1: Program

Concert: Saturday, September 30, 2017


George Friderich Handel (1685-1759)
Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 7, HWV 325

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Concerto in B-flat Major, KV 191
Natalya Rose Vrbsky, bassoon

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Cantata 42, Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats, BWV 42

J. Mark Scearce (b. 1960)
Endymion’s Sleep

Astor Piazzola (1921-1992)
Fuga y misterio arr. Andy Stein

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphony in E minor, No. 44, Hob. 1:44


female with bassoon on shoulderNatalya Rose Vrbsky has held the principal bassoon chair in the Sarasota Opera Orchestra since 2010 and has performed as guest principal with the symphony orchestras of Vermont, Delaware, Knoxville, Symphoria, Harrisburg, and also as acting principal bassoon of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Florida. A former member of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, she also recently served as acting second bassoon/contrabassoon with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and was a frequent substitute with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Company of Philadelphia, and the Academy of Vocal Arts Orchestra. She has performed as a substitute with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Oregon Symphony, and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Rose has performed as a guest artist with the Saratoga Chamber Players, Bay Chamber Concerts, Astral Artists Concerts, the Knights, Orchestra 2001, and A Far Cry. Rose attended the Tanglewood Music Center, Pacific Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, American Institute of Musical Studies (Graz), New York String Orchestra Seminar, and participated for four summers at the Marlboro Music Festival in addition to joining the Musicians from Marlboro on tour. She received a bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory, followed by a master’s degree from Temple University and a diploma from the Curtis Institute. Her primary teachers were Richard Ranti and Daniel Matsukawa. She is a proud graduate of Guilford Elementary School and BUHS where she played in the BUHS band. 

Brief Program notes

George Friderich Handel
Concerto Grosso in B-flat Major, Op. 6, No 7, HWV 325

Of the twelve concerti grossi that Handel collected together as Opus 6, one work answers that standard grade school question: Which of these does not belong? Eleven of the twelve concertos emulate the scoring Arcangelo Correlli invented, producing interplay between concertino (two violins and cello) and ripieno (remainder). But No. 7 does not. This concerto has no concertino. Some editors, over the years, presume that Handel simply faltered here, and have rescored the piece. In one particularly stressful adaptation, the twentieth century composer Arnold Schoenberg reworked this piece entirely, for full, modern orchestra. “I was mainly intent on removing the defects of the Handelian style.” (Check it out online!) Handel composed quickly with an eye on popularity as well as his bank accounts. He wrote the twelve concertos partly out of response to the London public’s enthusiasm for Correlli’s set and, in a four-week whirlwind in 1739, shaped these to be performed alongside that season’s oratorios at the theatre in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Though Handel was also known to retool his own works, No. 7 appears to be entirely original.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major, K. 191

It’s not really surprising to learn that Mozart wrote this bassoon concerto when he was 18. After all, he had already composed a whole raft of works (25 symphonies, a dozen string quartets, and a number of Italian operas) and had already appeared before numerous members of European royalty, all under the ambitious eye of his ‘soccer mom’ father. What might be surprising in this particular case is that, knowing that Mozart ultimately wrote concertos for all four woodwind instruments, he wrote first for the bassoon. Why? (Or, as some will surely suggest, Why not?) It has been suggested that the concerto was commissioned by an aristocratic amateur bassoonist, one Thaddäus Freiherr von Dürnitz, who ultimately collected nearly seventy-five of Mozart’s works in his library. By Mozart’s time, the bassoon was a well-established solo instrument. It was widely popular in the earlier Baroque period. Antonio Vivaldi composed 39 concertos for the bassoon, which, in those days, would have had just  four or five keys. There is evidence that Mozart may have written five bassoon concertos himself, though all but this one are now lost.

