Behind the Musik: Bach: Keeping it in the Family

Download the Program Notes | Download the Program Listing

PROGRAM NOTES
By Charlotte Nediger

Johann Sebastian Bach, in 1735, set down detailed observations about his ancestors in his Ursprung der musicalisch-Bachischen Familie (Origins of the musical Bach family). This genealogy traces the family as far back as the mid-sixteenth century. By the turn of the seventeenth century, the musical family was so widespread in the Thuringian region that the name “Bach” had come to be regarded as synonymous with “musician.” From birth, it was assumed that virtually every male member of the family would become a musician, and the combination of inherited talent and training from the earliest age assured their success. Yet, as the increasingly popular bourgeois music culture of the late eighteenth century led to a sharp decline in the importance of leading musical institutions (court orchestras, Stadtpfeifer bands, and Cantoreien), traditional music dynasties such as the Bach family quickly disappeared. In 1843, at the ceremonial unveiling in front of the Thomaskirche of the Leipzig Bach monument donated by Mendelssohn, Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst (the then 84-year-old grandson of J.S. Bach) was the sole representative of a family with a musical tradition of over 250 years.

Bach’s relationship with his sons can best be understood in view of this family tradition. He was keenly aware of his responsibility to pass on his legacy to his children, and was proud to record in a letter to a friend written in 1730, that his children “are all born musicians, and I can assure you that I can already form an ensemble both vocaliter and instrumentaliter within my family, particularly since my present wife sings a good, clear soprano, and my eldest daughter, too, joins in not badly.” Of Bach’s twenty children (seven with his first wife, Maria Barbara, and thirteen with his second wife, Anna Magdalena), ten survived infancy. Of these, four were female and six male. Little is known of the four girls, though the quote above suggests that they were well trained in music. Both of Bach’s wives came from musical families. There is no evidence that Maria Barbara was a practising musician herself, but Anna Magdalena was a very gifted soprano. Already at age twenty she was among the most highly paid musicians employed at the court in Cöthen, and continued singing there after her marriage to Bach. She seems to have left her performing career aside upon the family’s move to Leipzig (thirteen pregnancies in nineteen years may have been a significant factor!), but was one of Bach’s principal copyists, and was clearly actively involved in the children’s musical education. One daughter, Elisabetha Juliana (1728–81), married Johann Christoph Altnikol, a pupil of her father; the other three daughters remained single, living with their mother until her death in 1760. Their brother Carl Philipp Emanuel supported them financially from that point. The youngest daughter, Regina Susanna, outlived all of her siblings, and was supported in her final years through a fund raised by the editor of the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung,  in honour of her father.

Of the six sons, four became successful musicians: Wilhelm Friedemann (1710–84), Carl Philipp Emanuel (1714–88), Johann Christoph Friedrich (1732–95), and Johann Christian (1735–82). The two middle sons apparently also possessed considerable musical talent, but one suffered from a mental disorder, and the other, as stated by his father, “unfortunately turned out badly,” leaving an excellent post of organist to wander about the country, dying at age 24.

J.S. Bach spent a great deal of time and energy in the education of his sons, particularly in that of his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. In 1720, he wrote the Clavierbüchlein vor Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (Little keyboard book for W.F. Bach), a basic course in keyboard playing and composition. Indeed, all of his “pedagogical” works, such as The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Inventions and Sinfonias, the Orgelbüchlein, and the Clavier-Übung, must have been written initially with his sons and other pupils in mind. Their course of study would also have included the analysis and performance of the countless works of other German, French, and Italian composers collected by J.S. through his life. He also took care not to neglect their general, non-musical education. He stated that one of the principal reasons for accepting the post of Cantor in Leipzig was to enable his sons to enroll at the Thomasschule, and more importantly, the University of Leipzig.

Johann Sebastian continued to support his sons professionally until his death, finding positions for them, writing letters of reference, and visiting them whenever possible. C.P.E. and J.C. were to eventually exceed their father in contemporary fame: by 1780, when anyone spoke of “Bach,” it was more often one of these who was intended and not the father. Given his great respect for his family’s tradition, this in itself may have been considered by Johann Sebastian to be amongst his greatest accomplishments.

J.S. BACH OVERTURE, AFTER BWV 194

In 1723, J.S. Bach directed the performance of his Cantata 194, “Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest” (Most desired festival of joy) at the church in Störmhal, a village near Leipzig. The church had recently been rebuilt, with a new organ by Zacharias Hildebrandt, a young graduate of the workshop of the famed German organ builder Gottfried Silbermann. Bach had been asked to approve the instrument, and the cantata was performed at the dedication service. The organ is one of only a few instruments known to have been played by Bach that remains in its original condition.

