Tiny Desk (Home) Concert: Canada’s Incredible ARC Ensemble Plays Music by Ukrainian Jewish Composer Dmitri Klebanov

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The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It’s the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Tom Huizenga | May 11, 2022
The conflicts between Russia and Ukraine reach far and wide, even deep into this Tiny Desk (home) concert performed by the ARC Ensemble — artists from Canada’s Royal Conservatory in Toronto. They offer music by the neglected composer Dmitri Klebanov, a Ukrainian Jew whose career was sidelined by the Stalin regime when his First Symphony was denounced in 1949.

Klebanov wrote his Fourth String Quartet — from which the ensemble plays excerpts — three years earlier. He dedicated it to his compatriot, the composer Mykola Leontovych who, as a Ukrainian separatist, was murdered by the Soviet secret police in 1921.

The opening movement will sound familiar. Klebanov riffs on a Leontovych melody best known in the West as the Christmas chestnut “Carol of the Bells.” The sparkling second movement, played largely in pizzicato, again draws from a Leontovych tune, this time inspired by the Hungarian bagpipe. Listen for the wheezy drone in the viola.

To introduce the final, folk music-inspired section, cellist Tom Wiebe recalls stories from his Ukrainian grandfather. As a musician, he formed an ensemble of string players who stuck together through the Russian Revolution and the following civil war. They even played, reluctantly, for Soviet Red Army soldiers who occupied their village. Wiebe’s parents left Ukraine in the 1920s and settled in Canada.

The ARC Ensemble dedicates this performance to the people of Ukraine.

SET LIST
Dmitri Klebanov: String Quartet No. 4

I. Allegro Moderato
III. Scherzando
IV. Allegro

MUSICIANS
ARC Ensemble: Artists of the Royal Conservatory, Canada

Erika Raum: violin
Marie Bérard: violin
Steven Dann: viola
Tom Wiebe: cello

CREDITS
Video: Suave Hupa, Tom Bellisario
Audio: Tom Bellisario
Editor: Peter Turek
Director: James Murdoch
ARC Artistic Director: Simon Wynberg

TINY DESK TEAM
Producer: Tom Huizenga
Video Producer: Joshua Bryant
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Michael Zamora, Maia Stern, Ashley Pointer
VP, NPR Music: Keith Jenkins
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

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