Read about some of the pieces GCTYO is performing at the Winter 2022 concerts.
The saxophone is among the most integral instruments in the canon of jazz music. Today’s selections for the ensemble include recognized classics of both jazz and its predecessor, ragtime, beginning with the well-known tune, The Entertainer, originally written for piano by Texarkana-born African-American pianist and composer Scott Joplin—known in his life as “The King of Ragtime.” A medley of George Gershwin favorites including The Man I Love and Fascinating Rhythm bring the listener into the 1930 and 40s era of Big Band Jazz, while the rendition of blockbuster pop song Despacito by modern songwriter Luis Fonsi rounds out this exploration of the versatility of the beloved wind instrument.
This traditional lineup features some of the greatest and most renowned European composers across three centuries of symphonic music. Beginning with 17th century composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s well-known Brandenburg Concerto No 3, followed by a short homage to Mozart, and punctuated by Three Slavonic Dances—lively, upbeat melodies evoking folk music style, the ensemble wraps up with the 20th century Brazilian composer Zequinha de Abreu’s Tico Tico. Tico Tico is a Brazilian choro—a traditional musical style that features upbeat, fast-paced rhythms. Written in 1917, Tico Tico has been recorded and re-recorded by artists over the last one hundred years by musicians as diverse as The Andrews Sisters, Ray Conniff, and Carmen Miranda and, most recently, by the Japanese Band, The Ali Project in 2015.
Edward Grieg Piano Concerto
Written in 1868 when Edward Grieg was only 24 years old, the Piano Concerto is widely considered among the most well-known and beloved piano concerti. In addition to the piano soloist, the concerto is recognizable for the timpani roll in its first movement. The piece also features two each of the following instruments: flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, timpani and strings (violins, violas, cellos and double basses). He later added 2 horns and changed the tuba to a third trombone. Evident in the concerto is the composer’s love for Norwegian folk music.
GCTYO is honored to host piano virtuoso Konstantin Soukhovetski as the soloist for this piece. Educated at the Julliard School in New York, Mr. Soukhovetski is an award-winning pianist who has performed worldwide, most recently with Brooklyn Chamber Orchestra, at New York’s Alice Tully Hall and touring in Spain with appearances in St. Sebastian and Canary Islands. In May 2022, Soukhovetski will return to New York’s Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall with Pegasus: The Orchestra, and in April 2022 Konstantin will premiere ballet Encounters by Polina Nazaykinskaya for MorDance Company at Symphony Space, NYC. The pianist is also an accomplished actor who has appeared in theater and film, most recently as Juror 12 in the AlphaNYC virtual production of 12 Incompetent Jurors. Konstantin was also the narrator with Miami Symphony’s Musimelange performance of Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale, Forbidden Juilliard as multiple characters at The Juilliard School and more. Born in Moscow to a family of artists, Konstanin studied at the Moscow Central Special Music School, where he double-majored in piano and composition.
Jazz II Orchestra
Developed from African-American musical experiences, both Jazz and the Blues are uniquely American musical styles that encompass wide ranges of musicality. Melancholy and subdued in nature, the Blues was born out of the Black experience in the American Deep South with origins in work songs of enslavement as well as spirituals. Also born of African-American culture, Jazz’s origins are specifically credited to the city of New Orleans with roots in both the Blues and Ragtime, a late 19th/early 20th-century upbeat musical style. Like the Blues, Jazz has evolved over time with regional variations not just in America but around the world. Today’s program features both classics of the Jazz and Blues canons as well as a Latin Jazz variation. First we explore traditional blues rhythms, with legendary jazz pianist, composer and band leader Count Basie’s Blues in Hoss Flat before going on to Harlem Nocturne, a beloved standard by Earle Hagen.
Conductor Geoffrey Brookes says of the piece, “We have great musicians in our saxophone section who know how to put a lot of sizzle in this song. For a slower jazz song, Harlem Nocturne has a lot of attitude, and the band loved playing it the moment we sight-read the piece.”
