January 25, 2021
(reservations open January 1, 2021 by email request only)
Laurel Heights Church
Mozart: Quartet No. 1, K. 285 for flute, violin, viola, cello*
III. Rondeau: Allegro
Rota: Trio for clarinet, cello, piano
Mozart: Rondo in A minor, K. 511 for piano solo*
Faure: Fantasie for flute and piano
Brahms: Trio for clarinet, cello and piano in A minor, Op. 114*
III. Andante grazioso
*denotes pieces performed on January 24, 2021 6:00 pm at the Jewish Community Center
call (210) 302-6820 for tickets
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Quartet No. 1, K. 285
It is frequently said that Mozart despised the flute, but the three concertos, two quartets, three serenades, and opulent orchestral parts he composed for the instrument are not indicative of this disdain. With the flute becoming a popular instrument to learn among aristocracy towards the end of the 18th century, the heightened status of the instrument provided Mozart with the opportunity to dedicate flute compositions to wealthy patrons. Composed in 1777 in Salzburg, the Quartet in D Major was part of a larger commission of works Mozart, unfortunately, chose not to complete citing that the pay was not appropriate. The first movement is written in Mozart's usual joyful manner. The second movement, Adagio, is a stunning lyrical melody played entirely by the flute and the final, third movement, Rondo, cheerfully shares it's virtuosity across the entire ensemble.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Rondo in a minor for Piano, K. 511
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was no stranger to depression, often talking about his constant sadness in his correspondence writings. He composed the Rondo in a minor in 1787, in the last five years of his very short life. While this work is by no means among his last, it captures audiences world wide for its agonizingly sad motif. The Rondo beautifully demonstrates one of Mozart's many legendary feats, his ability to stun audiences with his improvisations. With the plentiful chromaticism, written ornamentation, copious dynamic instructions, and tonal modulations, the work has been compared to the most tragic of Frédèric Chopin's Waltzes and Mazurkas. Many Mozart scholars have deemed the solo piano work as one of the most important keyboard Rondo ever composed.
Johannes Brahms – (1833 – 1897)
Clarinet Trio in a minor, Op. 114
Johannes Brahms’ interest in the clarinet is of much envy to all other instruments in the woodwind family. Incredibly, Brahms’ compositional output for the clarinet, solely inspired by an 1890 performance of German clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, was conceived entirely in the last decade of his life. Completed the following year in 1891, the Clarinet Trio in a minor is cemented in classical music history not only as a stunningly beautiful masterpiece, but also as the composition that reawakened Brahms from his self declared retirement.
The trio is composed of four movements: Allegro, Adagio, Andantino grazioso, and Allegro. The first movement opens in the cello, with a rising a minor arpeggio that then gently descends to its starting note, a theme that foreshadows the sombre tone of the first three movements. The second movement showcases Brahms’ unique sense of tranquility and begins with a melody in clarinet that, contrastingly, descends first and then rises. The third movement is a slow graceful waltz that evolves halfway into a slightly more athletic trio, but quickly returns to its original calm. Finally, the Finale breaks the serenity established thus far with energetic momentum in each part and the gypsy style of composition that Brahms’ adored his entire life.
The Clarinet Trio was premiered on December 12th, 1891 by the work’s dedicatee clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, cellist Robert Hausmann, and none other then Brahms himself on piano.
Gabriel Fauré (1845 – 1924)
Fantaisie, Op. 79
Considered the leading composer of the 19th century in France, Gabriel Fauré, a contemporary of Brahms, liked to stay busy. In addition to finding time for his substantial compositions, Fauré was the director of the Paris Conservatoire and a full-time organist at the Église de la Madeleine, a leading Parisian Catholic Church. With the weight of these responsibilities, Fauré spent most of his summers hidden in the French countryside, committed entirely to composing for those few months of each year. It was in one of these summers that Fauré composed his Fantaisie for flute and piano. Written for a colleague at the Paris Conservatory, the work has become a staple of the flute repertoire. In 1898, the fantasy was used as the graduating test work for the “Concours de Flute,” an annual competition that determined who would or would not graduate from the Conservatoire. As is often the case with show pieces, the structure of the Fantaisie is in two movements, the first lyrical and the second fast and technical.
Nino Rota (1911 – 1979)
Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano
As is the fate of many film composers, Nino Rota’s name is synonymous with the soundtrack to “The Godfather” trilogy. However, as is with John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Nino Rota has composed numerous concerti, operas, orchestral works, piano solos, and choral music. Trained in the classical aesthetics of 19th century tradition, Rota’s music is often recognized for its pining and earnest melodic style. In addition, thanks to his Hollywood presence, Rota has also experimented with more avant-garde compositional techniques such as serialism, pop and jazz. These elements combined describe the nature of Rota’s trio for clarinet, cello, and piano. The first movement, Allegro, is very chromatic creating a sense of unresolved urgency throughout, not unlike that of a horror film. The second movement, Andante, slows down in tempo but maintains an eerie demeanor as the clarinet and cello exchange phrases over the ambiance of an accompaniment all piano part. The third and final movement, Allegrissimo, is the most like Rota’s many film scores, humorous and ironic!
Program notes written by Mark Teplitsky
January 24, 2021 performance at the Jewish Community Center of San Antonio is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts, and a gift from Dr. Michael Ozer and Patricia Kalmans.
January 25, 2021 performance is made possible in part by a generous gift from Dr. James Griffin and Dr. Margo Denke.
*all programs subject to change