Cantata 194 opens with a chorus in the style of a French orchestral overture, with a grand opening followed by a faster fugal section. As the chorus sings only in the fast section, and even then is doubled by instrumental parts, Alfredo Bernardini has taken the liberty of transcribing the movement for orchestra alone. He retains Bach’s original scoring, for three oboes, bassoon, and strings. In the opening section, Bach gives the main material to the winds and continuo, with the upper strings interjecting with unison scales as a sort of commentary. When the material returns at the end, he reverses the instrumentation: this time the strings and continuo prevail, and the oboes offer the commentary.

J.S. BACH CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN IN E MAJOR

Although only two concertos for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach have survived, it is possible that he composed others. Both of the extant concertos exist in alternate versions for solo harpsichord, and some of the other harpsichord concertos are thought to have had their origin in lost violin concertos. The violin was certainly one of Bach’s favoured solo instruments: he turned to the violin as a counterpart to the solo voice in countless arias in cantatas and passions. Although primarily a keyboard player, Bach was also a capable violinist and violist, and he understood fully that the violin could be played on the one hand with great energy and virtuosity, and on the other with the most sublime and tender expression. This is witnessed in the contrasting movements of the violin concertos, which have long been a favourite of violinists and audiences alike.

C.P.E. BACH CONCERTO FOR OBOE IN E-FLAT MAJOR

J.S. Bach’s concertos — both for violin and harpsichord — would have been featured regularly at performances of the Leipzig Collegium Musicum, and the soloists in the harpsichord concertos would invariably have been his sons. It is no coincidence, then, that both Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel wrote numerous harpsichord concertos. C.P.E. wrote no fewer than 52 keyboard concertos, spanning his entire career. A few of these exist in alternate versions: at least three each for flute and violoncello, and two for oboe. The two oboe concertos were written in 1765, during his employ at the Prussian court of Frederick the Great in Berlin. It is likely that they were written for a specific player, either one of the court players, or perhaps more likely, a visitor to the court. It seems from the manuscripts that the oboe concertos were composed prior to the keyboard versions.

C.P.E. was in Frederick’s employment for nearly 30 years, and it was not always the most stimulating environment, as the king had rather staid musical tastes and favoured the “galant” style. In retrospect clearly the most gifted of the many musicians at the Prussian court, C.P.E. was nonetheless underpaid and underappreciated. Fortunately, his creativity, strength of character, and determination enabled him to create an impressive body of work despite the limiting environment, and he offers in his music a truly unique voice. He carried this voice to Hamburg, where he replaced Telemann as Cantor and Music Director for the city from 1768 until his death 20 years later. He had three children: one son became a lawyer; the other (named Johann Sebastian, after his grandfather) was an accomplished painter, but his career was cut short by his early death. His daughter did not marry, and C.P.E. had no grandchildren.

W.F. BACH SINFONIA IN F MAJOR

Wilhelm Friedemann held prominent postings in Dresden and Halle, his organ playing renowned throughout Europe. After his father’s death in 1750 he had repeated difficulties with his employers, and spent the end of his life in poverty in Berlin, his aloofness, intemperance, and desultory behaviour earning him few friends. His music is an intriguing reflection of both the strength of his talent and education, and the eccentricities of his character. Whereas C.P.E. blended the baroque style of his youth with the new to forge a unique blend, W.F. tends to shift from old to new, not only between pieces, but often within a piece. This can be heard in the capricious Sinfonia in F Major, composed in Dresden. In writing notes for Tafelmusik’s recording of the work, the musicologist Peter Wollny suggests the influence of Zelenka, and in the “tender” Andante, of Hasse. The trio of the Menuet is a clever canon, with the bass echoing the violins. The unexpected turns in the first movement earned the Sinfonia the nickname of “Dissonance”: the dissonances here are not meant to stir the passions, but rather are full of wit.

TELEMANN SUITE IN D MINOR

Telemann was godfather to Carl Philipp Emanuel, and a great support to him both personally and in terms of his career, so we have included him as an honorary member of the Bach family in this week’s concerts. With Alfredo Bernardini joining us, it gives us the opportunity to perform Telemann’s Suite in D Minor, scored for three oboes, bassoon, and strings. The use of three oboes, rather than the more usual two, offers a wonderfully rich tutti sound, and gives Telemann the chance to explore the contrasting colours of two four-part ensembles: the three oboes and bassoon versus the string ensemble. It was a texture also favoured by J.S. Bach, used in several cantatas (such as Cantata 194, the opening of which begins our concert), and the Fourth Orchestral Suite. In his orchestral suites, Telemann often leaves aside the traditional arrangement of dance movements for a selection of pieces with fanciful titles. In this suite, he retains the dances throughout, but imbues them with a great deal of character, leaving the musicians and listeners to invent the images they depict or the stories they recount.

