September 21, 2020 Program & Notes
Ludwig van Beethoven - Duet in C Major for Clarinet and Bassoon, WoO 27
I. Allegro Comodo
II. Larghetto Sostenuto
Darius Milhaud - Suite d'apres Corrette Op 161
I. Entrée et Rondeau
VIII. Le Couco
Jean Francaix - Wind Quartet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon
III. Allegro molto
IV. Allegro vivo
Georg Philipp Telemann - Six Canonic Sonatas, Sonata No. 1 TWV 40
II. Piacevole non Largo
Malcolm Arnold - Divertimento for Flute, Oboe and Clarinet
I. Allegro energico
Andrey Rubtsov - Four Bagatelles for Woodwind Quartet
I. Allegro vivo
II. Valse (in imitation of Khatchaturian)
III. Small Pastorale
IV. Allegretto giocoso
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Duet in C Major for Clarinet and Bassoon, WoO 27
It was in Beethoven's music that the clarinet and bassoon became such close musical partners, both in his orchestral works and in his chamber music. From an early age in his career, while at Bonn, Beethoven paired the two instruments in his three duos WoO 27. Woodwind players should consider themselves fortunate that the Bonn Court, coincidentally, housed the best wind players in Germany, encouraging Beethoven to compose for these ever changing instruments. The C Major duet is the first of the three and is composed in three movements. The first and last movements are almost reminiscent of Mozart, no surprise given how early they were written. The second movement is a stunning melody and also my favorite of the three slow movements in this set of duets.
Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)
Suite d'apres Corrette Op 161
Throughout much of the twentieth century, a recurring philosophy prevailed among those in the arts community, to defy convention and oppose past tradition. As such, a prominent circle of French composers formed, a group that called itself Les Six, comprised of Poulenc, Honegger, Auric, Durey, Tailleferre, and Milhaud. With their integration of jazz and ethnic folk songs in classical compositions, the group's music often meant to deliver a sense of shock to a traditional listener. In spite of that, the century was young, and the result of the Les Six influence was a witty and quirky, but still beautifully tonal output. Milhaud's "Suite d'apres Corrette" is an eight movement woodwind trio for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon in neo-Baroque style (17th century inspired music with an obvious twist). It is worth mentioning that Milhaud's most famous student is jazz piano legend Dave Brubeck, who in turn named his son Darius in honor of his teacher.
Jean Francaix (1912-1997)
Wind Quartet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon
The not so well know known French composer, Jean Francaix left a notable output of over two hundred pieces covering all the orchestral instruments. Initially trained in composition and piano by his father, Francaix spent his teenage years studying with Nadia Boulanger and Maurice Ravel. The recipient of many international Grand Prix awards, Francaix was endlessly commissioned to compose concerti, ballets, operas, and chamber music. In much of this music, Francaix expressed an affection towards woodwind instruments. Francaix's quartet for woodwinds is an earlier work composed in 1933 and is written in four short exciting movements. The composer described the work as "a fusion of Machiavelli and magic." Ponder that.
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Six Canonic Sonatas, Sonata No. 1 TWV 40
German composer Georg Philipp Telemann was among the most successful composers of his time, even overshadowing Johann Sebastian Bach for much of his career. With an output of more then 3,000 works including 40 operas, 100 orchestral suites, 100 concertos, 100 chamber works, and 250 substantial keyboard pieces, Telemann has been likened to Mozart in his ability to compose an entire work without draft. Despite being short works, the Canonic Sonatas, written for any two soprano instruments, are nonetheless impressive compositions. A perfectly written Canon allows for the exact repetition of a carefully composed phrase to occur, after the original phrase had already started to play. With only a single instrument's part to read, each movement of the Sonata No. 1 canons splendidly for the entirety of the movement. The very different timbers of flute and oboe nicely help accentuate this fascinating compositional style.
Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)
Divertimento for Flute, Oboe and Clarinet
English composer Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold developed his tuneful and soulful style in part through his many theatre commissions, but also through the hundred plus film scores he composed. An accomplished trumpet player (principal of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Symphony Orchestra by age 25), Arnold was open minded to music other then the traditional string quartet. The Divertimento for flute, oboe and clarinet was completed in 1952 and is comprised of six short movements, each less then a minute and a half. The motif in the opening Allegro energico reappears throughout the full work, creating a sense of wholeness to the piece. It is interesting to note that despite the music's playful appearance, it's composer was generally considered grumpy, unpleasant, and incorrigible.
Andrey Rubtsov (1982-Present)
Four Bagatelles for Woodwind Quartet
Despite his age, the thirty-eight year old Russian conductor, Andrey Rubtsov, is quickly rising to prominence in European circles, not only as a performer, but also as a composer. Already, the young musician has completed a chamber ballet for the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, as well as commissions from the Russian National Orchestra and the State Chamber Orchestra of Russia. Additionally, Rubtsov's woodwind quintet has already been performed in over sixty countries and has become a staple of the woodwind ensemble's repertoire. The Four Bagatelles for woodwind quartet is a charming, light-hearted work, more reminiscent of tonal movie music then much of today's contemporary atonal output. The second movement pays homage to Armenian composer Aram Khatchaturian. This is a happy rare opportunity for the Olmos Ensemble to present a living composer's music.