October 3rd Programme Notes

Gran Partita in B flat, K361                                               Mozart (1756 – 1791)

First movement: Largo – Allegro molto   

The performance of wind serenades in front of people’s houses in the evenings was well established in Vienna when Mozart composed this Gran Partita in 1781.  Originally scored for the unusual combination of 12 wind instruments, including four horns, and a double bass or double bassoon, its depth of feeling goes far beyond that of a light entertainment.  We hear tonight the first movement, arranged for wind quintet.  The slow introduction reminds one of a Haydn symphony, and leads to the happy allegro, a movement in sonata form.

Last ACMC Performance: the Lennox Ensemble, March 1973


Wind Quintet op. 56 no. 2                                               Franz Danzi (1763 – 1826)

Allegretto

Andante

Minuet and trio: Allegro

Allegretto

During his lifetime, Danzi was known as a composer of operas, 17 of which were staged between 1807 and 1817.  He was a court musician in Munich (1783-1807) and Stuttgart (1807-1812), where Carl Maria von Weber was one of his pupils.  He also knew Mozart, with whom he shared a keen interest in the new instrument of the time, the clarinet.

Although the operas have long fallen by the wayside, Danzi is remembered for his nine wind quintets, an instrumental form that he initiated with his friend Antonin Reicha (1770-1836), to whom he dedicated three of them.  Danzi’s music follows conservative lines, but he possessed a natural flair in writing for wind instruments that makes the quintets appealing to both performers and listeners.

Last ACMC Performance: the London Cantilena Quintet, May 1993


Tombeau de Couperin                                                          Ravel (1875 – 1937)

Prelude

Fugue

Menuet

Rigaudon                                                                                                                                           

Ravel wrote this piece in 1917, Couperin’s Tomb, originally for piano, and each of its six movements was dedicated to a friend killed in battle.  The orchestral version followed soon after, though with four movements only.  It is based on a suite of ancient dances, following the model of Couperin (1668 – 1733), who himself in his music had paid tribute to Lully and Corelli.  In spite of their dedications the work is not sombre, Ravel himself saying “the dead are sad enough in their eternal silence”.

First ACMC Performance


 Variations on Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano”                Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

For flute, clarinet and bassoon

Beethoven loved to write sets of variations, and he wrote several on themes by Mozart, whom he much revered.  In fact in 1787 he had gone to Vienna to study with the great master, only to return to Bonn, after a couple of weeks, on the death of his mother.  This set of variations, on a theme from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, was written in 1795.   It was originally for two oboes and cor anglais, though it has been arranged since for many combinations.  After the initial statement of the theme there are eight variations – happy, humorous, fast, slow and minor – and a jolly 6/8 coda, which ends with a gentle reminder of the theme.

Last ACMC Performance:   North Winds, January 1987


Summer Music op. 31                                                        Barber (1910 – 1981)

The premiere of Barber’s Summer Music was given in 1956 at an unusual concert by members of the Detroit Symphony, where the composer received donations from the enthusiastic audience in lieu of a fee, subject to a guarantee of $2,000 from the orchestra, which had commissioned the piece.  It is recognised today as one of the great works for wind, showcasing each of the instruments and full of the energy of summer.  The single movement form begins with a slow, bluesy introduction, which returns at the end, while in the more agitated central section the instruments chatter amongst themselves.                                        

First ACMC Performance


 Tango “Jalousie”                                                       Jacob Gade (1879 – 1963)

Gade was born in Vejle in Denmark, and left home to seek his fortune in Copenhagen, where he had jobs in theatres and restaurants as a violinist, eventually becoming a well-respected conductor of music for silent films.  You are sure to recognise this, his most successful composition.  It was originally played at the premiere of the film “Don Q, Son of Zorro” in 1925, described as a Tango Tzigane, or Gypsy Tango.  Since then it has taken the world by storm – in the 1970’s it is said to have been heard on a radio station somewhere every minute, and it has appeared in over 100 film scores.  Enjoy!

First ACMC Performance