Please make plans to join us for our annual Chamber Music concert on Sunday, January 16 at 2:00 p.m. The concert will take place at Zion Lutheran Church • 439 3rd Avenue South, Clinton.
Duet “With Two Eyeglasses Obligato” for Viola and Cello
by Ludwig van Beethoven
Paul Price-Brenner, viola <> Kevin Price-Brenner, cello
– • –
Terzetto, Op. 74
for String Trio
by Antonín Dvořak
Ann Duchow and Hana Velde, violins
Natalie Delcorps, viola
– • –
Fantasy Pieces, Op. 88
for Piano Trio
by Robert Schumann
Nadia Wirchnianski, piano
Julie Marston, violin <> David Spaulding, violoncello
Dvorak — Terzetto in C, Op. 74 for two violins and viola
One of the best-known composers of all time, Antonin Dvorak contributed to the dissemination and appreciation of Czech music throughout the world. His portfolio includes around 200 works in all genres including 9 symphonies, 14 string quartets and 12 operas.
Born September 8, 1841 in Bohemia, his early musical talent was recognized and nurtured; by the time he was 12, he moved in with an aunt and uncle and began his formal musical studies. As an adult, his fame spread quickly abroad, leading to successes in England, Russia and eventually the United States where he famously made his way to Iowa, the inspiration for his New World Symphony.
His Terzetto in C is one of the best known works of this combination of instruments. Completed in only one week in January 1887, it was composed at the height of his creative career. Intended as Hausmusik to be performed informally by Dvorak himself and two friends, it proved too difficult for one of the violinists and he rewrote it in a simpler style for violin and piano, titled Romantic Pieces, as well as an easier work for the same instruments entitled Romantic Pieces. The first public performance of the Terzettl was in March 1887 in Prague by virtuoso violinists.
The first of four movements, the Introduction begins with a sweetly lyrical theme, followed by a more energetic moment. The second movement, Larghetto, is slower and expressive with an agitated contrasting middle section. The dance-like Scherzo is in his characteristically folk style. The concluding Tema con Variazioni in the darker key of C minor includes ten brief variations with numerous grand pauses and tempo changes.
The fact that Dvorak spontaneously composed this small chamber piece at a time in his career when he was so incredibly busy touring and flooded with commissions speaks to a remarkable creative genius.
Schumann – Fantasy Pieces for Piano, Violin, Cello, Op.88
Robert Schumann, 1810-1856, known for his piano music, songs and orchestral pieces, was in many ways typical of the Romantic Age, his life filled with emotional extremes, passion, tragedy and creativity.
Encouraged in literary and musical interests as a child, Robert was allowed to study music under a famous piano teacher who was already intensely focused on training his own talented daughter, Clara. Although a distracted student with difficulty focusing, Schumann promptly fell in love with the much younger Clara, earning the disapproval of her father who was concerned about his instability. Legal battles ensued, but the pair were eventually married and Clara, a brilliant pianist, toured successfully as Robert found great difficulty in finding his own suitable career. Fortunately, this became one of his most fertile periods, and he wrote many of his piano pieces for his wife. He also returned to his neglected song compositions, producing nearly all the songs that solidified his reputation in only 11 months.
A number of unsuitable career opportunities left him to focus on his wife’s touring success, conscious of his own failures. Suffering from bad health and bouts of depression and suicide attempts, Schumann had himself committed to a mental asylum where he died a year later at only the age of 46.
The Fantasy Pieces for Piano, Violin, Cello represents Schumann well, expressive and intense. In 4 movements, the Fantasy begins with a Romanze centered on a=the simplicity of a melancholic folk melody. The Humoreske follows with a march theme continued from the first movement. A Duett for the two stringed instruments continues with a beautiful melody accompanied by the gentle, rippling piano. The piece concludes with the Finale which repeats the opening march, gradually dying away. A coda surprises with sudden energy.
Beethoven – With Two Eyeglasses Obligato, WoO 32
Born in Bonn, Germany in 1770, Ludwig von Beethoven is widely regarded as one of the greatest masters of musical construction in the late classical/early romantic period. He innovated in almost every form of music he touched and composed in a great variety of genres including symphonies, concerti, piano and other instrument sonatas, string quartets, other chamber music, masses, lieder and one opera.
Although there remains no clear origin for the odd name of the Obligato, it was probably written for Beethoven’s good friend and accomplished cello player Baron Nikolaus von Domanovecz. Beethoven himself played viola, so the piece was likely meant for the two to play together. A lifelong friend, it was von Domanovecz who provided accommodations and supplies for Beethoven, even helping proof his editions. The playful title likely refers to the fact that both men had bad eyesight and wore eyeglasses.
Although possibly incomplete, the obligato is composed of 3 movements; an Allegro, Minuetto and Trio. The viola begins with an energetic theme, immediately followed by the cello. The two take turns as either theme or accompaniment. The Minuetto is a gentle movement with phrases played in chords and in a canon between the two instruments. Clearly, this was intended to be fun to play as a comfortable interlude between friends.
Compiled by Karin Anderson-Sweet