Saturday, June 9, 2018
Sunday June 10, 2018
Charles Avison (1709-1770)
Concerto Grosso No. 5 in D minor, after D. Scarlatti Charles Avison
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Cello Concerto in D Major, Hob. VIIb:2
Eric Bartlett, cello
Michael Mauldin (1947- )
Petroglyph for Strings (1978)
Symphony in A Major, No. 59, Hob. 1:59, The Fire
Cellist Eric Bartlett grew up in Marlboro and received his earliest musical training in the southern Vermont area. He is now a member of the New York Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Speculum Musicae, all in New York. His solo appearances include the Cabrillo Festival, the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Anchorage Symphony, the Hartford Chamber Orchestra, the Aspen, and Julliard Orchestras and the New York Philharmonic’s Horizons ’84 series. Bartlett is the recipient of a Solo Recitalist’s Award from the National Endowment for the Arts and a special Performance Award as a finalist of the 1987 New England Conservatory/Piatigorsky Award. Bartlett has participated in over ninety premieres with ensembles such as Speculum Musicae, the New York New Music Ensemble, The Group for Contemporary Music, and the Columbia String Quartet, and he has commissioned new works for the cello from American composers. Bartlett has performed at the Mostly Mozart, Marlboro, Aspen, Adirondack, Grand Teton, and Waterloo music festivals, and has been a regular participant at the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival since 1996. From 1984 until he joined the New York Philharmonic in 1997, Mr. Bartlett served as both the principal cellist of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and co-principal of Orpheus, and for two seasons was also guest principal of the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra. Bartlett’s early teachers included George Finckel, Blanche Honegger Moyse, and Leopold Teraspulsky. He was awarded full scholarships to both the Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School, and received both his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Juilliard where he was a student of Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins. He teaches Orchestra Repertoire at the Juilliard School and is the lead coach of the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra.
Brief program notes
Concerto Grosso No. 5 in D minor
Though offered numerous appointments in various British cities during his lifetime, Charles Avison repeatedly opted to remain and work in Newcastle, where he was born. He did spend a few years in London, probably studying with the acclaimed Italian violinist, Francesco Geminiani. Home again by age 26, he was appointed organist at two Newcastle churches. He also supplemented his income teaching keyboards, violin, and flute. Soon he was appointed director of the Newcastle Musical Society where his entrepreneurial activities resulted in England’s first subscription concerts. (Really, Avison seems like the quintessential, multi-tasking Vermonter.) An active composer, primarily for concerts he produced, he wrote many, many concerti grossi, orchestral works that juxtapose smaller and larger groups of players.
The D minor Concerto on this program is from a particular collection of twelve concertos that Avison devised using the keyboard sonatas of Italian composer, Domenico Scarlatti. Avison fashioned selected sonatas (most often two-voiced compositions) into four-movement, multi-voiced concertos modelled upon those by Geminiani, which were then all the rage across England. Sometimes Avison eschewed Scarlatti and composed a movement or two from scratch, as is the case with the first movement today.
Avison also wrote the first critical analysis of contemporary English composition and performance practice. Again, like a good Vermonter, he had clear, incisive opinions that he didn’t mind stating, sometimes to the consternation of many, especially fans of Georg Frideric Handel, feverishly at work in the London culture scene. Avison’s Essay on Musical Expression addressed the effects of music on emotion and expression, certain composers and styles, and which instruments should be used for which music. For instance, while he acknowledged Handel’s compositional genius, he expressed a decided preference for Italian composers and the Italian style. Pamphlets defending Handel were written and distributed. Counter-pamphlets were likewise written and distributed. All the while, sales of Avison’s controversial Essay increased.
Franz Joseph Haydn
Cello Concerto in D major, Hob. VIIb:2
Haydn’s Concerto in D Major was composed in 1783, when Haydn was 51. From 1761 to 1790, Haydn worked as kapellmeister at the court of Prince Nikolaus at Esterházy. Haydn led a relatively isolated life, which might give a clue about the enormous number of works he composed. Prince Nikolaus employed an orchestra (about the size of Juno) at Esterházy, in our modern day just 90 minutes southeast of Vienna, which meant that, for large portions of each year, some of Vienna’s better musicians were ‘out of town.’