Johann Sebastian Bach
Sinfonia, Cantata 42, Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats, BWV 42

According to British conductor and Bach scholar, John Eliot Gardiner, this Sinfonia is drawn from a now lost (but congratulatory) cantata celebrating the 24th birthday of Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen. The movement is unusual in that, in Bach’s cantata output (about 210 cantatas extant), most open with a choral movement, some quite extended and complicated. Historian Albert Dürr claimed that this movement comes from a concerto. It is a type of concerto grosso—or concerto a due cori, concerto for two choirs—strings engage with a small group of woodwinds, the two groups exchanging distinct yet related themes. The middle section introduces a refreshing, beautiful motif for oboe and bassoon, which Bach marked cantabile (singing). The cantata was written for the Sunday following Easter, in 1725. In the ten days leading to Easter that year, Bach’s choir performed three cantatas, the St. John Passion, and the Easter Oratoriosuper-human by any standard (perhaps even more so when one realizes that about a quarter of the choir’s members were boy sopranos, 14-18-years old). One might readily accept that Bach would compose a non-choral opening movement after such a remarkably busy Easter week.

J. Mark Scearce
Endymion’s Sleep

This work was commissioned in 1996 by the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. About this stunning, brief work, J. Mark Scearce has written, “The title comes from a line in a poem by Wordsworth entitled “Keats,’ commemorating the poet who dies too young with his famous poem, “Endymion.’ The myth of Endymion is to me (and to Wordsworth apparently) a perfect metaphor for dying young. The Moon, Selene, fell in love with Endymion, and because she could not bear the idea of his death, put him to sleep forever, beautiful in his youth. Endymion’s Sleep is about the pain of loss and the perseverance of memory, keeping in our hearts those of our loved ones taken away from this world so young, beautiful in their youth, now sleeping Endymion’s sleep.” J. Mark Scearce has taught at the University of Hawaii, the University of North Texas, and at the University of Southern Maine. He is currently a full professor in the Music Department at North Carolina State in its College of Design.

Astor Piazzola
Fuga y misterio, arr. Andy Stein

Astor Piazzola, one of the most particular yet beloved composers of the twentieth century, is credited with single-handedly creating the nueva tango, a synthesis of musical styles pulsing in Argentina, his homeland. Self-taught, Piazzola spent years playing the bandoneon (a type of Spanish accordion) in cabarets throughout Argentina. His compositional energies were apparently unleashed when he was introduced to Alberto Ginastera by Arthur Rubenstein. Later, like so many promising musicians, he travelled to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. The story is that, though Piazzola sought to adopt a more European voice, Boulanger strenuously encouraged him to hold onto the tango, where his instinctive voice and masterful creativity lay. Fuga y Misterio was originally part of his opera Maria de Buenos Aires, completed in 1968. Like so much of Piazzola’s music, numerous arrangements of this piece exist and we are delighted that Andy Stein spent some time with these two tunes, a sparky fugue and a doleful quasi-aria. Andy Stein, a 20-year member of the Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band on A Prairie Home Companion
with Garrison Keillor, has played Broadway and has composed and arranged widely, for symphonies as well as rock and roll bands. He was also a long-standing member of the New England Bach Festival Orchestra.

Franz Joseph Haydn
Symphony No. 44 in E minor, Hob. I:44, Trauer (Mourning)

Completed in the early early 1770s, Haydn wrote this impressive symphony while at the Esterházy court of Prince Nicholas, where he served as composer for many years. The exploration of moody tension and forward emotionality in this symphony reveals hallmarks of Haydn’s middle style and are also typical of the period of music dubbed Sturm und Drang (storm and stress, or better, impulse). The first movement juxtaposes a powerful upward sweep with uncertain sighs and raging torrents. Drama rules. Instead of a slow movement next, Haydn places a Minuet moving in canon (one-bar or two-bar, depending) wrapped around a Trio sporting a quick-changing, wide dynamic range. The slow movement, especially restful and beautiful, might hold the key to how this symphony got its nickname. Though not mournful in the least, some claimed that this movement was singled out as THE movement Haydn wished his mourners to hear at his funeral. But, it’s fake news; it’s unfounded. You see, the first publisher liked the market promise of a Haydn rumor. (Yes. Even then, I’m afraid.) Hold onto your seats for this last movement. It crackles with intensity and single-mindedness. And, just after the development opens, the main theme rises as it were an impossible roller coaster lift, through nine successive upward steps. Three steps might be considered normal. Nine is unheard of. Hair-raising.

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