This November we present three major works that became even more notable for owing their very existence and subsequent popularity to great friendships. Mozart’s Duo in Bb for Violin and Viola K. 424 (1783) is the second of two he composed to complete a pending commission for an ailing friend, Michael Haydn, brother of Franz Joseph. Michael had composed four of six, in the keys of C, D, E, and F before becoming too ill to complete the last two. Mozart chose the keys of G and Bb, taking particular pride in being able to write in the style of Haydn in order to remain undetected as the true composer by their common patron. The Duos were never published by Haydn, nor were the final two revealed to be by Mozart until 1793, two years after his death.
Sonata for Cello and Piano in C Major, Opus 65 (1961) by Benjamin Britten will be played for the first time in the BCMS series as our observance of the 100th Anniversary of his birth. It is the first of five compositions focused on the cello resulting from a chance meeting of Rostropovich and Britten. The sonata marks the return of Britten to purely instrumental music after a break of nearly thirty years. It is also an occasion for exploration of special effects and techniques on the cello including many from important repertoire of the past. Notice how the first movement ends with the same rising arpeggio (in harmonics tracing the overtone series) that closes the first movement of the Ravel Piano Trio!)
Piano Quartet in G minor by Johannes Brahms is the first of three and owes its final form to the influence and advice of Clara Schumann and Joseph Joachim among others. The quartet was performed publicly for the first time on November 16, 1861 by Clara Schumann. Shortly after her diary entry says “The Quartet only partially satisfies me; there is too little unity in the first movement, and the emotion of the Adagio is too forced, without really carrying me away. But, I love the Allegretto in C minor and the last movement.” Brahms made his Viennese debut with the work on November 16, 1862 at the piano with friends from the Hellmesberger Quartet and was encouraged to give a follow up concert with his second piano quartet played earlier this year in our Hamel Summer series. The third Brahms Piano Quartet will be heard this season in the second concert of our MIT Series in January, 2014.
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