© Charlotte Nediger


PROGRAM LISTING
Directed by Alfredo Bernardini, Oboe & Cecilia Bernardini, Violin
April 5–9, 2017, Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH 1685–1750
Overture in B-flat Major, after BWV 194/1
Reconst. by A. Bernardini  (Leipzig, 1723)

J.S. BACH
Concerto for violin in E Major, BWV 1042
Allegro – Adagio – Allegro assai
Cecilia Bernardini, violin soloist

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH 1714–1788
Concerto for oboe in E-flat Major, Wq 165 (Hamburg, 1765)
Allegro – Adagio ma non troppo – Allegro ma non troppo
Alfredo Bernardini, oboe soloist

INTERMISSION

WILHELM FRIEDEMANN BACH 1710–1784
Sinfonia in F Major, Fk 67 (Dresden, 1735–40)
Vivace – Andante – Allegro – Menuetto I/II

GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN 1681–1767
Orchestral Suite in D Minor, TWV 55:d3 (Frankfurt/Hamburg)
Ouverture – Menuet I/II – Gavotte – Courante – Air –
Loure – Hornpipe – Canaries – Gigue


Join us for Bach: Keeping it in the Family at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre from April 5–9, 2017. Tickets are available here.

Further Listening – The Eloquent Cello

by Tafelmusik violist Patrick Jordan

Patrick Jordan, viola. Image: Sian Richards
Patrick Jordan, viola. Image Credit: Sian Richards

If you enjoyed our concert program The Eloquent Cello, featuring and directed by Chistophe Coin, I encourage you to explore some of the following.

We played C.P.E. Bach’s Symphony for strings in B Minor, Wq.182/5. He also composed three cello concertos: check out Christophe Coin’s video of the Cello Concerto in A Major, Wq 172.

Another fun piece by C. P. E. Bach is the Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Fortepiano — it really shows that the two instruments lived and breathed the same air for a period of time!

We played one of Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf’s symphonies based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, “The Rescuing of Andromeda by Perseus.” There are three more, and here’s part of the one entitled “The Fall of Phaeton.”

And being a big Dittersdorf fan myself, I can’t help but share with you his perhaps most sublime 30 seconds of music, the opening of his String Quartet in D Major.

We also played Boccherini’s Cello Concerto in D Major, G.483. Boccherini was of course a famous cellist and immensely prolific composer, so the number of pieces he composed featuring the cello is huge. Here’s another of his concerti, the Cello Concerto in G major, G.480, with a very different feel, featuring guest director and soloist, Christophe Coin.

Boccherini also composed a vast amount of chamber music, and one of his most amusing works is a string quintet titled “Evening Music of the Streets of Madrid,” G.324, featuring, you guessed it, the cello!

Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major might have been the most familiar work on our concert program. It was composed for Josef Weigl, the principal cellist when Haydn began leading the orchestra at Prince Esterhazy’s court. Weigl was also the cellist who premiered Haydn’s string quartets, op. 33, and here’s a movement from Haydn’s String Quartet in B Minor, op. 33, no. 1, featuring the Eybler Quartet, three of whom are members of Tafelmusik.

Perhaps even better known than the C major Concerto is Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D major. It was composed for the next principal cellist in Haydn’s orchestra, Anton Kraft. In 1805, Kraft published his own Cello Concerto in C major, op. 4.

Finally, two works by the most widely published contemporary of tonight’s composers, Johann Baptist Vanhal. First, a movement of his Cello Concerto in C Major. Here’s one of his almost 80 symphonies, Symphony in E minor (Bryan e1).

You can watch and listen to all of these videos on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/tafelmusik1979 in the playlist titled Further Listening – The Eloquent Cello. We also included Capriccio no. 8 by Joseph Dall’Abaco in the playlist, a piece guest director Christophe Coin performed in one of his encores.

In Conversation with Christophe Coin, cellist

By Andrew Eusebio, Marketing and Development Associate

French cellist and guest director, Christophe Coin, makes his Tafelmusik debut with The Eloquent Cello.  He took some time between rehearsals to chat with our Marketing Associate, Andrew Eusebio.

After studies with Nikolaus Harnoncourt in Vienna and Jordi Savall in Basel, Christophe Coin quickly established a solo career, and in 1987 formed le Quatuor Mosaïques, a renowned period-instrument quartet whose impressive discography includes works by Haydn, Mozart, Arriaga, Boccherini, Jadin, Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn. He teaches baroque cello and viola da gamba at his alma maters, the Conservatoire de Paris, and the Schola Cantorum in Basel.

French cellist Christophe Coin leads Tafelmusik in rehearsals
Christophe Coin leads the orchestra in rehearsals

Andrew Eusebio: In your opinion, what is it about the cello that audiences love?

