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  • String Quartet in D major, K. 575, “Prussian No. 1”, WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)

    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791) String Quartet in D major, K. 575, “Prussian No. 1” March 6, 2016: The Escher String Quartet The String Quartet in D major, K. 575, is the first of the three Prussian Quartets—the last string quartets Mozart ever wrote. In April of 1789 he had left Vienna for Potsdam with his pupil, Prince Karl Lichnowsky (later Beethoven’s patron), who was to introduce him to King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. The king, like his flutist/composer uncle, King Friedrich Wilhelm I, and his pianist/composer cousin, Prince Louis Ferdinand, was a great music lover—his instrument was the cello. Mozart hoped the visit would result in some financial gain, but all he received was a small amount of money and a commission to compose “six easy clavier sonatas for Princess Friederike and six quartets for the king.” When Mozart got back to Vienna his situation was no better. He was constantly begging money from friends, who this time did not answer his requests; his wife fell seriously ill; and he himself was suffering from rheumatism, toothaches, headaches, and insomnia. He composed one quartet, K. 575 in D major, but waited almost a year before adding two more, K. 589 in B-flat major and K. 590 in F major. He never wrote the other three, nor did he complete the set of sonatas for the princess. He sold the three quartets to a publisher “for a mockery of a fee, only to lay my hands on some money to keep myself going.” In order to highlight the king’s instrument, Mozart wrote significant cello parts in high register, which he balanced with soloistic opportunities for the other instruments—a style called “quatuor concertant,” which was particularly popular in Paris. Here in the D major Quartet Mozart featured solo cello writing in all movements, whereas in the second quartet the cello comes to the fore only in the first two movements and in the third primarily in the first movement. It seems the image of the cello-playing king receded as time went on. Mozart chose the relaxed tempo marking “Allegretto” for three of the D major Quartet’s movements. He emphasizes the opening movement’s delicate quality by giving the rare directive “sotto voce” (in an undertone, subdued) at the outset and at the start of the recapitulation. The first violin, then viola, present the main theme, with equal prominence given to the cello when it enters with the second theme in high register. Mozart marks this “dolce” (sweetly), another of his exceptional directives. The Andante, his only non-Allegretto movement, is only moderately slow—a walking tempo—further minimizing the tempo contrast between movements. His lovely melody bears enough similarity to his 1785 song “Das Veilchen” (The violet) to have given that nickname to the Quartet on occasion. The arching phrases in the middle section of this A-B-A form also feature the cello as an equal conversationalist. An introductory ornament and light staccato repeated notes, both essential thematic elements, give verve to this elegant Menuetto. The cello particularly comes to the fore in the middle trio section, presenting a singing melody in response to the violins’ lightly tripping invitation. The cheerful finale combines both sonata and rondo form with a recurring main theme introduced by the cello with viola counterpoint. Many commentators have pointed out the similarity of the main idea to the that of the first movement, suggesting a possible anticipation of Romantic composers’ interest in cyclic unity. Mozart’s astounding but seemingly effortless contrapuntal writing throughout the movement makes refrains, episodes, and development alike a witty and elegant experience. © Jane Vial Jaffe Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Les nuits d’été, op. 7, HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803-1869)

    HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Les nuits d’été, op. 7 April 23, 2017: Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano; Warren Jones, piano The origins and inspirations for some of the most ravishing songs in the repertory are somewhat obscure. Berlioz composed Les nuits d’été (Summer Nights)—originally for voice with piano—in 1840–41 following his dramatic symphony Roméo et Juliette . The date March 23, 1840, appears on a manuscript copy of “Villanelle” and the cycle of six songs was published in the summer of 1841, but Berlioz never mentions them in his letters around this time. These are love songs of the highest Romantic order—Romantic referring to the period that saw the rise of lieder, or mélodie in France, as the ideal genre to express the countless images of buoyant hope, insatiable longing, and heartbreak that permeated Romantic poetry. Were Les nuits d’été really inspired by Berlioz’s mistress, Marie Martin (stage name Recio), as many have claimed? Berlioz began seeing Marie around this time and she accompanied him on his travels of 1842–43. Well aware of her limitations as a singer—she lasted only one season at the Paris Opéra—he still wrote vaguely positive reviews of several of her performances. She was the most frequent performer of “Absence,” the fourth song in the cycle, which he orchestrated specifically for her. Yet the many references to past love affairs and separations in the cycle make it difficult to link the settings too specifically with Marie. And, one would almost rather attribute these gorgeous outpourings to any other inspiration, in view of his unhappiness under her tenacious, jealous hold and her insistence on performing on his concerts over his opposition. Perhaps it was simple admiration for the poems of his friend and fellow critic Théophile Gautier that inspired Berlioz to such heights. He selected six poems from Gautier’s La comédie de la mort (The comedy of death)—two of a lighthearted nature, which he positioned first and last, and four in a more melancholy vein. The composer provided his own title, drawn from the poet’s images of night. The first song, “Villanelle,” is clearly a “daylight” song, but it sets up the happiness that will later turn to despair. Images of night appear repeatedly in the interior songs, even though “summer