What’s Interesting About This Concert
- Astor Piazzolla was an Argentine tango composer who fused jazz and classical music. Expect seductive Latin American rhythms and drama in the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, with Concertmaster Jennifer Cho taking center stage.
- The first of a final series of three symphonies written in quick succession towards the end of his life, it’s unclear whether Mozart ever got to hear his Symphony No. 39 performed.
- French composer Maurice Ravel, best known for Boléro, composed Le Tombeau de Couperin (The Tombstone of Couperin) as a memorial tribute to his friends.
RavelLe Tombeau de Couperin
Le Tombeau de Couperin is a suite for solo piano by Maurice Ravel, composed between 1914 and 1917. The piece is in six movements, based on those of a traditional Baroque suite. Each movement is dedicated to the memory of a friend of the composer (or in one case, two brothers) who had died fighting in World War I. Ravel also produced an orchestral version of the work in 1919, although this omitted two of the original movements.
The word tombeau in the title is a musical term popular from the 17th century, meaning "a piece written as a memorial". The specific Couperin, among a family noted as musicians for about two centuries, that Ravel intended to evoke is thought to be François Couperin "the Great" (1668–1733). Ravel stated that his intention was to pay homage more generally to the sensibilities of the Baroque French keyboard suite, not necessarily to imitate or pay tribute to Couperin himself in particular. This is reflected in the piece's structure, which imitates a Baroque dance suite.
As a preparatory exercise, Ravel had transcribed a forlane (an Italian folk dance) from the fourth suite of Couperin's Concerts royaux, and this piece invokes Ravel's Forlane structurally. The other movements are similarly based on Baroque forms, with the Toccata taking the form of a perpetuum mobile reminiscent of Alessandro Scarlatti. Ravel also revives Baroque practices through his distinctive use of ornamentation and modal harmony. Neoclassicism also shines through with Ravel's pointedly twentieth-century chromatic melody and piquant harmonies, particularly in the dissonant Forlane.
Written after the death of Ravel's mother in 1917 and of friends in the First World War, Le Tombeau de Couperin is a light-hearted, and sometimes reflective work rather than a sombre one which Ravel explained in response to criticism saying: "The dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence."[failed verification]
The first performance of the original piano version was given on 11 April 1919 by Marguerite Long, in the Salle Gaveau in Paris. Long was the widow of Joseph de Marliave, to whom the last movement of the piece, the Toccata, is dedicated.
The movements are as follows:
|E minor||in memory of First Lieutenant Jacques Charlot (transcriber of Ma mère l'oye for piano solo)|
|E minor||in memory of Second Lieutenant Jean Cruppi (to whose mother Ravel had also dedicated L'heure espagnole)|
|E minor||in memory of First Lieutenant Saint-Jean-de-Luz)(a Basque painter from|
|C major||in memory of Pierre and Pascal Gaudin (two brothers and childhood friends of Ravel, killed by the same shell in November 1914)|
|G major||in memory of(at whose home Ravel recuperated after he was demobilized)|
|in memory of Captain Joseph de Marliave (musicologist and husband of Marguerite Long)|
Orchestrations and transcriptions
In 1919 Ravel orchestrated four movements of the work (Prélude, Forlane, Menuet and Rigaudon); this version was premiered in February 1920 by Rhené-Baton and the Pasdeloup Orchestra, and has remained one of his more popular works. The orchestral version clarifies the harmonic language of the suite and brings sharpness to its classical dance rhythms. Among the demands it places on the orchestra is the requirement for an oboe soloist of virtuosic skill, as the oboist takes the melody in the Prélude and the Menuet, as well as for the pastoral C minor section of the Rigaudon, where it is accompanied by guitar-like pizzicati.
Only a few years after Ravel's own orchestration, Lucien Garban (working under the pseudonym of Roger Branga) produced a version of the piece for 'small orchestra' with a piano-conductor, consisting of the Prélude, Menuet and Rigaudon. He had previously transcribed the full suite for piano four hands in 1919.
Several other composers have since created orchestrations of those two movements which Ravel omitted, the Fugue and the Toccata. David Diamond orchestrated the second movement Fugue, while the Hungarian pianist and conductor Zoltán Kocsis produced his own version of both the Fugue and the Toccata. However, here, the Toccata, scored for a very large orchestra, goes far beyond the limits of Ravel's own, small orchestra, and the Fugue is set for winds only. Another instrumentation of Fugue and Toccata by pianist Michael Round was recorded by Vladimir Ashkenazy (Exton, 2003): the score is published (as two separate titles, 'Fugue' and 'Toccata') by Edwin F. Kalmus. Round's version of the Toccata adds percussion, requiring up to five players. Kalmus omitted the percussion parts from the published score so as to exactly match the orchestration of the rest of the suite, but these parts are available separately, directly from the orchestrator. In 2013 the British composer Kenneth Hesketh orchestrated the Fugue and Toccata for the exact orchestration of the original four-movement orchestral suite. The first performance was given by the Goettingen Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph-Mathias Mueller. The scores are available from Schott Music, London.
