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Concert Program Cover

Third Concert of the 65th Season

Sunday, March 7th, 2004
Cordier Auditorium
Robert Jones, Conductor

  Concerto for Two Pianos in C, BWV 1061 Johann Sebastian Bach  
 

I. Allegro
II. Adagio ovvero Largo
III. Fuga

   
  Debora DeWitt and Sarah Miller, duo pianists  
       
  Divertissement for String Orchestra Jean Berger  
 

I. Allegro ma non troppo
II. Andante, non troppo lento
III. Molto animato

   
       
  Intermission  
       
  Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
 

I. Allegro molto
II. Andante
III. Menuetto, allegretto
IV. Allegro assai

 
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  Concerto for Two Harpsichords in C major, BWV 1061 Johann Sebastian Bach
(1685-1750)
 
 

Bach wrote at least thirteen Cembalokonzerte, or concerti for harpsichords (today we hear the version for piano). All but one of these concerti are transcriptions of concerti written for other instruments ... oboes, violins, flutes, et al. This one was the only one written for two harpsichords from the start. Even it is thought to be a version of a concerto for two harpsichords without orchestral accompaniment. Bach transposed not only his own concerti, but those of Vivaldi, also written for other instruments.

Musicologists have speculated about the reason for so many transcriptions. It could be that the popularity of the harpsichord provided a good market for such concerti. But a reasonable theory has it that Bach had a number of very talented students at the time he wrote most of his harpsichord concerti, including two of his sons. In fact, it is likely that Bach, his sons, Wilhem Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel, and another student, Johann Ludwig Krebs, performed at the premiere of the Concert for Four Harpsichords.

Typically, in a concerto of the Baroque period, a solo instrument, or several, play against a larger group of instruments in a sort of dialogue, or argument (concerto actually means "contest," or "conflict"). It is clear that in most of his transpositions Bach preserved the relationship between the solo instrument and the orchestra as "antagonistic." Most of Bach's concerti are for solo harpsichord in which that instrument takes the place of whatever "melody instrument" was used in the original work. When transcribing from a concerto written say, for violin, Bach had to alter the harpsichord part because the range of the violin was higher than that of the harpsichord. It is known from perusal of his autograph scores that he wrote out the orchestral part first, and then added the harpsichord part derived from the melody of the original solo instrument. He often had to put the bars farther apart in the harpsichord part to accommodate the faster fingering possible. Erasures and marginal notes sometimes make it difficult for musicians to know what exactly was Bach's intention. Also, the number of instruments "playing against" the soloist varied according to the orchestral resources of the concert venue.

In this performance, pianos are substituted for harpsichords. Their increased power calls for an increased orchestral size, or the pianists must play more lightly than usual so as not to overwhelm the orchestra. Such adjustments for hall-characteristics, or orchestral size were common in the past, so should not shock us in the present.

One reason for believing that this concerto was originally for two "solo" harpsichords and then adapted to orchestral accompaniment is that the orchestra adds very little to the dialogue. Tension and contrast are essential to a concerto, but in this case the keyboard instruments play less "against" the orchestra than they do against each other in antiphonal manner. Harpsichords are capable of being rather "orchestral" themselves, and this is nowhere more evident than in the second movement, adagio, where they play without orchestral accompaniment.

The final movement is a fugue, a characteristic form developed during the Baroque period, largely by Bach. A melody is introduced by one instrument, soon to be followed by the second, while the first begins another theme. This is an example of counterpoint. Simply put, the fugue is like a canon, but with greater freedom of invention as it proceeds.


 
       
  Divertissement for String Orchestra Jean Berger
(1909-2002)
 
 

Jean Berger is, perhaps, not as well known as he should be. His name does not appear in The New Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians, nor in any of the discographies I can find. The Composers Bureau Archives provides some biographical information on the occasion of his death in May of 2002. Dr. Berger was born into a Jewish family in Hamm, Germany. He received his Ph.D. from Heidelberg University, and studied composition in Paris with Louis Aubert. He was a pianist who toured throughout Europe as soloist and accompanist between 1933 and 1939. As is to be expected, his life in Nazi Germany was not without incident. While he was assistant conductor at the Mannheim Opera, he was forcibly removed from the theater by four Brownshirts. He lived in Paris from 1933 until 1939 at which point he moved to Brazil, where he became Assistant Conductor at the Teatro Municipal and a member of the faculty at the Conservatório Brasileiro de Música.

