Behind the Musik: The Eloquent Cello

Here are the official program notes for The Eloquent Cello

Download the Program Notes | Download the Program Listing

Directed by Christophe Coin, cello
Oct 5-9, 2016, Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre

PROGRAM NOTES
By Allen Whear

Dittersdorf Symphony no. 4 in F Major after Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Carl Ditters is one of the few masters of the Viennese classical school who was actually born in Vienna. He was well educated in non-musical subjects and established a solid reputation early on through his violin playing and increasingly popular compositions. He enjoyed the friendship of Gluck and Haydn, and was highly regarded by the Austrian emperor, the Prussian king, and numerous nobles in between. Eventually Ditters himself was ennobled, and after 1773 was referred to as “von Dittersdorf.” His informative and frequently amusing autobiography, dictated on his deathbed, ends on a poignant note, as he reveals his compromised health and poverty (similar to the way Boccherini spent his final days, and so unlike the fame and wealth enjoyed by his friend Haydn).  Dittersdorf left a large catalogue of works in all the genres of his day, including opera and oratorio, but his instrumental works are the most performed today, especially those for unusual instruments such as double bass and harp.

Dittersdorf writes that around 1780 “it occurred to me to take some of Ovid’s Metamorphoses as subjects for characteristic symphonies.” He wrote twelve of them, and performed them in Vienna as a self-produced event, hoping to raise a significant sum of money. One of his biggest subscribers was Baron van Swieten (also a patron of C.P.E. Bach: see below). Six Metamorphoses symphonies survive in their original form. The fourth is inspired by the myth of Perseus rescuing Andromeda: after killing Medusa, and while flying over Africa, Perseus discovers the Ethiopian princess Andromeda, naked and chained to a rock. Her mother had unwisely boasted that she was more beautiful than the Nereids, or sea nymphs. A furious Poseidon sent a sea monster to wreak havoc along the coastline, and the only way to appease him was to sacrifice Andromeda. Falling in love with her at sight, Perseus kills the monster, frees her from bondage, and subsequently marries her. The opening Adagio is in effect an extended aria for oboe which would not seem out of place in an opera or ballet. The Presto evokes an image of Perseus flying with winged sandals. The Larghetto, in the mournful key of F minor, might depict the suffering of Andromeda. The Finale begins in sturm und drang mode (Perseus defeating the monster), then leads to a graceful minuet signifying the celebration of his triumph and marriage.

02-eloquentcello-boccherini-with-cello-ver-01
Luigi Boccherini playing the violoncello. Unknown artist. (c. 1764–1767)

Boccherini Cello concerto in D Major

In the history of cello playing, the unique contribution of Luigi Boccherini is universally acknowledged, yet he left no treatise, method, nor notable student. The legacy of his cello playing lies instead in his numerous sonatas and concertos, and in the concertante role—yielding nothing to the violin—that he gave the instrument in his voluminous output of chamber music. Of the thirteen or so known Boccherini cello concertos, only five were published during the composer’s lifetime. The last of these, the Concerto in D Major, G.483, was published in Vienna in 1784. Compared to earlier concertos, the Allegro maestoso demonstrates a richer, more varied orchestration. The opening tutti briefly quotes Gluck’s inferno music from Don Juan, a work Boccherini would have encountered, and likely performed, in Vienna. The Andante lentarello is unique in offering a fully written-out cadenza by the composer.

C.P.E. Bach Symphony for strings in B Minor

The Dutch diplomat and amateur musician Baron Gottfried van Swieten is remembered for his role in introducing the music of J.S. Bach to Mozart, as well as his contributions to Haydn’s Creation. While serving as ambassador in Berlin, he became enamoured with the symphonies of C.P.E. Bach, and commissioned a set of six symphonies for strings, which appeared in 1773. Bach’s writing is “outside the box” of the Viennese symphonic tradition, and his unique language is highly expressive, occasionally quirky, and always entertaining. His writing for the upper strings in the Symphony in B Minor is typically brilliant and powerful while not being specially idiomatic; unlike the other composers on this program, this Bach never mastered a string instrument!

