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Concert Program Cover

First Concert of the 67th Season

The Nature of Music

Sunday, October 30th, 2005
Cordier Auditorium
Suzanne Gindin, Conductor

  The Four Seasons -- Autumn Antonio Vivaldi  
  Karen Sanno, solo violin  
       
  Villanelle Paul Dukas  
  Ellen Campbell, solo horn  
       
  Intermission  
       
  Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 ("The Pastoral") Ludwig van Beethoven  
 

I. Allegro ma non troppo
II. Andante molto mosso
III. Allegro
IV. Allegro
V. Allegretto

 
       
 

Program Notes by James R. C. Adams

 
  L'Autunno (Autumn, from The Four Seasons) Antonio Vivaldi
(1678-1741)
 
 

Vivaldi was a major composer of the Baroque period ... a period which usually brings to mind "absolute" music with sucn forms as the fugue and the concerto grosso. Although the term "program music" was coined in the 19th century by Liszt, "program," or descriptive music has been with us since as far back as we can probe. In 1725, Vivaldi published a series of twelve concerti for violin and string orchestra called Il Cimento dell'Armonia e dell'Invenzione (The Foundation of Harmony and Inventions). Four of these pieces were grouped as Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons), of which we hear the third: Autumn.

Interest in "program music" has waxed and waned cyclically over the years. Its greates proponent was the Bohemian composer, Smetana, in the Romantic era. He believed that it was not only possible, but imperitave, that composers produce music that could evince events in the natural world. Beethoven touched upon it in his Sixth Symphony, the Pastoral. Smetana did it in his Moldau. The 20th century Brazilian, Villa-Lobos did it with hie O Trenzinho da Caipira, and Honegger with his Pacific 231, both of the latter evoking the image of a locomotive.

Most composers, however, scorned the idea of program-music. Stravinsky said that music was incapable of expressing anything. He meant anything concrete. It is true that some composers stopped to mere imitation of birds and other animals, much in the manner of circus performers who can make a violin sound like anything. Even Vivaldi and Beethoven tried that. You can judge whether or not the result is music or trickery.

Vivaldi came perilously close to deserving the scorn of Stravinsky. He not only tried to imitate bird songs and barking dogs, but he included specific instructions in his score concerning the "meaning" of the parts. Each of the four concerti is accompanied by a sonnet. We don't know who wrote the sonnets, perhaps Vivaldi, himself, but we do know that he expected us to follow them as listened to the music. Each part is labeled with a letter, and each letter appears at the appropriate place in the score. Vivaldi left nothing to chance. Here is the "program" for Autumn:

With song and dance, the peasants mark    Allegro movement
The happy harvest time,
                             (you can hear the drunken violin!)
Drink deep from the cup of Bacchus
And end their joy in slumber
Now one by one they cease their sport
         Adagio movement
The mild and temperate season
Inducing sleep in all.
At dawn the hunter
                                     Allegro movement
With horn and hound
                                  (you can hear the guns and dogs)
Flushed his prey. The chase is on.
The tiring and bewildered beast
Assailed by dogs and the din of guns
Falls fatigued, and wounded, dies.

The work is in three movements, as is to be expected of a concerto. The word concerto is Italian for "conflict." In the Baroque concerto grosso, a small group of instruments vied with the larger group. In later concerti, that smaller group was replaced by a solo instrument, competing with the orchestra. That is the sort of concerto with which most concert-goers are familiar. Both the concerto grosso and the modern concerto typically consist of three movements, representing tension, relaxation, and then tension again. Vivaldi's concerti fall somewhere in between these two extremes. The tutti (full orchestra) is used in this concerto to a great extent, as Vivaldi found it difficult to represent a storm with violins, alone!


 
       
  Villanelle Paul Dukas
(1865-1935)
 
 

Paul Dukas is one of those composers destined to be remembered mostly for one work. In his case, it was The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which got a great boost from Disney in the film Fantasia. The small output was not the result of inability, but an exaggerated level of self-criticism. he actually destroyed a great number of his own compositions, including the orchestral accompaniment of the work we will hear today.

Dukas was a fine professor of composition and orchestration, teaching at the Paris Conservatory for many years, and writing scholarly books on some of his favorite composers, including Richard Strauss, whose father was a notable horn player. Perhaps he hoped the senior Strauss would promote his Villanelle. Most recordings describe his Villanelle as "for horn and piano," because the original version was lost. The version we hear today was orchestrated by Dr. Donald Miller of the University of Missouri.

A Villanelle is a "simple-minded" Neapolitan street song with a repeating pattern, popular in the 16th century. That is according to one source. According to another, it is a "sophisticated" parody of a madrigal. The term later was used to suggest a bucolic scene, perhaps a village dance. Berlioz, Dukas, and others have used it in this sense.

