On the Upbeat
APRIL 2011 • VOLUME 4, EDITION 6
The Santa Barbara Symphony
Nir’s Notes Dear Music lovers, How many of you have experienced listening to the harp as a featured soloist in a symphonic concert? The rare appearance of a harp soloist has much to do with the lack of repertoire written for this unique instrument as a soloist with orchestra due, in part, to the technical challenges of playing the instrument. The Harp Concerto by female French composer Henriette Renié unveils the harp as an instrument that not only produces celestial sounds, but as one that is also melodic, dramatic and full of fervor. I’m very excited to welcome Letizia Belmondo to Santa Barbara, one of the greatest harpists of this generation, to play this magnificent, virtuosic work with us. Preceding the concerto is another musical gem. Known for its intimacy and emotionally enticing qualities, Siegfried Idyll is a rare orchestral work written by operatic composer Richard Wagner. It was originally dedicated to Wagner’s second wife Cosima as a birthday present after the birth of their son Siegfried. This tone poem was first performed by a small ensemble under Wagner’s baton in his villa near Lucerne (Switzerland) and was intended to remain a private work. It was later enhanced by a larger orchestration and sent to the publisher. We will conclude the program with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s final Symphony No. 41. Entitled “Jupiter,” this symphony is considered one of the best works of the classical period and a mile-stone in the development of symphonic music. Mozart was determined to do something revolutionary with this composition. He displays his forward-thinking skills in the final movement of the symphony with his use of counterpoint (the weaving together of two or more different melodies) and a five-voice fugue (the utilization of five different melodies simultaneously) – a great challenge for any orchestra that takes on the task of performing the work! I hope you will enjoy absorbing the contrasting features of this program and walk away with a new found appreciation and admiration of the harp.
2 0 1 0 - 2 0 11 S E A S O N
April 16-17, 2011 Nir Kabaretti, Conductor Letizia Belmondo, Harp WAGNER
Siegfried Idyll WWV103
In memoriam to Stephen Hahn, generous Santa Barbara Symphony patron and benefactor
Harp Concerto in C minor
Allegro risoluto Adagio Allegro con fuoco — INTERMISSION —
Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551, “Jupiter” Allegro vivace Andante cantabile Menuetto: Allegretto Molto allegro
Special thanks to HARP IN LA for providing Ms. Belmondo’s instrument.
Robin and Kay Frost
Nir Kabaretti Music and Artistic Director
SANTA BARBARA CO . VENTURA CO.
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Letizia Belmondo harp In February 2001, Letizia Belmondo won the First Prize and the “Esther Herlitz” Special Prize for the best performance of a contemporary piece in the 14th International Harp Contest in Israel. Since making her international debut at age fourteen with the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin, Ms. Belmondo has won an impressive number of competitions and awards, including the Victor Salvi Competition in 1995, the Società Umanitaria in 1998, the Rovere d’Oro in 1997, the Martine Geliot Prize in the Lille Harp Competition in 1999, the Franz Schubert Competition in 1999, and the International Harp Competition in Lausanne in 2000. After making her debut at Wigmore Hall in London, she has performed to great acclaim throughout Europe and the United States. In 2002, she recorded her first solo CD (Harp Recital) for “Egan records.” In January 2006, she recorded the Harp Concertos of Glière and Zabel and the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 6, KV238, transcribed for harp with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Following her debut with the “Mozart” Orchestra in Italy, she was invited by Maestro Claudio Abbado to record the Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp with Deutsche Grammophone in June 2008. In June 2005, she won the position of Principal Harpist at the Opéra Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels. From 2006 to 2008, she was the teaching assistant to M. Fabrice Pierre at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Lyon (France). She has performed with the Luzern Festival Orchestra, Orchestre Philarmormonique de Radio France, Orchestra RAI of Torino, and many others, under the direction of conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Myung-Whun Chung, Kazushi Ono, Maurizio Benini, Adam Fisher, Ivor Bolton and with acclaimed musicians Jacques Zoon and Wolfram Christ. Ms. Belmondo was born in Turin, Italy in 1981 and began studying the harp at the age of eight at the Suzuki Talent Center in Turin. She continued her harp studies at the Conservatoire G. Verdi in Turin with Gabriella Bosio and, thanks to a De Sono Scholarship, at the CNSMD of Lyon, France with Fabrice Pierre (where she graduated with honors in 2002), at the Juilliard School in New York with Nancy Allen, and she also had the opportunity to study with Judith Liber.
