Saturday, March 7, 2020, 7pm BROADMOOR COMMUNITY CHURCH 315 Lake Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 Sunday, March 8, 2020, 2:30pm FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH 16 E Platte Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Georg Philipp Telemann Ouverture in D TWV55:D18 Johann Sebastian Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046 Johan Helmich Roman Violin Concerto in D Minor Elisa Wicks, violin Frank Martin Petite Symphonie Concertante Zahari Metchkov, piano; Simon Jacobs, harpsichord
Pre-concert talk with Jennifer Carpenter, Musicologist and Performer, 45 minutes prior to the performances
The Chamber Orchestra’s resident expert in Baroque music, Elisa Wicks, lets her talent shine in a Baroque concert with a twist. Bach and Telemann provide more familiar fare, while Elisa brings us a stunning and overlooked violin concerto by Johan Helmich Roman. Frank Martin’s Baroque-inspired Petite Symphonie Concertante bridges musical ideas across centuries to end the concert on an exciting high note with pianist, Zahari Metchkov and harpsichordist, Simon Jocobs.
PROGRAM NOTES by MARK ARNEST
The works on this concert date from two of the most fertile periods in music history. In the early 18th Century, composers were inspired by the recent invention of common-practice tonality, a system that enabled them to compose coherent large-scale instrumental works for the first time. And two centuries later – in the first decades of the 20th Century – the final breakdown of this system gave rise to a plethora of stimulating new approaches. But Frank Martin revered the musical tradition from which he sprang, and his Petite Symphonie Concertante also embodies his deep admiration for the music of Bach.
Overview: Georg Philipp Telemann Born: March 14, 1681, Magdeburg, Germany; died: June 25, 1767, Hamburg, Germany Work Composed: 18th Century
Georg Philipp Telemann lived a charmed life. His talent was identified early, and he developed it tirelessly. He rose quickly to the top of his profession, and stayed there, apparently without making any enemies, for decades. In an age when it was rare for someone to live 70 years, he lived to be 86, and was healthy and productive to the end. (He was born four years before J. S. Bach and outlived him by 17 years.) He may have been the most prolific composer ever, with some 3,000 known works, about half of which survive. He seems to have composed something between 30 minutes and an hour of music every week for 65 years. His afterlife has not been so charmed, however. While his work was tremendously influential during his life, and still widely respected several decades later, he fell out of favor in the 19th Century, when his very productivity began to inspire suspicion as well as awe. Is it possible to compose this much without being superficial? The answer to this question is given by no less than J. S. Bach himself. It would have been natural for Bach to be jealous of Telemann’s fame – a: Among other things, Telemann was the first choice for the Leipzig position Bach coveted, and it only went to Bach because first Telemann, and then Christoph Graupner turned it down. Yet Bach is known to have performed a number of Telemann’s works, and the two were on good terms. And Telemann’s music is good enough that about a dozen of his works used to be mistakenly ascribed to Bach. Telemann had to have composed at white-hot speed – even more so than Bach’s music, which breaths spontaneity, Telemann’s pieces must almost be written-out improvisations. This makes their quality all the more impressive: Telemann’s music is rhythmically vivacious, there’s never a mis-step, and while it’s often conventional, it’s never banal. He composed in every Baroque genre, but held a special fondness for the orchestral suite: In 1740, he wrote that he’d composed about 600 of them, and he still had more than 40 more years to live. Vast amounts of Telemann’s music still exist only in manuscript; only a third of his surviving works have been published. Nor have musicologists lavished the attention on Telemann that Bach has received. A few works were published in his lifetime, or can be attached to a specific performance date, but currently it’s difficult to date Telemann’s music based on stylistic traits: One recently published suite is given a date of “ca. 1700-1749,” and it’s almost impossible that a major composer’s style could be inert over this length of time. This opening Ouverture is not a (then fashionable) French Ooverture. Like a French overture, the slow introduction is followed by a fast, quasi-imitative section; but the introduction doesn’t obsess over dotted rhythms like a typical French Ooverture, and the movement ends un-Frenchishly with a varied reprise of the introduction. This is not to suggest that Telemann’s knowledge of the French style was defective. Among German composers of his generation, Telemann probably had the deepest knowledge of French music, having spent eight months in Paris in 1737, and having composed – among the comparatively few works published in his lifetime – two sets of quartets in French style. He was just after something different here. Indeed, the Telemann’s mastery of French style is evident elsewhere in this suite, which generally emphasizes the French values of textural clarity, grace, and charm rather than the denser and more serious approach favored by most German composers. (You will hear the contrast with the following Bach concerto.) Clarity is a principal trait of the two Menuets. The sprightly Gavotte, with its unpredictable phrase lengths, is especially reminiscent of Rameau, which may or may not be a coincidence. The Passacaille is martial in character, and unusually for the genre, does not unfold over a repeated bass line but is structured more as a rondo. The tiny Air lentenment provides a lyrical contrast to the predominantly festive atmosphere. In the exuberant Postillons, Telemann imitates the post-horn, an instrument that was used to signal the arrival of a post rider or mail coach. The closing Fanfare is brisk and joyous.
