EASTER WITH STRADIVARIUS
OSTERFESTSPIELE SALZBURG 2004
NIPPON MUSIC FOUNDATION
The Nippon Foundation
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Salzburg Easter Festival, the Berlin Philharmonic and I are committed to the aim of playing music live with the highest standards of excellence.
Such intentions can only be realised when optimum conditions prevail, the right instruments are available and partners are found who help to make this all possible. Since 1996 The Nippon Foundation has been one such partner of the Easter Festival.
Nippon Music Foundation, a sister Foundation to The Nippon Foundation, makes a contribution of inestimable value to the quality of our concerts by giving young and very talented musicians the best string instruments or making a violin available from the Foundation's collection to Toru Yasunaga, concert master of the Berlin Philharmonic. I should like to express my deeply felt gratitude to the Foundation for providing this specific kind of help.
It is an extraordinary privilege to be able to experience a concert played on all the Stradivarius instruments in the Foundation and will remain unforgettable for us all.
We are also grateful to the Royal Academy of Music in London for loaning the Stradivarius viola. May I wish you every joy on this magnificent occasion.
With warm regards,
2004.4.4 Sunday (11 a.m.)
Mozarteum, Great Hall
D.Milhaud Sonata for 2 Violins and Piano, op. 15 (16min.)
Daishin Kashimoto (Vn) - Stradivarius 1722 Vn "Jupiter"
Shunsuke Sato (Vn) ― Stradivarius 1725 Vn "Wilhelmj"
Ayumi Ichino (p)
Z.Kodály Serenade for 2 Violins and Viola, op. 12 (21min.)
Baiba Skride (Vn) ― Stradivarius 1708 Vn "Huggins"
Lisa Batiashvili (Vn) ― Stradivarius 1709 Vn "Engleman"
Kazuhide Isomura (Va) ― Stradivarius 1731 Va "Paganini"
J.Turina Trio for Piano, Violin and Violoncello in D major, op. 35 (22min.)
Ayumi Ichino (p)
Toru Yasunaga (Vn) ― Stradivarius 1702 Vn "Lord Newlands"
Danjulo Ishizaka (Vc) ― Stradivarius 1696 Vc "Lord Aylesford"
― intermission ―
A.Webern String Quartet (1905) (15min.)
Tokyo String Quartet ― Stradivarius "Paganini Quartet"
F.Mendelssohn Octet in E flat major for 4 Violins, 2 Violas and 2 Violoncellos, op. 20 (33min.)
Martin Beaver (1Vn) ― Stradivarius 1727 Vn "Paganini"
Viviane Hagner (2Vn) ― Stradivarius 1717 Vn "Sasserno"
Julia Fischer (3Vn) ― Stradivarius 1716 Vn "Booth"
Akiko Suwanai (4Vn) ― Stradivarius 1714 Vn "Dolphin"
Kazuhide Isomura (1Va) ― Stradivarius 1731 Va "Paganini"
Kikuei Ikeda (2Va) ― Stradivarius 1696 Va "Archinto" (refer to pg・62)
Clive Greensmith (1Vc) ― Stradivarius 1736 Vc "Paganini"
Danjulo Ishizaka (2Vc) ― Stradivarius 1696 Vc "Lord Aylesford"
The Program has been kindly coordinated by Mr. Toru Yasunaga and Ms.Ayumi Ichino.
text by Valeska Schorling (English translation by Elisabeth Mortimer)
Sonata for 2 Violins and Piano, op. 15 (1914)
By Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)
Darius Milhaud was born in southern France and became one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century, writing over 440 works, including about 50 scores for chamber ensemble. He came from a wealthy Jewish background and his family encouraged his musical talent from an early age. As a child he learned to play the violin and at the age of seventeen went to the Conservatoire in Paris where his teachers included Vincent d'Indy and Charles-Marie Widor. In 1916 he accompanied Paul Claudel as embassy secretary in the French delegation on a visit to Rio de Janeiro where he became acquainted with Brazilian music which was to have a lasting influence on his future work. After returning to Paris in 1919 Milhaud was accepted into the circle of writers, artists and composers known as Les Six. Jean Cocteau was the group's literary leader; Milhaud worked together with Cocteau on the ballet Le boeuf sur le toit which in 1920 brought him his first international success as a composer. After the invasion of France by German troops Milhaud emigrated with his family in 1940 to the USA where he took up an appointment as teacher of composition at Mills College, Oakland, California. On his return to France in 1947 he combined his teaching commitments at Oakland with a professorship at the Paris Conservatoire.
