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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 43rd Season

 

Sunday, March 7th, 1982
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 Ludwig van Beethoven  
 

I. Allegro con brio
II. Largo
III. Rondo-Allegro

 
  Donna Guenther, piano  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Eight Instrumental Miniatures Igor Stravinsky  
 

Andantino
Vivace
Lento
Allegretto
Moderato
Tempo di Marcia
Larghetto
Tempo di Tango

 
       
  Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, Nos. 5, 6, 7 Antonin Dvořák  
 

Allegro vivace
Allegretto scherzando
Allegro assai

 
       
  Serenade, Op. 18 William Mathias  
 

I. Allegretto
II. Lento, ma con moto
III. Allegro con slancio

 
       

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827)
 
 

Beethoven wrote seven concerti: five for piano and orchestra, one for piano, violin and violoncello, and one for violin. There was a five-year gap between the third piano concerto and the Triple concerto, and many critics, and perhaps Beethoven himself, thought the first three represented him in a developmental stage. Beethoven certainly preferred the Third to the first two.

Those who argue that, in the Third, Beethoven was still struggling with form, cite as an example, the first movement (Allegro con brio) where he gets himself into trouble, and then gets himself out. Others consider this an innovative dramatic device, in no way a "mistake," and a sign of Beethoven's genius.

The orchestra plays for over three and a half minutes before the piano enters. During this time, it introduces both first and second themes, and starts developing them before thinking better of it. After such a forceful orchestra presentation of the principal theme, what is left for the piano to do? Other composers have had the piano come in with a different theme under these circumstances, but in this case, the orchestra has already done that. Beethoven avoids the obvious and has the piano enter with the main theme, in the minor tonic and in a more fully developed form than in the orchestral opening in the major. There follows a dialogue between the dramatic first theme on the piano and the flowing second theme in the orchestra. Before the recapitulation begins, the piano moves dramatically to the dominant.

After the recapitulation, there is a pause before the cadenza. Some soloists perform their own cadenze; others use a cadenza popularized by an earlier performer. Our soloist plays one written by Beethoven.

The movement ends with a strong restatement of the C minor chord.

The second movement, Largo, begins with the piano solo. After the orchestra repeats the theme, there is a section of piano arabesques, over which the flute and bassoon play echo effects derived from the last part of the opening theme. The piano returns with a restatement of the melodic opening, but soon leaves it to the orchestra while it indulges in elaborate ornamentations. After a short cadenza, the orchestra makes a simple reference to the first bar of the theme, the piano echoes it, and the movement ends.

The third movement is a rondo, and, like the second movement, is only half as long as the first. The first part is allegro and the second, presto. About half way through there is some fugal writing followed by witty development of fragments of the two themes interwoven. It is a rapid, energetic movement, with shifts of mood.


 
       
  Eight Instrumental Miniatures for Fifteen Players Igor Stravinsky
(1882-1971)
 
 

Stravinsky was born in Russia, to an upper middle class family. His father was a noted opera singer, and Igor's first experience with music was through hearing his father sing, and studying his opera scores. Although his parents loved music, they thought the law would be a more promising career for Igor. They were not dogmatic, however, and allowed him to study music as he was working on a law degree.

The first great influence on Igor was Rimsky-Korsakov, with whom he studied orchestration. Another influence was Glazounov.

More than one commentator has remarked that Stravinsky is the musical equivalent of Picasso. Both experimented with many styles, and both had enormous impact on their generation of artists.

In his early days, say before 1920, Stravinsky was an eclectic composer with a neo-romantic bent. After that point, he became increasingly classical in his approach, with a growing obsession with order. In his later period he declared that music was incapable of expressing "antyhing at all." He abandoned his earlier Italian instructions, like those for "Fire Bird" (andante lamentoso, con maligna gioia) as implying too much emotional expression, and restricted himself to simple metronomic markings in his later works. His shift from the neo-Romantic to neo-Classical was expressed in 1940 in a lecture at Harvard, when he said, "The clear integration of a work of art and its crystallization demand that all the Dionysian elements, which stimulate a composer and set in motion the rising sap of his imagination, be adequately controlled before we succumb to their fever, and ultimately subordinated to disciple; such is Apollo's command."

The Eight Instrumental Miniatures for Fifteen Players which we are to heard today represent the beginning of Stravinsky's neo-Classical phase. They are later orchestrations of a series of Five-Finger exercises (Les Cinq Doigts) intended to exercise the fingers of the right hand by the use of the "tone-row" or "ton-reight" of Schoenberg. Stravinsky's interest in massive orchestral resources reached its peak with Le Sacre du Printemps, and he had, by the time he orchestrated these pieces, withdrawn to an interest in linear, transparent textures... far from his days with Rimsky.

The eight pieces are:

1. Andantino
2. Vivace
3. Lento (with reminders of Petrouchka)
4. Allegretto (with echoes of A Soldier's Tale of 1918)
5. Moderato
6. Tempo di Marcia
7. Larghetto
8. Tempo di Tango ("Tijuana Blues")


 
       
  Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, Nos. 5, 6, 7 Antonin Dvořák
(1841-1904)
 
 

Dvořák was born in the outskirts of Prague. He was the son of an innkeeper-butcher who expected him to continue the family business. However, he showed such early talent that he was sent to the organ school of the Bohemian Church Music Society.