For many years, the concerto was considered to be the work of Antonín Kraft, court cellist for whom the work was actually written. It was the discovery of Haydn’s autograph score in 1951 that ultimately settled the question of authenticity. (On the other hand, the sibling Concerto in C Major was a complete rediscovery, lost entirely to the world until the 1960s.)
While the concerto follows the usual three-movement structure and makes remarkable technical demands on its soloist, it also reveals an extraordinary beauty and elegance, surely like no other major work for cello. We are lucky to hear the work in Eric’s capable and expressive hands.
One often associates Haydn with clever wit, quick juxtaposition, and speedy intention (just wait till the Symphony, “The Fire”), but this concerto invites listeners to relax, to relish in an ongoing sense of balance and loveliness. Only in the final movement might one feel the urge to move, and, in this case, perhaps with an avuncular flair and gentle good will.
Petroglyph for Strings
Mauldin composed Petroglyph for Strings in 1978, winning a composition competition sponsored by the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque (Zon Eastes, Kathy Andrew, and Paul Horak are alumni of this orchestra, now defunct). The piece was inspired by the evocative rock-drawings inscribed throughout New Mexico by the Anasazi, ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indians. Mauldin explains, “I’ve always been fascinated by the drawings and their apparent mixture of the sacred and the mundane. …I was deeply moved by the glyphs at an unexcavated Anasazi city on San Juan Mesa in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico.”
Working primarily in New Mexico, his works have attracted national attention, the foremost being a 1988 performance at the Twentieth-Anniversary Celebration of the National Endowment for the Arts at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Over the years, he has received commissions from the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, the City of Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico, the New Mexico Music Teachers Association and Music Teachers National Association, among others. A committed educator active in the New Mexico music scene, his compositions include works written for the Albuquerque Children’s Choir, Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra, Albuquerque Youth Symphony, New Mexico Brass Quintet, New Mexico Woodwind Quintet, Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble, and the Olympian Brass of the National Repertory Orchestra.
He served for seven years as Musical Director of the Albuquerque Boy Choir, which grew to three choirs, with 85 boys between the ages of 7 and 17. Mauldin currently oversees a composing and teaching retreat in Cuba (pronounced KOO-bah), New Mexico. The retreat engages those interested in the scenic and spiritual landscape of northern New Mexico.
Franz Joseph Haydn
Symphony No. 59 in A major, The Fire
Get ready. As with nearly every one of the Haydn’s so-called Sturm und Drang symphonies, we are in for a ride – crackling energies, playful humor, endearing or scrappy tunes, and that’s just on first hearing. Go in a bit deeper to find gratifying harmonic and rhythmic structures, creative cross-references, and natural if not spirited conversation.
This symphony, though numbered 59, probably falls chronologically more in line with those numbered in the late 30s, composed around 1767. (I know. When it was created, the Haydn numbering system was as good as contemporary sleuthing allowed. Once set, sort of like cement, it’s now hard to adjust it, even though perhaps someone ought to?) It’s called The Fire, though not, of course, by Haydn. There is some evidence that the music might have been interpolated into a theatrical production titled Der Feuersbrunst by actor, writer Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Grossmann, performed at Esterházy in the early 1770s.
From the first movement’s lively opening, sparkling energy is juxtaposed against a rocking undulation that repeatedly needs refiring. The five-note down-up scale gradually morphs into a three-note call, which, as the energy falters, forms a two-note lull. This movement, rather uncharacteristically, ends softly. The second movement is a conversational winner, evoking fully melodramatic characters. This movement and the third, taken together, present a set of variations on a single theme, lending some credence to the idea that this symphony lived at least part of its life in support of theatrical machinations. From the outset, the last movement would have immediately evoked the out of doors. Horn calls. Oboes in response. Witty, playful, the movement is intensely energetic. Your fingers should almost be snapping!