner Huls joined the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in 1993 and was introduced to the First Coast as soloist in Bartók’s Second Rhapsody for violin and orchestra. He is a violin coach for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra, and served as interim conductor of the JSYO in 1995. During the 1997-98 season Mr. Huls was acting Concertmaster of the Savannah Symphony, also appearing as soloist and conductor. He was Concertmaster of the Memphis Symphony and Opera Memphis, and, while on faculty he conducted the orchestras of the University of Memphis and Rhodes College. Max has participated in the Aspen Music Festival, the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, the Missouri Symphony Society, the Peninsula Music Festival in Wisconsin, the Eastern Music Festival, and the Memphis Chamber Music Society.

While living in Memphis, Tennessee, Mr. Huls was much sought after as a studio musician. He provided the string support for the rock group The Replacements, and worked with soul legends Patti LaBelle and Al Green, among many others.

Since the age of sixteen, Max has shared the solo violin’s celebrated masterpieces and forgotten treasures in recital. During the Bach Tricentenary in 1985, he played the Six Sonatas and Partitas in Memphis, St. Louis and Wisconsin. He has offered the Six Sonatas by Eugene Ysaye and frequently plays the masterworks of Béla Bartók and Carl Nielsen. Among his numerous First Coast concerts and recitals Mr. Huls performed Paganini's Twenty-four Caprices for the Friday Musicale in 2004.

As a member of Duo Proto, Max plays violin and viola alongside his son Victor Minke Huls, who in turn plays a number of varied instruments including the flute, cello, mandolin and piano. In addition to his core membership in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Max Huls is Concertmaster of the Coastal Symphony of Georgia.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Christine Armington Clark began piano studies with James Crosland, and continued her professional training at Oberlin Conservatory. She received a Master's degree in piano performance from the University of Illinois, and studied with Leon Fleisher in the Peabody Conservatory Artist Diploma Program upon the recommendation of legendary concert pianist Lorin Hollander. Christine was national finalist in the Collegiate Artist Competition sponsored by the Music Teachers National Association, and attended the Aspen Music Festival on a piano performance and accompanying scholarship. She was chosen to compete in the Maryland International Piano Competition, and won the Boca Raton piano competition.

A versatile musician, Ms. Clark played keyboard with Trap Door, a local rock group, and toured Europe under the aegis of Proclaim! International. Her chamber music performances include an appearance at the Goethe Institute in San Francisco. She also has taught piano at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.

Well known along the First Coast, Ms. Clark has appeared with the Jacksonville Starlight Symphonette and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. She is a frequent performer at Andy Clarke's Wednesday Happenings at Riverside Presbyterian Church, as well as at the Friday Musicale, where her playing has been praised by the Florida Times Union for its "sparkle, precision and great spontaneity." In 1999, she gave an all-Liszt recital for the St. Cecilia Music Society (Our Lady Star of the Sea Cultural Center, Ponte Vedra Beach).

In addition to being an accomplished pianist, Christine A. Clark is an attorney with the Jacksonville law firm of Pajcic & Pajcic, P.A., and was the Associate Editor and Director of Florida Law Review (1988-1989). While a law clerk in Washington, D.C., Ms. Clark gave perhaps her most unusual recital when she played in the United States Supreme Court at the request of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

PROGRAM NOTES by Ed Lein (c2007)

Achille-Claude Debussy (1862-1918): Quintessentially French composer, pianist and music critic whose own revolutionary music ushered in many of the stylistic changes of the 20th Century. Debussy, whose teachers included César Franck, is usually identified as the chief proponent of musical “impressionism,” but he did not approve of that label himself. In 1915 he began composing what he announced would be a series of six sonatas for various instrumental combinations, but he was only able to complete three of them before his death from cancer. The Violin Sonata, composed in 1917 after the disease had begun to take it’s toll, was Debussy’s last completed work. While the lush harmonies echo his previous compositions, the sparser textures and simpler formal structure anticipate aspects of the “neoclassical” style that became popular in the years following Debussy’s death.

Gabriel Urbain Fauré (1845-1924): Composer, organist, pianist and teacher widely regarded as the greatest master of the French art-song and the foremost French composer of his generation. Although Fauré greatly admired Wagner he remained relatively free of Wagner’s highly-colored influence, and instead led his own harmonic revolution by treating chords with added 7ths and 9ths as consonant and by introducing modal inflections into an essentially diatonic framework; in the process he successfully bridged the styles of Saint-Saëns (his teacher) and Ravel (his student). Fauré’s compositions are distinguished by perfectly crafted melodies floating over rich and radiant backgrounds, and although he is best-known for his vocal works (including the hauntingly beautiful choral Requiem), Fauré’s chamber music also has as a devoted, and well-deserved, following.

César Auguste Franck (1822-1890): Belgian-born composer, organist and teacher who became a central figure of late French Romanticism. During his lifetime Franck was well-known as a virtuoso organist and master of improvisation—after hearing him play Franz Liszt commented that it was as though J.S. Bach had been reincarnated, and indeed Franck made good use of contrapuntal techniques as exemplified in Bach’s works. Franck’s Sonata shows the influence of Wagner’s chromaticism and Liszt’s use of recurring and transformed thematic material, but Franck melded these into a style all his own. While it was composed as a wedding gift for the Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe, the Sonata for Violin & Piano is equally a virtuoso showpiece for the piano. It is considered by many critics to be not only the finest French violin sonata, but perhaps the finest violin sonata, period.

Intermezzo Sunday Concerts are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.
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