Doug Beach’s Empanada Caliente, contrasts nicely with both of the preceding songs in the repertoire with up tempo Latin jazz style to get the audience’s fingers snapping and toes tapping.
William Grant Still is a composer who has recently come back into the forefront of classical music. A composer of the 20th century, Still was celebrated for his pieces that use jazz idioms, reference the spiritual, and emulate the avant garde. Danzas de Panama For String Orchestra was chosen to expose the musicians to the style and harmonies of Still’s music along with the styles and rhythms popular to Latin American music that will be both moving and familiar to many in the audience.
The piece is followed by the whirlwind Youth Overture written by American composer Emma Lou Deimer for California’s Young People’s Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1936 and the oldest youth orchestra in the nation.
Virtuosi concludes with Mendelssohn‘s Symphony No. 5. “Reformation,” which was first performed two decades after the German composer’s death. Although infrequently performed today, Conductor Britey Alcine chose the piece because of the opportunity it offers to highlight the woodwind players’ sound and abilities.
Once More We Saw the Stars (Symphony No. 6) – World Premiere!
by Armando Bayolo
Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn, 2 Clarinets, Bass clarinet, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Bass Trombone, Tuba, Timpani, 3 Percussionists
1. Marimba, Suspended cymbal, Ratchet, Chimes, Whip, Woodblock (med)
2. Glockenspiel, Bass drum, 2 bongos, 4 tom-toms, Conga (low), Snare drum
3. Vibraphone, Xylophone, Tam-tam, Brake drum
Harp, Piano (doubles celesta), Strings
Written in the summer of 2021 in St. Louis, Missouri and Laurel, Maryland.
Duration: ca. 22 minutes
Co-commissioned by the Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras, Christopher Hisey, Music Director; the Three Rivers Young People’s Orchestra, Brian Worsdale, Music Director; and the Orquesta Nacional de Venezuela, Alfonso López Chollet, Artistic Director.
Program Notes written by Armando Bayolo
My guide and I came on that hidden road
to make our way back into the bright world;
and with no care for any rest, we climbed–
he first, I following– until I saw,
through a round opening, some of those things
of beauty Heaven bears. It was from there
that we emerged, to see–once more–the stars
Dante, Inferno, XXXIV.133-139
(trans. Allen Mandelbaum)
The last lines of Dante’s Inferno have always struck me as a wonderfully hopeful postlude to a literally infernal book. Dante, of course, is setting up the next two volumes of his Commedia, but I have often taken these lines as inspiration. They represent, to me, the optimistic knowledge that light always follows darkness.
The year 2020 was a very difficult one for the entire world. Challenges piled on top of challenges. This symphony, Once More We Saw the Stars, is an ode to the knowledge that this, too, shall pass as well as a tribute to the young generation whose resilience and determination represent the best hope of mankind. All of my symphonies are commentary. Besides its poetic inspiration, Once More We Saw the Stars invokes the rarer tradition of single movement symphonies. Its single, 22 minute movement, is divided into five sections each faster than the last before turning around back to the initial adagio tempo. The initial, mournful adagio, which, in turn, gives way to a restless section full of repetitions invoking cabin fever and then a highly energetic fugue, does not, however, return at the end. Instead, the symphony’s final, tonal goal of G major brings us to a hopeful apotheosis.
Once More We Saw the Stars was written in the summer of 2021 in Laurel, Maryland and St. Louis, Missouri. It is dedicated to Maestro Christopher Hisey, old college classmate and friend, who so kindly suggested the work.
Read about some of the pieces GCTYO performed on the Jack Lawrence Fall 2021 concerts.