Dvořák's early days were spent in poverty. He earned money by playing in cafés and in an insane asylum! He played viola in the former and organ in the latter. When he was twenty-one, his fortunes changed. Bedřich Smetana established the National Theatre of Prague, and Dvořák earned a place as a viola player in the orchestra.

His early works were many, but extremely derivative. It wasn't until he was in his thirties that he began to put a strong Czech nationalistic stamp on his music... the characteristic for which he was to become best known.

His work came to the attention of Brans during an annual competition, when Brahms awarded him a prize for his Moravian Duets. The older composer sensed in Dvořák a number of qualities in tune with his own, not the least of which was his great interest in folk-sources.

After the publishing house of Simrock successfully published Brahms' first set of Hungarian Dances, it pressured him for some more. It was another ten years before the second set was ready for publication, and during this time Simrock kept after him. In desperation, Brahms suggested that Simrock ask Dvořák to write a set of dances, knowing that the younger composer was capable of producing a set, similar to his own, yet fresh, original, and full of national fervor.

Dvořák produced the first set of eight Slavonic Dances for piano duet in record time. The works were immediately a financial success for Simrock, who asked Dvořák to orchestrate them, and it is in that form that we hear them today. Shortly after that success, he was persuaded to write a second set of eight, the Opus 72, this time as an orchestral set.

We hear dances 5, 6, and 7 of the first set.


 
       
  Serenade, Op. 18 William Mathias
(b. 1934)
 
 

William Mathias was born in 1934 in Wales. He took a first class honors degree in music from the University College of Wales in 1956. He later studied composition with Lennox Berkeley, and piano with Peter katin. He is now Head of the Music Department of the University College of North Wales.

His principal instrument is the piano, and by the time he was twenty-six, he had written two piano concerti as well as several smaller works for the piano and other instruments. His Welse background inevitably drew him to vocal music, which makes up fully one third of his output,and has recently dominated his production.

Mathias writes not only for all instrumental and vocal combinations, but also for all degrees of expertise, from small school groups, church choirs, and advanced amateur ensembles, to large, professional groups. His works range from intimate sonatas to full symphonies, large choral pieces, and (up to now) one opera. His most noted recent composition is "Let the people praise thee, O God," an anthem composed for the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.

The Serenade for Small Orchestra was written in 1961, toward the end of a period in which Mathias was principally interested in instrumental composition. No key signature is given for this work, nor for any other by Mathias, but while in the work of other composers this is an indication of modern disregard for tonality, and prepares the listener for some hard-going, in mathias' music it is not a warning that there are no tonal center -- only that there are shifting tonal centers, a device which adds spice without placing a heavy demand upon the listener.

Mathias favors open textures generally, and that preference is apparent in the Serenade. The work opens with a few short notes, tutti, after which paired oboes come in against a harp and cello ostinato. This establishes the character of the whole piece in that the various instruments jump in after one-another in sprightly fashion, and are rarely heard all together, though the texture becomes noticeably denser toward the end.


 
       
 

Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Marion Etzel, Concertmaster
Carla Slotterback *
Mary Berkebile
Karen S. Christman +
Eloise Guy
Beth Jones +
Rosemary Manifold
Ervin Orban
Elizabeth Starcher
Vernon Stinebaugh

Viola
Denise Lutter *
Louis Brinin
Annette Martin
Ronda Mendenhall +

Cello
Jerry Lessig *
Philip Christman +
Waverly Conlan
Kathy Hendershot +
Nancy Rowe +

Bass
Calvin Bisha *
Adrian Mann
Ingrid Rupel +

Piccolo
Kathy Urbani

Flute
Patty Jones *+
Amy Statler +
Kathy Urbani

Oboe
Stephanie Jones *
Dawn Zumbrun
Clarinet
Peggy Parker *
Jane Grandstaff
Loa Traxler +

Bassoon
Takashi Yamano *
Douglas Hodge

Horn
Eric Joseph *+
Brent Barto +
Eric Jones +

Trumpet
Andrew Norman *
Steve Hammer
Mark Joseph +

Trombone
Hugh Callison *
Brian Hartman
David Weatherholt +

Timpani
Ken Jordan

Percussion
Bill Leonhard *+
Lisa McMillen +
Paige Smith +

Harp
Bridgett Stuckey

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
       
 
Donna Guenther joined the faculty of Manchester College in the fall of 1978. Her teaching activities in the Music Department include both private and class piano instruction. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, a Master of Music degree from Southern Illinois University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. During her education she has had the opportunity to study privately with internationally renowned artists such as Claude Frank, Ruth Slenczynska, and Theodore Lettvin. For two summers she was a participant in the International Music Courses at Cascais, Portugal. Miss Guenther has performed numerous solo and chamber music recitals in the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Maine.