Milhaud described his Sonata for 2 Violins and Piano, op. 15 as "the first piece of chamber music I did not later discard." Apparently even others considered the work to be a success because in 1915 it was awarded the first prize for composition at the Paris Conservatoire - according to Milhaud this was the only prize he ever received for a composition. He composed this sonata while he was working for the charity organization Foyer Franco-Belge which was set up during the First World War to provide aid for Belgian refugees. As a member of the organization Milhaud was asked to arrange a series of fund-raising concerts. The Sonata, op. 15 was first performed on 27 May 1915 in the house of the pianist Jeanne Herscher with Milhaud and Yvonne Astruc playing the two violins.
The piece is largely a tonal work strongly influenced by musical impressionism with, for instance, arpeggios in the piano part. The first and the last movements are in sonata form whereas the second movement has a more cyclical structure. The opening subject of the piece is transposed to the Mixolydian mode in the exposition of the final movement. The development is characterised by fourth and fifth parallels and the recapitulation introduces contrapuntal passages and an ostinato alternating between B flat major and C major.
Serenade for 2 Violins and Viola, op. 12 (1919-20)
By Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967)
Lento ma non troppo
Zoltán Kodály is regarded as the "Father of Hungarian Music" for many reasons. On the one hand he worked as a music teacher and was closely involved with the development of Hungarian musical life, especially choral singing. On the other, together with his friend Béla Bartók, he established an extremely extensive collection of Hungarian folksongs in a project of inestimable value that preserved Hungarian folk music from oblivion. While carrying out his research Kodály travelled to the countryside, recorded folk melodies on phonograph rolls and later transcribed them as musical notation, in so doing considerably improving methods and results of research into folk music. The melodies and rhythms of Hungarian folk music also influenced Kodály's own composition style.
Kodály composed relatively little chamber music. When he did, he composed almost exclusively for string instruments, possibly because they were nearest to his principal interest, vocal music in the cantabile (singing style) which reminded him of the sound of Hungarian gypsy bands.
The Serenade for 2 Violins and Viola, op. 12 is Kodály's last piece of chamber music and is regarded as the crowning highlight of his chamber music œuvre. The dance-1ike first movement is characterised by changes in tempo. A cheerful opening subject is contrasted in the exposition by a sensitive second subject. Contrast again marks the second movement in which an insistent viola solo is heard above mysterious tremoli played by the second violin. A dialogue develops between the first violin and the viola. A violin cadenza temporarily interrupts the tremoli which then begins again while the violin is still playing. The powerful final movement with its folkloristic melodies and rhythms recalls the cheerful mood of the opening movement.
Trio for Piano, Violin and Violoncello in D major, op. 35 (1926)
By Joaquín Turina (1882-1949)
Prélude et Fugue
Thème et Variations
A Spanish composer Joaquín Turina is relatively unknown outside his homeland. He was extremely popular there especially during the 1920s and, together with Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados, is one of the most important Spanish composers of the early 20th century.
As a young boy, Turina studied piano and music theory in Seville and at the age of fourteen made his first appearance in public. He continued his studies at the Madrid Conservatoire and at the Schola Cantorum in Paris where Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Paul Dukas encouraged him to take up a career as a composer. Turina's stay in France was an important stimulus for his style of composition and his entire œuvre is characterised by musical impressionism.
A further decisive influence was soon to follow: after the premiere of his Piano Quintet, op. 1 in 1907, Turina was encouraged by his compatriots Albéniz and de Falla during an encounter in a Parisian coffee house to integrate the musical folklore of his country into his music. Turina soon followed this advice, "We three Spaniards came together in this corner of Paris and regarded it as our duty to do something for the national music of our country". Turina was still living in France when he composed his first work La procesió del Rocío in 1912 incorporating sounds typical of Andalusia and Spain. The subject is an event of major national importance in Spain, the pilgrimage of El Rocío, in which thousands of Spaniards annually participate. In 1914, together with de Falla, Turina returned to his homeland where he already had a reputation as a national composer.
