Program Notes

by Paul Shore

The “Zigeunerweisen” (Gyspy Airs) of Pablo Sarasate (Opus 20) is one of the most instantly recognizable violin showpieces in the repertory, viagra sale and has been a hit since its premiere in 1878, a year after the Spanish composer visited Budapest, where he may have heard some of the melodies heard here. Roma and Hungarian influences predominate, with the final section utilizing the same csárdas melody found in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13 complete with characteristic lassú (slow) and friss (rapid) passages.. Reflecting the unbuttoned qualities associated with “Gypsy” music of the day, the second section (the work is performed as one movement) suggests the improvisational playing of a legendary virtuoso primás, while the following section drips sadness. But no stereotypical stage “Gyspy” of those times could be expected to remain morose for long, as the final section proves beyond a doubt.

By Kevin Forfar

Beethoven (1770-1827) – Violin Romance No. 2 in F Major, Op. 50, for Violin and Piano

Although Beethoven is primarily known as a pianist, he was familiar with the violin as well. His father gave him violin lessons in his childhood and he would later take violin lessons from various teachers, but with infrequency and quite sporadically. Although his violin playing was described as something less than pleasing, this familiarity with the instrument gave Beethoven the technical insight needed to create some of his most virtuosic violin pieces, including his violin sonatas, his Violin Concerto, and his two violin romances.

Beethoven’s Violin Romance no. 2 was written in 1798, near the end of his early period. Despite its early date of composition, this work contains romantic features which foreshadow his later compositions, such as lyricism, dramatic shifts in mood, and exceptional technical demands. Beethoven was extremely productive during the time he wrote this piece. In the year 1798 alone, he composed four piano sonatas, three string trios, a piano trio, and three violin sonatas, along with his Violin Romance No. 2.

Violin Romance no. 2 consists of a single movement lasting around nine minutes. The original instrumentation for this work is for violin and orchestra, but has been arranged numerous times for violin and piano, as well as for other solo instruments. Although being written four years before Violin Romance No. 1, this work was published two years after the first, which is why this work is designated as the second romance. This piece uses rondo form with the scheme ABACA, concluding with a short coda. The reoccurring A section begins with a lyrical theme played by the solo violinist, followed by the orchestra echoing this theme. As expected in a rondo, the alternating sections provide contrast to the reoccurring A section. The B section contains large leaps and virtuosic scalar runs in the solo instrument, running up and down the range of the violin. This section also touches upon the tonal area of D minor, and briefly enters F minor before returning to the key of F major for the next occurrence of the A section. Section C immediately begins in the key of F minor. Towards the end of this section, the soloist states the main theme of the A section but in the key of D-flat major. After a lengthy transition, section A is repeated one last time. A short coda which borrows material from section C concludes this work.

Weber (1786-1826) – Grand Duo Concertante, Op. 48

Carl Maria von Weber was a German composer, pianist, guitarist, conductor, and music critic. He is perhaps best known for his operatic works, such as Der Freischütz (1821), Euryanthe (1823), and Oberon (1826). Weber’s interest in folklore greatly influenced his musical output, especially his operas. For these works, he often borrowed material from folklore and made use of supernatural elements From an early age, Carl Weber was exposed to music. His father, Franz Anton Weber, led a traveling theater company. His mother, Genovefa Weber, was a singer and most of his relatives were involved in music as well. As his father’s musical company traveled around, Carl Weber had the opportunity to take music lessons from several notable figures, such as Michael Haydn – Joseph Haydn’s younger brother.

Weber composed his Grand Duo Concertante, op. 48 between the years 1815 and 1816. It was published in 1817. This is a three movement work for clarinet and piano, about 20 minutes in length. It seems likely that the clarinet part of this work was written with Heinrich Baermann in mind; he was Weber’s friend and one of the leading clarinetists of the time. However, it is equally

likely that this work was intended for Johann Simon Hermstedt, another prominent clarinetist. While composing this work, Weber made use of recent technical innovations which extended the clarinet’s range. Due to its virtuosic nature for both clarinet and piano, this work has been described as a “double concerto without orchestra” by British music critic, John Warrack.

The first movement of this work begins in E-flat major and follows sonata-allegro form. This movement is lighthearted and playful in character, with some dramatic moments. The second movement is an andante in C minor and takes on a much darker and serious mood, providing contrast to the first movement. The third movement is a rondo which combines the lighthearted nature of the first movement with the darker and more serious tone of the second movement.

F. Mendelssohn (1809-1847) – Song Without Words, Op. 109 for Cello and Piano

Mendelssohn’s musical talents were recognized from an early age. He wrote several operas and string symphonies in his childhood, and made his first public debut at the age of nine. His String Octet in E-flat major was written at the age of 16, and his overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written a year later. These two works are among the composer’s most famous. Other popular works of his include The Hebrides Overture, his “Scottish” Symphony, his Violin Concerto, and his Songs Without Words.

Mendelssohn’s Song Without Words, op. 109, was written around 1845 but was published only after his death. Despite bearing the name “Song Without Words”, this piece is not related to his set of lyrical piano pieces which share the same name. The title, “Song Without Words”, is of Mendelssohn’s own creation and he used this title to describe instrumental works which were song-like in character. Mendelssohn’s friend, Marc-André Souchay, was tempted to put words to Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words due to their lyrical nature, but Mendelssohn was opposed to this idea, stating “What the music I love expresses to me, is not thought too indefinite to put into words, but on the contrary, too definite.”

The lyrical nature suggested by the title permeates throughout Song Without Words. Despite being rather short and consisting of a single movement, this piece encompasses a wide range of moods and expression. This work is characterized by sudden shifts between minor and major keys for dramatic effect. It begins in D major with the piano accompaniment stating its distinctive march-like rhythm before the cello’s lyrical theme enters. There is a sudden shift into the key of D minor for the middle section along with a change into a quicker tempo and a new pattern in the piano accompaniment. This provides a stark contrast to the outer sections of the piece. After this turbulent section, the piece returns to the gentler material of the first section to conclude this piece.

M. Arnold (1921-2006) – Sonatina Op. 29

Malcolm Arnold was an English composer known for composing theater works, film scores, ballets, and symphonies. He was born in Northampton, England. At the age of twelve, he heard Louis Armstrong perform live and was inspired to take up the trumpet. In 1941, he joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra and eventually became their principal trumpet player. Although he was a highly gifted and renowned trumpet player, Arnold decided to concentrate on composition in the late 1940s. The LPO performed and recorded his music frequently. Arnold was given Honorary Doctorates of Music from the Universities of Exeter, Durham and Leicester, Miami University, Oxford, and Ohio University. Among many other awards throughout his lifetime, he was awarded