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Concert notes for 6/16/19 – Fathers’ Day concert to welcome summer

Posted by on Jun 16, 2019 in News, Uncategorized |

With all his devout enthusiasm, HAYDN was no puritan: religion was the joy of his heart, not the sackcloth of his loins. Our Haydn’s musical life began in his 6th year, when his singing (solo, not in a choir!) in the village church attracted attention. Next, a musical school teacher, who was a distant cousin of Haydn’s mother took him to into his house and taught him, with remarkable ease, to play the klavier and to fiddle as well, all the while giving him an elementary grounding in harmony. The lad’s remarkable successes attracted so much attention that the kapellmeister of the Cathedral School Georg von Reuther who made a yearly search for gifted boys came to hear him, so that when our Haydn was eight, he found that he had been selected to be one of the students at the renowned school for choirboys at the great cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna where the priests and the far wealthier & more sophisticated students never tired of calling him farm-boy Joseph, even in spite of his swift & superior musicality. And the priests kept explaining to him that his name of Joseph came from the human father of the Holy Family and he must be too respectful of his name to misbehave by punching out other boys. And then they would give him a whipping. Haydn Piano Trio i.e. “Accompanied Sonata” in E major Hob XV:34 Since we have so often had one of Haydn’s so called “Accompanied Sonatas” –and in March of 2018 our friends of the Saratoga Chamber Players played five of them in the same concert! –most of us must know by now that they were very popular at the turn of the (18th) century and were called not ‘Trios’ or Piano Anythings but rather “Accompanied Sonatas.” The reason for this was that the the keyboard part was dominant, the Violin the principal accompanist with a stalwart Cello providing a firm bass line. “Wits” said about these sonatas that they required an excellent klavierist, an adequate violinist, and a cellist who can count. I’ve found that American kids who play the cello, if asked to play in one of these “trios” will like as not complain that the composers haven’t given them a “decent” part. But my experience has been that the better the cellist, the more important she/he finds his/her part. The “Accompanied Sonata” we have today has a high number which would place it very late, with the works that were composed for new patrons in London. But the sound of it suggests that it may well have been written before written before 1760, hence composed before Haydn had been settled into the Esterházy routine. Furthermore, it exists as a three movement wind Serenata, something that very rarely happens with one of the “Accompanied Sonatas.” The young Haydn’s individual style is most evident...

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Concert Notes for 10.28.18

Posted by on Nov 1, 2018 in News, Uncategorized |

Chamber music, especially in its purest type, the string quartet, is regarded by many music-lovers as the highest form of music. To begin with, by its very limitations it is to some extent free from sensationalism into which orchestral music so easily falls. Impossible to two violins, a viola, and a violoncello are the purely sensuous stimulations of ears and nerve centers to which Wagner, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and the Stokowsky-Bach transcriptions, and in general the whole ‘Overwhelming’ school, owe a good deal of their popularity. A quartet has a great soul in a small body, and depends on the intelligence and sympathy of the listener to fill out, progressively as his experience deepens, what it only suggests… In other words, the string quartet may grow, as our experience of it grows, to be more vivid to us than the most luxurious orchestra, for the very reason that we cannot take it passively, but must enter it actively, becoming co-creators with it. Daniel Gregory Mason, Columbia University, 1947 I’m always secretly glad when I realize that it’s time to crank up the aged brain and plunge into that pretty much useless activity of writing program notes. I don’t know what the “secretly” part really means, but the ‘glad’ is because I love chamber music and writing about it gives me a chance to think about chamber music and most of all to cast the aged mind back over the decades of chamber music and the many years of rich and fertile programs that we Saratoga Chamber Player fans have enjoyed…. And being refreshed, have often times, yes, been improved in mind & spirit. Among many other fine composers, Beethoven has been, of course, an oft honored participant in these our festal occasions, feeding the soul beginning for us back near the end of the last century — March 24th 1996 — with the fully mature, glorious & formidable “Archduke” Piano Trio opus 97 dedicated to Ludwig’s pupil & young patron the archduke Rudolf, youngest son of the Emperor Leopold II. Some months later we were treated to a much earlier work, the wonderfully dramatic String Trio in C minor, the 3rd trio of his opus 9. These three early string trios (Vienna 1797) are, by the way, as refreshing a pair of musical delights as any of the many pieces of the time, but because they were composed at a point in time when young Beethoven’s teacher, “Papa” Haydn was the King of the String Quartet and universally acknowledged as the greatest composer of his day in Europe, Russia & even in the more or less United States of America. Furthermore, Der Alte (the old man) had just published another “six-pack” of those excellent Quartets, as opus 96, soon to be well-known works and attracting nicknames: “Emperor,” “Sunrise” “Quintens/the Fifths” and to this day are among the most performed. Some...