The steel pan is the only musical instrument invented in the twentieth century. The instrument was created in the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the 1930’s, but its roots can be traced back to the aesthetic practices of enslaved Africans on the island (whose presence dates back to the 1700s). The impetus for the emergence of steel pan came in 1877, when the ruling British colonial government issued a ban on playing drums by formerly enslaved Africans. To circumvent this ordinance, communities inventively turned to alternative music-making objects, the most central of which were the metal scraps and containers that ultimately developed into the steel pan that we know today.
Steel Pan AM
Iko Iko (first released as “Jok-a-Mo” by James ‘Sugar Boy’ Crawford and his Cane Cutters band in 1953) is based on a Mardi Gras ritual that harkens back to historical partnerships and solidarity between African Americans (free and enslaved) and First Peoples, particularly in Louisiana. In Iko Iko, Crawford tells the story of a “spy boy” of one tribe squaring off with the “flag boy” of another tribe, at which point the spy boy threatens to “set the [flag boy’s] flag on fire.”
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), composer of Toccata, was one of the earliest composers in the White European musical tradition to write music specifically for keyboard instruments. Until his time, formally composed music in Europe was largely vocal with instrumental accompaniment, and mostly of a religious nature. Keyboard music for its own sake, as pure entertainment and as an opportunity for virtuoso performers to display their technical skills, was a radical new direction, helped by technological innovations that were turning the harpsichord into an expressive instrument in the hands of a master performer. Frescobaldi’s profound influence on European keyboard music continued long after his death; Johann Sebastian Bach, who lived a century later (1685-1750), owned several copies of works by Frescobaldi.
John Beeman has arranged Frescobaldi’s elegant keyboard Toccata for string orchestra.
Tum Balalaika is a popular folk song of the Jewish people of Eastern Europe, a minority ethnic group with its own distinct language, culture, and religious traditions. Jews had been living since about the 12th century in the region that today is roughly the countries of Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine, where they often formed a sizeable proportion of the population. These lands were taken over by the Russian Empire in the 18th century, making their inhabitants subjects of the Russian tsar
The song Tum Balalaika, sung in Yiddish, the native language of the Eastern European Jews, tells of a young lad asking a maiden a series of philosophical riddle questions, which she then answers. The verses are separated by the essentially meaningless refrain “tum balalaika” – a rhythmic vocalization not unlike “shooby-doo.”
Steven H. Brook’s orchestral arrangement combines the song’s haunting melody with rich, lush harmonies to encourage and inspire listeners and performers.
William Owens, composer of Carpathia, is a Black composer, conductor, and music educator. Born in 1963 in Gary, Indiana, he has spent a large part of his professional career in Texas. A graduate of the VanderCook College of Music and winner of many awards and grants, he has published hundreds of works for band and orchestra, with a special emphasis on music for youth ensembles. Now retired, he devotes his spare time to reading presidential biographies and his love of Chevrolet Corvettes.
Owens’s daring work Carpathia is a musical retelling of the dramatic rescue of 706 passengers from the doomed RMS Titanic by the only ship that was near enough to respond to its distress call – the RMS Carpathia. Owens uses the orchestra to powerfully recreate the sounds of the ship’s rattling hull and overheating boilers as it frantically races full-steam to the rescue, followed by a solemn and mournful section as the enormity of the tragedy unfolds, ending with a triumphant return to the main theme as the ship carries the survivors off to safety. Curiously, one of the crewmen aboard the RMS Carpathia at the time of the rescue was actually named William Owens!
Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), composer of Bohemian Rhapsody, was a composer, singer, and pianist with the English art rock band Queen. He was one of the world’s most famous South Asian musicians and one of the best-known LGBTQ musicians as well. Sadly, one of the many tragedies of his short life was that he probably would have felt extremely uncomfortable with either description as he spent a great deal of effort denying and concealing who he really was.
Freddie Mercury’s given name at birth was Farrokh Bulsara. He was born in Zanzibar to a family of immigrants from India who belonged to the Parsee ethnic group, whose ancestors had fled religious persecution in Iran following its conquest by the Muslims in the 7th century because of their Zoroastrian faith. The young boy displayed early musical talent, but even as a pre-teen he was already also showing signs of his lifelong discomfort with his identity. Rejecting the rich musical traditions of his own culture, he listened to and performed music exclusively from the alien colonial White anglophone pop tradition instead. In his high-school years he also adopted the “westernized” name, “Freddie.”
