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MP3 Yi-Jia Susanne Hou - You Can Never Have Too Many Suites

A playful collecting of folk songs and dances from all over the world. All dressed up on violin & piano. (Canadian, Spanish, Chinese, Russian & Austrian origins.)

20 MP3 Songs in this album (44:56) !
Related styles: CLASSICAL: Romantic Era, WORLD: Chinese traditional

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My journey around the world:

To my Dear Friends & Listeners,

This album marks the second stop along the journey of music in my life. I am excited to have you along with me as I continue exploring the music from all over the world. Where my first recording offered the miracles of Schubert and fantasies of Sarasate, this recording features some of my favourite musical suites and encores from all over the world; Spain, Russia, Austria, and finally China. From familiar works by de Falla, Shostakovich and Kreisler which I''ve always loved, to contemporary Chinese pieces never before performed or recorded, I very much hope you''ll enjoy this exploration of stylistic similarities and differences in music and culture. I believe very strongly in the importance of cultural exchange and have programmed my concerts these last years to reflect this; in our world today where so much is disturbed, there will always be hope, faith, and goodness as long as we can communicate and understand each other. I am well aware and accept that there are many things in our world I may never understand, but for my part, I''ve always found that the appreciation of art, such as music, forms a wonderful bond between differing cultures. So let us celebrate the beauty of creation by artists worldwide! ;)

Suites or Sweets...?

The title of this CD came to me quite serendipitously. I chose this collection of suites and encore works to record because I loved them. One day while uncontrollably working my way through a gourmet box of chocolates (Michel Cluizel), I thought: when it comes to fine sweets, you can never have too many! Then it came to me...what a perfect way to describe how I feel about all this music! :)

In dedication:

I would like to dedicate this album to my Anonymous donors, who have so generously supported this project from the beginning, and who are inspiring in so many ways it is impossible to include them all! Nonetheless, I would like to say that I will always remember the very first night I spent at their home; I felt an incredible warmth surrounding me. Since then, I have had the honour to know them to be warm, loving, adventurous, down to earth, open-minded, and generous with their souls. I remember thinking that first night that if I could have only a tenth of their happiness in my future life and family, I know I''d die happy. What a wonderful inspiration you''ve been for me! Thank you for all your kindness and love; I am, and will always be, eternally grateful. :)

With deepest thanks...

To my parents, Godparents, family, and friends: thank you for your love and constant support in everything I do. I cannot tell you enough how much it means to me that I can share this wonderful journey with all of you!

To my sponsor Downtown Porsche, Uptown Audi, and Downtown Infinity-divisions of Downtown Fine Cars: it is so wonderful to share with you this dream of enriching our community with beautiful music, and I am so grateful for all your generosity and support!

To the Chinese Artist Society of Toronto: thank you for your continued dedication to enriching our community with musical cultural exchange, and for supporting me in building the bridge between Canadian and Chinese cultures.

To Heidi Adele Rampersad: thank you so much for your time and care on this project!

To Evan Schultz: thank you once again for your time and dedication to this project; it was a true pleasure to work with you!

To Dennis Patterson & CBC Glenn Gould Studio: thank you for an incredible recording environment and for your care and dedication to this project!

And to all of you who continue to follow my career: you are the reason why I love performing so much; thank you for your continued support!


Internationally celebrated violinist YI-JIA SUSANNE HOU is the first violinist ever to capture 3 Gold Medals with unanimous decisions at international violin competitions: Concours International Long-Thibaud (France, 1999), Lipizer International Violin Competition (Italy, 1999) and Sarasate International Violin Competition (Spain, 1997). HOU is also the first and only musician to win the Canada Council for the Arts Instrument Bank Competition for 2 consecutive terms, and would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts and the anonymous donor for their support through the loan of the 1729 "ex-Heath" Guarneri del Gesù fine stringed instrument. This $5 million instrument is coupled with a priceless bow made by her father, Alec Hou.

HOU is the featured violin soloist on Atom Egoyan''s film "ADORATION" with music composed by Mychael Danna, which won the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Festival de Cannes, and received a special citation in the Best Canadian Feature Film category at the Toronto International Film Festival. ADORATION will open in Theatres February 2009. HOU was also the subject of a CBC ''The National'' Documentary: "Shanghai Sensation", revisiting her childhood in Shanghai and following her musical journey with her father, Alec Hou, a renowned violin pedagogue in China. A lead violinist for three seasons now with BOWFIRE, HOU has been seen on PBS and the TODAY SHOW amongst the top virtuoso violinists and fiddlers today in each genre of modern string playing.

HOU has toured the globe and is a regular soloist with renowned orchestras such as The London Philharmonic, Radio France, Monte Carlo Philharmonic, SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, WDR Cologne, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic, Osaka-Kansai Philharmonic, Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra, Czech National Orchestra, and Slovenia Radio-Television Orchestra.