Christophe Coin: I think the cello is maybe one of the most appreciated instruments probably because it is so similar to the human voice. It’s very lyrical and very expressive of all sorts of emotions. Sometimes the violin is a more virtuosic instrument, but it has a rather limited range at the bottom end, and people like to be moved by lower voices.

This fashion is quite new, I think. When I started cello, for example, the cello class in my hometown, in Caen, had few pupils. My teacher there was a fantastic cellist, a fantastic pedagogue, and a student of Pablo Casals. My mother didn’t want me to learn violin—she didn’t like violin—so we went to this man because there was room in the class, and I have never regretted it.

AE: Some of the pieces in the program have a rich history with Tafelmusik, while others have never been performed on our stage. How was the program selected, and what was your process in pairing them together?

CC: I made three propositions to Jeanne [Lamon]. My first proposition was to perform Haydn’s D-Major cello concerto and a concerto by Antonin Kraft, who was the principle cellist in Prince Nikolaus’s orchestra at Esterházy. I believe Hadyn’s D-Major was probably composed for Kraft. This is similar to Sergei Prokofiev or Dmitri Shostakovich composing a piece for cellist Mstislav Rostropovich: a composer working with an idiomatic specialist of the instrument. But, the Kraft concerto would have needed more wind instruments, and we wanted to limit the concert to two oboes and two horns. So I think Jeanne was very happy to do the Boccherini concerto. I suggested this one because I have never played it, so it’s a new opportunity for me—and it’s the only one with an original cadenza by Boccherini in the slow movement. It’s at least one cadenza I don’t have to write or think about!

AE: What is it like to direct an orchestra while playing the cello part, as you’re doing in the Dittersdorf and CPE Bach?

CC: Well, I did it a long time ago when we started a group in Paris called Mosaïques, which had a mixture of different people from different orchestras—people who wanted to learn this repertoire. This was almost 40 years ago, at that time, many people didn’t play Haydn symphonies. This orchestra disappeared and the principal people remained together as a quartet, Quatuor Mosaïques, which is still active after 30 years.

When we started as an orchestra, I was leading from the cello: we never had a conductor. So I’m used to that and I like it. I don’t like to move my arms much if I can avoid it. Sometimes it’s a problem with a group that’s not well connected, but with Tafelmusik, they know each other so well and they are used to playing without a conductor, so I think it’s not a problem. But, in fact, the cello is playing a bass line, a normal bass line.

Christophe Coin's 1720's Italian cello
Christophe Coin’s 1720’s Italian cello with bone details

AE: The Haydn cello concerto has a special connection to many people. What is your personal connection to this masterful piece and why?

CC: You know this piece has been rediscovered quite recently. Well, recently being the 1960s. Before, only the D-Major, which is a much larger concerto, was played. And since the C-Major appeared, the D-Major is not so often played, which is a pity. It’s another level of difficulty—and, the Finale, which is a sort of French tune, something 6/8, is less flashy than the finale of the C-Major. It’s sort of a “wet blanket” Finale. So, people nowadays play the C-Major more.

My special connection I would say is that I recorded it, actually before Anner Bylsma recorded it with Tafelmusik, and it was my first recording as a soloist, and my first recording on a historical instrument. That was with Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music. I was 23, and I had a cello made especially for that recording. That was my first experience playing and recording a concerto, so it’s quite important for me, this recording.

AE: That is a special connection. When was the last time you performed it?

CC: Maybe two to three years ago.

AE: Not so long ago, but I’m sure it’s great to play it again.

CC: Yes, it’s nice to play it again, especially with such a good orchestra!

AE: What do you believe to be the next great frontier for period ensembles in terms of repertoire?

CC: I don’t know. Nowadays, some orchestras on period instruments play Debussy and Ravel. With the quartet (Quatuor Mosaïques), we play Bartok’s first and second quartet on gut strings. I think that’s the limit. I mean, until the first World War, gut strings were used, quite generally, in all orchestras, and then it progressively changed. Between the two wars, I think people started to change strings—the violin for the E string because they broke most easily. Maybe the cellists were the last to change. Nowadays, it would be impossible to go to a modern orchestra with gut strings. I think there is no reason not to play twentieth-century repertoire on gut strings.

It’s a little more complicated for the winds, such as the oboe or clarinet, because the keyed instruments changed a lot during the nineteenth century and the evolution was complicated. It’s difficult to have twenty different instruments to play the repertoire that spans the nineteenth century. I have heard some Wagner and Mahler with period instruments already. I’m not sure it really brings something completely new. The most important thing for me is the concept you have behind a performance, not so much the instruments themselves.

Maybe it’s also interesting to have modern composers write pieces for period instruments. I know that Tafelmusik has commissioned new pieces. Of course, it’s not so interesting when a composer uses period instruments as a gimmick. But if you really try to understand the technique and the possibility of generating a new sound, I think it’s a challenge for the composer.

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

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.

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.