"A British Affair”
February 7, 2022
Laurel Heights Church
227 West Woodlawn Ave., SA, TX
Elizabeth Klein Teplitsky, flute
Kristin Jackson, flute
Paul Lueders, oboe
Ilya Shterenberg, clarinet
Sharon Kuster, bassoon
Eric Gratz, violin
Daniel Wang, viola
Allan Steele, cello
Benjamin Britten - Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for Solo oboe Op. 49 (selections)
Edward Elgar - Harmony Music No. 5 for 2 Flutes, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon
I. Allegro moderato "The Mission"
II. Menuetto - Trio
III. Andante "Noah's Ark"
Malcolm Arnold - Fantasy for Flute and Clarinet
Gustav Holst - Sextet in e minor for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, Viola and Cello
II. Scherzo. Allegro Vivace
IV. Tema. Allegretto
This concert is sponsored in part by a generous gift from Dr. James Griffin and Dr. Margo Denke
*programs and personnel subject to change
Program Notes, written by Mark Teplitsky
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for Solo oboe Op. 49
Britten composed the Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for solo oboe in 1951. The name for the work is drawn directly from the Metamorphoses written by the Roman poet Ovid, one of the greatest contributors to Latin literature. The six movements in the solo work are each titled after a mythological character Ovid references in his work. The entire work serves as an excellent reflection of Britten’s ability to transpose words into musical imagery, often with a preference for the darker narratives. The first movement, titled Pan, is improvisatory in nature, reflecting on the goat god’s favorite pastime of playing his pan flute. The second movement, Phaeton, tells of a hero’s rise and fall from Heaven. The third movement, Niobe, uses the oboe to mimic the weeping sound of having lost fourteen children. The fourth movement is a cacophonous imitation of the chatter one might hear when sitting next to the god of wine, Bacchus. The fifth movement, titled Narcissus, reflects on a man who stared at his reflection too much and finally the last movement, Arethusa, finishes the work with a lyrical interpretation of a woman whose love for a river god turns her into a fountain. How Britten made time to study the fifteen tome set by Ovid is a mystery to us all, but his fascination with mythology and the varied colors a great oboist can produce make for a unique combination!
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Harmony Music No. 5 for 2 Flutes, Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon
Sir Edward William Elgar was born to a typical, but musical, family in a small town near Worcester, England, but grew to become one of England’s most recognized composers, getting knighted in 1904 for his contributions to music under the Crown. Ironically, Elgar was known to describe himself as an outsider, with most of his musical influences being drawn from continental Europe, rather than his home country. It wasn’t until his forties that Elgar became a recognized name with the completion of the famous Enigma Variations and Cello Concerto. While influenced by German composers such as Brahms and Wagner, especially in their use of chromaticism, Elgar drew on the 19th century French composers, such as Saint-Saëns and Berlioz, to develop his style in orchestration. Composed over a series of years, Elgar’s Harmony Music 1-7 were charmingly conceived through friendship. Incredibly, Elgar, who played bassoon himself, although quite poorly, organized regular woodwind chamber readings with his two brothers Frank and William, Hubert Leicester, the Mayor of Worcester, and councilman Frank Exton. These Harmony Music compositions, which range from 4 to 25 minutes in length, helped Elgar develop his woodwind writing for his later orchestral works.
Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)
Fantasy for Flute 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 than the traditional string quartet. Arnold composed the Fantasy for Flute and Clarinet in the early 1960s, at a time when he was very drawn by movies scores. Despite being a very short work, the work clearly displays Arnold’s forced dissonance and heartfelt tunes. The Fantasy was written to be played by his two children, Katherine and Robert.
Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
Sextet in e minor for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, Viola and Cello
Born in Gloucestershire, in South Western England, Gustav Holst had a mixed heritage of British, Swedish, Latvian and German ancestry with three generations of professional musicians on his mother’s side. As is with many composers, Holst was not able to sustain himself financially through his compositions in his early career, so he worked as a professional trombonist, pedagogue, and piano accompanist. Heavily influenced by German composers Strauss and Wagner, Holst did not develop a unique personal writing style until much later in his life, specifically after becoming familiar with Ravel’s music. This German-French influence, not unlike that of Elgar’s, drew Holst to compose in Romantic fashion but with the use of English folk songs. Discovered after Gustav Holst’s death, the Sextet in e minor was composed at the turn of the century, in the year 1900. Composed in four movements, the Sextet calls for a rare mix of woodwinds and strings, emulating the sound of a chamber orchestra. Influenced by the Romantic greats, the German styles of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms are clear throughout the English composer’s work.