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Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos chamber music society at yale december 8 2009 david shifrin Artistic Director

Robert Blocker, Dean


December 8, 2009 路 8 pm 路 Morse Recital Hall

The Brandenburg Concertos Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046 Allegro Adagio Allegro Menuet Daniel Lee, violino piccolo Ani Kavafian, violin * Wendy Sharp, violin * Raul Garcia, viola Laura Usiskin, cello Aleksey Klyushnik, double bass Stephen Taylor, oboe *

Alexandra Detyniecki, oboe Andrew Parker, oboe Frank Morelli, bassoon * William Purvis, horn * Leelanee Sterrett, horn Avi Stein, harpsichord *

Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047 Allegro Andante Allegro assia Wendy Sharp, solo violin * Itay Lantner, solo flute Stephen Taylor, solo oboe * David Shifrin, E-flat clarinet (originally for trumpet) * Ani Kavafian, violin *

Katie Hyun, violin Raul Garcia, viola Laura Usiskin, cello Aleksey Klyushnik, double bass Avi Stein, harpsichord *

Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048 Allegro Adagio Allegro Ani Kavafian, violin * Wendy Sharp, violin * Katie Hyun, violin Ettore Causa, viola * Raul Garcia, viola Daniel Lee, viola intermission

Sunhee Jeon, cello Laura Usiskin, cello Merav Stern, cello Aleksey Klyushnik, double bass Avi Stein, harpsichord *


johann sebastian bach 1685-1750

Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050 Allegro Affetuoso Allegro Robert Mealy, violin * Christopher Matthews, flute Ilya Poletaev, solo harpsichord *

Benjamin Charmot, violin Daniel Lee, viola Laura Usiskin, cello Nathaniel Chase, double bass

Performed on period instruments Concerto No. 6 in B-flat major, BWV 1051 Allegro Adagio ma non troppo Allegro Ettore Causa, viola * Syoko Aki, viola * Laura Usiskin, viola da gamba Aleksey Klyushnik, viola da gamba

Sunhee Jeon, cello Mark Wallace, double bass Avi Stein, harpsichord *

Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049 Allegro Andante Presto Ani Kavafian, violin * Ransom Wilson, flute * Mindy Heinsohn, flute Wendy Sharp, violin * Katie Hyun, violin

Raul Garcia, viola Sunhee Jeon, cello Mark Wallace, double bass Avi Stein, harpsichord *

*faculty artist

As a courtesy to the performers and audience members, turn off cell phones and pagers. Please do not leave the hall during selections. Photography or recording of any kind is not permitted.


johann sebastian bach The Brandenburg Concertos

In March of 1719, Prince Christian Leopold of Cöthen sent J.S. Bach, his court music director, to Berlin to procure a new harpsichord. While there, Bach performed for Christian Ludwig, the margrave of Brandenburg, and impressed him enough that the margrave asked the composer to send him some new music once he returned home. Likely preoccupied with other compositions and beset by personal setbacks including the death of his wife and his infant son, it took Bach two years to fulfill the request and send the six works we now call the Brandenburg concertos. Despite the delay, the flattering tone of Bach’s note makes it clear that he desperately sought the margrave’s admiration. The composer writes, in courtly French: I have taken the liberty of discharging my humble obligation to your Royal Highness with the present concertos which I have adapted to several instruments, begging you most humbly not to judge their imperfections by the standards of that refined and delicate taste in music that everyone knows you to possess, but rather to accept, with benign consideration, the profound respect and most humble devotion that I attempt to show by this means. . . Being with unparalleled zeal, Monseigneur, Your Royal Highness’s most humble and most obedient servant, Jean Sebastien Bach

or even acknowledged them, as there is no record of either. Considering that Friedrich Wilhelm (the “Soldier King”) had recently inherited the Prussian throne and had cut funding for court musicians in order to augment the military, it was likely not logistically or financially feasible for the margrave to find performers. In any case, we can be quite certain that these concertos were rarely performed during Bach’s life—or shortly after his death— by any ensemble. The earliest documented performance is not until 1835, and the works were essentially unknown to the public until they were published in 1850 as a commemoration of the centennial of Bach’s death. The six concertos were not composed as one unit, and some movements may date back to as early as 1713 when Bach was employed in Weimar. Most, however, were written for Bach’s group of musicians at Cöthen, as the instrumentation of the works is nearly identical to his available instrumentation there. Prince Leopold took pride in the musical arts, and the capability of the Cöthen performers enabled Bach to write music that was uncharacteristically difficult for the time.

Akin to the Classical-period symphony, the early eighteenth-century concerto was both the most popular and the most important genre of its time. In the standard concerto grosso, a group of soloists (the concertino) is accompanied by a small Also in the dedication, Bach informs the margrave orchestra (ripieno). While Bach held the conventhat he desired “nothing more than to be em- tional concerto in high regard, his Brandenburg ployed on occasions more worthy of you and works stand apart from their contemporaries your service.” Indeed, he was probably hoping for not only in their unprecedented instrumentation a full-time position in Brandenburg and con- (particularly the inclusion of winds as soloists), sidered these concertos a sort of job application. but also in their blurring of the boundary between the concertino and the ripieno. Scholars have debated over the years whether Christian Ludwig had these works performed


program notes

Concerto No. 1 in F major The only one of the set with four movements, this concerto exemplifies the lack of distinction between soloists and orchestra: the two horns, three oboes, bassoon, and “violino piccolo” (a smaller violin pitched a third higher than usual) are essentially all of equal importance.