The family fled Zanzibar’s bloody, ethnically-driven revolution in 1964 and settled in England, where the self-conscious Farrokh legally changed his “foreign” sounding name to “Freddie Mercury” and co-founded a band he named Queen, for both its regal and LGBTQ connotations. Throughout the period of Queen’s popularity, from the mid-1970s until his death in 1991, Freddie Mercury was an instantly recognizable figure worldwide. He had a vocal range of over three octaves, and onstage was an outrageous and flamboyant showman obviously reveling in the adulation of millions. At the same time, he was an intensely shy and private person who almost never gave interviews and was painfully embarrassed by his protruding front teeth, his sexuality, and his ethnicity. Many of his millions of fans had no idea he was South Asian and assumed he was White, since he wore makeup in public to cover up his natural Brown skin tone.
For much of his life, Mercury denied to himself and others that he was a gay man, and even carried on a serious relationship with a woman which lasted many years. When asked point-blank about his sexuality in 1974, he only admitted to a bit of schoolboy experimentation. As public attitudes toward LGBTQ people slowly liberalized, Mercury became slightly more open about who he was, going so far as to acknowledge to himself that he might be bisexual, but he never fully came out in the open, was almost never seen together in public with his long-time partner, and never took on LGBTQ political causes. He died of complications of AIDS at the age of 45.
A prolific composer and arranger, Soon Hee Newbold is known for creating engaging yet accessible pieces for youth orchestras of all ages. Her work is played by school-aged musicians across the world. Herself an accomplished violinist, violist, and pianist who began to train at age five, Newbold has performed worldwide. As a composer and arranger, her music spans historical, legendary, and natural themes. In addition to composing, Newbold conducts and works in the film industry as an actor, producer, and director. She makes her home in southern California.
Le Froid de L’Hiver or “The Cold of Winter” is one of Newbold’s nature-themed pieces. In it she uses a melodic through line carried by violins to suggest a snow scene in the French countryside that crescendos as the flurry of snow, represented by the pizzicato or plucking technique, becomes more intense, before fading away on a single note.
Steel Pan PM
Calypso is an Afro-Caribbean musical genre that originated in Trinidad in the 19th century. It features call-and-response elements and syncopated rhythms. Although “Calypso Jim” doesn’t include this particular characteristic because it’s written exclusively for steel pan, the genre of calypso is also known for its socio-political lyrics. Calypso grew out of West African Kaiso, which enslaved Africans brought to the Caribbean Islands, and canboulay music; it served as an important medium through which enslaved people (and later, people under colonial rule) voiced their discontent. They used calypso to express the daily struggles of living in Trinidad, critique racial and economic inequalities, and express opinions on social order.
Calypso Jim was written by GCTYO’s very own Jim Royle, who conducts the Steel Pan Orchestra. Mr. Royle is an expert steel pan performer and educator who also runs a percussion studio in Bridgeport.
One of the world’s most recognized reggae songs, Bob Marley’s One Love was composed in 1977 for his band, The Wailers. It was the group’s first song to employ ska, a precursor to reggae which combines American jazz and R&B with Jamaican mento and Trinidad calypso–folk music traditions which meld African and European rhythms as storytelling commentary on social issues of the day.
Marley wrote One Love about political upheaval in this native Jamaica during the 1970s. At the time of this unrest, Marley was immensely popular and had more political influence than even the Prime Minister. Yet, he tried to remain neutral, encouraging his countrymen to end conflict for the good of the nation. The song appeals to his people to find “one love.” Bob Marley was the son of a White English plantation overseer and an Afro-Jamaican mother. He followed the Rastafarian religion, an Afrocentric religion built on Biblical Old Testament beliefs as created by the Ethiopian king Haile Saleisse. One Love’s lyrics demonstrate his faith with references to judgment day and giving praise to the Lord. “One Love” is now a common phrase among Caribbean people that is used in greeting and solidarity.