Overview: J. S. Bach Born March 21, 1685, Eisenach, Germany; died July 28, 1750, Leipzig, Germany Work Composed: Between 1713 and 1721
In 1719, Bach visited Berlin, where Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt (and the king of Prussia’s half-uncle), complimented Bach’s music. Two years later, Bach presented a set of six concertos to Christian Ludwig – in appreciation of the Margrave’s kindness, surely, but also because the no-longer-quite-young Bach was on the lookout for a better job. Alas, it was a terrible moment to be looking for a job as court composer in Prussia. The ascension to the throne in 1713 of Frederick William I – known as “the soldier king” – ushered in a period of royal frugality, as the king set the royal purse to funding an enlarged military. Christian Ludwig lacked the resources to perform Bach’s extravagantly scored concertos, and they disappeared into the archives of Brandenburg for well over a century. Since their 1849 discovery, they’ve become known as the richest set of Baroque concertos. The concertos were probably not new in 1721, and No. 1 may date from as early as 1713. It’s as far as possible from the Romantic concerto, with its heroic soloist. It is a true ensemble concerto, featuring the most lavish ensemble of the Brandenburg concertos: Ttwo natural horns, three oboes, bassoon, violino piccolo (a small violin, tuned higher than a regular violin), two violins, viola, and basso continuo. With this ensemble, it’s no surprise that one of the concerto’s most prominent traits is density: The textures in the first movement range from thick to very thick. But the relentless busyness doesn’t lead to monotony. There is some of the old-fashioned consort style of instrumentation, with the horns, oboes, and strings treated as separate choirs; but Bach’s treatment of the instruments in this concerto is often imaginative, as various instruments couple and de-couple: In one bar, the first oboe may double the first violin, while they go their separate ways the next bar. It creates an almost shimmering effect despite the overall thickness. (Almost a century-and-a- and a half later, Wagner would go to town with this type of orchestration.) The concerto is concise, with the first three movements each lasting about 4four minutes and only the relaxed finale noticeably longer. The first movement is a jolly jumble in which it sounds as if everyone is talking at once, but about the same thing. The horns rest during the slow second movement. It’s essentially a duet with the first oboe and the violono piccolo, with the other instruments providing support; and it features some of the most poignant dissonances in all of Bach. In the joyful third movement, the horn parts refer to their ancestry as instruments used in the hunt. The textures are lighter here; and they become lighter still in the genial rondo finale, which features an episode featuringwritten for a pair of oboes with bassoon, and one featuringshowcasing the two horns with three unison oboes. Bach thought highly of this concerto. In 1726 he repurposed at least two of the movements: the first movement as the opening movement of the Cantata No. 52, and the third movement as the opening chorus of Cantata 207.
Overview: Johan Helmich Roman Born October 26, 1694. Stockholm, Sweden; died November 20 1758, Kalmar, Sweden Work Composed: ca. 1730s
The first half of the 18th Century was a time of extraordinary musical achievement in Europe. The craft of composition was still essentially a guild, so the quality of workmanship was almost universally high; and the recent discovery of common -practice tonality – a way to create coherent large -scale works – provided new and fertile areas for composers to explore. Given this, it’s not surprising that J. S. Bach and Handel are the earliest -born composers whose work has been performed continually since their lifetimes; but the 20th Century Baroque revival returned composers the stature of Rameau, Telemann, and Vivaldi to the public consciousness, and the discoveries have continued. Among them is Swedish composer Johan Helmich Roman. Authoritative information on his life is difficult to come by, but we know he spent the years 1715-21 in London, where he came under the influence of Handel. When he returned to Sweden, he was appointed to the royal court, first as vice-Kapellmeister and, in 1727 as Kapellmeister. He was known for both his skill and his industriousness, and he occupies an important place in the history of music in Sweden.
