Eckart Runge, cello | Martina Filjak, piano | Gordan Tudor, saxophone

Date created: 17.02.2023.
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Eckart Runge, cello

Martina Filjak, piano

Gordan Tudor, saxophone



A. Piazzolla: 

The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (arr. E. Runge)

Invierno (Winter)

Primavera (Spring)

G. Gershwin:

Three Preludes, for saxophone and piano (arr. M. Shaposhnikova)

Allegro ben ritmato e deciso

Andante con moto


N. Kapustin:

Elegy and Burlesque, for cello and piano

G. Tudor:

Sonata for saxophone and piano

Larghetto / Allegro melancolico

Lento lontano

Vivace mesmerico / Andantino

Presto estatico

A. Piazzolla:

Le Grand Tango, for cello and piano

A. Piazzolla:

The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (arr. E. Runge)

Verano (Summer)

Otoño (Autumn)



Notes by Dina Puhovski

George Gershwin (New York, 1898 – Los Angeles, 1937, born in Brooklyn as Jacob Gershovitz) often collaborated with his older brother Ira, a lyricist, and was known to write up to six songs a day. He began composing early, working for some time as a song plugger (a performer who played the music brought by the composers to the publisher) for Remick & Co., a music publishing company. Then he became independent: his first success came in 1917, and in 1919 he made a breakthrough with his big hit Swanee. He wrote reviews and musicals, many of them now forgotten, but outlived by individual songs that became jazz and pop hits. His opera Porgy and Bess is today considered a classic, and he also wrote instrumental works, combining popular tunes with rich orchestration and jazz harmonies and rhythms. His admirers include the father of the twelve-tone technique, Arnold Schönberg; once, when Gershwin asked Maurice Ravel for lessons in orchestration, Ravel told him that he did not need lessons. His best known works are Porgy and Bess, musicals Lady, Be Good!, Funny Face, Girl Crazy (including the song The Man I Love), songs from numerous films, piano preludes, Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, for orchestra.

Although he planned to write 24 piano Preludes, he wrote six, and published three – his only works for piano solo published during his lifetime, which he premiered in 1926. Jascha Heifetz later arranged them for violin and piano. This evening’s version, one of many, was written by Margarita Shaposhnikova (Saratov, 1940), Russian clarinettist and saxophonist who introduced saxophone studies at the Gnessin Institute in Moscow. The first Prelude begins with a ‘joking’ motif, like a bluesy shout, which marks the whole movement, and the dialogue between the instruments is gradually ornamented with Brazilian rhythms. Gershwin envisioned the second Prelude as a ‘blues lullaby’, while the third brings playful awakening all the way until the final ascending glissando.

Russian composer Nikolai Kapustin (Horlivka, 1937 – Moscow, 2020) was born in Ukraine, and spent his childhood in Kyrgyzstan. He wrote over 150 works, mostly unknown to Western audiences, including several piano concertos, twenty piano sonatas and numerous chamber music works. Kapustin was particularly dedicated to blending jazz and classical music. He started out as a classical pianist, studying in Moscow with Rubak and Goldenweiser. Eventually he became interested in improvisation and jazz (‘I don’t think Goldenweiser ever heard the word jazz’, he stated later), especially after hearing the concert of the pianist Dwike Mitchell. He was a member of several Soviet light music orchestras: the Oleg Lundstrem Orchestra, which he called his ‘second conservatory’, Boris Karamishev Orchestra and the Russian State Film Orchestra.

In 1999 Kapustin wrote three short pieces for cello and piano, Burlesque, Elegy and Nearly Waltz. The first two are on this evening’s programme: Elegy, expectedly nostalgic, and Burlesque, a cheerful dialogue between the instruments, which combines the elements of jazz with lyrical, romantic lines. Pianist Frank Dupree, who recorded a number of Kapustin’s works, said that Kapustin combined the elements of jazz and blues with the music of Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Schnittke, describing his music as the product of American influences and Russian education.

Composer and saxophonist Gordan Tudor (find his biography in the text below about this evening’s musicians), wrote his Sonata for alto saxophone and piano in 2022. It was first performed in Sisak by Goran Jurković and Danijel Detoni, for whom it was written after they told Tudor that there is a lack of ‘serious’ works for saxophone, such as sonatas.

In her review of the first performance of the Sonata at, Valerija Vranješ wrote: ‘The result is a stylistically interesting and versatile work, abounding in numerous influences from the past centuries, finely balanced by the composer, resulting in a piece that sounds familiar, melodious and at the same time fresh and modern. (…)  Gordan Tudor’s new work definitely represents a balance between earlier and more contemporary music styles; the clarity of the music form and melody is preserved, with the use of more modern and relaxed harmonic solutions which nevertheless remain rooted in tonality.’

Ástor Piazzolla (Mar del Plata, 1921 – Buenos Aires, 1992) was born in Argentina and later moved with his family to Little Italy in New York. Although he was exposed to American jazz and pop, he stayed connected with Argentinian music by playing the popular bandoneón – a type of accordion popular in Argentina and Uruguay, invented in Germany in the 19th century by Heinrich Band. From 1936 to 1944 he played the bandoneón in a tango orchestra in Buenos Aires, but was also interested in classical music: he met Arthur Rubinstein, who led him to his future professor, Alberto Ginastera. Piazzolla continued his studies in Paris under the legendary Nadia Boulanger, who convinced him to return to tango.

Moving away from the traditional sound, Piazzolla created a unique blend of tango, jazz and classical music after his return to Argentina, later called tango nuevo. The new music genre was excellently received all over the world, but at first it caused resentment among the Argentinian traditionalists. Allegedly, once he was physically attacked on the street because of this, taxi drivers refused to drive him, but in the end he became Argentina’s national hero. The great success of his stage piece María de Buenos Aires in 1968 confirmed the popularity of the new genre, and Piazzolla wrote over 750 complex works defined by tango, often for his Quinteto Tango Nuevo (violin, guitar, piano, double bass, bandoneón).

He once said that for him ‘tango was always for the ear rather than the feet.’

Le Grand Tango, or El gran tango, was also composed in his tango nuevo style. It was published in Paris in1982, hence its French title, and he composed it for Mstislav Rostropovich, who did not play it until 1990. The single-movement work has three broad sections – ‘tempo di tango’, ‘libero e cantabile’ and the humorous, but technically challenging ‘giocoso’.  

The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires / Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas was not conceived as a program piece, Piazzolla did not write sonnets like Vivaldi, and the four pieces were in fact not meant to constitute a whole (although he sometimes performed them together). They were written from 1964 to 1970 for Piazzolla’s Quinteto Tango Nuevo (violin, guitar, piano, double bass, bandoneón). The Spanish adjective ‘porteño’ refers to a person or a thing from a port city, often from Buenos Aires.

Piazzolla first composed Summer, in 1964, for the theatre play Melenita de oro, then, a couple of years later, Autumn, open to improvisations, with strong accents and contemplative middle part, followed by the sorrowful Winter, whose frozen atmosphere is interrupted by a fast tango and, in the end, the nostalgic and occasionally dark Spring. Piazzolla’s Four Seasons have often been arranged for different ensembles, as they were more like concertos than his other works, with developed solo parts, which is emphasised in varying degrees in different arrangements.


Martina Filjak photo (c) Romano Grozić

Eckart Runge photo (c) Neda Navaee