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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 61st Season

 

Sunday, March 5th, 2000
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Toccata Girolamo Frescobaldi  
       
  Organ Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 177 Josef Rheinberger  
 

I. Grave
II. Andante
III. Con Moto

 
  Robin Gratz, organ  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F, BWV 1046 J.S. Bach  
 

I. Allegro Moderato
II. Adagio
III. Allegro
IV. Minuet - Trio I - Polonaise - Trio II

 
  Nancy Bremer, Bryan Gibson, John Morse, horn
Rita Merrick, George Donner, Scott Perry, oboe
Erich Zummack, bassoon
Linda Ard, violin
 
       
  Paul Bunyan Suite William Bergsma  
 

I. The Dance of the Blue Ox
II. Country Dance
III. Night - Paul's Work Completed

 
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Toccata Girolamo Frescobaldi
(1583-1643)
arr. Kindler
 
 

Frescobaldi was born in Ferrara and died in Rome. In his time, he was best known as a virtuoso organist. He was so famous that an audience of 30,000 is said to have attended his first performance at St. Peter's in Rome.

He was not simply a noted performer; he was a good enough composer that his compositions for keyboard are still part of the standard repertoire. He is a favorite among harpsichordists as well as organists. Frescobaldi is often described as a great innovator, and he did make some changes in accepted practice, particularly in the dance rhythms of the Gagliardi and the Corrente, but mostly he further developed existing features of Renaissance music. Although he lived well before the generally accepted period of the Baroque, his music is considered Baroque. One could say he ushered in the Baroque. As a teacher, he had a great influence on the development of German Baroque music through his well-known pupil, Froberger.

Toccata is an old word, meaning "played" as opposed to cantata, "sung." The Italian word literally means "touched," suggesting keyboard playing. It has come to refer to a piece displaying the great delicacy and dexterity of the performer, and, through the influence of Frescobaldi's pupil Froberger, became a very popular form during the ensuing Baroque period. Bach, for example, studied Frescobaldi's music and wrote many toccatas, frequently as preludes to a fugue.


 
       
  Organ Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 177 Josef Rheinberger
(1839-1901)
 
 

The name Rheinberger is not likely to be familiar to the average concert-goer, and for even the serious music-lover, the name would be only vaguely familiar. Reference books (if they mention him at all) almost uniformly refer to him as "conservative" or "reactionary." Yet if you ask an organist about him, you will get the answer, "Of course I know Rheinberger! All serious organists have something by Rheinberger in their repertoire!"

Sympathetic historians comment favorably on his organ works (two concerti, many organ sonatas, and operas), and they also praise (faintly) his careful construction and attention to standard forms (this latter being a condemnation, actually). Musicologist Percy Scholes describes him as "an able general practitioner of music," and this is not a ringing endorsement. Apart from his organ works, which retain their popularity among organists, his music is rarely played.

Rheinberger appears to have been a popular teacher. Among his students were Engelbert Humperdinck and Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari. Teachers may, by nature, be conservative, believing that it is necessary to learn "the rules" before being able safely to ignore them. Students, however, frequently become more famous than their teachers.

Though Rheinberger's musical conservatism might have been the principal cause for his neglect, the competition at that time was severe. Among his contemporaries were the likes of Bizet, Mussorgsky, Tchaikowsky, Chabrier, Dvorak, Massenet, Grieg, and Verdi!

Today we hear the second of his two concerti, Opus 177. Like most concerti of the period, it is divided into three movements and, also like most concerti of his period, the solo instrument plunges right in at the start. Unlike the typical concerto, there is less conflict between the solo instrument and the orchestra; the work is integrated. In the first movement, grave, principal themes are repeatedly presented by the brass, with the organ acting as "orchestral background."

The second movement is andante. Here, although the organ is well-balanced against the orchestral forces, we do hear it more often, this time with the orchestra as background.

The third movement, con moto, opens dramatically with several sharp chords. After a repitition there comes an almost Brahmsian section. Unlike the typical concerto of the Romantic period, there is no cadenza, that is, no solo section in which the performer gets to show off in a style intended to sound improvised. Throughout, this concerto retains a modest balance between organ and orchestra.


 
       
  Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046 Johann Sebastian Bach
(1685-1750)
 
 

In 1721, Bach delivered six concerti along with a message to the Margrave of Brandenburg, Christian Ludwig, to whom he was trying to ingratiate himself. His embarrassingly obsequious plea for favor and employment apparently fell on deaf ears. There is no evidence that the Margrave ever played these works or even looked at them. They were, however, preserved in his library, and have since become some of the most celebrated works of the Baroque period.

Concert-goers know the meaning of "concerto" today. It usually is an orchestral piece showcasing a solo instrument. We have concerti (or concertos) for violin, piano, trumpet, and yes, even harmonica. But the concerto, like everything else, has evolved.

The word concerto in Italian (and other Romance languages) has come to mean simply "concert," and that word in English suggests cooperation, as in "We must work in concert to get the job done." However, concerto really suggests competition (the root, concertare means to vie with). The solo instrument is vying for prominence with the orchestra. The concerto we hear today is not exactly of this sort; It is a Concerto Grosso, or "big contest."

