Orchestra Roster, Soloist Bio, and Program Notes for
March 26, 2006 Musica Bella Concert
Musica Bella Orchestra Season Series Concert No. 26
Conductor: Phillip Gaskill
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Church of the Blessed Sacrament
MOZART, BRAHMS, and DVORAK
Dvorák: Serenade in d minor for Ten Winds, Cello, and Contrabass, Op. 44
Brahms: Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 77
Stanichka Dimitrova, violin
Mozart: Symphony No. 36 in C, K.425 (“Linz”)
Eui Young Chon
principal second violin
Cecee Pantikian, concertmaster
Jeremy Hwang, principal
Anahit Harutyunyan Gaskill,
Chiho Saegusa, principal
Manager Anahit Harutyunyan-Gaskill
Assistant Manager Thomas Crane
Stage Manager Shoji Mizumoto
Music Director/Conductor Phillip Gaskill
|ABOUT OUR SOLOIST
Please click here to view Ms. Dimitrova’s bio and photo.
by Thomas Crane
In 1878, Antonín Dvorák was struggling to support his family, playing the viola in the Prague Municipal Theatre, teaching, and composing voluminously. Fortunately, several of his works had engaged the attention of Johannes Brahms; and the master wrote enthusiastically about his younger colleague to his influential publisher, Fritz Simrock.╩Brahms particularly praised the just-completed Serenade in d minor, and also urged his friend Joseph Joachim to organize a performance so that he too might hear the work (this being long before the days of cassettes and CDs).╩The direct result of this was that Simrock commissioned Dvorák to write the first set of Slavic Dances (usually called the “Slavonic Dances” in English), for piano four hands.╩As Brahms had predicted, the dances were a huge success—both in their original form and in the even more popular orchestral version—and Dvorák suddenly found himself famous and fiscally comfortable. Acutely aware of his Czech heritage (although an Austrian citizen, he never spoke German fluently), Dvorák undertook in nearly all his works to acquaint listeners with not only Czech and Slovak idioms, but those of other Slavic lands: Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Serbia, and Croatia.
The Serenade comes out of a tradition of chamber works for large wind ensemble.╩Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Spohr, and many other composers had written large-scale pieces for such groupings. Dvorák took the standard wind octet (two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons) and augmented its lower register with a contrabassoon, cello, and bass, as well as a third horn. The inclusion of the two strings in this wind group was probably a nod to the makeup of many central European town bands.
Instead of the usual sonata form, the first movement is a march. The second movement is a sousedská, a graceful minuet-like Bohemian dance in 3/4 meter; the trio section (the contrasting middle section normally heard in the classical minuet) is a much faster furiant, followed by a repetition of the sousedská.╩The Andante con moto, lyrical and somewhat brooding, is the least overtly folk-like of the movements. The energetic finale, in rapid 2/4 meter, displays the Serbian kolo; a slower contrasting section leads to a brief recapitulation of the first movement’s march theme, before the kolo returns to conclude the work.
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Johannes Brahms and Joseph Joachim met as teenagers, and began a friendship (briefly interrupted by a quarrel unrelated to music) that lasted until the composer’s death.╩Brahms served as Joachim’s accompanist, and was introduced by him to Robert and Clara Schumann, two of the most important relationships of his life.╩While Brahms wrote numerous works for violin—solo sonatas and chamber music—he stopped short of writing a concerto for many years. Always intensely self-critical, he felt hampered by the fact that he did not play the instrument. In the summer of 1878, while on vacation in the Austrian countryside, he began sketching a first movement. He sent the solo part to Joachim, urging him to correct mercilessly anything he found unidiomatic or simply impossible. The violinist reassured him that it was indeed playable, and they continued to correspond through the fall as the work took shape.
On New Year’s Day of 1879, Joachim gave the concerto its premiere in Leipzig. ╩Some listeners found the piece’s scope and sheer difficulty bewildering; Brahms’s good friend Hans von Bülow exclaimed that it seemed like a concerto against the violin rather than for it.╩Even after Brahms had revised and published the work, Joachim’s great Spanish rival Pablo de Sarasate declined at first to play it, famously remarking that he had no intention of standing there (in the slow movement) just holding his fiddle while the oboe played the only tune in the piece. But frequent performances, many by Joachim, helped the public to understand that the huge difficulties of the piece were not sheer bravura but were entirely in the service of Brahms’s musical concept.
Like his other three works in the form (the two piano concertos and the Double Concerto for violin and cello), the Violin Concerto is as much a symphony as a concerto, both in its immense scale and in its plumbing of all the orchestra’s resources.╩(The official title, “Concerto for Violin with Orchestral Accompaniment,” seems to have been tongue-in-cheek.)╩Brahms originally projected a four-movement scheme, as in the Second Piano Concerto, but discarded the original two middle movements and composed the present Adagio.
The first movement is centered on a pentatonic (“black-keys”) theme stated at the outset. A powerful contrasting theme stresses the second beat, suggesting a Polish mazurka.╩The cadenza played by Ms. Dimitrova today was composed by Joachim, one of the two most popular cadenzas, the other being by Fritz Kreisler.╩The Adagio has the solo oboe proclaiming a lengthy, folk-like theme of extraordinary beauty, taken up by the violin in a more ornamented form. The finale—typically for Brahms—is a “Hungarian” rondo inspired by gypsy idioms.
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 36th symphony made its appearance under circumstances that would have defeated any other composer.╩In the fall of 1783, Mozart and his wife, on their way home to Vienna from a sojourn in Salzburg, stopped in Linz to pay a call on Count Johann Thun, an old friend of his family. The delighted Count promptly and publicly organized a concert of Mozart’s music which was to include a symphony. Unfortunately, the composer did not have a symphony with him. Rather than cancel the event, Mozart (as he wrote to his father) composed a new symphony—in four days.╩If this sounds unbelievable, it should be remembered that in many quarters, the common belief is that Mozart composed many complete works in his head—down to details of dynamics and instrumentation—and only wrote them down when he had the time. (This story was mainly promulgated later by Mozart’s widow, and there is much circumstantial evidence against it; on the other hand, we’ll never know for sure, and it makes a great story.) The work had its premiere on November 4, to great acclaim (even from Mozart’s notoriously critical father), and was quickly dubbed with the name of the city in which it was written.
The symphony follows the typical four-movement classical framework. A stately, slow introduction leads to the first Allegro, in sonata form. The gentle 6/8 rhythm of the slow movement suggests the baroque siciliano. The brilliant minuet is followed by a trio section featuring the solo oboe in a folk-like LŐndler theme. The Presto finale follows a rondo-sonata format.