MOZART AND HAYDN: NACHTMUSIK
This program was originally designed for a UK period-instrument band whose primary membership is strings-only, but which has access to wind players; it is therefore flexible in its instrumentation. At its heart is the serenade Eine kleine Nachtmusik, which, crafted at the same time as Don Giovanni, is an operatic masterpiece disguised as instrumental music. Also featured are excerpts from Don Giovanni (in a rarely-heard orchestral arrangement from the late 18th century), as well as two of Mozart's darker, more troubled divertimenti, and Haydn concertos for cello and harpsichord (with Dorian Komanoff Bandy doubling as director and keyboard soloist).
THE SECRET HAYDN
Despite the immense popularity of Haydn's later symphonies, many of his earlier symphonic and operatic works remain neglected. This program focuses on four rarely-heard early- and middle-period symphonies, Nos. 3, 17, 28, and 52, tracing Haydn's development from the contrapuntal inventivness of his earliest orchestral works to the dark, brooding heights of his Sturm-und-Drang period. Along the way, opera overtures and arias for soprano and tenor remind listeners of Haydn's active involvement with music for the stage.
THE SPIRIT OF MOZART, THE HANDS OF HAYDN
When the young Beethoven arrived in Vienna, his patron enjoined him to study composition with Haydn so that he might receive "the spirit of Mozart from Haydn's hands." Indeed, Beethoven did just that: despite his well-known association with Haydn, he remained for his entire career in thrall to Mozart's musical language, so much so that even his most revolutionary symphonies contain germs of ideas that originated in Mozart's. His opera Fidelio has even been cited by some critics as one drawn-out musical allusion to Così fan tutte. This program includes works by Mozart and Haydn that either prefigure Beethoven or that directly inspired him, and culminates with Beethoven's First Symphony.
TELEMANN: WATER MUSIC
No composer penned more picture-music than Telemann, whose evocations of animals and natural scenes range from the polite and refined to the rudely realistic. Two vastly different suites bookend this program: at the beginning, the elegant "Water Music -- Hamburg Ebb and Flow" blends sounds of the river into courtly dances, while the "Alster Suite," which concludes the program, abandons all decorum and depicts dancing peasants, fighting chickens and hens, pealing churchbells, and other scenes from along the Alster river. Separating these two suites is the "Frogs" Violin Concerto, in which the entire orchestra engages in batrachian imitation, as well as the beautiful F-major concerto-suite for recorder and orchestra.
VIOLIN (back to top)
BACH EXPLORED: Bach the Dionysian; Dark Visions; Bach the Apollonian
Three concerts celebrating the rich tradition of polyphonic violin music by Bach's friends, colleagues, and forebears. Each concert focuses on a different aesthetic facet of Bach's own music, and finds resonances in the works of such figures as Johann Jakob Walther, Johann Paul Westhoff, Johann Georg Pisendel and Johann Mattheson, as well as Handel, Telemann, and others. (Click for 2014-2015 performances of Bach Explored programs.)
THE GREAT CONTEST: Pisendel and Veracini in Dresden, 1722
This program features an imaginary reconstruction of the fabled (but, alas, probably fictional) contest between Dresden-based virtuoso Johann Georg Pisendel and Italian firebrand Francesco Maria Veracini. Although popular legend holds that Veracini threw himself from a window after losing the original contest, 300 years have since passed, and the musical tide may have turned...
MYSTICS AND ALCHEMISTS
Alchemy in the 17th-century was an art practiced both by the professional scientist and the layperson, by such figures as Sir Isaac Newton (who kept his furnace constantly lit in case he should happen upon the formula for gold) as well as Dietrich Buxtehude. Some composers even used music as a way to work through their scientific theories. This program features the works of four such figures -- Johann Jakob Walther, Heinrich Biber, Johannes Schenck, and Johann Paul Westhoff -- and explores the projection of alchemy and mysticism into sound.
Italian Passions traces the development of the violin sonata from its earliest incarnations at the dawn of the baroque, through the flighty, mercurial sonatas of Marini, Castello, Fontana and Pandolfi Mealli, to the solo works of Arcangelo Corelli, published on January 1st, 1700.
