Monthly Archives: November 2016

Mozart’s Last Year

Mozart’s last year was the title of a presentation to the Society by group member Peter Curbishley.  There probably isn’t another composer about whom there are so many myths particularly surrounding his death in December 1791, almost exactly 225 years ago.  The film Amadeus by Peter Shaffer did not help.  Although entertaining, it gave credence to wild rumours about poisoning which are now known to be untrue.

Pic: Anthem Arts

Peter played extracts from most of the works he wrote in the final months of his life.  This included of course the Requiem, but also from the operas The Magic Flute and La clemenza di Tito.  The Magic Flute was a huge success and is the fourth most performed opera ever written.  La Clemenza di Tito by contrast was a failure and languished unperformed until the 1950s.  This was in part due to a part written for a castrato, a practice which, mercifully, died out soon after the opera was written.

Members also heard extracts from the Clarinet Concerto written two months before his death, a string quintet and the last Horn Concerto.  Despite the huge body of brilliant music Mozart had composed before he died, he was Peter explained, only just beginning.  Part of the last piano concerto, finished in the early part of that year.  Had he lived into the nineteenth century who knows what he might have produced.  His death – from a streptococcal throat infection not poison – was a tragic loss to the world of music.
This was the last meeting of the first part of the programme and the next meeting is in February.  Seasons greetings to all our readers.
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Forthcoming events

At Salisbury Recorded Music Society we are now into our Christmas and New Year break, and will start again in February 2017 with what promise to be really excellent presentations by several very good friends of the society:

On Monday 6 February, Angus Menzies will present “Fit for an Emperor: music at the Austrian court 1650 – 1750”.
 
On Monday 20 February, we shall host a live concert by David Davies (piano), with David Morgan (violin) and Warren Driffill (‘cello), exploring the piano trio.
 
On Monday 6 March, Frida Backman will be presenting “The solo violin in classical music”. 
Meanwhile, can I mention that Frida Backman is giving a series of solo violin concerts, the first of which is this Thursday (1 December) at 7.30pm in St Martin’s Church, Salisbury (with pre concert talk at 7.
We hope you will be able to support some or all of these events.  For details nearer the time, look at this Web site for any updates or changes.

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Members’ evening

A range of interesting music from members

Members’ evening on November 14th produced a wide range of interesting, not to say eclectic, offerings from members.  Clearly, as a group, we listen to a wide range of sources and this was reflected in the music played.

Derek Bourgeois. Picture: YouTube

First off was a trombone concerto by Derek Bourgeois, born in 1941 and this piece was composed in 1988.  We heard the 3rd movement which showed the incredible versatility of the instrument played by Christian Lindberg.

Next – and a complete break in time and tone after the flamboyance of the trombone piece – we heard some selected pieces from the Well-Tempered Clavier by Bach.  Quite what instrument these were written for as there is no instrument called the clavier but it is likely they were for clavichord, harpsichord or small organ.  They were composed for purposes of tuition and to teach feeling as well as technique.

A complete change again with the title theme to the Carpetbaggers by Elmer Bernstein.  Bernstein was a prolific composer for the film industry and his scores include 10 Commandments, The Magnificent 7 and the Great Escape.  This was an arrangement by Lalo Schifrin.

Renee Fleming. Picture: Broadwayworld.com

Next, Korngold, a prodigy and prolific composer and from his opera Die Stadt, we heard the lovely Gluck, Das mir Verlieb sung by Renée Fleming.

Source: en-wiki

Female composers are not that common and so it was a pleasure to be introduced to Marie Jaëll and her Cello Concerto from 1882.  She was a pupil of Camille Saint-Saëns and Liszt.  Marie Jaëll probably represents the most authoritative and accomplished expression of the nineteenth century woman musician.  In spite of her coming from the provinces and despite the heavy social restrictions imposed on artists of her gender, she nonetheless succeeded in being recognized as a virtuoso, a composer and as a teacher.  Support from her husband – the Austrian pianist Alfred Jaëll – greatly contributed to the positive reception of her initial works for the piano, but it was by herself, armed with her talent and her resolve in the latter part of her life, that she faced up to the Parisian hurly-burly in which she proved herself to be one of its distinctive figures. While her learning method is still taught in various different countries, little interest thus far has been shown in her music, which in the greater part is held in the Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire in Strasbourg. Formidable and ambitious symphonic works are revealed on this book-cd as well as a significant facet of her compositions for the piano [Source; Wikipedia].

We then heard an extract from Schubert’s Piano Trio No 2 in E flat.  Also by contrast – and harking back to the Venetian evening last month, part of Marcello’s music based on Psalm 11.

Rameau is not a composer we have heard much of at the Society so it was interesting to hear the lively Musette and Tambourin en rondeau pour Terpsicore.  Not much is known about his life and he was fairly obscure for many years.  There has been something of a revival in recent years and his pieces now appear in concerts.

Another American composer – albeit of Armenian and Scottish descent – is Alan Hovhaness who was another prolific composer who was very popular in the ’50s and ’60s but is less heard today.

Finally, a familiar composer to the Society – Gerald Finzi and his Romance for String Orchestra.  There is something in Finzi’s music that seems to capture a sense of a pre First World War world of lazy afternoons in the country.

Next meeting on 28 November on Mozart.

 

 

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Members’ evening

The next meeting is a members’ evening and we listen to short pieces brought along by members themselves.  23th November, same place.  We are short of contributions so if you can volunteer that would be appreciated.

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The Golden Years

During the years 1781 – 1791 the residents of Vienna enjoyed a golden age.  There was freedom of speech, the establishment of an open and tolerant society and even an end to the death penalty in the Hapsburg empire.  Indeed, the enlightenment had truly arrived.

Image result for haydn

Haydn

And the music: both Haydn and Mozart were alive producing between them, masterpieces at the rate of one every other month.  1791 saw the untimely death of Mozart of course (and Mozart’s last year will be the subject of a future presentation on 28th of November) and by now political events were beginning to have their effects in Austria.

Tim Rowe took us through some of these masterpieces with some carefully selected excerpts from the great works.  He started with the Gran Partita by Mozart which is a serenade for 13 mostly wind instruments.  Wind ensembles of various kinds were very popular at this time and the K361 is certainly the most popular.

This was followed by a Haydn string quartet, opus 33/1 played by the Casals Quartet (pictured).  Haydn is considered the ‘father’ of the string quartet and the form had a profound influence on Mozart.  Even though there are only 4 instruments, the form is extremely difficult to master and although Mozart could compose at great speed, modern paper studies show that he struggled to complete several of his own quartets.

Opera was hugely popular at this time and we heard extracts from several of Mozart’s pieces.  These included the overture from The Marriage of Figaro, arias from Don Giovani and finally three arias from Cosi fan Tutti.  For many, this is his finest opera, but strangely it was condemned by both Beethoven and Wagner.

Other pieces included part of the Mass in C minor and the piano sonata Alla Turca played on a forte piano.

A most interesting evening of a momentous period in musical history.

Apology

We must apologise to members for the problems we had with the keys to our normal venue.  Unfortunately, we were given the wrong set of keys so we had to repair to Ed and Sue Tinline’s house to hold the meeting.

The next meeting is a member’s evening and is on 14 November at the usual place – assuming that is we can get in!

 

 

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