ClefLogo  Concert 6 - Programme Notes

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Concert No 6

8pm Saturday 24th February 2018
at Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre

Primrose Piano Quartet
with Leon Bosch (Double Bass)

Primrose Piano Quartet with Leon Bosch     

Featuring Schubert’s Trout Quintet

Making Music Selected Artists

Susanne Stanzeleit (Violin), Dorothea Vogel (Viola), Andrew Fuller (Cello)
and John Thwaites (Piano) with Leon Bosch (Double Bass)

“...the gloriously natural and unforced interpretative approach of the Primrose Quartet...”
- Classic FM Magazine, Five Star Review

The programme notes for this concert are:

Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor K.478
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756-1791
I: Allegro      II: Andante      III: Rondo

We hardly think of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a musical revolutionary in the same way we think of Beethoven, yet his first piano quartet was considered avant garde and exceedingly difficult - difficult both to play and to listen to with understanding when it was first performed and published in Vienna in late 1785. In October of that year, in the midst of writing what many consider his greatest opera, Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart dashed off this and a second piano quartet (in E flat major, K.493) to be parts of a set of three suggested by his publisher, fellow composer, and Masonic lodge brother, Franz Anton Hoffmeister. The projected third piano quartet was never written because of the poor sale and disappointing reception of the first. Hoffmeister stopped engraving the score of the second at that point and made a gift of the plates and royalty advance to Mozart who subsequently had it published by Artaria. At that time the piano trio, a genre perfected by Haydn, held sway in Vienna but only Johann Schobert, a German composer working in Paris, had written a quartet for piano and strings and evidently only Mozart was familiar with Schobert's work.

In the succeeding two centuries, however, Mozart's two piano quartets achieved a place among his most popular and his most frequently performed and recorded chamber music compositions. In accounting for this, the Mozart scholar H.C.Robbins Landon recently wrote: "The G minor quartet begins in the stern, uncompromising style which is also to be found in the D minor String Quartet (K.421) and which is part of Mozart's fascination with minor keys: G minor was, in his hands, a key of both ferocious power and noble resignation." Mozart's most popular symphony (No.40, K.550) is in this key, and Alfred Einstein, in his outstanding book on Mozart, says it is the composer's "key of fate," and describes the opening bars of this Piano Quartet as "the fate theme", quite as powerful and trenchant as the comparable fate themes announced in the openings of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Tchaikovsky's Fourth. After a passionate expansion and development of this theme with variations, the Andante offers a melancholy melody for contrast, and then a quick, lively Rondo concludes the piece in a coda of unison.

© Carl Dolmetsch from the Chamber Music Society of Williamsburg.

Previous performance at HCMS concerts on 13th November 1993 and on 29th April 2000 by the Camerata Ensemble.


Gran Duo Concertante in A minor (for Violin and Double Bass)
by Giovanni Bottesini 1821-1889

Giovanni Bottesini was born in Crema, Lombardy in 1821 and died in Parma in 1889. He was a virtuoso on the Double Bass which he learnt to play because there was a vacancy at the Milan Conservatory in 1812 only for a Double Bass player. He demonstrated extraordinary mastery of the instrument at an early age in the learning process and became famous. He settled in Havana in Cuba as the Principal Double Bass player of the Havana orchestra. He first played in London in 1849. He used a three string ‘basso da camera’ made by Testore of Milan with a bow more like that for a cello.

“Under his bow, the double bass groaned, sighed, cooed, sang, quivered, roared — an orchestra in itself with irresistible force and the sweetest expression,” reported a critic, describing Bottesini in concert. “The aristocratic court audience was ecstatic. Applause and calls for encores exploded down the disorderly rows at every bar.... Supported by his great wooden sound-box, Bottesini leant over his instrument like a conquering hero.”

Bottesini was also a successful opera conductor in Paris from 1855-1857 and in London in 1871. He directed the opera theatre in Palermo and later in Barcelona and Cairo. He composed many pieces for the double bass, several operas and an Oratorio called The Garden of Olivet first performed in Norwich in 1887.

The work is in one movement but with a variety of tempos and emotional timbres. The long duets between violin and bass — to say nothing of their long joint cadenzas — are reminiscent of the way Bellini and Rossini wrote for their singers. It’s very popular among double bass players, but is a real challenge and showcase for both instruments.

First performance at HCMS concerts.

© Programme Note by Dr Martin Hudson


Piano Quintet in A major D667 The Trout
by Franz Schubert 1797 – 1828
(Piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass)
1. Allegro Vivace
2. Andante
3. Scherzo and Trio
4. Theme and Variations
5. Finale

In the summer of 1819, Schubert spent three months with his friend Vogl in the countryside around Steyr. The cellist, Paumgartner, commissioned a companion piece to Hummel's Quintet for the same forces and suggested an earlier song, The Trout, as the basis for the variation movement. Schubert produced this brilliant, bubbling work, resembling a divertimento in its character.

The opening Allegro is essentially in the traditional sonata form and the development section, containing many typical Schubertian harmonic changes, moves almost imperceptibly into the recapitulation. The Andante opens with a theme on the piano, while a second, more lyrical theme is subsequently given to the viola and cello together and the accompanying violin figure becomes more important towards the end of the movement.

The cheerful third movement makes much use of a strongly accented rhythm, while the fourth movement, which gives the composition its name, is one of sheer ingenuity. The theme is first enunciated in the strings, though the rhythm is not quite that of the song. The first three variations consist essentially of the tune embellished with decorations. In the fourth and fifth variations, however, Schubert moves into more remote keys and then in the final variation, the theme returns in its home key, complete with the marvellous rippling accompaniment which Schubert wrote for the original song.

The final movement is in many ways very simple, but in the simplicity of the question and answer between the piano and strings lies the poetic mastery.

A work of genius!

© Programme note re-produced by kind permission of Leon Bosch.

Previous performances at HCMS concerts on 10th February 1979 by Opus Nine, 13th November 1993 by Camerata Ensemble, 1st May 2000 (during the HCMS Millennium Music Festival) by Camerata Ensemble with Martin Roscoe and 18th April 2009 by the Manchester Chamber Ensemble and Martin Roscoe.


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