DEMONS AND GHOSTS
Atmospheric music by Bach, Matteis, Tartini and Woldemar. Features the celebrated Devil's Trill sonata, as well as Michel Woldemar's spooky and disturbing sonata The Ghost of Tartini, written in the early 19th century and "dedicated to the hands" of the dead virtuoso.
EDUCATIONAL (back to top)
Three talks, designed in collaboration with art historian Ruth Ezra for gallery lectures at Boston's MFA (but easily adaptable to any collection of art):
1. The Passions
Painters, poets, and musicians alike have long sought to capture human emotions through the modulation of gesture, metaphor, and melody. This talk focuses on the intertwined aesthetic theories of the visual arts and music in the 17th century -- a time of debates about the relative powers of reason and feeling -- and explores the depiction of the passions and affections across baroque canvases and compositions.
2. Figure and Ground in Art and Music
The relationship between foreground and background is at once elementary and elusive. Does music defy the laws of perspective and space? Can the background be the most important part of a painting? Can melodies be composed in both two and three dimensions? This talk navigates troubled aesthetic waters, comparing works of Donatello, Fiorentino, Pannini, Barna da Siena, and Turner with music of Bach, Biber, Corelli, Tartini, Westhoff, and Woldemar.
3. The Art of Deception
When is a painting not a painting? Is the truest music the most feigning? From still-lives to picture music, this talk explores mimesis, imitation, and naturalism across two media.
ORNAMENTING MOZART'S OPERAS
Despite our abiding interest in Mozart's operas, most performers -- "modern" and "period" alike -- remain unaware of the 18th-century conventions of vocal ornamentation. In fact, it is a literal truth that all recordings of Mozart's Da Ponte operas contain hundreds of wrong notes and dozens of missed opportunities for cadenzas and lyrical ornamentation. From the prosodic appoggiatura to melodic embellishments, this talk distills years of performance-practice research into a format useful for any singer, and also includes instruction on how to improvise ornamentation in a uniquely Mozartean style.
From the lyre of Orpheus to the satanic fiddling of Paganini, the solo stringed instrument has always sparked the fire of its listeners' imagination. No composer understood this better than Bach, whose genre-defying Sonatas and Partitas revolutionized the violin and its techniques...or did they? This lecture-recital celebrates the expressive, alluring, and sometimes bizarre unaccompanied violin works penned in 17th-century Germany by Bach's forebears and teachers.
BAROQUE AND CLASSICAL VIOLIN TECHNIQUES
Despite Early Music's considerable advances in recent decades, many myths and preconceptions cloud our image of historical violin technique. Learn about what the surviving evidence really teaches us, as well as the physical nitty-gritty involved in putting the evidence into practice. Includes detailed discussions of chin-off shifting, holding the violin below the collarbone, upbow staccato in a variety of different idioms, and more.
LECTURE SERIES ON MOZART AND BEETHOVEN
8 Talks, designed for the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Spring 2015
Session 1: Beginnings
How do Mozart and Beethoven open their works? What kind of bridges do they construct between silence and sound?
Session 2: Developments
Having completed the opening phrases, what then? An overview of Sonata Form, with emphasis on Mozart's and Beethoven's very different approaches to the Development section.
Session 3: Humor
Mozart and Beethoven were supremem manipulators of their listeners -- but to very different ends. Mozart's musical comedy is centered around sarcasm and irony; Beethoven's is unironic, but no less humorous.
Session 4: Time and Memory
Beethoven, perhaps for the first time in the history of music, found aural ways to depict time, distance, and the process of remembering, without any use of text.
Sessions 5 and 6: Mozart's Operas
Discussions of characterization, instrumentation, and musical depictions of seduction in Don Giovanni, and of beauty and irony in Così fan tutte.
Sesssion 7: Instrumental Drama
A return to the world of the symphony and concerto after our operatic digression. How did operatic structures inform instrumental writing? How do Beethoven's symphonies adopt Mozart's operatic techniques?
Session 8: The Future of an Allusion
The impact of Mozart and Beethoven on Schubert, Rossini, Mendelssohn and Brahms.