The Beethoven Club has a long history in Memphis. Founded in 1888 by a group of accomplished local pianists, the club’s purpose has always been to promote classical musicians and a love of classical music. For 132 years, this venerable institution has hosted weekly recitals by members and concerts by famous guest performers and continued to enrich the cultural life of our city. Today, the club’s focus is on discovering, promoting and developing local classical musicians, especially gifted young musicians.
Sinfonias (1722) (arr. Leah Cripps) J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
Composer: J.S. Bach
Instrument: Flute, Clarient, Bassoon
Player: Kelly Hermann, Jonathan Webber, Susanna Whitney
I. No. 6, Allegro
II. No. 7, Lento
III. No. 12, Allegro
J. S. Bach’s Sinfonias (three-part inventions) were composed as polyphonic (two or more melodic lines) instructional pieces for his son Wilhelm Friedemann. The 15 Sinfonias were written for keyboard, 8 in major keys and 7 in minor keys.
Aaron Copland, in his book What To Listen For in Music, suggests listening to music on three planes; sensuous, expressive, and musical. In Sinfonia No. 6 in E major enjoy the lovely lilt of the scale melody (subject) on the purely sensuous plane. On the expressive plane perhaps feel like you are floating on a cloud. On the musical plane listen for 3 voices with motifs that Bach changes in a variety of ways, e.g. Instead of the melody rising it goes down. Bach also uses pieces of the melody like motifs.
Sinfonia No. 7 in D minor has a beautiful melody that on the expressive plane pulls at the “heart-strings” as they say. Again, listen for 3 voices having an interesting conversation.
Sinfonia No. 12 is lively with scales and arpeggios.
Duos for Flute and Clarinet (1991) Robert Muczynski (1929-2010)
Composer: Robert Muczynski
Instrument: Flute, Clarinet
Player: Kelly Herrmann, Jonathan Webber
Robert Muczynski was an American pianist, teacher, and composer who earned his BM and MM from DePaul University as a student of Walter Knupfer (piano) and Alexander Tcherepnin (composition). His compositional styles are accented, rhythmically-driven fast movements, often in irregular meters, and slow movements with unpretentious lyricism.
Muczynski’s Duos, Op. 24 for flute and clarinet have a copyright date of 1991, however, the opus number precedes that of the version of this work for two flutes (Op. 34, 1974). The six short pieces included in this collection of duos are the epitome of Muczynski. The first movements features a melodic flute obligato over a slowly ascending clarinet line. The second movement is a jaunty mixed meter dance that alternates between 5/8, 2/8, and 6/8. The flute and clarinet trade expressive melodic lines in the third movement before joining together for one measure at the dynamic peak. The fourth movement explores the juxtaposition of unison passages with rhythmically complex simultaneous simple and compound subdivisions of the beat. The fifth movement is perhaps the most lyrical and expressive of the collection. The final movement is an accented, molto perpetuo stream of eighth notes that race to an exciting conclusion.
The above program notes are found on the Between the Ledger Lines: A blog for the modern flutist Program notes database.
Five Pieces for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1935) Jacques Ibert – (1890-1962)
Composer: Jacques Ibert
Instrument: Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon
Player: Victoria Hoffman, Jonathan Webber, Susanna Whitney
I. Allegro vivo
III. Allegro assai
V. Allegro quasi marziale
Jacques Ibert began studying music at an early age. He attended The Paris Conservatoire where he won the top prize, Prix de Rome. He served in World War I and during WWII he was banned by the pro-Nazi government in Paris and he fled to Switzerland for a number of years.
Ibert’s musical appointments include Académie de France at the Villa Medici in Rome and after returning from Switzerland after WWII he was in charge of The Paris Opera and Opéra-Comique.
These pieces are all light in character and quite charming. Although not virtuoso works they take lots of skill in ensemble playing with phrasing, playing in tune, and blending.
La Cheminée du Roi René (1939) Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)
Composer: Darius Milhaud
Instrument: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon
Player: Kelly Herrmann, Victoria Hoffman, Jonathan Webber, Robert Patterson, Susanna Whitney
I. Cortege (Procession)
II. Aubade (Morning Serenade)
III. Jongleurs (Jugglers)
IV. La maousinglade (Sarabande)
V. Joutes dur l’Arcm(Jousts on the Arc)
VI. Chase a Valabre (Hunting at Valabre)
VII. Madrigal nocturne (Evening madrigal)
Milhaud’s style was influenced by jazz and Brazilian music. His melodies are lyrical or rhythmical and match the mood of the piece. His instrumental writing is difficult and complex but not beyond the abilities of virtuoso musicians.
The suite is an adaptation of the music that the composer wrote for Raymond Bernard‘s 1939 film Cavalcade d’amour. It is one of the most popular twentieth century chamber works for woodwind quintet. All the movements are very short and alternate between rapid and calm.
The 4th movement has a beautiful melody taken up by the oboe. Listen for the hunting horn in movement 6. The suite ends with a melancholy mood.