Four movements (Prélude, Fugue, Menuet, and Rigaudon) have been arranged for wind quintet by American horn player Mason Jones (1919–2009). Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen has also transcribed four movements for wind quintet, and further, American composer Gunther Schuller has made a wind-quintet arrangement.
The four orchestral movements (Prélude, Fugue, Menuet and Rigaudon) were arranged by Elena González Arias (Adliswil: Ed.Kunzelmann, 2014) for oboe and piano in 2014.
- Nancy Bricard, "About the Music", in Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin (Van Nuys: Alfred Publishing, 2003), p. 9.
- Nancy Bricard, "About the Music", in Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin (Van Nuys: Alfred Publishing, 2003), p. 14.
- Maurice Ravel (1919). Le Tombeau de Couperin: Suite d'orchestre. Paris: Durand et fils.. Reprinted, as part of Le Tombeau de Couperin and Valses nobles et sentimentales in Full Score. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2001. ISBN 0486418987.
- Nancy Bricard, "Foreword", in Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin (Van Nuys: Alfred Publishing, 2003), p. 1.
- Chen Chih-Yi (May 2013). "Synthesis of Tradition and Innovation: A Study of Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin (Doctor of Music thesis)" (PDF). Indiana University. p. 15.
- Arbie Orenstein (1991). Ravel: Man and Musician. New York: Dover Publications. p. 234. ISBN 9780486266336.
- Gene Tyranny, Blue. "Le tombeau de Couperin, for orchestra". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- Maurice Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin, transcribed for wind quintet by Mason Jones (Paris: Ed. Durand, 1970).
- Maurice Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin, arranged for wind quintet by Hans Abrahamsen (Copenhagen: Ed. Wilhelm Hansen, n.d.).
- Maurice Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin, arranged for wind quintet by Gunther Schuller (Newton Centre, MA: Margun Music, 1995).
- Maurice Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin, arranged for mixed quintet by Trevor P. Wagler. No. 000115 (Waterloo, Ontario: Trevor P. Wagler, n.d.)
- Maurice Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin, arranged for oboe and piano by Elena González Arias (Adliswil: Ed. Kunzelmann, 2014).
- Listen to Le Tombeau de Couperin. Free complete recording at the Piano Society.
- Le Tombeau de Couperin: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Le Tombeau de Couperin at Maurice Ravel Frontispice
- Listen to Toccata from Le Tombeau de Couperin orchestrated by Kenneth Hesketh.
- Youtube: Orchestration of the Fugue and Toccata by Jack M. Jarrett, 1982, accessed 6 January 2010
- Youtube: Orchestral version, played in 2003 by Pierre Boulez & Berlin Philharmonic, accessed 23 August 2015
- Youtube: Jazz arrangement of the Prelude played in 2010 by Tamir Hendelman (piano), Marco Panascia (bass), Lewis Nash (drums), accessed 11 December 2010
PiazzollaThe Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
The Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, also known as the Estaciones Porteñas or The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, are a set of four tango compositions written by Ástor Piazzolla, which were originally conceived and treated as different compositions rather than one suite, although Piazzolla performed them together from time to time. The pieces were scored for his quintet of violin (viola), piano, electric guitar, double bass and bandoneón. By giving the adjective porteño, referring to those born in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital city, Piazzolla gives an impression of the four seasons in Buenos Aires. The order of performance Piazzolla gave to his "Estaciones Porteñas" is: Otoño (Autumn), Invierno (Winter), Primavera (Spring), Verano (Summer). It was different from Vivaldi's order.
- Verano Porteño (Buenos Aires Summer)
written in 1965, originally as incidental music for the play 'Melenita de oro' by Alberto Rodríguez Muñoz.
- Invierno Porteño (Buenos Aires Winter)
written in 1969.
- Primavera Porteña (Buenos Aires Spring)
written in 1970, contains counterpoint.
- Otoño Porteño (Buenos Aires Autumn)
written in 1970.
In 1996-1998, the Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov made a new arrangement of the above four pieces with a more obvious link between Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' and Piazzolla's, by converting each of Piazzolla's movements into three-sections, and arranges the piece for solo violin and string orchestra. In each movement, Desyatnikov includes several quotations from original Vivaldi's work. Desyatnikov reflects the inversion of the seasons between the hemisphere in his placement of the Vivaldi quotations; for example, Verano Porteño has added elements of L'inverno (Winter) of Vivaldi.
- Astor Piazzolla. (2016). Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20160627061615/https://nyphil.org/~/media/pdfs/program-notes/1516/Piazzolla-arr-Desyatnikov-Four-Seasons-of-Buenos-Aires.pdf
- Azzi, María Susanna, and Collier, Simon. Le Grand Tango: The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla. (New York: Oxford University Press), 2000. see p. 90.
