Our final concert of the 2011-2012 season allows us the opportunity once again to say ‘thank you’ for your kind and generous support as we close out one theme (Piano Quintets–various) and anticipate our Hamel Summer Series focus on the music of Claude Debussy (whose 150th birth date is this August 22) and that of his cohort.
Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello, a four-movement work completed in 1922, is dedicated to the memory of Debussy (1862-1918). It is a challenging and virtuosic work filled with all the tropes one might expect in the conversation that is duo chamber music: statement and echo, imitation to the point of canon, filling in each others spaces sometimes in staggered motion or syncopation–and more. The more would be the inclusion of what Ravel was hearing around him at the time and using from his past: quick alternation between major and minor triads, modal melodies that sound more Oriental than Western, and the use of pizzicato to create a background canvas for an atonal melody and a Jazzy walking bass. BCMS has performed this work in 1991, 1997, 1998, 2005, and 2006. If it is new to you, I think this vintage YouTube video performance of the second movement by cellist Paul Tortelier and his son can serve as the perfect introduction to this piece.
With the performance of Anton Arensky’s Piano Trio (1894) we also mark the end of the anniversary season of his birth in 1861. Like so many of the great Russian chamber literature it opens with the feeling of ‘Once upon a time’–that evocation of another sensibility and spirit through which the arts elevate. Last performed by BCMS in 1991 and 1998, the work also makes use of exuberant dance (in the second movement) and (in the third movement) a return to dark legend concluding in muted mystical ecstasy. The final movement wraps it all together bringing back previously heard music in cyclic cameo common in Russian works.
Arensky Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 32, 4th movement, ending
We conclude our concert and piano quintet series with Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet, the only one in our series to include the double bass. Named because of the variations based on one of his songs in its fourth movement, the “Trout” Quintet has often been voted a audience favoite! BCMS has performed the work in our Cambridge and Boston series in 1985, 1987, 1994, 1997, and in 2005.
In case you have forgotten the song, here is a YouTube video with a performance of “Die Forelle,” (“the Trout”) by baritone, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and pianist, Gerald Moore, with the text and translation on screen.