May 2010 Performance

Dr. Sandra Cox, Flute

Dr. Kennith Freeman, Piano

Guest Artist, Jere Douglas, Clarinet

Program for Houston, Texas

Sean Salamon                Trio for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Opus 2  2009

  • Allegro
  • Nocturne
  • Variations On A Theme:  “Braul” From Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances

Joseph Schwanter          “Black Anemomes”

Black Anemones is one of two poems by the Colombian-American surrealist poet Agueda Pizarro set for soprano and piano by Joseph Schwantner in 1980. Pizarro’s poem is in Spanish; Schwantner has set an English translation by Barbara Stoler Miller. The poem describes a child dreaming of its mother, but the mood is not quite idyllic; at one point the child says, “You walk with silver lions/and wait to estrange me.” Schwantner’s response is to provide a dreamlike musical atmosphere that yet shows signs of agitation and despair. The opening of the poem, setting up the dream, is set with winding melismas and an extremely flexible melodic line, accompanied by thin, calm, bright music on the piano. Soon the piano accompaniment has moved into static arpeggios that swell and fade with the mood of the poem, and the soprano comes close to crying out on the words “estrange me.” Following more subtle terror, the arpeggiated chords finally are countered by a downward figure. The music of the opening repeats to end the poem, though it sounds much different after these travails. Black Anemones is an effective setting of an evocative poem. ~

Johannes Brahms Sonata for Clarinet and Piano Opus 120 #2 in E Flat

In 1891 Brahms met the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld and was captivated by his playing. Mühlfeld (1856-1907) had originally joined the fine Meiningen orchestra as a violinist. He taught himself to play the clarinet and soon became the principal clarinetist of that orchestra (which gave the first performance of Brahms’ Fourth Symphony) and served as principal clarinet of the Bayreuth orchestra from 1884 until 1896. So enthusiastic was Brahms about Mühlfeld’s playing that he came out of retirement and began to compose for him: from 1891 came a Clarinet Trio and then the great Clarinet Quintet. Three years later, in 1894, Brahms wrote his final instrumental works for Mühlfeld, two sonatas for clarinet and piano. The clarinet and viola have similar ranges, and Brahms himself immediately arranged these sonatas for viola and piano.

Both sonatas share the somewhat severe and autumnal quality of Brahms’ late music, though the Second Sonata is the more immediately friendly of the two. The opening tempo marking, Allegro Amabile, sets the tone for the entire work, for this is indeed music full of love. The viola enters immediately with a lyric theme that seems to flow endlessly, and this quality of continuous lyricism extends throughout the movement. The poised and noble second subject (Brahms marks it sotto voce) helps maintain the mood of calm acceptance that characterizes this sonata. The Allegro appassionato is in the standard scherzo-and-trio form. The viola’s surging, twisting opening establishes the high energy level of this movement, and the trio section of characteristically Brahmsian nobility is all the more effective by contrast. The Andante con moto is a set of variations based on the viola’s opening theme, which preserves some of the amabile spirit of the first movement. The theme undergoes four variations, all in 6/8 time, and then Brahms provides an unusual conclusion by shifting to 2/4 for the final variation and suddenly speeding the music up. In effect, the final movement performs the function of both slow movement and finale, and the last of Brahms’ chamber works comes to its conclusion in a great rush of energy.

  • Allegro Amabile     
  • Allegro Appassionato
  • Andante Con Moto
  • Allegro
  • Piu Tranquillo

Intermission

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mariano Obiols               Divertimento       

  • Larghetto
  • Andante

George Gershwin  3 Preludes for Clarinet and Piano     

  • Andante con moto e poco rubato

The second Prelude, in C sharp minor, also has the distinct flavour of jazz. The piece begins with a sad melody wending its way above a smooth, steady bassline. The harmonies and melodies of this piece are built on thirds, emphasizing both the interval of the seventh and the major/minor duality of the blues scale. In the second section, the key, tempo, and thematic material all change; only the similarity of style binds the two sections together. The opening melody and bass return in the final section, more succinct but otherwise unchanged, and the piece ends with a slow ascent of the keyboard. Gershwin himself referred to the piece as “a sort of blues lullaby.”

Robert Muczynski Sonata for Flute and Piano, Opus 14

Muczynski’s compositions were beginning to attract an international following. His Sonata for Flute and Piano received the Concours Internationale Prize in Nice, France, in 1961 and is now unanimously regarded by audiences, critics, and performers as an important addition to the flute repertoire.

  • Allegro Deciso
  • Scherzo – Vivace
  • Andante
  • Allegro Con Moto

Camille St. Saens Tarantella for Flute, Clarinet and Piano, Opus 6

This is a relatively early work in Saint-Saëns’ output, but it already shows the considerable skills of its creator. As many classical music enthusiasts know, the composer was a child prodigy and thus evolved his mature style rather quickly. This piece has all the sophistication of the work of a seasoned master, at least in its instrumental writing. Its music may not divulge the originality or thematic distinctiveness of many of Saint-Saëns’ later works, but it has charm and a deft sense of humor. This Tarantella is catchy from its opening notes: zesty rhythms and menacing dance music combine to create an amusingly creepy atmosphere that augurs the mood and writing in such works as Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The music is lively, not as fast, however, as that usually associated with tarantellas, which often have a frenzied character. Here, Saint-Saëns seems to want to underscore the myth about the origins of this Italian dance, which was thought to result from the bite of a tarantula spider or to serve as its cure. He makes the flute and clarinet slither and swirl and dance so menacingly, often in unison, and partners them with discreet and subtle orchestral writing. This is a fine piece now sometimes heard in an arrangement for flute, clarinet, and piano. ~ Robert Cummings, All Music Guide

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About ukitena

“My purpose is to empower students and avid artistic connoisseurs to think for themselves. I will empower students and avid artistic connoisseurs to think for themselves through my performing, teaching, speaking and jovial actions. I will empower creativity in daily life and living and give the artistic connoisseur the feeling it is ok to be creative and push boundaries in their lives and way of living.”

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