As regards to the form and structure of chamber music, Turina remained true to traditional European genres. However, he frequently gave these forms a Spanish sound, for instance in his Trio for Piano, Violin and Violoncello, op. 35. In this work he varies a subject in the second movement five times by including vivacious folk rhythms.
The Trio was dedicated to the infanta Isabel de Borbón and in 1926 awarded the National Music Prize.
String Quartet (1905)
By Anton Webern (1883-1945)
Anton Webern is, together with his teacher Arnold Schoenberg and his fellow pupil Alban Berg, one of the three protagonists of the so-called Second Viennese School. Of the three Webern's works are performed less frequently as his music is often regarded as inaccessible and intellectual. Yet his influence on contemporary music is far greater because his pioneering work influenced avant-garde composers of the post-war era such as Pierre Boulez or Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Webern completed his String Quartet 1905 on 25 August 1905, reworking the final section on 12 September. The gloomy symbolism in a painting by Giovanni Segantini, the Alpine triptych Werden - Sein - Vergehen "Coming into being - Being - Fading away" that Webern had seen in 1902 in Munich, appealed to him and inspired him to compose the work. It seems that in those years Webern was repeatedly moved by thoughts of death and of the resurrection because he preceded the autograph manuscript of his String Quartet with a quote by the German philosopher Jakob Böhme that was appropriate to the subject: "I cannot write or talk about what a triumph in the mind that was; it cannot be compared with anything except where, in the midst of dying, life is born and is compared with the resurrection of the dead. In this light my mind soon saw through everything and in all creatures, even in foliage and grass, recognized God, who He is, how He is and what His will is."
The String Quartet 1905 is sombre and contemplative in character and does not take on a more positive mood until the E major finale. The work has only one movement but, apparently inspired by Segantini's triptych, is divided into three sections. The figure three is also prominent in the mysterious three-tone opening motif, the thematic core of the work. The String Quartet is characterized by rich chromaticism that already dispenses with traditional tonality. It is interesting to note that here Webern is ahead of his teacher Schoenberg, who, with his Three Piano Pieces, op. 11 (1909) is regarded as a pioneer of atonality.
Octet in E flat major for 4 Violins, 2 Violas and 2 Violoncellos, op. 20 (1825)
By Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847)
Allegro moderato ma con fuoco
Scherzo. Allegro leggierissimo
In November 1825, the music teacher Carl Friedrich Zelter wrote in a letter to his friend Goethe, "My Felix is diligent. He has just completed an octet for eight instruments and it is really well accomplished." The pupil mentioned here was the sixteen-year-old Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and the work in question was the Octet for 4 Violins, 2 Violas and 2 Violoncelli, op. 20. The Walpurgis Night verses from Goethe's Faust, "Wolkenflug und Nebelflor / erhellen sich von oben. / Luft im Laub und Wind im Rohr / Und alles ist zerstoben" inspired Mendelssohn to write the piece.
Mendelssohn dedicated his Octet to the violin teacher Eduard Rietz and it is arranged for two quartets although each instrument has its own individual part. That was an innovation ― the work was one of the first string octets to be conceived for all eight musicians. The basic mood of the first movement is light and cheerful. It begins with an exuberant subject in the first violin that is then taken over by the other instruments. As the movement unfolds, the introductory theme is developed with a contrasting second subject and further melodious motifs.
After the delicate, dream-like and cantabile andante movement in 6/8 time comes a brilliant scherzo that Mendelssohn's sister Fanny, referring to Goethe's verses, described as follows, "He revealed only to me what he had in mind. The entire piece is to be played staccato and pianissimo. The shivering tremulandi, the gently sparkling trills, everything is new, strange and yet so appealing and so friendly. One feels very close to the world of spirits, lifted so lightly into the air. Indeed one could take hold of a broomstick so as to be able to follow the airborne crowd better. At the end the first violin flutters away light as a feather and everything disappears into thin air."
The octet comes to an end with an energetic, insistent finale characterised by elaborate contrapuntal passages and a powerful, almost symphonic fullness of sound.