Notes RICHARD WAGNER (1813-1883)
Siegfried Idyll WWV103 Composed in 1870.
Premiered on December 25, 1870 at Triebschen, conducted by the composer. Flute, oboe, two clarinets, bassoon, two horns, trumpet and strings. Approximately 19 minutes. It was Cosima, Wagner’s wife, who started the family tradition of celebrating birthdays with a bit of Hausmusik — on her husband’s birthday in 1869 (May 22nd), he was awakened by a musician blasting Siegfried’s horn call outside his bedroom door at dawn. The following year Cosima assembled a military band of 55 players in the grounds of Triebschen, their house near Lucerne, to serenade Richard with his own Huldigungsmarsch (“Homage March”). To return the kindness, Wagner wrote a chamber orchestra piece during November 1870 as a surprise for Cosima’s birthday, celebrated since her childhood on Christmas, a day after the actual date. He gave the score to the young Hans Richter, who was to be the first music director of Bayreuth, who copied out the parts, traveled to Zurich to engage musicians, and arranged rehearsals for December 11th and 21st in that city. (Cosima was a bit unsettled by her husband’s unexplained absences on those dates, but kept her peace.) The musicians arrived at Lucerne early on Christmas Eve, when Wagner held a final rehearsal in the Hôtel du Lac. The next morning, a Sunday, the small band of fifteen musicians — four violins, two violas (one played by Richter, who also handled the few trumpet measures in the last pages), cello, bass, flute, oboe, bassoon and pairs of clarinets and horns — tuned in
the kitchen, quietly set up their music stands on the narrow staircase leading to Cosima’s bedroom, with Wagner on the top landing, and began their music at exactly 7:30. “I can give you no idea, my children, about that day, nor about my feelings,” Cosima wrote in the diary she left for her family. “As I awoke, my ear caught a sound, which swelled fuller and fuller; no longer could I imagine myself to be dreaming: music was sounding, and such music! When it died away, Richard came into my room with the children and offered me the score of the symphonic birthday poem. I was in tears, but so were all the rest of the household.” Wagner had inscribed the score, “Triebschen Idyll, with Fidi’s Bird-Song and Orange Sunrise, presented as a Symphonic Birthday Greeting to his Cosima by her Richard, 1870.” “Fidi” was Siegfried’s nickname; Wagner heard a bird song — “Fidi’s bird song” — at the moment of the boy’s birth, noted it down, and used it in this piece; the “orange sunrise” was the memory of the dawn light washing the walls on Siegfried’s first morning. The new piece was played twice again that day, separated by a performance of Beethoven’s Sextet. The “Triebschen Idyll” remained strictly a family affair until the financial distress caused by Wagner’s extravagant life style forced him to give it a public performance, at Meiningen on March 10, 1877, and sell the score for publication a year later, when it was titled Siegfried Idyll. “My secret treasure has become everybody’s property,” Cosima lamented. Wagner incorporated into this orchestral lullaby the German children’s song Schlaf, mein Kind (“Sleep, my Child”), his son’s “Bird Song,” some newly composed strains and two motives from the opera Siegfried, to which he was applying the finishing touches at the end of 1870. The Siegfried themes were apparently taken from a projected string quartet that Wagner had promised to write for Cosima at the beginning of their relationship, but never finished. (Some truthseekers of small poetic vision have questioned this romantic story by asserting that none of this quartet ever existed as more than part of Wagner’s powerful imagination, and that these motives were originally written for the opera.) At any rate, the Siegfried Idyll, as Sir Donald Tovey observed, is “connected with the opera only by a private undercurrent of poetic allusion.” It is best heard without making programmatic associations, instead simply enjoying its still sweetness and its “rainbow-coloured orchestration” (Tovey).
