October 13, 2020

The Anne Jenkins Memorial Concert Series welcomes you to opening night of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra’s 55th season! Tonight, the ISO’s string octet (plus one bass) will perform Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings in E flat major, Op. 20 and Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

This performance was originally planned as Schubert’s Octet, which was composed for five strings and three winds. Because research on aerosols and wind instruments is still in process, and out of an abundance of caution, the musicians and Maestro Thielen are proud to share this opening night performance with nine string instruments.

Tonight’s performance is presented by The Verner Foundation.

Watch online: ImperialSymphony.org/live

Program

Please click the ‘+’ to reveal program notes.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809–47), was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn’s compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music, organ music and chamber music. His best-known works include the overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the oratorio St. Paul, the oratorio Elijah, the overture The Hebrides, the mature Violin Concerto and the String Octet. The melody for the Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is also his. Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.

Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20, was composed in the autumn of 1825 and completed on October 15, when the composer was 16. He wrote the octet as a birthday gift for his friend and violin teacher Eduard Ritz; it was slightly revised in 1832 before the first public performance on January 30, 1836 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Rietz had been the concertmaster of the Berlin Court Orchestra in 1819, and that was the position he held when Mendelssohn wrote for him his rarely played D minor Violin Concerto (not to be confused with the later, more famous E minor Concerto).

The work comprises four movements:

  1. Allegro moderato ma con fuoco (E-flat major)
  2. Andante (C minor)
  3. Scherzo: Allegro leggierissimo (G minor)
  4. Presto (E-flat major)

A typical performance of the work lasts around thirty minutes, with the first movement usually comprising roughly half of this.

The scherzo, later scored for orchestra as a replacement for the minuet in the composer’s First Symphony at its premiere, is believed to have been inspired by a section of Goethe’s Faust entitled “Walpurgis Night’s Dream”.

“Floating cloud and trailing mist,
O’er us brightening hover:
The rushes shake, winds stir the brake:
Soon all their pomp is over.”

Felix’s sister Fanny wrote of this movement, “One feels so near the world of spirits, carried away in the air, half inclined to snatch up a broomstick and follow the aerial procession. At the end the first violin takes a flight with feather-like lightness, and—all has vanished.” Fragments of this movement recur in the finale, as a precursor to the “cyclic” technique employed by later 19th-century composers. The entire work is also notable for its extended use of counterpoint, with the finale, in particular, beginning with an eight-part fugato. In this section, Mendelssohn quotes the melody of “And he shall reign forever and ever” from the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel’s Messiah.

The original score is for a double string quartet with four violins and pairs of violas and cellos. Mendelssohn instructed in the public score, “This Octet must be played by all the instruments in symphonic orchestral style. Pianos and fortes must be strictly observed and more strongly emphasized than is usual in pieces of this character.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791), was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. He composed more than 600 works and is considered among the greatest classical composers of all time. Ludwig van Beethoven composed his early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote: “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years”.

Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major), K. 525, is a 1787 composition for a chamber ensemble. The German title means “a little serenade”, though it is often rendered more literally as “a little night music”. The work is written for an ensemble of 2 violins, viola, and cello with optional double bass.

The serenade was completed in Vienna  around the time Mozart was working on the second act of his opera Don Giovanni.It is not known why it was composed. Wolfgang Hildesheimer, noting that most of Mozart’s serenades were written on commission, suggests that this serenade, too, was a commission, whose origin and first performance were not recorded.

The traditionally used name of the work comes from the entry Mozart made for it in his personal catalog, which begins, “Eine kleine Nacht-Musik”. Scholars believe Mozart was not giving the piece a special title, but only entering in his records that he had completed a little serenade.>

The work has four movements:

  1. Allegro (G major – D major – Ambiguous key – G major)
  2. Romanze: Andante (C major)
  3. Menuetto: Allegretto (G major, with trio in D major)
  4. Rondo: Allegro (G major – D major – Ambiguous key – G minor – G major)

In the catalog entry mentioned above, Mozart listed the work as having five movements (“Allegro – Minuet and Trio – Romance – Minuet and Trio – Finale.”). The second movement in his listing, a minuet and trio, was long thought lost and no one knows if Mozart or someone else removed it.

Musicians

Dr. Nina Kim, Concertmaster
Alvaro Pereiro, Associate Concertmaster
Marina Tucker, Principal 2nd Violin
Joshua Dampier, 2nd Violin
Dr. Rafael Ramirez, Principal Viola
Lorenzo Sanchez, Viola
Michael Sedloff, Principal Cello
Edevaldo Mulla, Cello
Michael Lawson, Principal Bass

Maestro Mark Thielen, Music Director

Thank yous

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