nights” are not specifically mentioned. In “La spectre de la rose” the ghost of a rose returns nightly to haunt the dreams of a young woman who wore the flower to a ball. In “Sur les lagunes” (On the lagoons), night envelops the lamenting lover. “Au cimitière: Clair de lune” (At the cemetery: moonlight) explicitly occurs at night, but also includes lovely images of shade and sunset. In 1843 Berlioz orchestrated “Absence” as a kind of appeasement offering to Marie, and she performed this version several times. It was not until 1856, however, that he orchestrated another of the songs, choosing “Spectre de la rose” for a February engagement with mezzo-soprano Anna Bockholtz-Falconi. Ecstatic over the performance, publisher Jakob Rieter-Biedermann asked Berlioz to orchestrate the remaining songs. The new versions were published later that year, each dedicated to a different singer who had impressed him in roles he had written. One wonders how it struck Marie (whom he had married in 1854) to learn that her “Absence” had been dedicated to Madeleine Nottès, his Marguerite in Faust. The songs have been performed countless times since and have long since been considered among Berlioz’s finest creations. “Villanelle” owes its infectious merriment to the simplicity of its melody and to the lightly repeated chords in the winds—an effect Berlioz had commented on in the second movement of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. Especially effective are the ends of the second and third verses (the first contains the same musical phrase, but without tempo fluctuations.) In the second the music slows at “et dis moi de ta voix si doux ” (and say to me in your soft voice), then resumes in a rush with “toujours ” (always). The third verse’s lovely image of returning with strawberries picked in the wood doesn’t really warrant the slowing and speeding up, but we are happy to hear the device again. The atmosphere changes immediately for “Spectre de la rose,” which employs longer spun-out phrases and a delicate orchestral texture of solo muted cello, paired flute and clarinet, and muted violin and viola background. The haunting images of the poem are made more poignant by Berlioz’s touches of nostalgic sweetness. Leaps are employed with tender expressiveness, and he finds just the right orchestral touches, as in the string tremolos at “Ce léger parfum est mon âme ” (This faint perfume is my soul). He ends ingeniously in simple recitative as the poet bestows his epitaph with a kiss. “Sur les lagunes,” the only minor-mode setting, presents a dark mood with its mournful half-step motive and repetitive accompaniment figure, which suggests the undulating of a boat on water. The grief-stricken lover cries out in a dramatic descent at the end of each verse: “Ah, sans amour s’en aller sur la mer! ” (Ah, without love to depart on the sea!) The song ends on an unresolved harmony—at sea, as it were. “Absence” also dwells on bereavement, that of separation, with the most exquisite lingering over the opening phrase. This phrase, which opens the refrain and therefore returns twice, is haunting in its unusual harmonization and its straining upward. The refrain also contains one of the most agonizingly beautiful peaks anywhere, leading to and attaining the word “loin ” (far). The intervening episodes contribute to the drama by building in a chanting style, the second at a higher pitch level than the first. Gentle pulsation characterizes the opening and closing sections of “Au cimitière,” with subtle harmonic shifts between major and minor. The middle section becomes more agitated (verses 3 and 4), and Berlioz makes a fitting response to the poet’s words about music bringing back a memory. The ending contains some gently clashing dissonances to reflect the “chant plaintif ” (plaintive song). Berlioz exuberantly portrays the high spirits and exoticism of the poet’s “L’île inconnue” (Unknown isle). We also hear undulating waves and the breeze whipping up. A hint of reflection follows the sailor’s admission to his fair companion that the faithful shore of eternal love is little known. Anywhere else is fair game, suggests the cheerful conclusion as the wind picks up and the waves are set in motion again. © Jane Vial Jaffe Texts and Translations Les nuits d’été Villanelle Quand viendra la saison nouvelle, Quand auront disparu les froids, Tous les deux nous irons, ma belle, Pour cueillir le muguet aux bois. Sous nos pieds égrenant les perles, Que l’on voit au matin trembler, Nous irons écouter les merles Siffler. Le printemps est venu, ma belle, C’est le mois des amants béni; Et l’oiseau, satinant son aile, Dit des vers au rebord du nid. Oh, viens donc, sur ce banc de mousse Pour parler de nos beaux amours, Et dis-moi de ta voix si douce Toujours! Loin, bien loin, égarant nos courses, Faisons fuir le lapin caché, Et le daim au miroir des sources, Admirant son grand bois penché, Puis chez nous, tout heureux, tout aises, En paniers enlaçant nos doigts, Revenons, rapportant des fraises Des bois. Le spectre de la rose Soulève ta paupière close Qu’effleure un songe virginal Je sais le spectre d’une rose Que tu portais hier au bal. Tu me pris encor emperlée Des pleurs d=argent de l’arrosoir, Et parmi la fête étoilée Tu me promenas tout le soir. O toi, qui de ma mort fut cause, Sans que tu puisses le chasser, Toutes les nuits mon spectre rose À ton chevet viendra danser. Mais ne crains rien, je ne réclame Ni messe ni De Profundis. Ce léger parfum est mon âme Et j’arrive du paradis. Mon destin fut digne d’envie, Et pour avoir un sort si beau Plus d’un aurait donné sa vie. Car sur ton sein j’ai mon tombeau, Et sur l’albâtre où je repose Un poète avec un baiser Écrivit “Ci-gît une rose Que tous les rois vont jalouser.” Sur les lagunes: Lamento Ma belle amie est morte. Je pleurerai toujours; Sous la tombe elle emporte Mon âme et mes amours. Dans le ciel sans m’attendre Elle s’en retourna; L’ange qui l’emmena Ne voulut pas me prendre. Que mon sort est amer! Ah, sans amour s’en aller sur la mer! La blanche créature Est couchée au cercueil. Comme dans la nature Tout me paraît en deuil! La colombe oubliée Pleure et songe à l’absent; Mon âme pleure et sent Qu’elle est dépareillée. Que mon sort est amer! Ah, sans amour s’en aller sur la mer! Sur moi la nuit immense S’étend comme un linceul. Je chante ma romance Que le