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Jacinthe Couture

Jacinthe Couture

Posted by on Aug 7, 2018 in Uncategorized |

JACINTHE COUTURE, winner of the Prix d’Europe piano competition and first prize winner of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Concours, the CBC Talent Festival, and the Chicago Civic Orchestra piano competition, made her debut at Carnegie Hall and subsequently soloed with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Vancouver, the Atlanta Symphony and the Orchestre de Radio-Télévision de Belgique. She has performed chamber music with the Swiss Chamber Players, the Quatour Québec and with such artists as Janos Starker, Chantal Juillet, Gary Hoffman and Christopher Bunting in her native Canada as well as in Europe and the United States. She has taught at the University of Massachusetts, the University of Montreal and the Sibelius Academy in Finland. She currently teaches at the Conservatoire de Musique du...

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Concerts notes from June 2018

Posted by on Jun 17, 2018 in News, Uncategorized |

Welcome all to a new venue for us and the last concert of the Saratoga Chamber Players’ 31st Season, given the elfin title “String Quintets on Parade.” I say ‘elfin’ because there are but two quintets in our parade, albeit quintets composed by two monumental, nay, Rushmorian figures, Beethoven and Brahms. And the first of the two quintets will be introduced by a well known and delightfully Schuberty piece for string trio. Then, after intermission, to achieve a slightly elfin uniformity, the other quintet will be introduced by a string duo. Now if you add these two introductory pieces together, duo & trio equal an arithmetical kind of quintet! Furthermore, the whole of the concert is performed by five very fine lady artists, while the two actual factual quintets on the program are each one of the greatest of all chamber works in the repertoire and quite interestingly early Beethoven and mature [not to say “late”] Brahms. Originally, as many of us have been informed, the program was to have begun with one of the four separate pieces for string quartet opus 81 that Mendelssohn left unpublished when he suddenly died. “The true successor to Beethoven is not Mendelssohn, whose artistic cultivation was quite incomparable, also not Schumann, but Schubert. It is unbelievable, the music he put into his songs.” “There is no Schubert song from which we can’t learn something we need to know.” Johannes Brahms, to music students (1893) “Truly, there dwells in Schubert a divine spark” Ludwig van Beethoven (1827), shortly before he died. Saratoga Chamber Players performed this unfinished String Trio D. 471 16 years ago to open the concert of Oct 27 2002 but that is all but irrelevant, for the reason that this piece is one of those serene works that makes you feel you’ve known and loved it forever, even if you’ve never heard a note of it before. Schubert — more like Mozart than like Beethoven or Haydn — got a very early start at composing. His father, Franz Theodor Florian, who was a school teacher but one who played a wicked Cello, taught our Fränzl the violin as soon as he could hold it in his hands and then the viola, because the two oldest brothers played violin and he himself was, of course, the cellist and they needed a viola to make a family string quartet. Little Fränzl began to compose string quartets for the family from the time he was 7 or 8 (1804/5). His father was so unlike Beethoven’s abusive drunk-of-a-father who wanted only to exploit his son Ludwig as a “2nd Mozart.” Ludwig himself always identified strongly with his grandfather, who been the admired Kapellmeister at the Bonn Court and had also been godfather at his christening in 1770. Although the elder Ludwig van Beethoven had died three years later, our Ludwig always claimed that he...

