CMF 2021 - Concert 1
Schoenberg - String Quartet 2 in. F sharp minor, op.10 (1907-1908)
- Andre Previn 4 songs
Beethoven - Piano Trio op.70 Nr.2
String Quartet 2 in. F sharp minor, op.10 (1907-1908)
On 9 March 1907, Schoenberg began his second Quartet. During the next year he wrote various songs: the Two Ballads op.12 in March-April 1907, the Two Songs op.14 in the winter and the beginnings of the cycle Das Buch der Hangenden Garten in March 1908. He also took up painting. Meanwhile the quartet appears to have rested as a lone first movement and unfinished Scherzo until the summer of 1908, when in quick succession he completed the 3rd movement, then the second and eventually the finale.
Two reasons have been advanced for the delay. One was a marital emergency: after some time of unrest, his wife left him for the young painter Richard Gerstl, who had been lodging with them and giving them both lessons; she returned and in November 1908 Gerstl killed himself. Simultaneously Schoenberg had reached a crux in his music, which was one reason for the resort to painting. The hurry of the First Quartet could be seen, if only retrospectively, as a hurry away from the the threat of disintegration; counterpoint provided the struts to carry the music swiftly over the waiting gulfs of atonality. But what might happen if the pace were to be lessened and the struts dismantled? Schoenberg seems to have asked himself this question in the songs of 1907-1908, and to have composed out the answer in the quartet.
After the introduction of the voice in the 3rd movement, the final, fourth movement of the quartet brings again something new. In the previous three movements so far, the tonality – F sharp minor, D minor, E flat minor- has been increasingly vague and increasingly stationary. Now there is no key signature at all, and the music begins to explore a weightless harmonic world, which the voice enters with the words: ‘I feel the air of another planet’. (Schoenberg set poems by Stefan George both here and in most of his songs of the period.) An instrumental coda, casting back through the work, arrives finally at F sharp major.
IV. "Entrückung", sehr langsam ("Rapture", very slow), No key
Andre Previn 4 songs
A charismatic composer, a musical chameleon
The New York Times has described the exuberant Andre Previn as a "musical chameleon" and not unjustly: a diverse musical personality with an eclectic style and influences from both late Romanticism and 20th century modernism and jazz, Previn was born in Nazi Germany in 1929, which his family left for the United States of America. Along with composing music for more than 50 films and 4 Oscars, he had a brilliant career as a conductor with famous orchestras and collaborations with leading soloists of the time. At the 9th Chania Chamber Music Festival, we highlight Previn's side as a song composer in chamber music.
The Four Songs for soprano, cello and piano were written in 1994 with lyrics by Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison for her poetic depiction of Black Africa. The first song, entitled ‘Mercy’, is a scathing commentary on the starvation, death and the exploitation of African people by the foreign reporters. Previn's plain, dark music perfectly matches the emotional load of the lyrics.
The second song ‘Stones’ is inspired by an old blues song "Rocks in my bed" and singer Bessie Smith. In Previn's version it is interpreted by a woman in despair for her loneliness: only stones warm her bed at night. In the third song entitled “Shelter”, the weightless and dreamy music takes us to the fantasy world of a woman who finds refuge in the thoughts of her lover and feels strong against every obstacle.
The fourth and last song, "The Lacemaker", portrays a woman who regrets living a life deprived of joy; her feelings are expressed mainly by the rich melodic lines of the cello and piano as the phrasing of the voice remains shorter.
I. Mercy (Slowly)
II. Stones (Bright and Sassy)
III. Shelter (Gently)
IV. The Lacemaker (Slowly)
Beethoven Piano Trio op.70 Nr.2
Like a mini-series of early, middle and late works, Beethoven's six piano trios divide into the early Op. 1 trios, the late and most well-known "Archduke", and in the middle, the pair of trios, Op. 70 No. 1 and 2. These were written in 1808 around the time of the 5th and 6th symphonies and soon after the three expansive "Razumovsky" quartets that were to the string quartet what the Op. 70 trios became to the piano trio.
As a set published under a single opus, the trios encompass a broad range of expression. The second trio of Op. 70 is relaxed, even-keeled, beneficent and luxurious, in parts, utterly classical as if in a fond over-the-shoulder glance back to Haydn and Mozart. But compared to Haydn's, Beethoven's trio in E-flat is a completely new world of sonic and instrumental expression: it begins with a cello solo, joined by violin and only third, the piano (a pattern maintained through most of the first movement until reversed in the recapitulation), while throughout much of the texture, the two strings initiate and sustain a foreground prominence, a complete inversion of Haydn's texture. Donald Francis Tovey noted that Beethoven had achieved an "integration of Mozart's and Haydn's resources, with results that transcend all possibility of resemblance to the style of their origins...."
The first performance of Beethoven’s Trio in E-flat major Op. 70 No. 2 took place in Vienna at the home of Countess Marie Erdödy in December of 1808. The intimate setting of the work’s premiere and its dedication to the Countess herself may account for the gentle tone that characterizes its four movements. Notable in its formal layout is the lack of a deeply emotional slow movement, the inner core of the work being comprised instead of two allegrettos.
The E flat trio is one of the most lovable, as well as one of the most subtle, of all Beethoven’s chamber works, with a mellow, intimate tone that recalls another highlighted work of this year’s Chania Chamber Music Festival, the contemporary A major Cello Sonata, Op 69.
Ι. Poco sostenuto - Allegro ma non troppo
ΙΙΙ. Allegretto ma non troppo
ΙV. Finale. Allegro