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
Mozart: Rondo in A minor, K. 511
Novacek: Foster Fantasy for piano, violin, cello*
Francaix: Divertimento for horn and piano
Vaughan Williams: Quintet for violin, cello, clarinet, horn, piano*
I. Allegro moderato
II. Allegretto Intermezzo
IV. Allegro molto finale
*denotes pieces performed on January 24, 2021 6:00 pm at the Jewish Community Center
call (210) 302-6820 for tickets
John Novacek, piano
Eric Gratz, violin
Yang Guo, viola
Julian Schwarz, cello
Mark Teplitsky, flute
Ilya Shterenberg, clarinet
Jeff Garza, horn
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.
Program Notes, written by Mark Teplitsky
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.
John Novacek (b. 1964)
Foster Fantasy for Piano, Violin and Cello
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Stephen Foster attempted to make his living writing songs long before Americans had even heard of ‘professional songwriting.’ Alas, despite the popularity of his music, copyright laws were essentially unenforced at the time, and he died (at 37) impoverished on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His legacy is assured though: Foster’s indelible melodies are so innately ‘American’ that they’ve been fully-absorbed into our folk culture. The majority of his songs fall into two categories: the sentimental parlor song, and the southern-influenced minstrel song. My Foster Fantasy is based on one song from each category: the exquisite ‘Jeanie with the light brown hair,’ written for Jane McDowell (to whom he was unhappily married), and ‘Camptown races,’ with its irrepressible ‘doo-dah’ refrain. I view the tunes through the perspective of several more recent American idioms (blues, Dixie and bebop), but end up full circle with a 19th century parlor setting of ‘Jeanie.’ (Alert listeners may detect a few additional quotes: the Irish ‘Danny boy’ and Foster’s own ‘Old folks at home,’ aka ‘Swanee river.’)
Jean Francaix (1912-1997)
Divertimento for Horn and Piano
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. The Divertimento for Horn and Piano is composed in standard fast-slow-fast three movement form. The work demonstrates an excellent hornist's technical dexterity with both their embouchure and articulation.
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Quintet for Violin, Cello, Clarinet, Horn and Piano
Perhaps due in part to his great affection for Brahms, who went to great length to destroy personal traces of himself, English composer Ralph Vaughan William destroyed many of his compositions on a flame or a personally mandated performance ban. Another aspect shared by Brahms and Vaugh Williams is their affinity for clarinet and french horn, and thus, the Quintet for violin, cello, clarinet, horn, and piano came to be. Even this work was lost for just under a century when Vaughn Williams hid it after its first performance in 1901. Composed in four movements, the work captures Vaugh Williams' interest in English folk songs, a lyricism that appears most prominently in the clarinet and violin parts. The piano part, meanwhile, breaks with the myth that that Vaughn Williams was not a very proficient pianist, as it is quite a technically difficult part. Cello and French Horn serve the simple function of having beautiful sounds for the twenty five minute duration of this work.