Roman composed some 400 works, mostly between the mid-1720s and 1745, when he retired due to increasing deafness. Since he was an excellent violinist, it’s no surprise that this concerto is very well laid out for the instrument. The concerto is reminiscent of Handel, unfolding with a naturalness that disguises the skill with which it’s constructed. The first movement accounts for a little more than half the concerto’s length. Its opening ritornello consists of three parts: The first (five bars) is diatonic, followed by a two-bar chromatic passage and , rounded off by a two-bar cadential passage. The form of the first movement is a typical Baroque concerto, alternating ritornello passages with less structured passages featuring the soloist; the return of the ritornello is sometimes complete and sometimes fragmentary, just to kick off new ideas for the soloist. These intervening passages possess a Handelian order of inventiveness, as Roman isolates motifs from the ritornello and uses them to create new music. In contrast, the ritornello varies little from one appearance to the next, and is always anchored in the home key of D minor. The second movement is pastoral in character and rich in invention despite its brevity. The finale is dramatic, with several short themes and a rhythmic urgency that sweeps the listener along.
Overview: Frank Martin Born September 15, 1890, Geneva, Switzerland; died November 21, 1974, Naarden, Netherlands Work composed: 1944-45
The Swiss composer Frank Martin has never been popular, but the high quality of his music insures that he will remain at least a niche figure in 20th Century music. He was the first of the astonishing crop of composers born in the early 1890s – a group that also includes Bohuslav Martinů, Sergei Prokofiev, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Germaine Tailleferre, Lili Boulanger, Federico Mompou, Leo Ornstein, and Walter Piston, along with dozens of others. The reason for this fertility was a happy accident of history: They developed their styles and personalities in the first two decades of the 20th Century, arguably the most tumultuous moment in music history. On the one hand, centuries-old traditions had brought composition to an extremely high level of sophistication, and the culture in which these composers grew up held creative artists in high esteem. And on the other hand, these traditions were being upended from three different directions, creating an atmosphere of unparalleled creative fertility. First, there was an explosion of alternative techniques invented by such figures as Claude Debussy, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, and Alexander Scriabin; second, earlier styles of European music were being revived,; and third, European composers began studying non-European styles from around the globe. There may never have been a more intriguing time to be a composer, and after World War 1 – as much a cultural cataclysm as a political one – things were never quite the same. In college, Martin studied mathematics and physics alongside music (his most important teacher was Émile Jaques-Dalcroze, inventor of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, which taught music through movement), but there was never any doubt where his interest lay; by his mid-30s he was teaching at the Geneva Conservatory of Music, and he remained a prominent figure of the international music community until his death in 1974. The Petite symphonie concertante is Martin’s most popular piece. It’s an example of his highly personal use of Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone system, in which an ordered set of the chromatic scale’s 12 notes constitutes the basis for a piece of music. But unlike Schoenberg, who wrote of “emancipating” dissonances – by which he meant that they no longer derived their expressive power from their relationship to consonances – Martin never abandoned the potential of harmony to create moments of tension and relaxation. Although the music is regularly cycling through all 12 notes, the underlying chords often sound familiar. This gives Martin’s music a unique sound. While the piece’s language is extremely chromatic, it’s not particularly dissonant; and while the music rarely sounds as if it’s arrived somewhere – it is simply too chromatic to allow for a stable tonic – it nevertheless gives the impression that it’s on its way. The concerto is in two movements, with the first ending on a dissonant chord and the second beginning with a passage for harp and harpsichord. The first movement begins slowly with several repetitions of its 12-note theme, and builds into a nervous allegro. It’s followed by a theme that’s more lyrical but not at all sentimental. A vigorous section climaxes in a marvelous passage in choral prelude style – a theme in relatively long notes surrounded by faster accompanying parts – after which the movement dies down with a reminiscence of the introduction, setting up the second movement’s quiet beginning. The second movement is less sectionalized, and is conceived as a slow crescendo that transitions into a march that builds relentlessly towards the major-key ending. Although it’s a complex work, the Petite symphonie concertante has an integrity, wealth of color, and expressive range that come through even on a single hearing.