Performing this Week

Jennifer Frautschi
Jennifer Frautschi

Nokuthula Ngwebyama
Nokuthula Ngwebyama

Ralph Kirshbaum
Ralph Kirshbaum

William Preucil
William Preucil

Jon Kimura Parker
Jon Kimura Parker

WFMT Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Welcome to the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival radio series production blog, home of program out takes, artist commentary, and other related tangents we like to call "web extras."

Often it’s not a good idea to link what’s going on in a composer’s life with the music they are writing at that time, but in the case of Johannes Brahms and his Opus 60 Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, it’s a comparison that's hard to avoid. Jon Kimura Parker played the piano in that performance in the company of violinist William Preucil, violist Nokuthula Nqwenyama, and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum.

Also featured on this broadcast, some music that may well have been composed in the midst of domestic strife but that doesn't reveal anything of the kind. The lush, light, and cheery String Trio in G Major, Op. 53 by Franz Joseph Haydn belies any personal upset brought on by the Haydns' famously dysfunctional marriage. Haydn wrote a number of string trios, typically for two violins, and bass or cello, with a flute occasionally substituting for one of the violins. There aren’t too many that feature violin, viola and cello, but this one does, and it was performed by violinist Jennifer Frautschi, violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama, and cellist Ralph Kirshbaum.

I hope you enjoy perusing these items rescued from the “cutting room floor” and the other things found along the way to creating this broadcast from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival radio programs.

Thanks for stopping by,
Louise Frank
Series Producer

PS - These nationally syndicated radio concerts of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival can be heard in the Chicago area Saturdays at 5pm, from April through June 2011, on 98.7 WFMT. You can also listen anywhere there's Internet. WFMT provides free, live streaming at wfmt.com and via a free, downloadable app for your iPhone.

 

Franz Joseph Haydn portrait by Thomas Hardy, 1792

Franz Joseph Haydn portrait by Thomas Hardy, 1792 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN

String Trio in G Major, Op. 53, No. 1, H. XVI: 40 (1784)

  • Jennifer Frautschi, violin
  • Nokuthula Ngwenyama, viola
  • Ralph Kirshbaum, cello

 

Haydn was separated from his termagant wife for a long time. A friend, calling on him, noted with astonishment a pile of unopened letters on the composer’s desk. "Oh, they are from my wife," Haydn explained. "She writes me monthly, and I answer her monthly. But I do not open her letters, and I am quite sure that she does not open mine."

- From Slonimsky’s Book of Musical Anecdotes, Nicholas Slonimsky, Routledge Books 1988 & 2002

 

Kerry and Marc discuss Haydn’s String Trio in G and his use of orchestration. As Marc puts is, Haydn' is one of those "phenomenally consummate composers who seem to be able to write an endless stream of everything."

 


Clarinetist David Shifrin is the Artistic Director for the summer music festival, Chamber Music Northwest. In this YouTube vid, he and Jennifer Frautschi visit with Outlook Portland television host, David Bragdon.

I never was a quick writer, and always composed with care and deliberation; that alone is the way to compose works that will last, and a real connoisseur can see at a glance whether a score has been written in undue haste or not.

- Franz Joseph Haydn

 

Title page from Life of Haydn

Archive.org is an excellent source for all kinds of things. Here's where you can read Louis Nohl’s biography on Haydn, written in 1883, and translated from German.

Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

JOHANNES BRAHMS

Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 60 (1855-75)

  • William Preucil, violin
  • Nokuthula Ngwenyama, viola
  • Ralph Kirshbaum, cello
  • Jon Kimura Parker, piano

 

Imagine a man for whom nothing is left, and who wishes to put an end to himself.

- So wrote Johannes Brahms to a friend in 1868 during one of many periods when he tried to revise his Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 60. He began writing the work in 1855 as his friend and mentor Robert Schumann was dying, and then returned to it periodically for the better part of two decades.

 

Marc and Kerry talk about Brahms' writing style and how he tended to keep pieces for decades and have them evolve as he evolved as a composer.

 

On the cover you must have a picture, a head with a pistol pointed toward it. Now you can form an idea of the music! For this purpose I will send you my photograph! Blue coat, yellow breeches, and top boots would do well...

- When Brahms sent the manuscript to his publisher in 1875 he included this joking but nonetheless shocking suggestion. The blue coat and yellow breeches refer to the wardrobe of a popular, fictional character from a Goethe novel. The romantic hero 'Werther' is a young man of sensitive and artistic nature who suffers from unrequited love and ultimately commits suicide.

 

Brahms wrote his Piano Quartet No.3 at a time when he was assessing his life in relation to his tragic relationship with Clara Schumann, as Marc and Kerry discuss.

 

Brahms, Piano Quartet in C minor, opus 60, third movement (animated score)

The third movement of Johannes Brahms' Piano Quartet in C minor, opus 60, accompanied by an animated score. This recording is by the Charmillon Piano Quartet; its members are Etienne Abelin, violin, Michael Schwendimann, viola, Matthias Kuhn, violoncello, and Eva-Maria Zimmermann, piano.

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