November 8 and 9, 2014: Maxim Bernard


“THE GREAT WAR: 1914-1918”

Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 8 PM

Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 3 PM



Étude –Tableau in C minor, Op. 39, No. 1

Nocturne No. 12 in E minor, Op. 107

Romanian Folk Dances,

Étude-Tableau in F-sharp minor, Op. 39, No. 3

Funeral March in B minor, Op. 31, No. 3
Skazki (Tale) in E minor, Op. 34, No. 2

In Einer Nacht (Dreams and Experiences) 14 short pieces, Op. 15 (Selections from)

Vers la flamme, Op. 72

Chaconne, Op. 32

Le Tombeau de Couperin
Prelude          “To the memory of Lieutenant Jacques Charlot”
Fugue            “To the memory of Jean Cruppi”
Forlane          “To the memory of Lieutenant Gabriel Deluc”
Rigaudon       “To the memory of Pierre and Pascal Gaudin”
Menuet          “To the memory of Jean Dreyfus”
Tocatta          “To the memory of Captain Joseph de Marliave”

Dear Music Lover,

Pianist Maxim Bernard commemorates the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 with piano music written by eight composers during the war years. The Saturday night concert is being recorded by CBC Radio for national broadcast.

For the unhappy populations who suffered through it, WW1 was the nightmare of all nightmares. Some 16 million lost their lives. Everyone agreed that this must be the last Great War, the war to end all wars.  And yet, such idealistic good intentions would not withstand the rise of fascism and exacerbated nationalisms, a terrible economic crisis, and the desire for revenge. By 1939, a second world conflict, worse than its predecessor, would engulf humanity.

In 1914, as newspapers began issuing daily reports of the horrible carnage and bloodshed, and of friends and family killed at the Front, people could not help but have the war ever-present in their thoughts.  Yet most of the music on this programme does not directly reflect the battlefield. While the sounds of battle were featured in Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory (1813) and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (1880), Maxim Bernard’s programme hardly contains what might be called war music – music serving a patriotic or propaganda purpose.  Yet the music and Maxim’s commentary will affect us by what we know about the immediate context and larger history.

The programme includes compositions of Rachmaninoff and Medtner, still looking to a romantic past, indeed bathed in nostalgia since that past was being blasted away by the war; by Nielsen precariously balancing between tradition and modernity; by Scriabin, turning his back on tradition and plunging enthusiastically into novelty — vers la flamme. Bartok sought refuge in the folk music of the Slavic peoples and their neighbours. Fauré confided to his piano the expression of his anguish and torments; while for Ravel, the Great War was an involuntary source of inspiration for several compositions, including the six movements of Tombeau de Couperin, which evoke the memory of friends lost at the Front.

In December, 2014, six weeks after this concert is over, you will be reminded of this commemoration when you read about a soccer game played by a team of Britons and a team of Germans on a historic field in Flanders. The game will mark 100 years since the WW1 “Christmas Truce”, when British and German soldiers declared a temporary ceasefire, shuffling out of their trenches to sing holiday carols, retrieve and bury their dead, exchange cigarettes, and kick around some soccer balls.

I understand that The Flanders Field Museum has been renovated. Broken headstones in war cemeteries overseas are being replaced, and Belgium is preparing for a deluge of some half a million commemorators. One hundred years later, as memorial ceremonies are being planned throughout Europe, things are far from quiet on the Western Front.

Maxim’s programme includes:

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Étude-Tableau in C minor, Op. 39, No. 1 (1916-1917)

Click here for Nicolai Lugansky’s performance

Gabriel Fauré
Nocturne No.12 in E minor, Op. 107 (1915)

Béla Bartók
Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56, BB 68 (1915)

Click here to see Hélène Grimaud perform the Bartok Romanian Folk Dances

Sergei Rachmaninoff
Étude-Tableau in F-sharp minor, Op. 39, No. 3 (1916-1917)

Click here for Sviatoslav Richter’s performance

Nicolai Medtner
Funeral March in B minor, Op. 31, No. 2 (1914)
Skazki (Tale) in E minor, Op. 34, No. 2 (1916-1917)

Paul Hindemith
In einer Nacht (Dreams and Experiences) Op. 15, 14 short pieces (Selections from) (1917-1919)

Alexander Scriabin
Vers la Flamme, Op. 72 (1914)

Click here to enjoy the Vladimir Horowitz performance of the Scriabin in his home

Carl Nielsen
Chaconne, Op. 32 (1916)

Maurice Ravel
Le Tombeau de Couperin 1914-1917

Finally, Angela Hewitt plays the Ravel

Listen to Classic 107 between 11 am and 12 pm on Saturday, November 8th for their interview with Maxim.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Tire Stewardship Manitoba for their sponsorship of Saturday’s and Sunday’s concerts.