The horn was introduced to the orchestra in the 17th century, and was appreciated by Mozart, who wrote four horn concertos. In spite of this endorsement, and the many works written for solo horn in those days, the horn repertoire fell into obscurity for many years. Horns are notoriously hard to play, so perhaps there just weren't many good players. This changed with the English family Brain, and especially with Dennis Brain. There were generations of horn players in that family, but Dennis Brain was outstanding. in the 1950s, if you asked music-lovers to name a great horn-player, they would name Dennis Brain, and could think of no others. Brain resurrected the four horn concertos of Mozart, and began to popularize other horn pieces that had been forgotten ... including the Dukas Villanelle. Dennis Brain could make even a garden hose sound pretty good!

This piece is easy to listen to, as a Villanelle should be. But it is not easy to play. It was written in 1906 as a competition piece, and is designed to show off the particular charms of the instrument. Wait for the coda, which is very fast, and displays speedy triple-tonguing. There is not a great deal of complicated structure here, and the work is very lyrical. One or two themes are repeated and the speed increased (the original Villanelle was quite repetitive, but this one is more varied) until we reach a dramatic finish.


 
       
  Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 ("The Pastoral") Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770-1827)
 
 

Unlike Dukas, Beethoven needs no introduction. But, perhaps, this symphony does. Since the days of Haydn and Mozart, symphonies are expected to consist of four movements with rather predictable structure. The first movements were in "sonata form," which I won't detail here. Suffice it to say that the music was "abstract;" that is, not intended to convey any visual imagery. That is not to say it had no dramatic effects or was aloof from human dilemmas. The sonata form provided ample scope for confrontation, struggle, and resolution. Symphonies were capable of mimicking human drama without being explicit. All of Beethoven's nine symphonies are in four movements ... except number six. What's more, it is unabashedly "programmatic." Well, perhaps not "unabashedly." Beethoven showed a little embarassment for having written program music, which at that time (and now) was considered a bit too tricky, appealing to the unsophisticated audience.

Vivaldi, in his Four Seasons, had truly been "unabashed." He detailed the extra-musical effects we were supposed to notice, to the point of marking his score in reference to the sonnets that inspired him. He called our attention to the songs of the cuckoo, the turtle-dove, and the goldfinch. Beethoven, on the other hand, expressed some reservations about his use of bird-song in the Pastoral Symphony. When a friend was probing for more interpretive information, Beethoven referred him not only to his imitation of the nightingale, quail, and cuckoo (which you can all hear), but the yellow-hammer, appearing in an arpeggio phrase. This was Beethoven's way of saying not to take the program too seriously. He prefaced his score with the comment, "more an expression of feeling than painting."


 
       
 

Manchester Symphony Orchestra Personnel

 
  Violin I
Linda Kanzawa, Concertmaster
Jessica Bennett
Linda Kummernuss
Ilona Orban
Moo Il Rhee

Violin II
Janice Eplett *
Martha Barker
Heather Hufgard +
Robert Meyer
Rod Morrison
Lisa Weaver

Viola
Naida MacDermid *
Dessie Arnold
T.J. Hull
Jessica Jacoby +

Cello
Brook Bennett *
Jason Ney
Sarah Reed +
Tim Spahr
Tony Spahr

Bass
Darrel Fiene *
Mark Huxhold
George Scheerer

Flute
Kathy Urbani *
Jena Eichenlaub +
Allie Hoover +
Sara Kauffman +
Oboe
George Donner *
Deana Strantz +

Clarinet
Lila D. Hammer *
Mark W. Huntington
Jennifer Hann +

Bassoon
Erich Zummack *
Amy Cox

Horn
Nancy Bremer *
Brittany Cook +
Cameron Hollenberg +

Trumpet
Steven Hammer *
Jason Lucker

Trombone
Jon Hartman *
Larry Dockter

Percussion
Dave Robbins *
Michael Holler +

* Denotes principal
+ Denotes MC student
       
 
Ellen CampbellEllen Campbell is the newly appointed professor of horn at the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and is a horn instructor at the Interlochen Arts Camp in the summer. She has previously been on the faculty at the University of Oregon, University of New Mexico, and Southwest Texas State University. Campbell toured Europe, Australia, Mexico, and across the United States with the New Mexico Brass Quintet, and recorded with the NMBQ and the Oregon Brass Quintet. She served as Principal Horn in the Santa Fe Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony, and Austin Chamber Orchestra, and has performed with numerous orchestras including the Houston Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival, Eugene Symphony, Oregon Mozart Players, Grand Rapids Symphony, and Lansing Symphony.

As a soloist she has appeared with orchestras in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and North Dakota. Ms. Campbell is a frequent guest artist at regional and international meetings of the International Horn Society, and hosted the 1996 International Horn Workshop in Eugene, Oregon.
Karen Sanno, born and raised in the Chicago area, has lived in New Orleans since 1997. In addition to performing with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, she is a faculty member of NOCCA/Riverfront and a coach for the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra. She also has a private studio of violin students and frequently performs chamber music throughout the New Orleans area.

Since earning her degree in Violin Performance at the University of Illinois, she has performed throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, most notable with the New World Symphony (Miami), the Sarasota Opera Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, The Chicago String Ensemble, and as concertmaster of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra (Charleston, South Carolina) and the Festival dei Due Monde (Spoleto, Italy) She can be heard on a number of recordings, including the soundtrack to the movie Spy Kids 2.