Haydn Cello Concerto in C Major

In 1761, Joseph Haydn was appointed Vice-Capellmeister to the court of Prince Paul Anton Esterházy. This was the beginning of a three-decades long relationship with the Esterházy dynasty. Although nominally ranked under the aging Capellmeister Gregor Werner, Haydn was put in charge of the orchestra from the start, directly engaged in hiring musicians to expand and improve the small resident orchestra, which it is thought he led from the second violin desk. His compositions from this early stage, such as concertos and symphonies with extended solos, demonstrate great confidence in the abilities of the individual musicians, and must have flattered and ingratiated his new colleagues. These included virtuosos such as concertmaster Luigi Tomasini and cellist Joseph Weigl. The latter was appointed just a few weeks after Haydn, and the two became close friends: Haydn stood as godfather to two of Weigl’s children. The cellist’s playing most certainly inspired Haydn’s Concerto in C Major. No record survives of a first performance of the work, but the first movement’s principal theme is recorded in Haydn’s Entwurf-Katalogue (sketch catalogue) from the time.

For 200 years, this sleeping beauty disappeared, until it was found in an anonymous manuscript in Prague in 1962, an event hailed by musicologist H.C. Robbins-Landon as “the greatest musicological discovery since the Second World War.” The entry in Haydn’s catalogue, plus the evident high quality of the work, made authentication swift, and the modern premiere took place in May of that year by Milos Sadlo in Prague. Since then its reputation has grown to one of the finest cello concertos of the eighteenth century, and indeed one of the best concertos for any instrument from this early classical period. Resting in amber, so to speak, throughout the nineteenth century, it avoided the mutilations and romanticized editing endured by Haydn’s later Concerto in D Major (as published by Gevaert) and Boccherini’s famous Concerto in B-flat Major (as published by Grützmacher).

A courtly atmosphere is established in the stately Moderato. The Adagio exploits the cello’s singing qualities, and Haydn uses a trick favored by Boccherini: the solo melody emerges from a quietly sustained note, making a sort of “secret entrance.” The Finale abounds in Haydn’s energetic humor and unrestrained virtuosity, making full use of advanced techniques, such as thumb-position, and exploiting the full range of the cello. The Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma once likened the tension in the solo cello’s opening note to a “cat watching a mouse hole.”

© A. Whear 2016


PROGRAM LISTING

CARL DITTERS VON DITTERSDORF 1739–1799
Symphony no. 4 in F Major after Ovid’s Metamorphoses “The rescue of Andromeda by Perseus”
Adagio non molto
Presto
Larghetto
Finale: Vivace – Tempo di Minuetto

LUIGI BOCCHERINI 1743–1805
Concerto for cello in D Major, G.483
Allegro maestoso
Andante lentarello
Allegro e con moto

INTERMISSION

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH 1714–1788
Symphony for strings in B Minor, Wq.182/5
Allegretto
Larghetto
Presto

JOSEPH HAYDN 1732–1809
Concerto for cello in C Major, Hob.VIIb/1
Moderato
Adagio
Finale: Allegro molto

Joins us for The Eloquent Cello, October 5-9 at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Tickets are available here.

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A Midnight Story: Haydn C-Major Cello Concerto

By Charlotte Nediger

Every once in a while, there is a piece of music that has a specific connection to something in one’s life. That is the case for me and the Haydn C-Major Cello Concerto. Our younger daughter, Madeleine, went through a period of a few weeks shortly after she was born during which she would wake at 1:00 am in great distress. She wasn’t hungry or suffering from colic, nor did diapers need changing. She simply needed to cry. She’d had a difficult birth, and my theory was that she somehow needed to work that out, and this was her chosen hour. The rest of the day and night she was quite happy.

Madeleine Taurins
Madeleine Taurins

Unfortunately this period coincided with a Tafelmusik tour — I was at home with my newborn and her five-year-old sister, but my husband Ivars [Tafelmusik Choir Director Ivars Taurins, formerly violist in the orchestra] was in Germany with the orchestra. Needless to say, those 1:00 am wake-up calls quickly became as distressing for me as for my daughters. To the rescue came a guardian angel in the form of my mother, the girls’ much-loved Nana. A firm believer in the power of the rocking chair, she took over the middle-of-the-night shifts, firmly holding and rocking Madeleine. She determined that music might help, and I’m not sure why, but she turned to Tafelmusik’s recording of the Haydn cello concertos, with Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma.

