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Friday, June 22, 2007

ARCHIVE  •  2007  •  SUN 17  •  MON 18  •  WED 20  •  FRI 22  •  SUN 24

Sherman Library & Gardens, Central Patio Room, 8 p.m.

Music in the Gardens II

David Shostac, flute
Clayton Haslop, violin
Timothy Landauer, violoncello
Gabriel Arregui, harpsichord


Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Trio Sonata in C, BuxWV 266

Adagio
Allegro – Adagio
Presto – Adagio
Allegro
Presto – Adagio – Lento


Frederick the Great (1712-1786)
Flute Sonata in C, No. 24

Grave
Allegro
Tempo Guisto


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
A Musical Offering, BWV 1079

Ricercar (harpsichord)
Canon (flute & violin)
Fuga canonica (flute, violin, violoncello)
 
Trio Sonata
      Largo
      Allegro
      Andante
      Allegro

Intermission


Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville (1711-1772)
Trio Sonata in E minor, Op. 2, No. 1

Adagio
Allegro (Fuga)
Andante
Presto


Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville (1711-1772)
Violin Sonata in C, Op. 4, No. 2

Andantino
Allegro
Gratioso (Aria)
Allegro (Giga)


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Trio Sonata in G, Op. 5, No. 4

Allegro
A tempo ordinario – Allegro, non presto
Passacaille
Presto (Gigue)
Allegro moderato (Menuett)


This concert is offered in grateful memory of Alan Jacobs
(1922-2006), a long-time patron of our Festival and dedicated supporter of music and the arts in our community.


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Buxtehude’s prominence during this year’s Festival programming continues with this evening’s opening trio sonata. Beyond his approximately one hundred twenty-five sacred vocal pieces plus that many organ and harpsichord works are only twenty solo and small-ensemble sonatas for strings — all largely unknown to musicians and the listening public. The sonata in C, originally for two violins, viola da gamba and harpsichord, in this new edition gives one of the violin parts to the flute, a very common practice of the period when a composer’s or publisher’s title often indicated violins or flutes or oboes or any combination of treble instruments that could play the notes.

Buxtehude clearly separated the opening chordal Adagio from the following fugal Allegro, which itself ends with a free cadenza-like passage for violin. Without a cadence, this 4/4 meter slips into a 12/8 Presto, at the end of which a short Adagio leads right into the 3/4 Allegro. The next fugal Allegro ends with another chordal Adagio that leads uninterruptedly into the final Presto, all concluding with a brief chorale-like Lento. So, considering the lack of complete separations of sections in contrasting meters and textures, tempos and moods, how many “movements” are there? BACK

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Frederick II, King of Prussia — called Frederick the Great — was born in Berlin and died in his famous palace named Sanssouci (without care), just outside Potsdam. Although later a great monarch and military commander who enlarged Prussia’s geographical and cultural boundaries, his early and life-long interests lay in arts and letters and in playing the flute and composing music. Soon after being crowned king, he established the Berlin Opera, and his household included his flutist-teacher-composer-author Johann Quantz, Kapellmeister Carl Heinrich Graun, and composer and harpsichordist Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The great French philosopher Voltaire spent time in Frederick’s court, promoting the French language, philosophy and culture. It was this musical king, this court at Sanssouci, and his own son whom Johann Sebastian visited in 1747 (more on that below).

Frederick’s charming Sonata in C for flute and basso continuo is in three movements, but slow-faster-very fast rather than the expected fast-slow-fast. The slow movement is very melodic; both fast movements, the Allegro and the gigue-like Tempo Giusto, are bipartite, with repeats indicated for each section, leading to some inevitable variations in the repetitions by the performer. David Shostac sees in this work influences of house musicians Quantz, Benda, and Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel. BACK

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Johann Sebastian’s famous visit to King Frederick in Postdam in 1747 began in the palace where the king proudly showed Bach his collection of pianofortes. It was there that the great organist-harpsichordist played piano for the first and last time, quite detesting that new instrument (Bartolomeo Christofori’s arpicembalo che fà il piano e il forte, invented around 1700). The king gave Bach a theme on which to elaborate fugally as he went from piano to piano. The next day, Bach gave an organ recital in a Potsdam church, and during an evening of chamber music improvised a six-part fugue on a theme of his own.

At home later in May in Leipzig, he wrote his royal host the world’s most famous “bread and butter” letter, his Musikalisches Opfer, a collection (in no particular performance order) of two ricercars, ten canons, and a trio sonata based on the theme given him by the king at Potsdam: Canones diversi super Thema Regium. We begin with the fugue for harpsichord solo, progress through three very brief pieces without the harpsichord, and conclude with the trio sonata of three composed lines on three staves: two melodic lines for flute and violin, and a bass line for basso continuo as “realized” by cello and harpsichord. BACK

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Mondonville was an important violinist, composer and conductor in mid-eighteenth-century Paris. By the 1730s, he was violinist of the royal chapel and chamber, player in the Concerts Spirituels, and a virtuoso in the playing of harmonics (causing a string to vibrate in segments to produce a high, flute-like sound) on which he wrote an instruction manual. He also produced operas, grand motets and theater pieces. He was married happily to a wealthy harpsichordist who had studied with the famous Rameau. The trio sonata, Opus 2, was published in Paris in 1734. The solo sonatas, Les Sons Harmoniques Sonates, Opus 4, were published in Paris and Lille in 1738. These works, generally unknown to modern audiences, are typically French in their charm and in their abundance of ornamentation.

The E minor trio sonata begins with flute and violin imitating each other’s trill-laden motives in a relaxed tempo; when the tempo speeds up, we hear a fugal texture that avoids very strict imitation in favor of a playful chase. The short middle movement in E major is gently dance-like, while the final Presto again is casually imitative with an emphasis on being pretty rather than scholarly — thus more French than German. BACK

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Mondonville’s solo sonata in C major is a handful for the violinist, demanding double-stops, harmonics, suddenly changing rhythms, awkwardly placed trills, and all kinds of technical challenges in the fast and slower movements. Indeed, we may decide that the overriding interest in this is the ability of the virtuoso violinist to conquer the beast. BACK

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Handel’s trio sonata in G major ends our program with a touch of English charm. Printed by Walsh in London in 1739, we have here the music of a Handel who was quite finished with his composition of Italian operas for the London public, and who was continuing his lucrative composition of historical/biblical oratorios in English, having produced Esther, Deborah and Alexander’s Feast, with Israel in Egypt and Messiah soon to come. For this trio sonata, he borrowed from his overtures to Athalia, Il Parnasso in Festa, Il Pastor Fido and Alcina.

The first movement Allegro is in the normal two-part form, each half (tonic to dominant, then dominant to tonic) to be repeated. The second, A tempo ordinario, asks for the first half, in perky dotted rhythms, to be repeated; the second half is marked by a sudden shift to Allegro, non presto, the previous dotted rhythms becoming even. The Passacaille or passacaglia in triple meter maintains the same bass line for a time, thus enforcing a repeated pattern of harmonies that remain even when the bass becomes more active; a G minor middle section briefly interrupts the major key. The 6/8 Gigue is based at first on a short/long rhythm (often called a “Scottish snap”) that becomes rhythmically even in the second half, and the concluding Menuett ends the work with charming simplicity. BACK

Notes by Burton Karson

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