HENRIETTE RENIÉ (1875-1956)
Harp Concerto in C minor Composed 1894-1901. Premiered on March 24, 1901 in Paris, conducted by Camille Chevillard with the composer as soloist. Woodwinds and horns in pairs, timpani and strings. Approximately 25 minutes. Henriette Renié, despite her delicate spirit and her intrusion into the previously male-dominated world of Parisian music, was a potent force in French harp playing for seven decades. Born in Paris on September 18, 1875 into the family of the painter, singer and actor Jean-Emile Renié, Henriette was a dazzling prodigy. She began formal study of the harp with Alphonse Hasselmans, the renowned professor at the Paris Conservatoire, when she was eight (her father, trained as an architect, had to rig up a special mechanism so that she could reach the pedals), was admitted to the degree curriculum of the Conservatoire a year later, and won the premier prix for her instrument when she was eleven. Her father limited her public engagements because of her youth, so she set herself up as a private teacher and returned to the Conservatoire for lessons in composition with Charles Lenepveu and Théodore Dubois. Renié’s first solo recital in Paris, at age fifteen, established her among the country’s elite musicians; the high point of her performing career was her appearance in her own Harp Concerto at the Concerts Lamoureux in 1901. In 1912, she established the Concours Renié, the first international harp competition, and thereafter taught some of the next generation’s best-known harpists, including Marcel Grandjany, Susan McDonald, Mildred Dilling and even Harpo Marx. Renié was troubled with ill health and a delicate constitution throughout her life, and she largely withdrew from public performances after 1937, giving just one recital a year thereafter to benefit young artists. (She prepared forty pieces for each of these annual programs and asked the audience to select which they wanted to hear.) She composed and transcribed a sizeable body of work for her instrument, wrote a Méthode Complète de Harpe, and remained active as a teacher until she gave a farewell recital for invited friends on her eightieth birthday, on September 18, 1955. Among her honors were the Gold Medal of the Salon des Musiciens Français, a Prix du Disque and the Légion d’honneur. She died in Paris on March 1, 1956. Three weeks later, Bernard Gavoty wrote in Le Figaro, “Henriette Renié was a striking figure in French music. The harp owes to her what the guitar owes to Segovia. The public, completely won over, has given the harp its stamp of approval.”
The Harp Concerto in C minor was not only a milestone in Renié’s life as a composer and performer, but also added a lovely and substantial piece to the instrument’s repertory. She began the work around 1894, while still a student at the Conservatoire, but did not complete it until seven years later. When she showed the finished score to Théodore Dubois, her composition teacher, he was so impressed that he made an appointment for her to play it for Camille Chevillard, one of France’s leading conductors and recently appointed director of the prestigious Concerts Lamoureux. (He had succeeded the series’ founder, Charles Lamoureux, his father-in-law, in 1899.) “My heart was pounding wildly when I rang his doorbell,” Renié recalled. “He received me quite kindly and asked me to play my Concerto. I worked my way through it, half singing, half playing the piano, toiling away like a galley slave. Somehow I managed to give him an idea of the first movement.” When Chevillard asked if she would like to perform the piece on one of his Lamoureux concerts, Renié, nearly speechless, replied, “Wouldn’t you prefer the Reinecke Concerto?” Years later Chevillard said, “That was the first time that a composer whom I asked to play his/her own work suggested someone else’s instead.” They settled on a date for the Concerto’s premiere, but stress and overwork undermined Renié’s always-delicate health, and the performance had to be postponed. She was initially heartbroken, but Chevillard rescheduled the event for March 24, 1901, and Renié won a success that not only launched her international career but also helped to establish the harp as a solo instrument with orchestra. The Concerto opens with a darkly noble main theme introduced by the orchestra and repeated and elaborated by the soloist. The sonata-form movement’s waltz-like second theme, presented by the woodwinds, is more gentle and lyrical. Both themes are treated in turn in the development section before a compressed and varied reprise of the exposition’s materials and a brilliant coda bring the movement to a close. The Adagio takes as the theme for the outer sections of its three-part form (A–B–A) a sweet, placid melody in the style of a hymn; the central episode is more restless and wistful. The finale begins with a main theme filled with energy and purpose; the harp presents the wide-ranging arch of the subsidiary subject. After the motives are skillfully developed and the earlier themes returned, a modulation to the brighter realm of C major brings the Concerto to an affirmative conclusion.