Anner Bylsma, cello

Perhaps it was simply on top of the CD pile, as it had just been released some months before. Perhaps she was drawn to it because she had enjoyed the company and conversation of Anner on tours (mom had come along as nanny when our older daughter was a baby and toddler, and a couple of the European tours featured Anner as soloist). In any case, it worked. The C-Major Concerto is the first piece on the recording, and something about it calmed baby Madeleine, so we played it every night. I came to think of it as her midnight story, and at that tender age, what better than music to tell a tale, assuring her (and us) that all is well. Haydn is a masterful storyteller, as is Anner (both in life and in music) – and it all fit.

I haven’t heard the concerto since that time, now 25 years ago, and I’m looking forward to hearing Christophe Coin play it at our October concerts. Madeleine is living in New York City, otherwise I’d bring her along. Perhaps I’ll send her the recording. She would probably find it oddly soothing, and wouldn’t know quite why.

Christophe Coin performs Haydn’s C Major Cello Concerto at The Eloquent Cello October 5-9 at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.
Tickets are available here.

Behind the Musik: Handel Water Music

Here are the official program notes for Handel Water Music

Directed by Elisa Citterio, violin

September 22–25, 2016, Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning
September 27, 2016, George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts

PROGRAM NOTES
by Charlotte Nediger

Bach Orchestral Suite no. 4

Two of Bach’s official posts required him to compose and perform a great deal of instrumental music: that of Capellmeister to Prince Leopold of Cöthen (1717–1723), and that of Director of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig (1729–1741). Unfortunately, much of the music Bach wrote for these posts is thought to have been lost. Many works, including the four orchestral suites, have survived only in the form of copies by Bach’s friends or colleagues. The last suite is the grandest of the four, scored for three oboes, bassoon, three trumpets, timpani, strings, and continuo. In its original version, probably written at Cöthen but no longer extant, it did not employ trumpets and timpani. Bach used the overture, with the addition of trumpets, timpani, and choir, as the opening chorus of Cantata 110, “Unser Mund sei voll Lachens,” written for a Christmas service in Leipzig in 1725. A few years later, he turned to the work again, creating the suite as we now know it, presumably for performance at the Collegium Musicum. For this version he retained the trumpet and timpani parts of the chorus, with slight alterations, and re-worked the original dance movements to include the brass.

Rameau Dances from Les Indes Galantes

Jean-Philippe Rameau astonished the Parisian public in 1733 when, at the age of 50, he presented his first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie. André Campra, Lully’s successor at the Paris opera, said of the first performance, “My Lord, there is enough music in this opera to make ten of them; this man will eclipse us all.” For his second foray into stage music two years later, Rameau turned to the form made popular by Campra, the opéra-ballet. The convoluted plots of the grand mythological tragedies are replaced in the opéra-ballet by a loosely structured series of tableaux linked by a general theme. The thread that links the four acts of Rameau’s first opéra-ballet, Les Indes galantes, is the eighteenth-century notion of the exotic. Each act presents a tale of love and intrigue in a distant land, the Indies in this case represented by Turkey, Peru, Persia, and North America. The whole is preceded by a prologue extolling the universal power of love. The work was enormously popular, and between 1735 and 1773 it was performed no fewer than 320 times at the Royal Academy of Music in Paris.

In the complete opera there are some 90 minutes of instrumental music, of which we offer a very brief sampling. The opera ends in the forests of North America, with “les sauvages” dancing the ceremony of the Grand Calumet de la Paix (Peace Pipe), and all joining in a final Chaconne. To this we add a lively Tambourin danced by sailors from the Turkish entrée.

Canaletto, 1697–1768. Westminster Bridge, With the Lord Mayor's Procession On the Thames. 1747.
Canaletto, 1697–1768. Westminster Bridge, With the Lord Mayor’s Procession On the Thames. 1747.

Handel Water Music

At about eight in the evening the King repaired to his barge. Next to the King’s barge was that of the musicians, about 50 in number, who played on all kinds of instruments, to wit trumpets, horns, hautboys [oboes], bassoon, German flutes [transverse flutes], French flutes [recorders], violins, and basses; but there were no singers. The music had been composed specially by the famous Handel, a native of Halle, and His Majesty’s principal court composer. His Majesty approved of it so greatly that he caused it to be played three times in all, although each performance lasted an hour — namely; twice before and once after supper. The [weather in the] evening was all that could be desired for the festivity, and the number of barges and above all of boats filled with people wanting to listen was beyond counting.

