- Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall (UCSB)
& Chamber Players
Monday, June 1, 2015, 7:30pm
Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall
Featuring music by
Bruch, Beethoven, Dvo?ák,
Skidmore,Donizetti, and Schumann
$10 General Admission/$5 Students
Free Admission for UCSB Students
Tickets may be purchased online, at the box
office, or by phone at (805) 893--2064
Trio for clarinet, viola and piano- op. 83 Max Bruch
Sonata No. 1in D Major for piano and violin, Op. 12, No. 1 Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Quartet in E Flat Major, op. 87 Antonin Dvorak
Common Patterns in Uncommon Time for Mallet Quartet David Skidmore
Overture to Don Pasquale
Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848)
Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120 (1851 revision)
I. Ziemlich langsam—Lebhaft
II. Romanze (Ziemlich langsam)
III. Scherzo (Lebhaft) & Trio
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Donizetti’s “Overture" to Don Pasquale
notes from the Solano Symphony
This sparkling overture is a musical snapshot of the best of Italian comic opera composition, still showing the imprint of Rossini, but introducing the great romantic era that would culminate in Verdi. Like Rossini’s music, it is teeming with grinning vitality and, as would become the practice of Verdi, it incorporates the tunes of two of the opera’s most memorable arias. The opera was composed and premiered late in the composer’s career, and is acclaimed as his overall masterpiece. While individual selections from Lucia di Lammermoor or The Elixir of Love may be better known, Don Pasquale is consistently engaging and flawlessly integrated.
His early operas were patent copies of Rossini’s opera buffa style. Coincidentally his own voice matured at about the time Rossini retired in 1829. Three of the masterpieces that we know today—Anna Bolena, Lucia di Lammermoor and The Elixir of Love—were composed in short succession thereafter, being performed throughout Europe and England and making Donizetti a celebrity. Due to a bitter dispute in Naples, where he had been appointed the director of the music conservatory, Donizetti moved to Paris where his light shone most brightly. There he composed his two comic masterpieces, The Daughter of the Regiment and Don Pasquale.
Don Pasquale is a delightfully silly story told with the use of the stock character of the old and wealthy bachelor looking for a young bride. As expected, The “Don” is foiled by his friend and a fake notary in a plot involving a young widow who loves the young tenor whom we all know she will marry in the end. Despite knowing in advance who will eventually get the girl, the freshness and sparkle of Donizetti’s music continues to delight audiences with its comic effervescence, direct lyricism and engaging, but never complicated, ensemble singing.
The overture snaps to life with a few bars of brisk attention-getting scales and chords, then settling into a lovely cello solo, which samples the young tenor’s forlorn serenade that will be heard in Act III. Horns and flutes join the serenade, which then transitions to sample the young widow’s aria of Act I, a pert tune that bounces with the emotions of the love-struck girl. The overture continues to swell with energy as Donizetti introduces us to the buffoonery to come.
Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120 (1851 revision)
notes from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra
In 1838, during a visit to Vienna, Schumann discovered the autograph score of Schubert’s Symphony no 9, the so-called ‘Great’ C major Symphony, neglected and still unperformed. The discovery made him “tingle to be at work on a symphony”. Up until 1840 he composed little but solo piano music. His long-delayed marriage to Clara Wieck that year coincided with a torrent of song-writing, and 1841 saw him devote himself, with equal single-mindedness, to orchestral music.
The D minor Symphony was intended as a present for Clara’s birthday on 13 September. In March he noted in his diary his intention to write a ‘Clara’ symphony: “in it I will paint her picture with flutes and oboes and harps.” Together with the overture, scherzo and finale, the D minor Symphony was first performed in Leipzig in December, but it was given a cool reception, prompting Schumann to withdraw the work.
Ten years later he revised and re-scored it. At first he called the new version Symphonic fantasy, but changed the title back to ‘Symphony’ before the first performance in March 1853, giving it the number by which we know it today. He also added repeat indications to the opening sections of the first movement allegro and the finale, and replaced the original Italian movement headings with German ones.
In its final form Symphony no 4 is Schumann’s most concentrated attempt at welding a multi-movement work into a unified whole. Themes recur across all four movements, which follow one another without breaks. The most important of the 1851 revisions are aimed at strengthening the links between the movements, smoothing the transition from the introduction into the first movement and from the scherzo into the finale. The other major difference is that the 1851 orchestration is thicker and heavier. Schumann erred on the side of caution in making sure that every important instrumental entry was covered as securely as possible but Brahms, for one, preferred the lighter scoring of the first version. There are gains and losses in both scores – the original’s clarity of orchestration against the more compelling sense of unity in the later version – and now that the original is being played more frequently it seems likely that the two will simply coexist side-by-side.
The slow introduction is based on a gently falling and rising idea out of which an upwardly arching little phrase for the violins coalesces, as the tempo quickens, into the bustling theme of the main section of the movement. The opening section of the allegro is marked to be repeated in the 1851, but not the 1841, score. Two contrasting ideas appear a little later: a tautly rhythmic theme for woodwind, and a smoother song-like melody for violins answered by oboe and clarinet.
The slow movement begins with an expressive melody for oboe and cellos. The music of the first movement’s introduction returns, leading to the central section, based on a new theme, lazily floating downwards on solo violin. The oboe/cello melody, now joined by bassoon, closes the movement.
The fiery, vigorous scherzo includes a central trio section which brings back the solo violin music from the second movement in a new rhythm. This comes round again at the end of the movement, settling on a gently rocking figure, out of which the finale begins to emerge, with music familiar from the transition to the first movement. Gradually the tension builds, the pace quickens, and after a dramatic pause a new version of the first movement’s energetic woodwind theme launches the finale. This exultant music is Schumann at his most celebratory. It accumulates irresistible energy and drive, swept along on a rhythmically propulsive current which twice accelerates towards the end to carry the symphony to its triumphant conclusion.
© Mike Wheeler