ciel entend seul. Ah, comme elle était belle, Et comme je l’aimais! Je n’aimerai jamais Une femme autant qu’elle. Que mon sort est amer! Ah, sans amour s’en aller sur la mer Absence Reviens, reviens, ma bien aimée! Comme une fleur loin du soleil La fleur de ma vie est fermée Loin de ton sourire vermeil. Entre nos coeurs quelle distance! Tant d’espace entre nos baisers! O sort amer! O dure absence! O grands désirs inapaisés! Reviens, reviens, etc. D’ici lâ-bas que de campagnes, Que de villes et de hameaux, Que de vallons et de montagnes, À lasser le pied des chevaux! Reviens, reviens, etc. Au cimitière: Clair de lune Connaissez-vous la blanche tombe Où flotte avec un son plaintif L’ombre d’un if? Sur l’if une pâle colombe, Triste et seule au soleil couchant, Chante son chant: Un air maladivement tendre, À la fois charmant et fatal Qui vous fait mal Et qu’on voudrait toujours entendre; Un air comme en soupire aux cieux L’ange amoureux. On dirait que l’âme éveillée Pleure sous terre à l’unisson De la chanson Et du malheur d’être oubliée Se plaint dans un roucoulement Bien doucement. Sur les ailes de la musique On sent lentement revenir Un souvenir Une ombre, une forme angélique Passe dans un rayon tremblant En voile blanc. Les belles de nuit demi-closes Jettent leur parfum faible et doux Autour de vous, Et le fantôme aux molles poses Murmure en vous tendant les bras: Tu reviendras! Oh jamais plus, près de la tombe Je n’irai, quand descend le soir Au manteau noir, Écouter le pâle colombe Chanter sur la pointe de l’if Son chant plantif. L’île inconnue Dites, la jeune belle, Où voulez-vous aller? La voile enfle son aile, La brise va souffler. L’aviron est d=ivoire, La pavillon de moire, Le gouvernail d’or fin. J=ai pour lest une orange, Pour voile une aile d=ange, Pour mousse un séraphin. Dites, la jeune belle, Où voulez-vous aller? La voile enfle son aile, La brise va souffler. Est-ce dans la Baltique? Dans la mer Pacifique? Dans l’île de Java? Ou bien est-ce en Norvège, Cueillir la fleur de neige, Ou la fleur d’Angsoka? Dites, la jeune belle, Où voulez-vous aller? Menez-moi, dit la belle, À la rive fidèle Où l’on aime toujours! Cette rive, ma chère, On ne la connaît guère Au pays des amours. Où voulez-vous aller? La brise va souffler. —Théophile Gautier Summer Nights Villanelle When the new season comes And the cold weather has gone, We will go together, my love, To pick lily-of-the-valley in the woods; Our feet scattering the pearls That we see trembling as morning dew, We will go and hear the blackbirds Sing. The spring has come, my love, It is the blessed season for lovers; And the bird, preening its wings, Sings songs from the edge of its nest. Oh come and sit on this mossy bank And talk of our happy love, And say to me in your soft voice: Always! Far, far away, our footsteps wandering, We’ll startle the rabbit from its hiding, And the deer, mirrored in the stream, Admiring its great antlers; Then back home, completely happy, content, Our fingers entwined, return Carrying baskets of wild Strawberries. The Specter of the Rose Lift up your eyelids That glow with a maiden dream. I am the specter of a rose Which you wore last night to the ball. You took me still moist From the silver tears of the watering can. And through the starry festivities You walked me with you all evening. Oh you who was cause of my death, Without your being able to escape it, Every night my pink specter Will come to dance at the head of your bed. But do not fear anything, I don’t ask for Mass or De profundis. This faint perfume is my soul And it is from paradise that I come. My destiny was one to be coveted; To have a fate so beautiful, Many would have given their lives. For my tomb is on your breast, And on the alabaster where I rest A poet with his kiss Writes: “Here lies a rose That all kings will envy.” On the Lagoons: Lament My fair one is dead. I will weep always. She has taken with her into the tomb My whole being and all my love. To heaven, without waiting for me She returned. The angel who drew her back Would not take me with her. How bitter is my fate. Ah, without love to depart on the sea! The white creature Sleeps in the coffin; And now all nature Seems to me in mourning. The forsaken dove Cries and dreams of the departed; My soul cries and feels As if cut in two. How bitter is my fate. Ah, without love to depart on the sea! All about me, the vast night Spreads like a shroud. I sing my song, And the sky alone hears it. Ah, how beautiful she was, And how I loved her! Never will I love A woman as much as she. How bitter is my fate! Ah, without love to depart on the sea! Absence Come back, come back my beloved. Like a flower away from the sun The flower of my life is closed up Away from your warm smile. What distance lies between our hearts; So great a gulf between our kisses; O bitter fate! O cruel absence! Mighty desires unsatisfied. Come back, etc. From here to there what plains lie between, What towns and villages. What valleys and hills, To tire the horses’ hooves. At the Cemetery: Moonlight Do you know the white gravestone Where floats with a plaintive song The shade of a yew tree? On the yew a solitary white dove, Sad and alone as the sun sets, Sings its song: A sickly sweet air At once enchanting and fatal, Which affects you unpleasantly And which one would like to hear always; Like a song sighed to heaven By an angel in love. One would say the awakened soul Weeps under the earth in unison With the song, And from grief at being forgotten Complains in a cooing Very softly. On the wings of music One feels slowly returning A memory A shade, an angelic form Passes in a shimmering ray, Shrouded in white. The beauties of the night, half-closed, Throw their weak and soft perfume Around you And the phantom in mellow poses, Whispers while stretching its arms toward you: You will come back! Oh never again, near the tomb Will I go, when evening descends In its black coat, To hear the pale dove Sing from the top of the yew Its plaintive song. The Unknown Isle Tell me, young beauty, Where do you want to go? The sails are set, The breeze is getting up. The oar is ivory, The flag of silk, The helm of fine gold. For ballast I have an orange, For sail, an angel’s wing, For ship’s boy a seraph. Tell me, young beauty, Where do you want to go? The sails are set, The breeze is getting up. Is it to the Baltic? To the Pacific Ocean? To the Island of Java? Or is it to Norway, To pick the snowflowers, Or the flowers of Angsoka? Tell me, young beauty, Where do you want to go? Take me, the fair one replies, To the faithful shore Where love lasts forever. That shore, my dear, Is little known In the country of love. Where do you want to go? The breeze is getting up. Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Moonrhymes for Three Violins, Viola, and Piano, GILAD COHEN