Born into a musical family, HOU had music surrounding her all her life. Both her mother and father are violinists, and thus at the tender age of 4, she began studying violin with her father, Alec Hou. Throughout her musical education, her father, Dorothy DeLay, Cho Liang Lin and Naoko Tanaka have been her strongest influences. She holds her Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and the highly acclaimed Artist Diploma Program from The Juilliard School. YI-JIA SUSANNE HOU is an active advocate of cultural exchange and musical education.

“She’s absolutely phenomenal…”
—Lord Yehudi Menuhin

"I was overwhelmed by the sensitivity of her playing...she is an extraordinary artist. The violin plays a huge part in the soundtrack of the film, and her detailed and highly charged performance is full of emotional nuance."
—Atom Egoyan

Winner of the International Piano Competition of Paris and Arcachon, and first prizewinner in solo piano and chamber music at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris, VINCENT SANGARÉ BALSE has been performing since he was 8 years old and is now a very sought-after pianist. In the United States, he has been heard in New York, Los Angeles, and has been bestowed the New Orleans City Mayor''s Honours for his solo performance with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Sangaré Balse has been a featured performer in many great halls of Europe and Japan such as the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, and Salle Pleyel in Paris.

Mr. Sangaré Balse’s discography includes a solo album in the United States and a compact disc with the saxophonist Julien Petit is available under the label Lyrinx. A versatile musician, he is a member of "Language Tango", whose second album "La Ventana" was released last year. Mr. Sangaré Balse has been piano faculty of the Luzerne Music Center and the Rencontres Musicales Internationales des Graves for the past four years. Mr. Sangaré Balse began playing the piano at the age of six under the tutelage of Zoya Zorin. He is a graduate of the Sienna Academy in Italy, the Bordeaux Conservatory, and the Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris, where he studied with Nicholas Angelich, Christian Ivaldi and Alain Meunier. Currently, Mr. Sangaré Balse resides in Paris and New York, where he holds a Masters of Music from the Juilliard School.

PROGRAM NOTES "You Can Never Have Too Many Suites"

Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) • Suite of Spanish Folk Songs, arr. Paul Kochansky (1887-1934)

Manuel Maria de Falla y Matheu was already an accomplished composer when he moved to Paris in 1907, especially admired for his short opera, La vida breve. In Paris he met Paul Dukas, Maurice Ravel, and Claude Debussy, under whose influence he adopted many of the techniques of musical impressionism, while retaining the Spanish character of his music. In the next few years he completed several celebrated works—two ballet scores, El amor brujo and El Sombrero de tres picos, Noches en los jardines de España for piano and orchestra, and Siete Canciones populares españolas for voice and piano. Falla later arranged this suite for solo piano, and others have arranged it for other instruments. The Polish violinist Paul Kochansky set them for violin and piano. More than a mere arrangement to showcase a virtuoso, this is a recomposition that expands the dimensions of the music. Kochansky befriended the celebrated Polish pianist Arthur Rubinstein when both were 14 years old. They remained close friends and musical collaborators until the violinist’s death. A recording of the Third Sonata for Violin and Piano by Johannes Brahms documents their performances together. Both admired the music of Spain and especially the music of Manuel de Falla. We may assume they performed the Suite of Spanish Folk Songs together, and wish they had recorded it. Kochansky who moved to the United States after World War I and taught at the Juilliard School. Like Yi-Jia Susanne Hou on this recording, he played a Guarneri del Gesu violin. For the last 40 years or so, the American virtuoso Aaron Rosand has owned and performed with it. Ms. Hou reports that she has the texts of de Falla’s songs very much in mind as she plays this suite. Listeners may hear in her playing that most of the songs reflect heartbreak—some with tough humor, some with deep sorrow, and at the end, bitter anger.

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) • Four Preludes from 24 Preludes, Op. 34, arr. Quinto Maganini (1897-1974)

Shostakovich began composing his Op. 34 Preludes for piano on 30 December, 1932 and completed them 2 March, 1933. He followed the same sequence of keys used by Fredéric Chopin in his Op. 28 Preludes. These, and his First Piano Concerto, marked a return to Shostakovich’s own instrument after several years of writing music for theater, film, and his grand opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Lady Macbeth opened successfully in Leningrad and Moscow in January, 1934, and raised its composer’s fame to new heights until, two years later, Josef Stalin and his entire Soviet cultural apparatus denounced it. The crisis this caused Shostakovich was still in the unknown future when he composed and first performed these Preludes. Quinto Maganini is little known these days, except for musicians who play his many arrangements. Born in Fairfield, California he studied the flute and played in the San Francisco Symphony. In the 1920s Maganini moved to New York City as a member of the New York Philharmonic. Aaron Copland named him as one of the nation’s most promising young composers in 1926. Maganini later taught at Columbia University, founded a chamber orchestra, worked for a music publisher, and, in summary, had a long and useful career in music. In choosing Preludes 10, 15, 16, and 24, Maganini crafted a Suite with poetic and dramatic continuity and contrasts, going from the mostly gentle lyricism of 10 to the more robust pianism of 15, the drama of 16 and the ironic humor of 24. There is also a coherent tonal scheme at work, the C Sharp minor of 10 giving way to the D flat major of 15—which, on the piano is the same key except for being major! 16 is in B flat minor, the relative minor of D flat major, and 24 is in D minor, another but quite different relative of B flat minor. Yi-Jia Susanne Hou writes of 24: “it seems like a drunken man stumbling over his own feet...making loud, bold, statements...yet because of his state...he often slurs his words or is easily distracted.”

Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) • Liebesfreud, Schon Rosmarin, Syncopation

Fritz Kreisler enjoyed a unique career as concert violinist, composer, and recording artist. Born and educated in Vienna, he was a child prodigy, yet abandoned the violin for several years to pursue other careers, first in medicine and then in the Austrian army. Returning to the violin in 1898 he quickly became an international sensation. He lived in the United States for several years during and after World War I, and settled here permanently in 1939. His rise coincided with the perfection, as it then seemed, of the acoustic phonograph, with Emil Berliner’s flat discs triumphing in the marketplace over Thomas Edison’s cylinders. By today’s standards, acoustic recordings sound painfully limited, but at their best they captured enough of the human voice and the sound of the violin to make vocal and violin recordings best-sellers. Fritz Kreisler’s recordings sold millions of copies. For many years these were single-side 12-inch discs, on which one of Kreisler’s many short compositions fitted comfortably, although his original purpose in writing them was to have encores to play at his concerts. Though capable of writing extended pieces—he had a string quartet and two operettas to his credit, and a concerto in the style of Vivaldi, Kreisler’s exceptional genius was for writing distinctive short pieces for the violin in many styles and moods, and in arranging works originally written for other instruments in which he found inspiration for his style of violin-playing. Kreisler was famous for introducing the continuous use of vibrato in performance, but to those of us who listened to him “live” on the radio and collected his recordings, his most endearing qualities were a gorgeous tone and his ability to convey his overflowing love of music.

From China with Love!

The three final works on this recording were chosen from a large collection of pieces featured at a Canada-China Cultural Exchange Project in Vancouver. I met three composers (all violinists!) from Shanghai & Vancouver and together with Chinese violinists Li Chuan Yun & Chen Xi, and pianist Robert Koenig, we rehearsed, arranged, and performed two full violin and piano recitals featuring all Chinese Contemporary music. All of the works were composed shortly after the Cultural Revolution, and I find this music beautifully passionate and hopeful. I am very happy to be introducing them to you and my audiences worldwide, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do!

Yang Bo Zhi (1935-present) * Wong Luo Bin Suite of Folk Songs & Dances

Fast becoming one of my favourite recital pieces, this suite is in five movements and was composed in 1993. Said to be first sung by Chinese gypsy-like folk singers from remote villages in Western China, these songs and dances were collected, arranged, and made famous by Cantonese singer Wong Luo Bin. Professor Yang reports being influenced by the Bartok Romanian folk songs as he transcribed and recreated these beautiful pieces for violin and piano; all the melodious lines and colourful textures in this suite tell a story:

Opening with a pure and simple melody, Yang explores the ability of the violin to imitate the voice in this picturesque description of a half-moon rising into the night sky. The second movement is a passionate Chinese tango, perhaps a sign of early influence of Western music in China. The third movement tells of the legend of a girl who lives in a faraway land, whose beauty causes everyone who walks by to pause while they turn to look at her. Here, Yang uses a fermata over the top of the melodic line to mimic this gesture, and decorates it with traditional Chinese glissandi. This is followed by the song of a carriage driver, voiced on the violin, with the uneven wooden wheels spinning dizzily behind him on the piano. The suite finishes with a playful song named after folksinger Ma Yi La.

Tang Kang Nian (1941-present) * New Face of My Motherland

Composed in 2000, this Chinese version of ''hora staccato'' features the ever-adventurous ''flying staccato''. Flying continuously throughout the piece, it pauses only briefly to catch its breath with a traditional Chinese melody playful with glissandi, and then lifts off once again, finishing with a flurry of up bow and down bow staccato. If you find this exciting now, just imagine performing it on a windy day as I did at Harbour Front in Toronto this past summer! ;) Fast flying fingers is not the only motivation for this work however; Tang titles this New Face of My Motherland to represent the great and rapid change in China in recent years, and carries the hope of continuous positive growth in the future.

Li Zi Li (1938-present) * Ci Li Flower

Composed in 1979, shortly after the Cultural Revolution, "Ci Li Flower" is a passionate concert suite based on a Bu-Yi Tribe''s traditional folk song about youthful love. The song originated in the Gui Zhou region in China, where the Ci Li blossoms glow a bright red and orange amongst the rich mountainous forestry.

Structured like a fantasy, it opens with a grand and improvisational introduction followed by the melodious and passionate theme. Then the piece ignites with a lively dance which is wild and stubbornly untamed; our passionate love theme returns interlaced with the dance, and everything whirls to a brilliant end.

Li describes the Ci Li blossoms as sweeping over the mountain like a wild fire, mirroring youthful love. It''s a fantastically exciting piece to perform and leaves both performers breathless by the end.

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