This delightful concert features music for piano, bassoon, clarinet and flute in various engaging combinations. We’ll hear Maurice Emmanuel’s quasi impressionistic and beautiful Sonata Op.11 for Flute, Clarinet and Piano as well as Carl Reinecke’s sumptuous Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op. 167, “Undine.” Next we’ll enjoy the two lively and virtuosic Concert Pieces, Op.113 & 114 for Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano by Felix Mendelssohn, and lastly the enduring and endearing Trio, Op.11 for the same combination by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Concertpiece No. 1 in F minor for Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano, Op.113
by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
-Allegro con fuoco- Andante- Presto
Concertpiece No.2 in D minor for Clarinet, Bassoon and Piano, Op.114
by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
-Presto- Andante- Allegretto grazioso
The composer, pianist, organist and conductor Felix Mendelssohn was one of the most celebrated figures of the early Romantic Era. He wrote both his Concertpieces in 1832-33. A few years previously, Mendelssohn had met and become friends with Heinrich Baermann and his composer son Carl Baermann who played the basset horn: a lower-pitched and larger member of the clarinet family. It was on December 30, 1832, that the Baermanns paid Mendelssohn a visit and they struck upon a curious agreement. The Baermanns, also masterful dumpling chefs, were to make dumplings and strudel for Mendelssohn while he composed a piece for the Baermanns. They accomplished their tasks in a single day to the delight of all, and Op.113 was the result. This dumpling-music exchange made everyone so happy, they repeated the exercise again on January 19, 1833, and Op.114 emerged. The Baermanns went on tour across Europe with these works to great success.
Both of these short Concertpieces exhibit very idiomatic writing for the wind instruments which demands great agility of the players. There is often genial interplay between the parts, while at other times they are in harmony; the piano provides support. The mood remains light, energetic and pleasing.
Sonata for Flute and Piano “Undine,” Op.167
by Carl Reinecke (1824-1910)
- Intermezzo: Allegretto vivace- Piu lento, quasi Andante
- Andante tranquillo- Molto vivace
- Finale: Allegro molto agitato ed appassionato, quasi Presto
Carl Reinecke was an extraordinary German musician of the mid-Romantic era. He wore many hats: composer, conductor, music professor and pianist. He studied with Mendelssohn among others, and wrote piano music, concertos, symphonies and chamber music. He is considered one of the most influential figures of the nineteenth century.
His Undine Sonata of 1882 and is one of his frequently performed pieces. Undine is the mythological female water nymph from European tradition. Legend says she will gain a soul if she marries a human and bears his child -- but she will lose her immortality in the bargain. Undine became a favourite object of nineteenth century art and literature. Reinecke’s sonata does not precisely tell her story, but certainly parts of it are suggestive of water, love and passion. The first movement, Allegro, presents a lilting theme of arpeggiated chords which dissolve into a fountain of undulating broken chord configuration. The second movement, Intermezzo has a fanciful and sprightly main idea, altogether Mendelssohn-like. The heart-felt slow movement, Andante tranquillo, sumptuously unfolds with close harmony. Its tranquil beauty is interrupted by the tumultuous Finale, expansive and passionate. All fire is quenched, in the last section as the theme from the middle section of the Intermezzo re-enters, drifting in peace and repose towards its final destination.
Sonata en Trio for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Op.11
by Maurice Emmanuel (1862-1938)
- Allegro spirit
- Molto allegro e leggierissimo
Maurice Emmanuel, French composer of operas, symphonies, piano sonatinas and chamber music, was also an important musicologist. Though he was a product of a traditional musical education, his writing style exhibits much innovation and originality. Perhaps this was due to eclectic influences: his interest in modes and Eastern music, the impressionistic music of Debussy and Franck, the brass bands on the streets of Beaune, and songs of the grape pickers!
He wrote the Trio for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Op. 11 in 1907. The first movement, Allegro spirito, presents a sprightly first theme and a sonorous second theme. These ideas are developed in a free-flowing style both spirited and lively. The slow second movement, Adagio, offers somewhat somber and meditative music; its dense harmonies and intermingling of parts are a rich tapestry of sound and timbre. The third movement, Molto allegro, is light and breezy and features a unique hopping gesture; perhaps it’s suggestive of wind in tall grass alive with birds, insects and frogs.
Trio in B flat major, Op.11, “Gassenhauer Trio”
by Ludwig van Beethoven ( 1770-1827)
- Allegro con brio
- Tema con variazioni
Ludwig van Beethoven – arguably the greatest composer – dominated the transitional period between the Classical Era and the Romantic. His music holds tremendous power and is of the utmost significance in the world of music.
The Gassenhauer Trio, Op.11 is a youthful work, written in 1797 when Beethoven was trying to make a name for himself in Vienna. He was inspired to write the trio by Austrian clarinetist Franz Josef Bahr who is thought to have suggested the tune for the variations. Beethoven was keen to capitalize upon the then-current popularity of music for woodwinds. The first movement, Allegro con brio, presents an arresting first theme in unison, a gracious second theme, much development and bold key changes. The second movement, Adagio, is in ternary form (ABA) with a soulful serene main theme, embellished upon its return. The third movement is a set of nine highly inventive variations based on a melody from Joseph Weigl’s popular comic opera. The song was called “Pria ch’io l’impegno” (Before I go to work, I need a snack). This tune was very popular in Vienna and could frequently be heard sung or whistled by folk in taverns and alleys (alleys in German is Gassen).The journey this simple tune undergoes in the hands of Beethoven is extraordinary.