MozartSymphony No. 39
The Symphony No. 39 is the first of a set of three (his last symphonies) that Mozart composed in rapid succession during the summer of 1788. No. 40 was completed on 25 July and No. 41 on 10 August. Nikolaus Harnoncourt argues that Mozart composed the three symphonies as a unified work, pointing, among other things, to the fact that the Symphony No. 39 has a grand introduction (in the manner of an overture) but no coda.
Around the time that he composed the three symphonies, Mozart was writing his piano trios in E major and C major (K. 542 and K. 548), his sonata facile (K. 545), and a violin sonatina (K. 547). Mozart biographer Alfred Einstein has suggested that Mozart took Michael Haydn's Symphony No. 26, in the same key, as a model.
It seems to be impossible to determine the date of the premiere of the 39th Symphony on the basis of currently available evidence; in fact, it cannot be established whether the symphony was ever performed in the composer's lifetime. According to Deutsch (1965), around the time Mozart wrote the work, he was preparing to hold a series of "Concerts in the Casino", in a new casino in the Spiegelgasse owned by Philipp Otto. Mozart even sent a pair of tickets for this series to his friend Michael von Puchberg. But it seems impossible to determine whether the concert series was held or was cancelled for lack of interest. In addition, in the period up to the end of his life, Mozart participated in various other concerts the programs of which included an unidentified symphony; these also could have been the occasion of the premiere of the 39th (for details, see Symphony No. 40 (Mozart)).
First eyewitness account
However, we now have what is likely the first known eyewitness account of the performance of the 39th Symphony. An all-Mozart memorial concert took place in Hamburg in March 1792, where the verified performance of this Symphony was noted by an eyewitness named Iwan Anderwitsch, who describes the start of the symphony as follows:
The opening is so majestic that it so surprised even the coldest, most insensitive listener and non-expert, that even if he wanted to chat, it prevented him from being inattentive, and thus, so to speak, put him in a position to become all ears. It then becomes [so] fiery, full, ineffably grand and rich in ideas, with striking variety in almost all obbligato parts, that it is nearly impossible to follow so rapidly with ear and feeling, and one is nearly paralyzed. This actual paralysis became visible in various connoisseurs and friends of music, and some admitted that they would never have been able to think or imagine they would hear something like this performed so splendidly in Hamburg.
In modern times, the work is part of the core symphonic repertoire and is frequently performed and recorded.
Instrumentation and movements
There are four movements:
The first movement opens with a majestic introduction with fanfares heard in the brass section. This is followed by an Allegro in sonata form, though while several features – the loud outburst following the soft opening, for instance – connect it with the galant school that influences the earliest of his symphonies. The independence of the winds and greater interplay of the parts in general, and the fact that the second theme group contains several themes (including a particularly felicitous "walking theme") compared to those earlier symphonies whose second groups were practically always completely trivial, are just a very few of the points that distinguish this movement from those earlier works, from which it has more differences than similarities.
The slow movement, in abridged sonata form, i.e. no development section, starts quietly in the strings and expands into the rest of the orchestra. Quiet main material and energetic, somewhat agitated transitions characterize this movement. The key is A♭ major, the subdominant of E♭ major.
The work has a very interesting minuet and trio. The trio is an Austrian folk dance called a "Ländler" and features a clarinet solo. The forceful Menuetto is set off by the trio's unusual tint of the second clarinet playing arpeggios in its low (chalumeau) register. The melody for this particular folk dance derived from local drinking songs which were popular in Vienna during the late 18th century.
The finale is another sonata form whose main theme, like that of the later string quintet in D, is mostly a scale, here ascending and descending. The development section is dramatic; there is no coda, but both the exposition, and the development through the end of the recapitulation, are requested to be, and often are, repeated.
- Deutsch 1965, 320
- Clements, Andrew (23 July 2014). "Mozart: The Last Symphonies review – a thrilling journey through a tantalising new theory". The Guardian.
- "But, as regards the E-flat Symphony [K. 543], it was probably the beginning of a symphony by Michael of 14 August 1783—Mozart was then in Salzburg and may have become acquainted with the work—that supplied the stimulus for the first Allegro: Ex. 7 [four bars of music are quoted in piano reduction] Similarly with the Adagio affettuoso of the Haydn work and Mozart's Andante." (Einstein 1945, 127)
- Black, David. "A personal response to the Mozart memorial concert in Hamburg and the Symphony in E-flat (K. 543)". Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- Older scores show the introduction in 4
4. See the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe for verification of the cut time marking.
- http://hem.bredband.net/urigonzalez/treitler_imagination_chapter7.htm[dead link]
- Deutsch, Otto Erich (1965) Mozart: A Documentary Biography. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Einstein, Alfred (1945) Mozart: His Character, His Work, translated into English by Arthur Mendel & Nathan Broder. Oxford: Oxford University Press.