It was on the occasion of the royal river excursion of July 17, 1717, described above by the Brandenburg Resident in London, Friedrich Bonet, that Handel’s “Celebrated Water Music” was first performed. River parties were regular occurrences during the summer season in eighteenth-century London, and royal excursions were important social occasions. The 1717 event was apparently the grandest, and possibly the last, of King George I’s water parties. A contemporary newspaper account reported that there were so many boats, filled with “persons of quality,” that “the whole river in a manner was cover’d.” The barges floated up the river from Whitehall to Chelsea, riding the tide. The King and his party were served dinner at Chelsea at one o’clock in the morning, returning to St. James’s Palace at half-past four.

Handel’s reputation, both with the royal family and the more general public, was served well by his contribution to the “royal cruise.” Movements from the so-called Water Music appeared in various publications for several decades, and concert performances were very popular. Throughout the work the wind and brass instruments, so well suited for outdoor use, figure prominently. This week we are performing the entire Water Music, in an arrangement of movements as may have been used in eighteenth-century concert versions.

 SNAPSHOT OF 1717: THE YEAR OF WATER MUSIC

MUSIC
01-water-music-rameauGeorge I hosts a royal river party on the Thames on July 17, for which George Frideric Handel composes Water Music.

Johann Sebastian Bach is appointed Capellmeister to Prince Leopold in Cöthen.

Jean-Philippe Rameau (left) is organist at the cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand (1715–1722), and composes the grand motet “In convertendo Dominum” for ceremonies celebrating the installation of the new bishop of Clermont, Jean-Baptiste Massillon. (Hear Tafelmusik perform this motet Nov 2–6 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.)

ART & LITERATURE
01-water-music-watteau_jean-antoine-les_plaisirs_du_bal-google_art_projectJean-Antoine Watteau
paints Les plaisirs du bal (left).

François-Maire Arouet is imprisoned in the Bastille for eleven months for having written a verse that satirized the Regent of France. He leaves prison with the completed text of his first play, and the pseudonym Voltaire.

The first English translation in 100 years of Ovid’s Metamorphoses is published by Samuel Garth, with translations by Dryden, Pope, Addison, Tate, Gay, Congreve, and others. It remains the standard English translation for some 200 years.

HISTORY
01-water-music-blackbeard
The first known Druid revival ceremony is held on the Autumnal equinox at Primrose Hill in London.

Crews on ships commanded by Benjamin Hornigold and Edward Teach capture the British-built Concorde in the Carribean. Hornigold accepts a British amnesty for all pirates, but Teach rejects it and becomes knows as Blackbeard (left). He captures several ships and sails north to the North American coast.

©Tafelmusik 2016

Join us this year at Handel Water Music from Sept 22-25th at Koerner Hall (KH) or on Sept 27th at Toronto Centre for the Arts (TCA) – click here for tickets.
Tickets starting from $49 (KH), $38 (TCA); Tafelscene (35 & Under) from $26 (KH), $15 (TCA)

Handel’s Water Music: next time, we’ll do it on a boat

By Tim Crouch, Marketing Manager

With the (still-humid) September air, the words ‘Season Opener’ seem to be everywhere in Toronto’s cultural scene.

We’re adding an extra word – ‘Festive Season Opener,’ because there’s no better description for Handel’s perennial favourite, Water Music. This classic was so popular at the time of its original performance, it was reportedly requested by King George that the musicians play it three times – all in the same night!

Canaletto, 1697–1768. Westminster Bridge, With the Lord Mayor's Procession On the Thames. 1747.
Canaletto, 1697–1768. Westminster Bridge, With the Lord Mayor’s Procession On the Thames. 1747.

It  would have truly been a sight to see all the musicians on a royal barge, partying on the River Thames in 1717. Fortunately, the Academy of Ancient Music recreated just such an event, as part of Her Majesty The Queen’s Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012. Take a look in the video below!

Next time, we’re going to need to do this along Toronto’s waterfront on Lake Ontario. What do you think?

Join us this year at Handel Water Music from Sept 22-25th at Koerner Hall (KH) or on Sept 27th at Toronto Centre for the Arts (TCA) – click here for tickets.
Tickets starting from $49 (KH), $38 (TCA); Tafelscene (35 & Under) from $26 (KH), $15 (TCA)