Showcase Sep-Nov 2014 - page 43

movement progresses from a brisk subject, roused to
activity by a triplet figure that playfully energizes much
of the music, to a contrasting oboe subject, tinged with
melancholy. The mellow resonance of the horns imparts
warmth and depth to the texture.
A graceful clarinet solo leads off the
whose title suggests the singing interlude that was a
favorite of both Beethoven and Brahms. Nocturnal in
mood, the wistful opening makes way for a striking horn
solo, boldly striving upwards; in the reprise, this subject
is carried by the bassoon. Similarly, the flowing clarinet
theme that had come straightaway out of the horn solo
migrates to the favored oboe, now with the first clarinet
assuming the supportive role.
Cast in the playful duple meter of the Baroque
dance, the third movement borders on an instrumental
scherzo, lightly textured and piquant. It has nothing of
great import to convey until it focuses on a
Don Juan
oboe solo, quietly intoned above a drone of open fifths in
the bassoons, the imagery darkly evocative. The return of
the opening confirms the witty charm of this music.
introduction and fugue.
A mysterious
emerging duskily in low winds over a pedal point, is full
of expressive instrumental singing before it mounts a
broad and passionate crescendo, suddenly accelerates
and, without pause, unleashes a fugue built on as sturdy
and workable a subject as an experienced contrapuntist
might devise. Flecked with subtle humor, the counterpoint
is flexible enough to reveal a master rather than a
2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets,
2 bassoons, contrabassoon and 4 horns
Excerpted from a program note by
Mary Ann Feldman
Burleske in D minor for Piano and Orchestra
ichard Strauss was just 21 when, in 1885, he was
appointed assistant conductor to Hans von Bülow,
whose Meiningen Court Orchestra was among the
finest in Europe. Strauss’ first months in Meiningen
were heady indeed: his solo performance in Mozart’s
Piano Concerto in C minor was described as “downright
breathtaking”; he met Brahms, sat in on rehearsals of the
eminent composer’s new Fourth Symphony and received
from him both praise and criticism on a work of his own.
Then Bülow resigned as conductor of the Meiningen
Orchestra and Strauss, named his replacement, quickly
realized that he was in over his head: no 21-year-old
was ready to lead this ensemble. The following April he
Richard Strauss
June 11, 1864, Munich
September 8, 1949, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Suite in B-flat major for
Thirteen Wind Instruments, Opus 4
o have a wind player for a father—especially if
he’s the most respected horn player in Europe—is
a considerable asset for a young composer. It also
doesn’t hurt to have a major conductor, as important as
Hans von Bülow was in the early 1880s, take an interest
in your works and describe you as “by far the most
interesting personality since Brahms.” These were some of
the advantages that compelled Richard Strauss’ career, as
both conductor and composer, to a strong start.
Performances of Strauss’ works outside his native Munich
began when he was only 18. His publisher sent the
score of one such work, the Serenade in E-flat major for
Thirteen Wind Instruments, to Bülow, who promptly put
it into the programs of his renowned Meiningen Court
Orchestra. Soon Bülow asked the young composer for
a similar piece for his skillful woodwind players, and
the resulting commission, the Suite in B-flat major for
Thirteen Wind Instruments, was completed in 1884.
For all its Brahmsian quality, it met Bülow’s preference
that it contain a classical dance, the lively
, and
culminate in a grand fugue.
After the premiere in Munich, the conductor invited the
composer, who had yet to hold a baton in his hands,
to conduct the work at a matinee concert—with no
rehearsal. The performance was impressive enough to
earn Strauss an invitation to become Bülow’s assistant
in Meiningen, launching a great conducting career
that ended only with the octogenarian’s final podium
appearances in the years following World War II.
the music
The B-flat-major Suite reflects the gentler side of
Strauss, along with his considerable mastery of classical
structures, before he ventured into new territories with
his highly original tone poems.
The bright, solidly constructed first
16, 17
Program Notes
1...,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42 44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53,...92
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