AFFAIRS OF THE HEART
Mark Fewer, who stunned our audience with his 2015 performance of Michael Daugherty’s Fire and Blood, returns with Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich’s haunting Affairs of the Heart. With the wind soloists from the Chamber Orchestra in our second performance of music by iconoclast Frank Martin and a joyful Haydn symphony, our season closes with heart and happiness.
Saturday, April 9, 2022, 7pm
BROADMOOR COMMUNITY CHURCH
315 Lake Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Sunday, April 10, 2022, 2:30pm
FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH
16 East Platte Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Frank Martin Concerto for 7 Wind Instruments
Affairs of the Heart Program Notes by Jennifer Carpenter
Frank Martin (b Geneva, Switzerland, Sept 15, 1890; d Naarden, Netherlands, Nov 21, 1974): Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments (1949)
Frank Martin confessed that composition did not come easily for him. Each undertaking absorbed him completely, and he repeatedly wrote of his crippling anxiety. Thankfully, his successful efforts were self-renewing. Martin frequently relied on a different compositional scaffolding than his colleagues. Often, a specific concept, such as an unusual combination of instruments, provided the foundation for his works. His keen understanding of the tone colors of the various wind and stringed instruments offered him limitless possibilities that yielded captivating musical effects. Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments (1949) illustrates his ingenuity with striking effect.
The tenth and youngest child of a Calvinist minister whose ancestors fled to Geneva from France (they were Huguenots), Martin had few opportunities to pursue compositional studies. He began composing at the age of 8, but never learned counterpoint nor had the opportunity to attend a conservatory. At his parents’ wish, he studied mathematics and physics; however, his deep desire to be a musician stopped him from completing his courses. After World War I Martin had the opportunity to study with Emile Jaques- Dalcroze, a Swiss composer and innovative music educator. He eventually went on to teach at several Swiss music institutions before moving to the Netherlands in 1946. By this time, Martin was traveling worldwide performing his compositions while achieving many prizes and honor for his works. He inquisitively approached just about every style, era, influence, and “school” of composition and sifted out what was of interest and use to him. Martin’s unique and creative approach can be characterized by his intellectual vigor and the aforementioned fascination with unusual combinations of instruments.
Martin completed his Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments in 1949 and it premiered in Bern, Switzerland in October of the same year. Scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, and string orchestra (including timpani, side drum, cymbals, and bass drum), his concerto has become one of his most enduring works. Its three movements display the myriad of color possibilities possible within such creative orchestration. The music itself is wonderfully transparent in its textures and timbres.
The opening Allegro introduces each of the seven winds with the strings and percussion punctuating the melodic lines that pass back and forth between the wind players. Martin understood what melodic, dynamic, and articulative ranges suit each instrument best. The combination of the seven wind instruments produces something quite alluring.
The haunting second movement, the Adagietto, is marked at the beginning of the score as “mysterious and elegant.” The strings begin with an ostinato (repeating) figure, initially pizzicato, that provides a ceaseless pulse throughout much of the movement. Martin characterized his Adagietto as being: “based entirely on a steady two-time beat, which serves as an accompaniment to the melodic elements: sometimes serene, sometimes dark and violent. A lyrical phrase first heard in the bassoon's upper register is repeated by the trombone with a gentle nobility at the conclusion.”
A folk melody defines the dance-like final Allegro vivace movement. Once again, the seven wind instruments take their turns sharing a series of solos before the full orchestra joins them for the final coda. Martin succeeds in bringing out the dynamic qualities of the orchestra’s various wind soloists, allowing their distinct timbres to not only shine individually, but in chorus.
In his last years, Martin questioned the responsibility of the composer, ultimately concluding: “Whatever the movements of the soul, the spirit, the sensibility that are manifested in one’s work, and whether the state is one of anguish or even despair, one’s art inevitably bears the sign of … this liberation, this sublimation which evokes in us a finished form, and which is, I think, what is called ‘beauty’.” He certainly finds the intrinsic beauty in this combination of winds, strings, and percussion.
Marjan Mozetich (b. 1948 in Gorizia, Italy; currently lives near Kingston, Ontario):
Affairs of the Heart (1997)
Many of us have a handful of pieces that leave lasting impressions - an indelible print of raw emotion that renders us speechless. Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich’s Affairs of the Heart (1997), a single-movement concerto for violin and orchestra, may be one of those pieces for you. Mozetich composed this concerto for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and violinist Juliette Kang with the support of a commission from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). When the CBC Radio broadcast a performance of Affairs of the Heart, their switchboards lit up from coast to coast wanting to know about the piece. There were numerous reports that listeners were so captivated by the music that they pulled their cars over, remained in their cars at their destination, or sat in their driveway - the so-called “driveway experience” swept through Canada.
Born to Slovenian parents in Gorizia, Italy, Mozetich and his family emigrated to Hamilton, Ontario in 1952. His family and his music are a good example of the Canadian mosaic. As a relatively young country, many of Canada’s composers came of age in the mid-20th century when composers tended to focus on out-intellectualizing one another. The result was material that arguably was more fun to analyze than listen to. Mozetich, who studied music at the University of Toronto before traveling abroad to pursue further studies in Italy and England, certainly had his turn with avant-garde music; but he has since turned toward a style he himself identifies as post-modern romanticism - a term that one critic explained by saying it’s what Tchaikovsky might have written if he were alive today. This style uses traditional elements - recognizable melodies, harmonies, and orchestration. However, the way Mozetich uses these elements in his own unique way creates music that is modern and fresh. Mozetich writes: “The music I write has this kind of spatial quality to it: distance and landscape.”
