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Beethoven & Mozart

Kayoko Dan, conductor Caitlin Hammon Moore, soprano I Laura Inman, soprano II James Harr, tenor Brett Hyberger, bass CSO Chorus, Darrin Hassevoort, director Covenant College Chorale, Covenant Singers and Chamber Singers, Scott Finch, director BEETHOVEN                 Symphony No. 6 MOZART                         Great Mass in C minor Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 takes audiences on a tour of the countryside of Vienna. Drastically different from his previous symphony, Symphony No. 6 features the simplicity of nature and includes elements such as birdsongs, thunderstorms, brooks and shepherds’ songs. Later in the evening, the CSO Chorus, along with the Covenant Chorale, Covenant Singers and Chamber Singers, will join the orchestra as they perform Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor.  

Program Notes

Ludwig van Beethoven (b. December 16, 1770 in Bonn; d. March 26, 1827 in Vienna) Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68, “Pastoral” In October 2016 CSO listeners heard the world premiere of Kendra D’Ercole’s setting of Beethoven’s Heiligenstadt Testament, remarkable words he wrote in 1802 while summering at Heiligenstadt. In a beautiful natural setting, he could unburden his soul, mourn his advancing deafness, and try to explain himself to posterity. It was cathartic and he entered an extraordinarily productive period in the new year when he returned to Vienna. He began to compose more large works and his musical style clearly advanced beyond the ways of Haydn and Mozart. From then until 1808 when he presented his Pastoral Symphony for the first time, he wrote four of his nine symphonies, four of his eight concertos with opus numbers, an oratorio, a mass, the first version of his opera Fidelio, and the Choral Fantasy. The Pastoral Symphony debuted in a monster concert he arranged on December 22, 1808, at Theater an der Wien that also featured the first performances of (CSO regulars take note) his Symphony No. 5 (CSO, 2011), Piano Concerto No. 4 (CSO, 2012), and finally the Choral Fantasy (CSO, 2016) to end the four-hour endurance contest. Maestro Dan finishes a cycle of those works, ending with, not the flashiest, but the most intensely personal, if not the greatest. Beethoven produced seventy sketchbooks in his lifetime that allow us to see how his compositions develop from the first nascent ideas. He worked out wildly different thoughts in parallel. In choosing works for his monster concert, the suave Piano Concerto No. 4 came first. He was working out the fiery Fifth Symphony at the same time as the Sixth. How fitting it seems that the major chapter of his life that began at Heiligenstadt returns, in Symphony No. 6, with a testament to the power of nature in his life. Incidentally the Choral Fantasy was a very last-minute answer to the other more sober pieces in order to cap the concert with something really flashy. The Pastoral Symphony is unique among Beethoven’s symphonies in two obvious ways: 1) He provided a descriptive title, "Pastoral Symphony, or Recollections of Country Life" and titles for each movement creating programmatic associations such that, in Beethoven’s words, “the whole will be recognized as a matter more of feeling than of painting in sounds.” 2) He wrote the symphony in five movements, the first composer to exceed the standard four. “Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside” were Beethoven’s words written into the score. In his sketchbook, however, he commented, “The hearers should be allowed to discover the situations.” It is easy to imagine walking, running, breathing deeply as one’s attention is taken first one place and then another. The first notes have a lilt that moves us out from our starting place. At the end of the first movement, lilting notes return, subtly altered, to bring us back where we began. “Scene at the brook” is the longest movement and most closely resembles a painting—a not-so-still life where the water gently burbles. Near the end we hear bird calls in a cadenza-like section. Beethoven helpfully labels them in case we didn’t catch on: nightingale (flute), quail (oboe), and cuckoo (clarinets). “Happy gathering of country folk” is full of motion, suggesting that gathering is a verb form, not a noun. First a few people step lightly into assembly. The crowd ebbs and flows. Clearly some of the folk are dancing. The stepping lightly sound turns ominous; we have started “Thunder, storm,” the shortest movement, without pause. It’s some heavy weather, but has some breaks and doesn’t last long; not much danger, really. An upward flute line ends the movement and solo clarinet starts the last, again, with no break. “Shepherds’ song”. Cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm” is all about good feeling and gratitude. In the end a good day winds down to a final, firm cadence. Wolfgang Mozart (b. January 27, 1756 in Salzburg; d. December 5, 1791 in Vienna) Mass No.18 in C Minor, K. 427, “Great Mass” Masses are generally divided into short (brevis) and long (longa), the terms referring to length in time. The short form is suitable for a regular Sunday. Long masses