2.Beethoven and Brahms: Chamber Works for Clarinet
In 1792, Beethoven settled in Vienna. Still following in the footsteps of Mozart, who had died the previous year, and studying with Haydn, he soon acquired an excellent reputation for himself in good society. The Trio for Piano, Clarinet, and Cello in B-flat major, op. 11, written in 1797, belongs to this first and highly productive compositional period. (Given the possibility of replacing clarinet with violin, this Trio is sometimes referred to as Trio no. 4, since it appeared soon after the three Piano Trios, op. 1, published in 1795.) With effusive rather than imposing piano writing and numerous arpeggiated motifs shared by all three instruments, this work is still steeped in galant style. After a spirited Allegro con brio and an Adagio con espressione where the cello plays the starring role, the final Allegretto consists of nine variations on the aria “Pria ch’io l’impegno” from Joseph Weigl’s opera L’amor marinaro. This catchy, pleasing aria had rapidly become all the rage and could be heard everywhere on the streets of Vienna – hence the Trio’s nickname, “Gassenhauer” (street song).
Unlike Beethoven, Brahms turned his attention to the clarinet late in life. While at the Meiningen Court in early 1891, he became acquainted with renowned clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, and took advantage of the opportunity to deepen his knowledge of the instrument. This encounter inspired Brahms to begin his final creative period – a kind of compositional Indian summer tinged with melancholy. The following summer, Brahms composed two masterpieces: the Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano in A minor, op. 114, and the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in B minor, op. 115. Although the Trio may not attain the same heights of perfection as the Quintet, its tone is deeply personal, both mournful and passionate. Neither Allegro contains very elaborate thematic development, but both feature melodies with an intense emotional charge oscillating between pathos and mourning. The Adagio provides a consoling reverie before the Andantino grazioso, which unfolds as a kind of ländler. Here, exchanges between the violin and clarinet caused one observer to reflect that the instruments “seemed to be in love with one another….”
© François Filiatrault, 2018
© Translated by Ariadne Lih, 2018
Todd Cope was appointed Principal Clarinet of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in 2013. Previously, he was a member of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the New World Symphony. As a concerto soloist, he has been featured with the OSM, the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the Music Academy of the West, and the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra, among others, and has held fellowships with the Aspen and Eastern music festivals, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Music Academy of the West, and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz. He graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and completed a professional studies certificate at the Colburn School, where he was a student of Yehuda Gilad. He is currently on the faculty of the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. Todd Cope is an exclusive Buffet Crampon and Vandoren performing artist.
Associate Principal Cellist of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal since 2011, Anna Burden has performed throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician. Solo appearances include performances with the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra, the Washington Chamber Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, the Oak Park Symphony Orchestra, and with musicians of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. A native of Chicago, Ms. Burden has studied with Hans Jensen, Joel Krosnick, Alan Stepansky, Richard Aaron, Darrett Adkins, and Nell Novak. She holds degrees from Northwestern University, The Juilliard School, and the Manhattan School of Music. Prior to joining the OSM, she was a cellist in the Saint Louis Symphony during the 2010–2011 season. Ms. Burden plays a cello made in 1929 by Carl Becker of Chicago.
Winner of the 2017 Concours musical international de Montréal for piano and recipient of a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, Zoltán Fejérvári has appeared in recitals throughout Europe and the United States. He has performed as a soloist with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Hungarian National Orchestra, the Verbier Festival and Concerto Budapest Orchestras among others. Zoltán Fejérvári’s recording of Liszt’s Malédiction with the Budapest Chamber Symphony was awarded the Grand prix du Disque in 2013. His CD of four Mozart violin sonatas with violinist Ernő Kállai was released in 2014 by Hungaroton. Distinguished pianist András Schiff chose Zoltán Fejérvári for his “Building Bridges” series, created to highlight young pianists of unusual promise. Under this aegis, Mr. Fejérvári will give recitals in 2017-18 in Berlin, Bochum, Brussels, Zürich, and Ittingen among other cities. Since 2014, Zoltán Fejérvári has been teaching at the Chamber Music Department of the Liszt Academy of Music.
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