It is this style that awarded Mozetich with a standing ovation at the first performance of Affairs of the Heart and the subsequent “driveway experiences.” Hints of the minimalist style of Philip Glass are present in the undulating hypnotic patterns in the strings. The violin soloist appears effortlessly from this fabric, becoming its own distinct voice that rises sublimely above the orchestra and complements their restlessness. This concerto is written as a single movement with three distinct sections moving organically from fast to slow to fast. He contrasts broad, dramatic melodies in the first section with a lush, “blues” feel in the middle slow section. Time appears to stop for a moment as the orchestra quiets and the violinist punctuates the silence with the rhythmic pattern that increases in intensity until the orchestra joins. The soloist and orchestra switch roles with the introduction of the final fast section - the soloist continues the hypnotic pattern while the orchestra contains the melody until their roles once again reverse and push the piece to its poignant end. Unlike most concertos, the soloist has little in the way of extensive virtuoso passages. Instead, Mozetich concentrates on the dialog between them as if they are two beings instead of many.
There’s a cinematic quality to this concerto - Mozetich captures anticipation, joy, serenity, and even a sense of drama, all without being overtly dramatic. In the world of contemporary music, raw emotion is often eschewed in favor of stimulating the mind rather than touching the heart. Affairs of the Heart demonstrates Mozetich’s desire to convey the variety and depth of human emotions, a characteristic that is central to his style.
Franz Joseph Haydn (b. Mar 31, 1732 in Rohrau, Austria; d. May 31, 1809 in Vienna, Austria): Symphony No. 102 in B-flat Major (1794)
For a composer, there’s no greater stability than long-term institutional employment. Prince Nicholas Esterházy, an ardent supporter of the arts and employer of Franz Joseph Haydn for nearly three decades, died in 1790. He was succeeded by his son Paul Anton who did not possess his father’s love of music. He granted Haydn a pension of a thousand floris a year, nominally kept Haydn on staff, but released him from his duties. Ultimately, this arrangement was a blessing in disguise. For the first time in decades, Haydn was free to explore new opportunities, providing him new circumstances that allowed him to compose his final dozen symphonies.
The English impresario Johann Peter Salomon secured Haydn two residencies in London - the first in 1791 and the second in 1794-95. While in London, Haydn agreed to write a group of twelve symphonies (nos. 93 - 104), which now are dubbed the “London” or “Salomon” symphonies. As a whole, these final symphonies represent the apex of Haydn’s symphonic achievement with those that he wrote during his second London residency surpassing in sublimity those from the earlier tour.
On February 2, 1795, Haydn led the premiere of his Symphony No. 102 from the pianoforte (performance practice of the time called for keyboard continuo). It was a marathon of a concert, dear to late-18th-century audiences, but one that would surely fatigue our modern sitzfleisch - literally “sit-flesh,” a wonderful German term that appropriately describes the necessary endurance to sit for long periods of time, and the opposite of “ants-in-your-pants.” It was an occasion with a story. In the words of early Haydn biographer Albert Christoph Dies:
When Haydn appeared in the orchestra and sat down at the pianoforte to conduct a symphony himself, the curious audience in the parterre left their seats and crowded toward the orchestra, the better to see the famous Haydn quite close. The seats in the middle of the floor were thus empty, and hardly were they empty when the great chandelier crashed down and broke into bits, throwing the numerous gathering into great consternation. As soon as the first moment of fright was over and those who had pressed forward could think of the danger they had luckily escaped and find words to express it, several persons uttered the state of their feelings with loud cries of “Miracle! Miracle!” Haydn himself was deeply moved and thanked the merciful Providence that had allowed him in a certain way to be the cause of or the means of saving the lives of at least thirty people. Only a couple of persons received insignificant bruises.
Somewhere along the way, this story and the symphony’s nickname “The Miracle” became attached to Haydn’s Symphony No. 96. Nonetheless, a report in the Morning Chronicle the day after the premiere of No. 102 attests that “the last movement was encored: and notwithstanding an interruption by the accidental fall of one of the chandeliers, it was performed with no less effect.”
Had the nickname “The Miracle” remained associated with No. 102, perhaps it would be every bit as well known as the other nicknamed London symphonies (“The Surprise,” “The Military,” “The Clock,” and “The Drumroll”). Many writers consider No. 102 to be the most powerful, brilliant, and interesting of Haydn’s late symphonies. Haydn navigates a broad emotional range from witty Mozartian grace to sober Beethovenian profundity. The latter comes immediately to mind in the first movement’s dignified yet mysterious introduction (Largo-Vivace). He quickly dispels the seriousness with the introduction of the boisterous and brilliant Vivace. Haydn’s mischief appears through startling fortissimo chords, sudden silences, abundant rhythmic syncopations, widely contrasting dynamics, and some well-placed dissonances.
The contrasting second-movement Adagio is filled with heartfelt poignancy with its slow, sustained melodic lines over a gently flowing sextuplet accompaniment. Haydn was particularly fond of this movement, using it again in his great Piano Trio in F-sharp minor (Hob.XV:26). Following a foot-stomping, folksy Menuetto, the symphony concludes with one of Haydn’s many “joke finales” - a movement that continually teases its listeners with unexpected returns and false starts of the main theme and sudden changes of character. Haydn adapts a Croatian folk song for use as the principle subject of Finale. The “joke” appears at the end with the first violins who can’t quite articulate the theme correctly. He lets the stuttering continue for a while before energetically reintroducing the rest of the orchestra who steers them back on track and toward the spirited conclusion. Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon likens No. 102 to a kaleidoscope, comparing the symphony’s abounding temperaments to the composer’s “lightning-swift facial changes.”