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CONCERT NOTES FROM 3/31/18

Posted by on Apr 2, 2018 in News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Offered by Michael Moore for our listening pleasure: Welcome all to Our Spring Concert, which this year, takes place on the 286th anniversary of Joseph Haydn’s birth, on the last day of March 1832, in the small riparian town of Rohrau in the extreme east of Lower Austria on the river Leitha not far upriver from where it flows into the Danube to mark the border between Austria and Hungary — it was predominantly a German-speaking area but with an admixture of Croats, Hungarians and Slovaks as well. He was baptized the next day and given (as was the custom) the names of two saints’ who had proximate feast days, hence Franz (German for St. Francis of Paola, 2nd of April: that’s day after tomorrow!) and Joseph, (the husband of the Virgin Mary, 19 March). Haydn hardly ever used the first part of his name and as a lad, was usually called by the common Austrian diminutive of Joseph ‘Sepperl,’ which followed him even unto Vienna. His dad was the local wheelwright, & therefore an important man in this farming community, although hardly well to do. He & his wife were strongly religious and pillars of the local church: all things considered it’s not surprising that he wound up as the local Mayor. But musically speaking, he gradually became something of an embarrassment to the two most musical of his children, Joseph and (5 years his junior) Michael: for their father loved to sing & accompany himself on his harp, while the kids ran giggling for cover, and Sepperl cried out to his mom, “Mama, Papi’s doing it again!!” But Sepperl (Joseph) loved going to church with the whole family and taking part in the singing, especially when he was singled out to sing, [Joseph was second oldest of the family’s children; Michael was to be the 6th of a group which would top out at an even dozen.] But as the family grew and Sepperl was singled out more & more all over the little town, Papa’s harping & singing gradually became family concerts, while Sepperl’s outstanding singing gradually became matter of local pride. The family sang at home too. As an old duffer, our Joseph the great composer loved to reminisce about these family sing-outs. One day a distant cousin, Johann Mathias Franck, the school teacher of the larger town Hainburg an der Donau/on the Danube/ a little more than ten kilometers due north of Rohrau, happened to have business with the local dignitary in Rohrau and stopped with his country cousins. He had already heard the praises of Sepperl’s singing and now he listened for himself and all but immediately urged the parents to let him take the boy, now six years old, home with him so that he could go to a real school and have “real” musical training. (Apparently, this school teacher cousin Franck...

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CONCERT NOTES

Posted by on Mar 9, 2018 in News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Notes for program of 1.28.18 from Michael Moore: Welcome all to our midwinter celebration of the violin & piano duo via a favorite combination of first rate artists: Jill Levy & Margaret Kampmeier playing a first rate program. They will begin with Beethoven, a central figure of high Classicism at the end of 18th Century leading the way into the 19th and on towards the Romantic era. He may be seen as if he were standing on the threshold of the 19th century with his back temporarily to the future, offering his sonata as a loving farewell to his two greatest predecessors, Haydn & Mozart — Mozart had died 11 years before, Old Haydn had finished his last two String Quartets op. 77 when a stroke put an end to his composing career in his 71st year, a ripe old age in those days. After this delightfully rollicking Beethoven sonata, our artists will transport us all the way to the 20th Century with a winter wedding work, crafted by the soon-to-be-groom Olivier Messiaen as a gift for his excellent violinist bride-to-be, Claire Delbos. From this ecstatic moment, we will pass on to an offering of folk rock rhapsodizing by none other than our dear friend Béla Bartók — (well, some of us like think of him that way). And then, after intermission, we will have the deep pleasure of hearing from Edward Lord Elgar (or is it merely Sir Edward Elgar?)… In either case the Violin Sonata in E minor, one of his only three conventional chamber works very few but very choice chamber works, a crown jewel not often heard live. I will be hearing it live for the first time in my three quarters of a century of listening to Classical Music! Like Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert, Beethoven learned the violin from his father at home, before taking on the klavier [keyboard], which would become his primary instruments. At age 11, his first big gig was to substitute for his teacher Christian Gottlob Neefe, the organist at Bonn Cathedral for Sunday services and other events. Goodman Neefe would be out of town for several months. The doughty lad Beethoven would be on duty every Sunday and whenever otherwise needed for several months while the good man was gone. As a lad, Ludwig, called “Wiggie” by friends, was first a violist and later a violinist in the Bonn Court Orchestra for a salary very small indeed, yet badly needed at home, since his father, whose position was as court tenor, regularly drank up his pay and scolded by his wife thought it only fair to give his son “a good” beating. Meanwhile in 1781 & ’82, Herr Neefe put the lad through all 48 Preludes & Fugues of the Well-tempered Klavier; and boasted about his pupil’s achievement in a prominent music journal. Of course Papa Bach could...

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