Concerto No. 5 in D major Bach likely wrote the music of this concerto, at least that of the first movement, to show off the new harpsichord he had acquired in Berlin. It represents the first documented instance of a harpsichord taking a solo role rather than simply providing accompaniment in the continuo. Bach has the instrument slowly emerge as a virtuosic soloist, as if representing the historical transition in the music itself. The second Concerto No. 2 in F major Often labeled the most popular and widely- movement, marked affetuoso (“with emotion”), known of the six, this concerto boasts a concer- is the only one with a mood heading in the tino of four treble instruments: trumpet, flute, entire set. oboe, and violin. The solo trumpet part, almost certainly written for the virtuosic court trumpeter in Cöthen, is considered one of the most Concerto No. 6 in B-Flat major difficult in the entire trumpet repertoire; in The closing concerto has been branded the tonight’s performance, it will be played on the “Cinderella” of the group, the least performed piccolo E-flat clarinet. in isolation but no less impressive or enjoyable. The curious exclusion of violins (as well as all winds) in this number may have something to do with the fact that, as his son once noted, Concerto No. 3 in G major In typical Bach fashion, much of the first move- Bach himself preferred to play the viola over ment of No. 3 is based on the first three notes the violin. The violas do indeed take the lead of the work: G-F#-G in a short-short-long role in the concerto, from the unusually close rhythm. The middle “movement” consists of canon (at the eighth-note) that opens the first only two chords, and it is unclear whether Bach move-ment, to the moment their gigue-like intended for the first violinist to perform an melody closes the last. The simplicity of the viola da gamba part may be practical in origin, extensive cadenza over them. as Prince Leopold himself likely played the part and was not at the same skill level as his court performers. Concerto No. 4 in G major A solo violin and two flutes take the helm here. - Jacob Cooper The outer movements are particularly virtuosic for the violinist, contrasting with the more staid nature of the recorders and consequently breaking up the unity of the concertino.


chamber music society at yale David Shifrin, Artistic Director

All concerts take place Tuesdays at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall.

January 26 tokyo string quartet Haydn: “Sunrise” Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 76, no. 4; Barber: String Quartet, Op. 11; Beethoven: String Quartet in E minor, Op. 59, no. 2.

February 23 the orion quartet with peter serkin Bach: Art of the Fugue, Contrapunctus I; Leon Kirchner: String Quartet no. 4 (2006); Beethoven: String Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 74, “Harp”; and Brahms: Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34.

April 6 a tribute to oham A tribute to the Oral History of American Music project at Yale. Featuring music by Charles Ives, Eubie Blake, Duke Ellington, Aaron Copland, John Cage, Jacob Druckman, Steve Reich, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, interwoven with interviews from the archives.

April 27 hagen string quartet Beethoven: Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, no. 3 Webern: Five Pieces, Op. 5 Grieg: Quartet in G minor, Op. 27

May 4 competition winners Graduate musicians in winning performances from the 2010 Chamber Music Competition.


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upcoming events

http://music.yale.edu yale school of music Robert Blocker, Dean 203 432 4158 Box Office concerts@yale.edu E-mail Us concerts & media Vincent Oneppo Director Dana Astmann Assistant Director Monica Ong Design Manager Danielle Heller Box Office Coordinator Elizabeth Fleming Martignetti Production Assistant Lauren Basney Chamber Music Assistant operations Tara Deming Manager Christopher Melillo Assistant Manager Brian Daley Piano Curator William Harold Piano Curator recording studio Eugene Kimball Director / Recording Engineer Jason Robins Assistant Recording Engineer

December 11 new music for orchestra Woolsey Hall, Fri, 8 pm The Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale, directed by Shinik Hahm, features music by David Lang and Yale graduate composers. Free admission. wshu 91.1 fm • media sponsor

December 14 liederabend Morse Recital Hall, Mon, 8 pm An evening of German song featuring the singers of Yale Opera. With Kyle Swann, piano. Music by Brahms, Mahler, Mendelssohn, J. Marx, Schubert, Schumann, R. Strauss, and Wolff. Free admission.

December 15 vista Morse Recital Hall, Tue, 8 pm A fresh look at chamber music. Selected students from the Yale School of Music will discuss and perform Kodaly’s Duo for Violin and Cello, Haas’s Wind Quintet, and Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet. Wendy Sharp, director. Free admission.

December 16 horowitz piano series Morse Recital Hall, Wed, 8 pm Peter Frankl and Wei-Yi Yang perform music by Schumann and Debussy for two pianos and piano four-hands, plus a work with guest artists. Tickets $11-$20 / Students $6. wshu 91.1 fm • media sponsor


Bach's Brandenburg Concertos