"Musical Menagarie"

March 15, 2021

7:30 pm

(reservations open March 1, 2021 by email request only)

Laurel Heights Church

Jean Francaix: Trio for oboe, bassoon, piano

I. Adagio-Allegro moderato

II. Scherzo. Risoluto

III. Andante

IV. Finale

Olivier Messiaen: Le Merle Noir for flute and piano

Ludwig van Beethoven: Serenade Op. 25 for flute, violin, viola

I. Entrata, Allegro

II. Tempo ordinario d'un Menuetto

III. Allegro molto

IV. Andante con Variazioni

V. Allegro scherzando e vivace

VI. Adagio - Allegro vivace e dis in volta

INTERMISSION

Gabriel Fauré : Violin Sonata No. 1 in A major, Op. 13

I. Allegro molto  

II. Andante

III. Allegro vivo

IV. Allegro quasi presto

Leoš Janáček: Concertino for two violins, viola, clarinet, horn, bassoon, piano

I. Moderato

II. Più Mosso

III. Con moto

IV. Allegro

Jeffrey Kahane, piano

Eric Gratz, violin

Christine Wang, violin

Yang Guo, viola

Mark Teplitsky, flute

Paul Lueders, oboe

Ilya Shterenberg, clarinet

Sharon Kuster, bassoon

Jeff Garza, horn

This performance is made possible in part by a generous gift from Dennert Ware.

Program Notes, written by Mark Teplitsky

Jean Francaix (1912-1997)
Trio for Oboe, Bassoon 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. Francaix's trio for oboe, bassoon and piano demonstrates satisfying conversational interplay between the three instruments, with the lightness and humor commonly associated with the then popular neoclassical style. 

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
Le Merle Noir for Flûte and Piano

Having lived through almost the entire 1900s, Olivier Messaien was a pivotal participant in the reinvention of Western Classical Music. In a century where artistic movements replaced their predecessor every decade, Messaien pushed the boundaries of composition with his exploration of serialism, abstract rhythm, and modal instability. His ornithological obsession and life long synaesthesia (a condition in which one sees colors in association with sounds) are obvious contributors to his unique output. Le Merle Noir, "the blackbird," was composed for the Paris Conservatory's flute department's graduation competition. This was the first work, of many, that Messaien composed where he aimed to imitate a single unique species of bird. The French composer's love for the organ is faithfully transplanted into the flute work's bombastic piano part.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola Op. 25

Beethoven wrote a great deal of music for various combinations of wind instruments during the end of the eighteenth century much of which was intended for the Bonn Court's ensemble of wind players. Many of these works demonstrate Beethoven's attempt in Vienna to teach himself to write idiomatically for winds as he prepared to compose his revolutionary symphonies. The Serenade in D Major for flute, violin, and viola is a work in seven brief parts, intended for outdoor performances. Thus, it lacks any of the belligerence commonly associated with Beethoven's quarelesom nature. Still, the work's delightful and relaxed movements are recognizably written in Beethoven's colloquial manner. 

Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Major, Op. 13

"In this sonata you can find everything to tempt a gourmet," said Saint-Saëns of the early Fauré work, "new forms, excellent modulation, unusual tone colors, and the use of unexpected rhythms. A magic floats above everything, encompassing the whole work, causing the crowd of usual listeners to accept the unimagined audacity as something quite normal. With this work Monsieur Fauré takes his place among the masters." (Los Angeles Philharmonic) To Gabriel Fauré these words meant everything coming from his teacher Camille Saint-Saëns. The four movement work was premiered by Marie Tayau on violin and Fauré at the piano  in 1877.

Leoš Janáček (1854-1928)
Concertino for 2 violins, viola, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano

Originally intended as a piano concerto with orchestra, Janacek's Concertino morphed into a fascinating chamber concerto with two violins, viola, clarinet, horn, and bassoon for accompaniment. The very unusual composition is in four movements, each with strange commentary inserted by the ever tragedy stricken composer. The first movement only includes horn and piano and includes the text "grumpy hedgehog." The second movement is just clarinet and piano with the annotation "fidgety squirell." Finally other instruments join in for the third movement which Janacek compared to a "night owl and other night animals." The final movement is deemed a "scene from a fairy-tale, where everybody is arguing." The work was successfully accepted at its premiere and quickly garnered great acclaim across Europe.

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