He lived in the United States from 1941 until his death in 2002. He had a self-deprecating sense of humor, and well understood why his music was not more widely appreciated. In a communication with his friend, Billye Brown Youmans, he remarks:

"... if I judge correctly, the living composer in Germany -- probably in all of Western Europe -- is not expected to write music that can please. Tradition has it that government resources keep the species alive but though he is expected ... to produce new works, nobody expects to like it. And here I appear on the scene, blithely and innocently writing score after score which is unconcerned with what my contemporaries consider the living composer's "problems," and so belonging to an otherwise unknown species."

Berger's works are mostly choral. He was a linguist, and understood well the nuances of language. Yet, he had no objection to singers working in the native language of their audiences and he was sensitive to their phrasing. He became a promoter of American music, delivering lectures all over the world on that subject. But his music was not confined to choral. He was commissioned by Larry Adler to write the world's first harmonica concerto, and today, we hear his instrumental Divertissement. A divertissement (French for "amusement") is a light work, usually in the form of a suite: that is, a set of pieces in dance rhythms.


 
       
  Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550 Wolfang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-1791)
 
 

Mozart's 40th symphony is the middle one of a "trilogy" representing the summit of Mozart's symphonic production. All three symphonies (the 39th, the 40th, and the 41st, The Jupiter) were written in the span of six weeks. Few of Mozart's works were written in the minor key, although he used that key for contrast in parts of many of his compositions. The 40th is in the minor key with the major used for contrast, the opposite from his usual practice. At the time these were written, Mozart was not in a happy mood; he was extremely debt-ridden. There is no evidence that these were played in Mozart's time, and perhaps he wrote them as "stock" for the next season. To argue that the pathos expressed in this symphony owed solely to his unfortunate person condition would be to ignore the fact that the 39th is in an exuberant mood, and the 41st is positively triumphant.

This symphony (and the Jupiter to follow) is thought of as the culmination of the classical symphony. Let me briefly describe a classical symphony as it was developed by Haydn and Mozart. There are four movements, the first of which is derived from the sonata form. That form, itself, is made up of three parts: the "exposition," the "development," and the "recapitulation." The whole idea is the contrast of elements. The exposition is where the main theme, or "subject," is introduced, or "exposed." Two keys are used, five steps apart on the scale. This provides contrast. Mozart used not only two keys, but two themes. The first subject is usually bold, while the second subject is usually lighter, and more melodic. The middle part of the first movement is the development, where the composer gets to play around with the two subjects, and migrate to various keys. Think of it as a dialogue, or even a struggle between opposing forces. Finally, the two subjects return in the recapitulation, but this time in the same key, suggesting a resolution of the conflict. That whole movement is like a drama. The opening key (known thereafter as the tonic) is so well established in our minds, that whatever the composer doese in the meantime, we subconsciously expect to return to that key, and in the recapitulation, that is just what happens.

The other three movements are less prescribed. The second can also be in sonata form, but doesn't need to be. The third almost always in Mozart's day was in minuet and trio form, and the final is either in sonata form again, or in rondo. It could even be in theme-and-variations form, though not likely in Mozart's day. The final movement here is in sonata form, as described above. There is a great deal of contrapuntal (polyphonic) writing in this movement, a testimony to Mozart's respect for Bach.

One of the reasons for the high regard afforded this symphony in the minor key is that it reflects the so-called Sturm und Drang theory. Sturm und Drang is usually translated as "Storm and Stress," and refers to a literary movement based on works of Rousseau. Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers ("The Sorrows of the Young Werther") was an influential example. A number of Austrian composers began to write symphonies in the minor key which are said to be deeper, more emotional, more symbolic...in short, Romantic. So Mozart, in his 40th symphony, shows signs of the coming age of Romanticism, and specifically of Beethoven, who is the transitional figure between the two eras of Classicism and Romanticism.