serve more festive or solemn occasions where bigger orchestras and more singers can be hired. Before he was 13 Mozart had written one short and one long mass but a majority of his masses were written from 1773-1777 when he was employed at the Salzburg court. The Great Mass, written in 1782-1783, was the last mass he wrote except for his Requiem, left substantially unfinished at his death in 1791. A conundrum we confront, now centuries old, is why the Great Mass is also unfinished, albeit substantially more complete than the requiem. Examining its genesis gives some clues. Mozart made a promise in his “heart of hearts” to finish a new mass for his wife-to-be, Constanze, who was gravely ill at the time. In January 1783 he wrote his father, “I was absolutely determined to marry her soon after her recovery. … The score of half of a Mass, which is still lying here waiting to be finished, is the best proof that I really made the promise.” He had married Constanze by the time he wrote the letter and all that remained was to get the Mass done and performed, the more so because Constanze was to be the star soprano soloist, Mozart added the Sanctus movement to what he had done before and the work was performed in Salzburg, October 26, 1783. Although still unfinished, it was nevertheless longer than any of his other masses. Most likely it stayed incomplete because, back in Vienna, Mozart was on a roll and endlessly busy. Until 1785 he had patrons galore and produced an outpouring of masterpieces. With limitless paid work the Mass must have been the furthest thing from his mind. Moreover, he had given his wife the career boost he wanted. If the question were why should he want to finish it, he might not have had a reason. As an example, many suspect today that Schubert’s Unfinished stayed that way because he felt he had done enough. When classical musicians approach music that needs completion, debates begin that never end. Of the portions presented tonight, some of the orchestration of the Credo is not Mozart’s and Mozart’s score for the Sanctus was lost and had to be reconstructed from available parts. Some editors, composers, and arrangers have tried to fill out all the sections that might have been—the rest of the Credo and missing Agnus Dei—but more of them have honored the possibility that Mozart knew he had done enough. Tonight’s completion, by conductor Frieder Bernius—an early music specialist—and musicologist Uwe Wolf, dates from 2016 and has already become a popular choice for orchestras and choirs. Before he even started work on it, he knew he wanted to write a mass on a grand scale. Around that time he was also regularly going to house concerts devoted to the Baroque masters Bach and Handel. Whether he had heard Bach’s B-Minor Mass is unclear, but he certainly picked up on its style, the Cantata Mass, which makes whole arias and choruses out of short excerpts of the very long texts that form the Gloria and Credo. The Mass uses a quartet of singers although they only sing together in the Benedictus. A double chorus, typical classical orchestra, and continuo (organ as the keyboard instrument) round out the forces. It is not necessary to be a Christian believer to have the liturgical words enhance the music, but it helps to suspend any disbelief. Love and fear of God, praise and supplication, the music is written to support appropriate feelings. I. Kyrie. “Lord, have mercy,” a severe choral declaration. “Christ have mercy,” the soprano (think Constanze) brightly proclaims. II. Gloria, in eight parts. (1) At a lively pace the chorus sings “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people of good will.” (2) “We praise thee …” a soprano aria. (3) “We give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory…” another chorus. (4) “O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty…” breathtaking duet by both sopranos. (5) Inspired by Bach or Handel, “Thou who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us…” an obviously Baroque double chorus. (6) “For Thou only art holy, Thou only art the Lord, Thou only art most high,” vocal trio—we hear the tenor for the first time. (7) “Jesus Christ,” the chorus with a slow dramatic introduction to (8) “With the Holy Ghost, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.” The chorus sings a mighty fugue. III. Credo, in two parts, the words of the first few sentences of the Nicene Creed (1) “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible…” the chorus sings with gusto. (2) “And became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” Constanze‘s solo, with solo winds (the only use of the flute in the whole mass) and subtle strings and organ, is unabashedly operatic. Pope Francis said it “is matchless; it lifts you to God!" IV. Sanctus. “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest.” Double chorus. V. Benedictus. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” Vocal quartet (the bass’s only appearance) and double chorus.   (c) 2016, 2018 by Steven Hollingsworth, Creative Commons Public Attribution 3.0 United States License. Contact steve@trecorde.net
Tivoli Theatre
Thursday, November 15, 2018 07:30 PM
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