In the Broque period, the concerto had not yet (for the most part) reached the stage of one solo instrument's competing with the whole orchestra throughout the piece. Instead, there was a small group of instruments competing with a larger group. The small group was known as the concertino, and the large group was known as the ripieni or tutti. Sometimes this small group played throughout the work. At other times, the members of the small group had their own individual moments of virtuosity. That is the case in the first of the six Brandenburg Concerti.

Of the six Brandenburg concerti, the first is the most complex. It is different in many ways. The other five, like most moden concerti, have three movements; the first has four, the last of which is further divided into seven parts. Also, the concertino in the other five is clearly defined, but in the first is more integrated with the whole. In each section, different members of the smaller group are featured, the oboes in the first part, then the horns, etc.

It should be pointed out that the conductor of Baroque music must exercise judgement and good taste in the presentation, because music of that period was scored for instruments which no longer exist, or are hard to find. This concerto, for example, was scored for violino piccolo, a small violin tuned higher than a modern violin. Stringed instruments, in general, were strung with gut, at lower tension, and had smaller sound posts resulting in softer sounds. Violins and violas had no chin rests, which produced a more relaxed playing. Wind instruments, too, were softer than modern ones. The conductor must take all these things into account in order to maintain a proper balance of tone.

The first movement features the violin (we don't have a violino piccolo), the oboes, and the horns. Bach displays his cosmopolitanism in this concerto with the use of the violino piccolo, oboes, and horns, all more common to French music than to German at that time. This movement is allegro, like the first movements of almost all concerti since. Likewise, the second movement is in the expected adagio. The third movement is allegro (no surprise here), but the fourth (non-existent in later concerti, including the other five of this collection), is divided into seven parts: Menuetto, Trio I, Menuetto, Polacca, Menuetto, Trio II, and Menuetto.


 
       
  Paul Bunyan Suite William Bergsma
(1921-1994)
 
 

William Bergsma is an American composer born in Oakland, California. He attended Stanford University, and later the Eastman School of Music, where he studied under Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers. He taught at the Juilliard School of Music from 1946 to 1963, after which he moved to Seattle, where he taught composition until 1971. He died there in 1994. His best known works are the opera The Wift of Martin Guerre, two symphonies, The Voice of the Coelacanth, variations on The Twelve Days of Christmas, and Chameleon Variations.

One text describes his work as being "mostly in a lyrical, contrapuntal, somewhat unassertive style..." The music of his middle years sounds clearly "modern," with disjunctive intervals (wide leaps) suggesting atonality, or tone-row themes, tempered with tonal variations on familiar themes or themes of his own. Some would say he is trying to please both camps, appealing to the traditional concert-goers, listening for familiar harmonies, while satisfying the "advance" listener with a nod to dissonance.

His Paul Bunyan Suite is very easy to like. It makes few demands of the listener, and was intended to make fewer demands of the orchestra. Bergsma wrote this piece when he was only sixteen years old for the high school orchestra in Burlingame, California, where he played the violin. It was written as a ballet for puppets and solo dancer, later turned into an orchestral suite (1937), and revised in 1945.

Paul Bunyan, of course, is that giant of North American folk-lore whose pet Babe, the Blue Ox, was so big his foot-prints formed the Great Lakes.

The suite consists of four movements. The Dance of the Blue Ox is rather humorous. It is marked molto pomposo e pesante (very pompous and heavy).

The second movement, Country Dance, is sprightly.

The third movement, Night, is marked andante misterioso (slow and mysterious).

The fourth movement celebrates Paul's Work Completed, and is marked maestoso (majestic).


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda Kanzawa Ard, Concertmaster
Joyce Dubach *
Martha Barker
Christina Beyer +^
Amy Bixler +
Emma Doud
Jaime Eller +^
Sherry Gajewski
Matt Hendryx
Rosemary Manifold
Rod Morrison
Margaret Piety
Moo Il Rhee
Rebekah Yoder +^

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Dessie Arnold
Peter Collins
Eric Stalter +^

Cello
Tim Spahr *
Valeria Goetz Doud
Anne Gratz
Joseph Kalisman
Robert Lynn

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Randy Gratz
George Scheerer

Piccolo
Barbi Pyrah

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Carol Snodgrass

Oboe
Rita K. Merrick *
George Donner
Scott Perry
Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Jane Grandstaff

Bass Clarinet
Mark W. Huntington

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Michael Trentacosti

Horn
Nancy A. Bremer *
Bryan Gibson
John Morse
Bill Klickman

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Richard Pepple
Nathan Reynolds +^

Trombone
Jeremy Dawkins *+^ (co-)
Jon Hartman * (co-)
Joel Roman +

Tuba
William DeWitt

Timpani
David Mendenhall

Piano
Debora DeWitt

Harpsichord
Robin Gratz

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes MSS Scholarship recipient
       
 
Robin GratzRobin Gratz is the organist of Manchester College and Zion Lutheran Church in North Manchester. His organ studies were with R. Gary Deavel at MC, from which he received a B.A. in 1970. His graduate degrees are from Duke and the University of Chicago. For more than 30 years, he has been a church organist in Fort Wayne, Chicago, and the local community. He is an academic librarian, having served at the University of Chicago, Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Manchester College, where he has been director since 1989. He is married to local artist, Francine. They have two children -- Anne, a cello student at the Eastman School of Music, and Jon, in high school.