May 11th, 2017 at 1:30 pm
Uriel Vanchestein, clarinet
Juan-Miguel Hernandez, viola
Wonny Song, piano
W.A. Mozart (1756 – 1791)
Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano in E-flat Major, K. 498 “Kegelstatt”
Uriel Vanchestein (b. 1984)
Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano
– Scherzo: Allegro vivace
Max Bruch (1838 – 1920)
Eight Pieces, Op. 83 (selections)
– No. 4: Allegro agitato
– No. 6: Nachtgesang: Andante con moto
– No. 7: Allegro vivace, ma non troppo
Jean Françaix (1912 – 1997)
Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano
– Preludio: Largo
Mozart: Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano in E-flat Major, K. 498 “Kegelstatt”
On the first page of his Twelve Duos for Basset Horns, K. 487 Mozart jotted “Vienna 27 July 1786 while playing skittles.” Just nine days later he signed and dated his Trio in E-flat, K. 498,” with no reference to multi-tasking, skittles or otherwise. An enterprising publisher deemed it clever marketing to add the Kegelstatt (skittle-playing place) label to the trio, and it has stuck.
The work grew out of Mozart’s connection with the Jacquin family. Nikolaus played the flute, daughter Franziska was one of Mozart’s favorite keyboard pupils, and son Gottfried was a close enough friend that Mozart gifted him with several songs to pass off as his own. The Jacquins hosted frequent house concerts, with Mozart visiting weekly “for discussions, games, and music-making,” as he wrote to his father.
A regular participant was the clarinetist Anton Stadler, later to be the composer’s inspiration for the Clarinet Concerto and the Clarinet Quintet. The first performance of K. 498 took place at the Jacquins, performed by Stadler, Franziska at the piano, and Mozart himself playing his instrument of choice, the viola. Stadler was by all accounts a great artist. A Viennese critic wrote, “I would not have thought that a clarinet could imitate the human voice so deceptively … Your instrument is so soft, so delicate in tone that no one who has a heart can resist it.” Though Stadler apparently possessed great charm, his character was dubious. In the first English-language biography of Mozart, Marcia Davenport wrote, “The most conspicuous of the leeches [who surrounded Mozart] was Anton Stadler, a wretched lying thief who took every advantage of Wolfgang and yet made it hard for his poor friend to believe that such a superb clarinetist could be a rogue.”
In 1791, the year Mozart died, he made a loan to Stadler of 500 Gulden, a sum large enough to raise the question of how the perennially cash-strapped composer was able to accommodate his friend. The debt was listed in Mozart’s posthumous assets as “uncollectible.” There is also evidence that some of Mozart’s pawn tickets were stolen by Stadler, who sold them and pocketed the money. He died in 1812, of “emaciation.”
Uriel Vanchestein: Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano
Mr. Vanchestein, in addition to being a member of the Boreal Trio, has composed works performed on four continents in such venues as the Verbier Festival and Carnegie Hall. Recently commissioned by the Orford Art Center for a piece premiered by the New Orford String Quartet, he has also been asked to write for the New York Woodwind Quintet, the New York Classical Players, the Harlem Quartet, and the Fibonacci Trio.
A student of the Met Opera conductor Derrick Inouye, Mr. Vanchestein has led Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll at the Verbier Festival (Switzerland) and also at the Conservatoire National Supérieur of Lyon (France). As a clarinetist, he is a laureate of the Geneva International Music Competition and the AudiMozart International Competition. He has performed recitals and given master classes at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, at the Xian International Clarinet Festival in China, and at the Caracas International Clarinet Festival in Venezuela. A member of the prestigious Verbier Festival Orchestra from 2008 to 2010, he has appeared as soloist with such orchestras as the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and I Musici Chamber Orchestra of Montreal. He holds degrees from The Juilliard School and is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Film Scoring at the University of Southern California.
Bruch: Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano, Op. 83 (three selections)
Like Brahms, the German composer Max Bruch staunchly embraced 19th-century Romanticism, spurning the perceived excesses of Wagner and Liszt. Had Bruch not had the bad luck to live and work in Brahms’ shadow, he might well be known today for music other than his popular Concerto in G Minor and Scottish Fantasy for violin, and Kol Nidrei for cello. Though Kol Nidrei was inspired by Jewish music, Bruch himself was neither culturally nor by ancestry a Jew. Nonetheless, because of this single work, the Nazis hastened to ban all Bruch’s music, along with that of Mendelssohn, Mahler, and many others.
The charming Eight Pieces were written for the composer’s son Max Felix Bruch, an excellent clarinetist.
Françaix: Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano
Jean Françaix was a prodigiously talented child happily raised in a musical family. His father, a composer, pianist, and musicologist, was also Director of the local Conservatory in Le Mans (France), where his mother taught voice. When young Jean met the composer Maurice Ravel, the latter wrote to Jean’s parents, “Among the child’s gifts I observe above all the most fruitful an artist can possess, that of curiosity: you must not stifle these precious gifts now or ever, or risk letting this young sensibility wither.”
At the Paris Conservatory, Françaix was awarded the coveted Premier Prix for piano performance, and also studied composition with the great Nadia Boulanger. Though he would produce many large-scale works, including symphonies, concertos, and cantatas, his greatest pleasure came from writing instrumental chamber music. An avowed neoclassicist, he took pride in composing often witty and always highly accessible music, displaying zero affinity for atonality or other avant-garde exploration.
Françaix also disdained the scholarly analysis of his music, declaring: “If the work is of any value, it will need no explanation; if it is of no value, no esoteric commentary will render it any better … All I ask my listeners is to open their ears and be brave enough to decide whether they like my music or not. I don’t want any intermediary between me and my listeners trying to sway their judgment one way or the other. They should remember they are free human beings, not obedient automata. I want them to crush snobbery, fashion, and envy with the power of common sense and to enjoy my music if it gives them pleasure, which of course I hope it does …”