    GILAD COHEN Moonrhymes for Three Violins, Viola, and Piano May 6, 2018: Kerry McDermott, violin; Clara Neubauer, violin; Paul Neubauer, viola; Oliver Neubauer, violin; Anne-Marie McDermott, piano Commissioned by Parlance Chamber Concerts for the Neubauer-McDermott Family Premiere Performance, May 6, 2018 Born in Jerusalem, Israel, May 8, 1980 An active composer, performer, and theorist, Israeli musician Gilad Cohen focuses on a variety of musical genres that include concert music, rock, and music for theater. His works have been performed in North America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East by renowned artists ranging from London’s Nash Ensemble and the Apollo Chamber Players to the Brentano Quartet and Tre Voci, as well as orchestras and choirs throughout Israel and his own rock band, Double Space. Recipient of myriad honors and top composition prizes, Cohen was recently awarded the 2016 Barlow Prize, resulting in the commission of Late Shadow for violin and piano, which is being premiered by a consortium of performers in 2018. His other recent projects include Around the Cauldron , commissioned by Concert Artists Guild with support from Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund for the Lysander Trio and premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2017; Doaa and Masa (2016) which harpist Sivan Magen is performing around the world; and Firefly Elegy for clarinet, violin, viola, cello, and harp, written for the 10th anniversary of the Israeli Chamber Project and just premiered in March 2018. Further, his string quartet Three Goat Blues (2015) was recorded by the Apollo Chamber Players and just released in November as part of their album Ancestral Voices on the Navona label. On the rock/pop front, Cohen’s “After the Tsimess” for Double Space and modern-klezmer ensemble Klezshop was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Songwriting Award in the 11th Annual Great American Song Contest, and the song was a finalist at the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. As a theorist Cohen has researched structure in the music of Pink Floyd, resulting in articles in prestigious publications, lectures in the U.S. and Israel, a four-credit course at Ramapo College, and the first-ever academic conference devoted to Pink Floyd that he coproduced at Princeton University with composer Dave Molk. As a performing musician, Cohen has played piano, bass guitar, and six-string guitar at renowned venues worldwide, and he has served on occasion as a choral conductor and music director of musicals. A faculty member at Ramapo College, Cohen holds a Ph.D. in composition from Princeton University, and he is a graduate of Mannes College of Music, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, and the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Among his principal teachers were Robert Cuckson, Steven Mackey, and Paul Lansky. Cohen’s Moonrhymes for three violins, viola, and piano was commissioned by Parlance Chamber Concerts for this world-premiere performance. The composer writes: “Written with the theme of family in mind, Moonrhymes is based on nursery rhymes from several countries. The piece is comprised of three movements (in addition to an introduction and a finale, all played without a break), each of them focusing on a traditional song from a different origin: the English-Irish ‘Danny Boy,’ the Latin ‘A la nanita nana,’ and the Israeli-Yiddish ‘Numi numi.’ Though such tunes have been sung as lullabies for many years, their lyrics are often more bleak than what might seem appropriate for bedtime. My treatment of these melodies likewise takes them to mysterious, reflective, and dark places using folk elements from various cultures. “Moonrhymes plays with the question of what rhyming could mean in instrumental music. Literal rhymes feature similarities in sound between words: the endings of rhyming words usually sound identical, while the beginnings are different. Likewise, the themes of the piece are very similar to the original tunes, but each carries a significant musical difference in pitch, rhythm, etc. Additionally, many moments in the piece ‘rhyme’ with one another: accompaniment figurations recur while supporting different tunes (such as a repeated arpeggiated minor-seventh chord), sounds and textures repeat through the piece (such as ‘glassy’ chords in the violins using harmonics), and musical themes float again and again into the surface (such as the melody of ‘Rock-a-bye Baby,’ another popular lullaby that features disturbing lyrics and functions as an introduction to each of the movements). “In the finale, all tunes—and cultures—join together: the Yiddish-based ‘Numi numi,’ with its Phyrygian mode, provides the foundation for ‘Danny Boy’ and its iconic English-American use of the pentatonic scale while also supporting figurations from both ‘Nanita’ (featuring a highly embellished minor-scale Spanish melody) and ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’ (whose sweet melody is disguised under darker harmonies).” © Jane Vial Jaffe Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Antonio Vivaldi | PCC

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  • Letter Scene and Va! Laisse couler mes larmes from Werther, JULES MASSENET (1842-1912)