We can hear a similarity between this symphony and Beethoven's 5th. The opening strains of Mozart's 40th have a rhythm of "one, two, three, one, two, three," which is repeated in a number of ways and in different keys. This is economical, but provides marvelous possibilities for development...just as the "dit, dit, dit, dah" of the Beethoven 5th does.

As an aside, for those of you wondering what the "K" stands for in Mozart's titles, it is a substitute for an "opus number." Today, composers number their works in order of composition. These are the opus numbers (opus is Latin for "work"). In Mozart's day, opus numbers were not generally used, so it is only through correspondence and publishers' dates that we can estimate the order of composition by classical composers such as Mozart and Haydn. A scientist (botany and mineralogy) named Ludwig von Köchel, who was a great admirer of Mozart, took it upon himself to produce a catalog of Mozart's works, numbered in order of composition as nearly as he could determine. That is why on the radio you sometimes hear something that sounds like, "Concert number 23, kechel-listing 488."


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin
Linda Kanzawa, Concertmaster
Joyce Dubach *
Dessie Arnold
Benita Barber
Martha Barker
Kristin King +
William Klickman
Linda Kummernuss
Emily Mondock
Margaret A. Piety
Moo Il Rhee

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Peter Collins
Julie Sadler
Michael Spaulding

Cello
Tim Spahr *
Sarah Reed +
Tony Spahr
Sara Thomas

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Mark Huxhold
Flute
Allison Hoover +

Oboe
George Donner *
Rita K. Merrick

Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Jennifer Hann +

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Amy Eager +

Horn
Brittany Cook +
Cameron Hollenberg +
Kim Reuter +^

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
^ Denotes Keister Scholarship recipient
       
 
Sarah E. MillerSarah E. Miller currently teaches piano, theory and composition at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is coordinator of composition activities. An active accompanist and solo performer, she holds B.A., B.M. and M.M. degrees, as well as a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Her teachers include Ralph Votapek, Albertine Votapek, John Perry, Brooks Smith, Gwendolyn Koldofsky and Samuel Sanders. In 1995 Sarah Miller received the Outstanding Woman Graduate Award by the Factuly-Professional Women's Association and fellowships from the Michigan State University College of Arts and Letters. Dr. Miller was named the Lansing Caopital Area Music Teachers Association Teacher of the Year in 1996. As a composer, she has received numerous commissions, including Fanfare and Dances in Mixed-Up Lydian. The latter was premiered by the MacPhail Suzuki Tour Group Orchestra at the 2002 National Suzuki Convention. Recent performances include appearances in the Thursday Musicale Concert Series and the MacPhail Artist Series in the Twin Cities.
Debora DeWittDebora DeWitt has been a member of the music faculty at Manchester College since 1991. Her performances include a solo performance with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and numerous concerts and recitals throughout Michigan and Indiana. Also an accomplished composer, she has written works for electronic and computer media, chamber orchestra, chamber ensemble, choral ensemble, voice and piano. Recent compositions include Three Pieces for Orchestra, premiered by the Manchester Symphony Orchestra in 1999 and Parting, premiered at Carnegie Hall by the Manchester A Cappella Choir in 2002. In 1995, Debora was invited to The Chinese University of Hong Kong to premiere her vocal composition, Song Cycle for a Bereaved Mother with Hong Kong soprano Rosaline Pi. She has received awards for her work in composition, including winner of the 1996 IMTA Composition Commission contest. Debora is a frequent adjudicator, having judged for local, regional and state piano competitions as well as regional, state, and international composition contests. Debora received both her Masters in Piano Performance and her Ph.D. in Composition from Michigan State University. Her primary piano teachers were Albertine Votapek and Deborah Moriarty. She studied composition with Mark Sullivan and Jere Hutcheson.