Made famous by Jamaican-American singer and actor Harry Belafonte’s recording in 1961, Jump In the Line is a much-covered calypso song by Trinidadian Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Robets), who won a Carnival competition called the “Road March” with the tune in 1946.
Jump In the Line was later covered in 1955 by fellow Trinidadian Calypsonian Lord Invader (Rupert Westmore Grant) who is most noted for penning the popular song Rum & Coca Cola,later covered by the American Andrews Sisters. Jump In the Line was again recorded in the 1950s by Lord Flea, a Jamaican mento singer. This was the version that influenced Belafonte’s recording. Mento is a Jamaican musical genre very similar to Calypso.
American-born Belafonte’s rendition of Jump In the Line is credited with bringing the spirit of Calypso to American listeners. Critics note that it was Belafonte’s “easy to understand” American accent versus the original artists’ strong Trinidadian cadence that allowed it to gain popularity on U.S. charts. Today, Jump In the Line is regularly used in movie and television productions, the most famous of which is “Beetlejuice.”
Jazz II Orchestra
John Coltrane’s Blue Train was released in 1958 with the debut of his studio album of the same name. It was developed during his residency at the Five Spot Café, where he performed as a member of the Thelonius Monk quartet. At this point in his career, Coltrane was known for conventional diatonic harmonies, but he set them in unconventional ways. Incorporating this method into his musicianship firmly set the trajectory for his career. Widely considered one of his best works as a leader, Coltrane composed seven of the eight tracks on the studio album, with the song Blue Train, viewed as a preeminent piece, characterized by harmonic solos and unique timing.
Born in North Carolina, Coltrane was exposed to music in the gospel tradition through the church where his father preached. Around the age of twelve when his father passed away, he set a path for a musical foundation, starting with the clarinet. After a move with his family to Philadelphia, he took an interest in the local music scene, eventually transitioning to the saxophone. Soon after a tour in the U.S. Navy in the closing days of WWII, he used the G.I. Bill to take music classes, and dedicated himself to the profession. Post WWII, Philadelphia had a vibrant African-American community that included a burgeoning live music scene of various styles. Coltrane inserted himself into the community where he started as journeyman musician. Known for his compulsion to practice incessantly, Coltrane worked his way through the ranks, and while playing with the likes of Mile Davis and Thelonius Monk over the years, developed his signature style.
Carl Strommen’s contributions to band, orchestra, jazz band and vocal music make him one of the most performed composer/arrangers, nationally and internationally. His music is heard regularly in concert settings, television, and film. Mr. Strommen is in constant demand as a clinician and commission writer. He is known as a renowned composer of instrumental and vocal music. He also is known to train young musicians. He became professor for orchestration, composition, and arrangement at C.W. Post College in Long Island, New York. He is a teacher and conducts workshops for winds orchestra and is also a guest conductor. He has also composed pieces for Riverdance. Strommen has successfully written for many different settings, including jazz band, pop choral music, “easy” jazz band, wind band and string writing.
Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity from The Planets, Opus 32
The most well-known part of Holst’s The Planets, the work on Jupiter generally follows as the fourth entity in a procession of the eight non-Earth planets in our Solar System. While on a vacation in 1913, Holst developed an interest in astrology, thinking deeply about each planet’s character. As he was writing music while working at the St. Paul’s Girls’ School, Holst decided to start writing a suite based on the planets – a piece-by-piece suite would be easier than a massive all-in-one symphony. He began writing the suite with “Mars, Bringer of Wars” in 1914, and gradually followed with Venus and Mercury. Jupiter followed these three, while Saturn, Uranus and Neptune came later. He did not write a suite for Pluto upon its discovery in 1930.