    JULES MASSENET (1842-1912) Letter Scene and Va! Laisse couler mes larmes from Werther April 23, 2017: Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano; Warren Jones, piano At least as early as 1880 Massenet was considering writing an opera based on Goethe’s epistolary novel Werther (1774), whose protagonist commits suicide over unrequited love. Goethe’s tragic hero became one of the chief symbols of the Romantic movement in Europe. In Massenet’s factually challenged memoirs he was purposefully vague about the timing of the genesis of his opera saying it had stemmed from when dramatist Georges Hartmann handed him a copy of Werther in Wetzlar on their way back from a performance of Parsifal in Bayreuth. As Masssenet sat reading, he recounted, in a German beer hall in the town where Goethe’s story takes place, he was moved to tears, particularly by the Ossian quote “Pourquois me réveiller” (Why awaken me), which Werther would sing in one of the opera’s dramatic peaks. Scholars have determined that Massenet’s vagueness would lead readers to assume he was talking about the summer of 1882, and that he put aside the idea for his operas Manon and Le Cid, but other details confirm that this Parsifal journey must have occurred in 1886. In truth Massenet began composing Werther in 1885, based on a scenario by Hartmann but actually setting a libretto by Édouard Blau and Paul Millet, so the Wetzlar occasion would have simply spurred him on. Though Hartmann had not actually written part of the libretto, the composer no doubt gave him nominal credit to aid him financially when his bankrupt publishing firm was being absorbed by another. Massenet completed the opera in 1887, but Léon Carvalho, director of the Opéra-Comique, turned it down as too depressing. The theater burned down shortly thereafter, and, though there was a possibility of a premiere in 1889, Massenet’s next opera, Esclarmonde , was performed instead. As it turns out, the premiere took place on February 16, 1892, sung in German, at the Vienna Hofoper—the result of the management requesting another opera from Massenet after the great success of his Manon there in 1890. Somewhat surprisingly, the soprano who had sung the role of Manon in Vienna now took on the mezzo-soprano role of Charlottte, a performance fondly remembered there for decades. The Parisian premiere in 1893 met with only modest success, and it took until the 1903 revival by Albert Carré for Werther to achieve popular status and acclaim as one of Massenet’s greatest masterpieces. The story concerns Charlotte, whose care for her siblings after her mother’s death arouses the sympathy and love of Werther, even though he knows she is set to marry the absent Albert. Charlotte and Werther attend a ball and become entranced with each other, but the spell is shattered when they return to her house and hear that Albert has returned. Time passes, and Charlotte and Albert have been married for three years when the depressed Werther can’t help show his feelings for her. Charlotte says he must really go away until Christmas. Despairing, he contemplates suicide and leaves. On Christmas Eve, Charlotte rereads all the letters that Werther has sent to her, admitting that she really loves him. The desolate Werther appears suddenly and they reminisce tenderly, but she flees. Albert reads a letter from Werther saying he is going away and wants to borrow his pistols. Albert makes the agitated Charlotte bring them as she fully realizes Werther’s intention. She runs to Werther’s rooms, where he lies mortally wounded. He is happy to be united with her, and she admits she has always loved him before he dies in her arms. Massenet made certain changes in Goethe’s story, such as Charlotte’s marriage to Albert being the result of her dying mother’s wish rather than her own choice, having Albert know why Werther wanted to borrow his pistols, and having Werther actually conscious for a final duet with Charlotte. Nevertheless the story proved relatively unproblematic to adapt for the operatic stage, and provided Massenet with a perfect vehicle to show the full force of his ability to write inspired, fluid melodies as well as shrewd psychological character development. The Letter Scene (“Air des lettres”), in which Charlotte reads from letters that Werther has sent her, specifically connects with Goethe’s original story, which he tells in the form of letters. The music’s psychological drama draws from the fact that we experience both the emotions that Werther transmitted in writing the letters as well as Charlotte’s reaction to them. With incredible dramatic pacing, Massenet follows this (after an exchange in which Charlotte’s sister Sophie tries to cheer her up) with the remarkable “Air des larmes” (Aria of tears), in which Massenet famously uses a saxophone obbligato—nicely imagined here on piano—to aid in the aria’s mournful expressiveness. © Jane Vial Jaffe Texts and Translations Scène des lettres (Air des lettres) Werther! Werther! Qui m’aurait dit la place que dans mon coeur il occupe aujourd’hui? Depuis qu’il est parti, malgré moi tout me lasse! Et mon âme est pleine de lui! Ces lettres! . . . Ah! je les relis sans cesse . . . Avec quel charme, mais aussi quelle tristesse! Je devrais les détruire . . . je ne puis! «Je vous écris de ma petite chambre; un ciel gris et lourd de Décembre pèse sur moi comme un linceul, et je suis seul! seul! toujours seul!» Ah! personne près de lui! . . . Pas un seul témoignage de tendresse ou même de pitié! Dieu! Comment m’est venu ce triste courage, d’ordonner cet exil et cet isolement? «Des cris joyeux d’enfants montent sous ma fenêtre. Et je pense à ce temps si doux où tous vos chers petits jouaient autour de nous! Ils m’oublieront peut-être?» Non, Werther, dans leur souvenir votre image reste vivante, et quand vous reviendrez . . . Mais doit-il revenir? Ah! ce dernier billet me glace et m’épouvante! «Tu m’as dit: à Noël, et j’ai crié: Jamais! On va bientôt connaître qui de nous deux disait vrai! Mais si je ne dois reparaître, au jour fixé, devant toi, ne m’accuse pas, pleure-moi! Oui, de ces yeux si pleins de charmes, ces lignes, tu les reliras, tu les mouilleras de tes larmes, O Charlotte, et tu frémiras!» Va! Laisse couler mes larmes Va! laisse couler mes larmes . . . elles font du bien, ma chérie! Les larmes qu’on ne pleure pas, dans notre âme retombent toutes, et de leurs patientes gouttes Martèlent le coeur triste et las! Sa résistance enfin s’épuise; le coeur se creuse et s’affaiblit: il est trop grand, rien ne l’emplit; et trop fragile, tout le brise! Letter Scene (Letter aria) Werther! Werther! Who would have told me the place that he occupies in my heart today? Since he has gone, in spite of myself, I’ve been all weary! And my soul is filled with him! These letters! . . . Ah! I read them constantly . . . With what charm, but also what sadness! I should destroy them. . . I cannot! “I am writing