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551, “Jupiter” Composed in 1788. Flute, pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets, timpani and strings. Approximately 30 minutes. Mozart’s life was starting to come apart in 1788 — his money, health, family situation and professional status were all on the decline. He was a poor money manager, and the last years of his life saw him sliding progressively deeper into debt. One of his most generous creditors was Michael Puchberg, a brother Mason, to whom he wrote a letter which included the following pitiable statement: “If you, worthy brother, do not help me in this predicament, I shall lose my honor and my credit, which I so wish to preserve.” Sources of income dried up. His students had dwindled to only two by summer, and he had to sell his new compositions for a pittance to pay the most immediate bills. He hoped that Vienna would receive Don Giovanni as well as had Prague when that opera was premiered there the preceding year, but it was met with a haughty indifference when first heard in the Austrian capital in May 1788. He could no longer draw enough subscribers to produce his own concerts, and had to take second billing on the programs of other musicians. His wife, Constanze, was ill from worry and continuous pregnancy, and spent much time away from her husband taking cures at various mineral spas. On June 29th, their fourth child and only daughter, Theresia, age six months, died. Yet, astonishingly, from these seemingly debilitating circumstances came one of the greatest miracles in the history of music. In the summer of 1788, in the space of only six weeks, Mozart composed the three greatest symphonies of his life: No. 39, in E-flat (K. 543) was finished on June 26th; the G minor (No. 40, K. 550) on July 25th; and the C major, “Jupiter” (No. 41, K. 551) on August 10th. It is not known why he wrote these last three of his symphonies, a most unusual circumstance at a time when every piece was intended for a specific situation. There is no record that he ever heard the works, nor are they mentioned anywhere in his known correspondence after they were completed. They may have been intended for a series of oft-delayed concerts originally planned for June which never occurred. Or perhaps in these glorious symphonies, as in many other aspects of his art, Mozart looked forward to the Romantic era and its belief in artistic inspiration divorced from practical requirements. Or perhaps he needed, at that stressful time in his life, to prove to himself that he could still compose great music.
The Symphony’s sobriquet, “Jupiter,” did not originate with Mozart. The composer’s son Franz Xavier Wolfgang said that it was the invention of the impresario Salomon, famous as the instigator of Haydn’s London visits. Weightier evidence for author of the subtitle, however, points to John Baptist Cramer, a German musician who moved to London and opened a publishing house. He may have been the first to deify this work when he appended the word “Jupiter” to its title for a concert of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on March 26, 1821. The cognomen has no meaning other than to indicate the Symphony’s grand nobility of style, and Sir Donald Tovey dismissed it as “among the silliest injuries ever inflicted on a great work of art.” Philip Hale even warned that the sobriquet might lead away from the true nature of the music, “[which] is not of an Olympian mood. It is intensely human in its loveliness and its gaiety.” Mozart would probably have agreed. The “Jupiter” Symphony stands at the pinnacle of 18th-century orchestral art. It is grand in scope, impeccable in form and rich in substance. Mozart, always fecund as a melodist, was absolutely profligate with themes in this Symphony. Three separate motives are successively introduced in the first dozen measures: a brilliant rushing gesture, a sweetly lyrical thought from the strings, and a marching motive played by the winds. The second theme is a simple melody first sung by the violins over a rocking accompaniment. The closing section of the exposition (begun immediately after a falling figure in the violins and a silence) introduces a jolly little tune that Mozart had originally written a few weeks earlier as a buffa aria for bass voice to be interpolated into Le Gelosie Fortunate (“The Fortunate Jealousy”), an opera by Pasquale Anfossi. Much of the development is devoted to an amazing exploration of the musical possibilities of this simple ditty. The thematic material is heard again in the recapitulation, but, as so often with Mozart, in a richer orchestral and harmonic setting. The ravishing Andante is spread across a fully realized sonata form, with a compact but emotionally charged development section. The third movement (Minuet) is a perfect blend of the light-hearted rhythms of popular Viennese dances and Mozart’s deeply expressive chromatic harmony. The finale has been the focus of many a musicological assault. It is demonstrable that there are as many as five different themes played simultaneously at certain places in the movement, making this one of the most masterful displays of technical accomplishment in the entire orchestral repertory. But the listener need not be subjected to any numbing pedantry to realize that this music is really something special. Mozart was the greatest genius in the history of music, and he never surpassed this movement. ©2011 Dr. Richard E. Rodda
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We invite comparison. Nir Kabaretti Music and Artistic Director
Santa Barbara Symphony's Mozart's "Jupiter" On the Upbeat Program Notes