Jupiter begins with a bang – the strings rush onto the scene and open the curtains to the mighty brass, which give the piece’s opening motif. In this arrangement, the orchestra remains loud and bombastic before entering an orderly (but still loud) section, giving a secondary melody. After this, and a quick return to a fiercer rendition of the first theme, the orchestra enters a slow, melancholy theme. This section may be the most famous part of the piece, and Holst acknowledged this by adapting it into a vocal arrangement, “I Vow to Thee, My Country.” Following this section, the orchestra returns an orderly section, before closing out the piece with the brass. Jupiter, and The Planets as a whole, have remained Holst’s most recognizable works, having been performed by various orchestras. Ironically, the one person who disliked the popularity that came upon the suite was Holst himself, who despised the large shadow that The Planets cast over his other works.
Best known as the composer of the beloved opera Carmen, George Bizet did not receive uniform accolades during his lifetime. Enamored of experimental musical styles such as an opera without words and incorporating folk music into the more “refined” form of classic music, Bizet only achieved middling success and was even lampooned in French magazines and newspapers of the day. Carmen was particularly panned because of Bizet’s depiction of the lead as a seductive woman rather than a virtuous one.
The overture and Carillon movements of L’Arlesienne were originally written to accompany a play of the same name which translates to “The Girl from Arles.” The theatrical production was not a commercial or social success and is rarely performed today. Bizet’s score was panned along with it and even now it is almost never performed in totality. The first and last movements of the piece, Overture and Carillon, have taken on a life of their own and have remained popular through the decades as the last remnant of the otherwise ill-fated L’Arlesienne. Carillon are stationary bells that are played with a small hammer. In the piece they represent the peal of church bells.
Overture to The Magic Flute K. 620
Known in its native German by the title Die Zauberflöte, The Magic Flute is an opera written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791). A native of the Archduchy of Austria, then within the Holy Roman Empire, Mozart composed the opera in the year 1791. It was the final opera and one of the last works that the renowned composer was able to write before his untimely death. The opera has a dark theme to it, centered on the character of Tamino, a prince. Early on in the opera, Tamino is lost in a land far away from home, and he is being chased by an enormous monster. The prince’s luck takes a turn when three women kill the monster. They proceed to give Tamino a picture of Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night, and they tell him that Pamina is being held captive by the evil Sarastro. Tamino instantly falls in love with Pamina, and vows to rescue her. He is assisted by Papageno, a bird catcher, and two gifts – magic bells and the titular magic flute. After finding Pamina, Tamino learns that Sarastro has simply been helping Pamina, and the true villain is the Queen of the Night! Sarastro then gives Tamino a series of trials to overcome, and Tamino leans in on the magic flute for help. He succeeds, Pamina returns his love, and Sarastro develops respect for the young man. The Queen of the Night then arrives and attempts to destroy Sarastro’s temple, but Sarastro manages to defeat the Queen and her servants. Once the Queen is in retreat, Tamino and Pamina are permitted to live happily ever after.
The overture begins with a few grand E-flat chords before progressing into a faster theme that incorporates bits of the piece’s famous aria, the Queen of the Night. The fast section eventually breaks for more chords that echo the beginning of the overture before the fast melody picks up again, although in a more somber key. The more triumphal E-flat major key is restored as the overture approaches the end, reflecting the flow of the opera. The overture ends much as it began – triumphal E-flat chords are played by the orchestra
Mozart is believed to have written the overture with freemasonry in mind; this is reflected by how the key of E-flat major incorporates three flats (E-flat, B-flat, and A-flat). The number 3 is strongly associated with freemasons (a Masonic initiation ceremony begins with the candidate knocking at a door three times to seek admission). The libretto for the opera was written by Emanuel Shickaneder (1751 – 1812), a freemason.