to you from my little room; a sky gray and heavy of December weighs upon me like a shroud, and I am alone! Alone! Always alone!” Ah! No one near him! . . . Not a single testimony of tenderness or even pity! God! How did this this sad courage come to me, to order this exile and isolation? “Joyful cries of children rise from beneath my window. And I think of the time so sweet when all your dear little ones were playing around us! They will forget me, perhaps?” No, Werther, in their memory your image remains alive, and when you return . . . But will he return? Ah! This last note freezes and terrifies me! “You said to me: Christmas, and I cried: Never! We will soon know which of us was speaking the truth! But if I do not reappear, on the appointed day, before you, do not accuse me, weep for me! Yes, with those eyes so full of charms, these lines, you will reread them, and you will wet them with your tears, O Charlotte, and you will tremble!” Go! Let my tears flow Go! Let my tears flow . . . They do me good, my dear! The tears that we don’t cry all fall back into our soul, and their patient drops hammer on the sad and weary heart. Its resistance is finally exhausted; the heart grows hollow and weakens: it is too great, nothing fills it; and too fragile, everything will break it! Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Ballades, Op. 10, JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)

    JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897) Ballades, Op. 10 October 14, 2018: Garrick Ohlsson, piano Brahms composed the Four Ballades, op. 10, in the summer of 1854, an emotionally charged time for the young composer. He was staying in Düsseldorf to help Clara Schumann and her children following her husband Robert’s suicide attempt and subsequent institutionalization. Brahms served as go-between for husband and wife, whom doctors kept apart, and he anguished over his friend and mentor’s dark periods while his own feelings for Clara deepened. Making music in both senses—playing and composing—was a natural outlet. This period saw Brahms working on turning a projected two-piano sonata into a symphony (later reworked as the D minor Piano Concerto), responding to Clara’s Variations on a theme by Robert by composing a set of his own on the same theme, and beginning the set of Ballades, op. 10. The Ballades mark Brahms’s abandoning of the more weighty sonata form in his piano music and his first venture into the realm of the short character piece, to which he would return with such eloquence toward the end of his career. Though Chopin’s substantial Ballades may have been in the back of Brahms’s mind, his own were more influenced by the tradition of vocal settings of narrative poetry. As Brahms’s inscription reveals, his Ballade No. 1 was composed “after the old Scottish ballad Edward , in Herder’s Stimmen der Völker ” (Voices of the people). The Scottish ballads in Herder’s translation had been introduced to him by his new friend Julius Allgeyer, who was studying copperplate engraving in Düsseldorf. Brahms’s wordless piece reflects the ballad’s dialogue form to a certain extent and even fits some of the text itself, though he allowed himself the freedom to create an effective “tone poem.” (His later alto-tenor duet, op. 75, no. 1, demonstrates that he could set the text exactly and that the ballad continued to fascinate him.) The mother’s questions and Edward’s answers reveal that he has killed his father, her husband, ending with the shocking revelation that he has done so at her urging. In this Ballade Brahms has artfully molded the “dialogue” into a ternary form—his preferred Ballade form—in which the developmental middle section gains in intensity, abetted by a relentless “fateful” triplet figure. The return to the opening theme with its judicious alterations allows him to conclude with chilling effect. No such overt poetic references apply to the remaining three Ballades, though we are frequently tantalized by hints of underlying inspiration. In Ballade No. 2, serene, tuneful outer sections frame a fast central section, itself in two parts—one of angry character and one of lighter but still intense demeanor. If Ballade No. 2 corresponds vaguely to a “slow moment” in this set of four pieces, then Ballade No. 3 can be considered the “scherzo,” despite the fact that the subtitle “Intermezzo” elsewhere in Brahms refers to slower, more introspective pieces. In one of Schumann’s coherent phases he called this Ballade “demonic,” no doubt referring to its opening character. The “trio” or central section stands out for its ethereal high range and its concluding contrast of high and low. Nowhere is the spirit of Schumann more present than in the textures of the final Ballade, in which the opening melody is spun out over descending broken chords, or where the melody of its slower central section is transferred to an inner voice and surrounded by chordal figuration. It is noteworthy that Brahms calls for this introspective section to be played “with most intimate feeling, but without overly marking the melody” (col intimissimo sentimento, ma senza troppo marcare la melodia ), warning the overzealous interpreter not to subjugate his delicate filigree to mere background murmur. Brahms felt free enough with the form of his concluding Ballade to include a new chordal section after the return of the opening, followed by an altered return to the “intimate” music. © Jane Vial Jaffe Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Kakadu Variations, Op. 121a, LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)

    LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827) Kakadu Variations, Op. 121a January 27, 2019: Pinchas Zukerman Trio On July 19, 1816, Beethoven wrote to his Leipzig publisher Gottfried Christoph Härtel offering him his “Variations with an introduction and coda for Piano, violin, and violoncello upon a well-known theme by Müller,” adding, “They are from my earlier compositions but they do not belong to the reprehensible ones.” Beethoven had originally penned the Variations c. 1801–03, taking as his theme the well-known tune “Ich bin der Schneider Wetz und Wetz” (I am the tailor whet and whet) from Wenzel Müller’s 1794 singspiel (light opera with spoken dialogue) Die Schwestern von Prag (The sisters from Prague). The work charmed the Viennese in 130 performances at the Theater in der Leopoldstadt during Beethoven’s lifetime. An 1814 revival—the opera’s 122nd performance—may have prompted Beethoven to revisit the Variations and send them to his publisher in 1816, but he appears to have gone far beyond a mere dusting off. He likely made revisions in two stages, as scholar Lewis Lockwood has pointed out, both around 1816, and, since Härtel did not publish the work then, again around 1824 when Steiner published it as Opus 121a—the last of the master’s piano trios. In particular, Beethoven made substantial changes to his introduction and finale, the latter curiously labeled “rondo” in the 1824 publication but clearly not in that form. The popular tune that Beethoven used as his theme—now the opera’s best-known melody thanks to the Variations—underwent a name change by the time of the 1824 publication, because “Wetz und Wetz” (whet and whet, or grind and grind) had sexual connotations in Viennese dialect. The choice of the innocuous “Kakadu,” a comic bird, may have been related in some way to Mozart’s birdcatcher Papageno from The Magic Flute. In Müller’s singspiel, “Ich bin der Schneider Wetz und Wetz” is the entrance song of the tailor Krispin, who will disguise himself as the “sister from Prague” to gain the required approval for his master Herr von Gerstenfeld to marry Herr von Brummer’s daughter Wilhelmine against a field of undesirable suitors. Beethoven’s introduction, presumably expanded when he revisited the work, contrasts markedly from the more traditional ensuing variations. Fantasia-like, it anticipates the “Kakadu” tune in tantalizing bits as if, as Lockwood suggests, Müller’s simple, jocular theme is being “composed before our very ears.” Beethoven also seems to have tinkered with the last variation, elaborating it in a fugal manner and imbuing the coda with extra weight and the experience of his mature years. That Beethoven returned in Variations 1–9 to the more conventional if still engaging variations of his original set seems to say that he was happy with them as long as his introduction and conclusion now showed how far he had come in his maturity. After the drama of the introduction, the utterly simple presentation of Müller’s Papageno-like theme makes for a delightful comedic jolt. Variation 1 features the piano alone, Variation 2 highlights the violin in running triplets and birdlike ornaments over dainty piano, and Variation 3 presents the cello in lyrical lines to gentle piano accompaniment. Variations 4, 5, and 6 combine the three instruments—No. 4 sending the piano in cascading descents and ascents, No. 5 introducing contrapuntal imitation, and No. 6 requiring virtuosic delicate piano octave figurations with pointed “chirps” from the strings. Variation 7 gives the violin and cello a simple contrapuntal duet, Variation 8 shows Beethoven’s fleet-footed rhythmic play in alternation between strings and piano, and Variation 9 presents the requisite minor-mode Adagio for somberly expressive contrast. Variation 10 scampers at lightning speed until the coda begins in a simple, slightly martial Allegretto that Beethoven builds in fugal style to a grand, spirited conclusion. © Jane Vial Jaffe Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Capricho árabe, FRANCISCO TÁRREGA (1852–1909)

    FRANCISCO TÁRREGA (1852–1909) Capricho árabe September 25, 2016: Jason Vieaux, guitar At the age of ten Tárrega studied classical guitar with Julian Arcas, followed by training at the Madrid Conservatory, where he also studied theory, harmony, and piano. He soon began to teach and at the same time establish himself as a guitar virtuoso. His international reputation grew after successful appearances in Paris and London in 1880; he was acclaimed as “the Sarasate of the guitar.” Tárrega did much to promote the instrument at a time when the piano had almost completely overshadowed it. He not only composed some eighty original works for the guitar—Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Capricho árabe, and Danza mora are among his best-known solo pieces—but he transcribed over 140 works by other composers for one or two guitars, including pieces by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Granados, and Albéniz. Albéniz once stated that Tárrega’s transcriptions were better than his own piano originals! Tárrega’s extremely popular Capricho árabe, composed after a trip to Granada, is dedicated to his friend and composer Tomás Bretón. A brief introduction—an isolated open fourth, an improvisatory riff, a brief chordal motive, all repeated—precedes Tárrega’s well-known melody with its signature beginning of two repeated notes. The accompanimental pattern of four bass notes with afterbeat chords is intriguing to follow as it changes harmonically to introduce new sections. The main theme alternates between presentations in minor and in major, with periodic improvisatory passages providing further contrast. A shortened return of the melody in minor closes the piece. © Jane Vial Jaffe Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Three Pieces for Violin and Piano, FRITZ KREISLER (1875 — 1962)

    FRITZ KREISLER (1875 — 1962) Three Pieces for Violin and Piano February 12, 2023 – Gloria Chien, piano, Benjamin Beilman Fritz Kreisler, one of the outstanding masters of the violin and, indeed, one of the most individual performing musicians in history, was famous for his sweet tone and the charm and aristocracy of his playing. As a composer Kreisler is known primarily for his arrangements of works by others and his salon-style pieces, almost exclusively for violin, though he did compose several operettas. While he never claimed intellectual greatness for his compositions, many of them have achieved immortality because they stand above the typical virtuoso “lollipops” of this genre. Kreisler is also known as the perpetrator of a rather delightful hoax: he passed off many of his own compositions as works by Vivaldi, Pugnani, Couperin, Padre Martini, Dittersdorf, Francœur, Stamitz, and others. He reluctantly took credit for these pieces in 1935 saying he had done it in order to round out recital programs with established “names” rather than with his own as-yet-unknown name. Many accepted his shady deeds with amused tolerance, but others took offense, notably English critic Ernest Newman, with whom