March 2018

Dear ECMC Member,

If you are a lower string player, please let us know if you want to play in the orchestra for Brandenburg 6 in April. Perhaps violinists who keep a viola under their beds might give them an airing, I wouldn’t say it was a particularly difficult work. We’re hoping there will be an adequate orchestra to have a run-through after the March concert​.

Our next concert is on March 12th, and will include fairly modern works. We start with the first movement (moderato assai) of a trio for clarinet, violin and piano by Hans Gal. One wonders what “very moderate” actually means, but hopefully Saori Howse (violin), Andrew Lewandowski (clarinet), and David Smith (piano) will have decided.

Hans Gal was born in 1890 to a Jewish family in a village just outside Vienna. He served in the First World War, then gained his earliest successes in opera, and became director of the Mainz Conservatory in 1929. The next three years were his most productive, brought to a sudden end by the advent of the Nazis in Germany; he immediately lost the Mainz post, went back to Vienna, and then on the Anschluss in 1938 fled to London, intending to go on from there to the United States. However, he met the musician and scholar Donald Tovey, who invited him to Edinburgh and found him work. Inevitably, he was interned as an enemy alien in Liverpool and the Isle of Man, but on his release went back to Edinburgh, where he became one of the founders of the Festival and continued to compose until his death at the age of 97. The Trio was composed in 1950

Next, Kate Day (clarinet) and David Smith (piano) will play the Fantasistykker for Clarinet and Piano Op.43 by Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817 – 1890),  a Danish composer, conductor, violinist, organist and teacher. He was born in Copenhagen, the son of a joiner and instrument maker. He began his career as a violinist with the Royal Danish Orchestra, but, supported by a government scholarship he moved to Leipzig where Mendelssohn had a considerable influence on his compositions. Working as an assistant conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra included conducting the premiere performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. At Mendelssohn’s death in 1847, Gade was appointed to his position as chief conductor but was forced to return to Copenhagen in the spring of 1848 when war broke out between Prussia and Denmark, and settled into his career as the most important Danish musician of his day, working as organist and joint director of the Copenhagen Conservatory, where he taught both Edvard Grieg and Carl Nielsen. His koncertstykker (“concert pieces”), embraced post-1848 as works of Romantic nationalism, are sometimes based on Danish folklore.

Finally, Rupert Bawden (viola) and Chris Crocker (piano) will play the first Sonata for viola and piano Op. 11, No. 4, by Paul Hindemith (1898-1963) He was born near Frankfurt and, like Hans Gal, he served in the First World War, though only for the last few months. By then he had had a successful career both as orchestra violinist and in the touring Rebner String Quartet, but by the end of the War he had decided to switch to the viola. This was a very successful move; for instance, In 1929 he played the solo part in the premiere of William Walton’s Viola Concerto, after Lionel Tertis, for whom it was written, turned it down.

Today’s work was composed in 1919 and is the fourth of five instrumental sonatas comprising his Opus 11. It is basically romantic with impressionistic overtones, but with a few “bonkers” passages hinting at his early 1920s expressionist style. The form is unusual – a fantasy followed by two sets of variations.

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