The opera is a satirical piece poking fun at the Austrian power establishment. Mozart’s villainess, The Queen of the Night, was a representation of Empress Maria Teresa. These operas were the equivalent of Colbert, Jon Stewart, or even Saturday Night Live. Many were satirical and challenged the establishment. That is exactly what Mozart was doing with The Magic Flute, and in fact, with all of his operas.
Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68
Unlike many other composers and his contemporaries, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) had a bit of a tumultuous relationship with his Symphony No. 1 in C-minor, Op. 68. A native of what was then known as the Free Imperial City of Hamburg within the German Confederation, Brahms was known to his music teachers as a good instrumentalist, but composition proved to be his true calling. He formed a strong friendship with the titanic musical couple, Robert and Clara Schumann – this friendship would prove to be so strong that Brahms would get his way on the publication of Robert Schumann’s 4th Symphony, with Brahms’s preferred version being published in addition to the one Clara liked. After Robert Schumann died from pneumonia, Brahms was a close friend of Clara Schumann until her death in 1896. Some believe that he was in love with her and this is why he never married.
Brahms began work on his Symphony No. 1 in 1855 with great encouragement from Clara. Despite this, it would take more than 20 years until he felt that the work was worth publishing. The initial version of the work was in D-minor, but this would be heavily restructured into his 1st Piano Concerto instead. Like many of his contemporaries, Brahms was highly self-critical, and destroyed several early iterations of the work, before finally settling on what would become his 1st Symphony in 1868. It was in this year that Brahms sent a sketch of the main tune to Clara Schumann, who approved of it. Despite this encouragement, it would take another 8 years before the symphony was finally ready for its premiere.
The symphony’s first movement begins slowly before going into a faster allegro, in a theme that calls back to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (also in C-minor). The allegro gives way to a development section in B-major, before coming to a recapitulation and coda, ending in the key of C-major. The second movement begins in a slow andante sostenuto in E-flat Major. The main theme changes hands between winds and strings. The third movement is faster but graceful, presenting first with an A-flat allegretto. This section gives way to a trio part written in B-major, before returning to the allegretto and ending in a more tranquil coda. The fourth and final movement begins with a very slow adagio, and then comes to an allegro. This allegro section has been observed to be similar to a part of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Eventually, after a development and recapitulation, the movement comes to a faster coda which brings the piece to the finish, on a powerful C-major chord.
Sinfonia Concertante in E-Flat for Violin & Viola, K. 364
One of W.A. Mozart’s most celebrated solo works, the Sinfonia Concertante features two solo instruments – a violin and a viola. Mozart, aged 23, wrote this piece in 1779 while touring Europe. By using two instruments, Mozart experimented with this new style of solo music. Although the piece and the new style ran afoul with his employer, the Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg, it became a turning point in the young composer’s life – Mozart was able to combine his many strengths in this work, and used the experience to continue composing after he left Salzburg following his dismissal from the archbishop.
The first movement of the piece, the Allegro Maestoso, is a moderately fast movement, where the orchestra gives a long introduction that foreshadows the piece. The soloists make their way to the scene before demonstrating their techniques, often using a call-and-response with each other. The orchestra provides support throughout the movement, which culminates in a cadenza, where the soloists completely control the stage. After this, the Andante – a slow second movement – begins. The orchestra gives another introduction, before the soloists take over in another call-and-response format, bouncing melodies off each other. Another cadenza comes right before this movement ends.
The third movement, the Presto, rushes in as the fastest part of the piece. The orchestra gives a final introduction before almost completely vanishing behind the soloists, occasionally resurfacing as the soloists transition between styles. Once again, the soloists synchronously travel through various melodies with each other’s support. There is no cadenza, but there is no need for one – the grand finale comes as each soloist pushes their skills to the limits, climbing to the highest notes their instruments can produce. A truly masterful work, many prominent violinists and violists have recorded the piece, including Hilary Hahn, Itzhak Perlman, Rachel Barton Pine, Pinchas Zukerman, William Primrose, and Yuri Bashmet.