Kreisler was goaded into a public feud on the pages of London’s Sunday Times. The Marche militaire viennoise probably dates from around 1924 when it appeared on a recording in a piano trio version. It was published the following year for violin and piano as well as in the trio version. The charming outer march sections impart a certain Hungarian flavor, which after all was a significant influence in Vienna. The Old Refrain provides a perfect example of Kreisler appropriating a tune by another composer, in this case “Du alter Stefansturm” from Der liebe Augustin (1887) by Johann Brandl, words by Alice Mattulath. Here, as the title divulges, there is a refrain, a lilting tune that returns after each of two verses. In one version published in 1915, Kreisler wrote out the song with text, dedicating his arrangement entitled “Viennese Popular Song, words by Alice Mattullath” to his “dear friend” tenor John McCormack. Kreisler’s Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta was the latest of the present set to be composed, c.1941–42. Following a rhapsodic violin cadenza, Kreisler launches into a lush tune made even richer by the violin’s double stops. Vienna is again invoked by the lilting triple meter in both slow and fast waltzes. The whole concludes with a majestic climax and dazzling feats of violin gymnastics. © Michael Parloff Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Chorale Prelude “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme”, BWV 645 (arr. Busoni), JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)

    JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750) Chorale Prelude “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme”, BWV 645 (arr. Busoni) March 19, 2023 – Rachel Naomi Kudo, piano Our discussion of the present three Bach transcriptions must begin with Ferrucio Busoni, who was Egon Petri’s teacher. As a youth Busoni adored Bach above all other composers, a passion that endured throughout his life. He not only drew on Bach’s music for inspiration in his own works but he issued a monumental edition of Bach’s solo keyboard works transcribed for piano—a twenty-five volume collection plus a seven-volume set—aided by his students Egon Petri and Bruno Mugellini. So synonymous did Bach and Busoni become in the public’s mind that on Busoni’s first American tour his wife Gerda was once introduced by a society matron as “Mrs. Bach-Busoni.” This anecdote was related by Petri, a superb German pianist of Dutch descent, who began studying with Busoni in Weimar in 1901. Petri eventually settled in the United States, taught at Mills College, and authored many Bach transcriptions at Busoni’s behest. Busoni issued his Bach edition in two collections: the twenty-five-volume Klavierwerke, and the seven-volume Bach-Busoni edition. Although Busoni’s name appears on each volume of the Klavierwerke, many were edited by Petri and a few by Bruno Mugellini. Petri had expected Busoni to supervise his and Mugellini’s editorial work and they strove to operate under his principles and to emulate his style, yet Busoni concerned himself very little with reading their proofs, much to Petri’s surprise. Busoni strove to remain true to the essence of Bach’s music in his transcriptions, but inevitably his own Romantic sensibilities crept in with his addition of tempo and pedal markings, dynamics, register changes, repeats, and performance suggestions. Nevertheless, these transcriptions are rewarding additions to the piano repertoire. Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ—which appears as No. 5 in Busoni’s collection of Ten Chorale Preludes (1898) and No. 41 (BWV 639) in Bach’s Orgel-Büchlein (Little Organ Book)—has become a favorite of pianists and audiences for its poignant serenity. Flowing arpeggios in the middle voice accompany the tender, mostly unadorned chorale melody, supported by a steady “walking bass.” Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme is actually Busoni’s transcription of what was already a transcription by Bach himself. In 1731 Bach had composed the fourth movement of his Cantata 140 (Wachet auf) in chorale-prelude style with tenor(s) taking the chorale melody, surrounded by a a lyrical countermelody for upper strings in unison and supported by continuo (bass line and harmony). Thus it was a simple task to transfer all three parts to organ, which he did in BWV 645, one of a group of six late works that became known as the “Schübler Chorales” after their publication by Johann Georg Schübler in 1748–49. Busoni’s transcription for piano, No. 2 in his Ten Chorale Preludes, maintains the lilting flow in the upper line against the steady chorale in the middle voice. Turning to the first piece of the group of transcriptions, Egon Petri arranged his version of Schafe können sicher weiden (Sheep may safely graze) not from a chorale preude by Bach but rather a soprano aria from Cantata 208 Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd! (What pleases me is above all the lively hunt). Bach wrote secular cantatas for aristocratic patrons to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, name days, and accession days, or for academic ceremonies, and he composed Cantata 208 on a text by Weimar court poet Salomo Franck for the birthday of Duke Christian Weissenfels in 1713. Known as the Hunt Cantata, it contains “Schafe können sicher weiden,” the well-known aria for Pales, second soprano to Diana, goddess of the hunt. For centuries listeners have been captivated by its texture of rocking parallel thirds for two flutes—the quintessential pastoral instrument—accompanying the tender main melody, which praises Duke Christian for ruling his people as a good shepherd. The lovely aria has been transcribed for countless times for various performing forces, among the first—Percy Grainger’s for band (1931), Mary Howe’s for solo piano and two pianos (1935), and William Walton’s for orchestra (1940). Egon Petri’s transcription, published in 1944 has become the best-known transcription for piano. © Jane Vial Jaffe Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Vier Klavierstücke (Four Piano Pieces), op. 119, JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)

    JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897) Vier Klavierstücke (Four Piano Pieces), op. 119 October 4, 2015 – Richard Goode, piano Brahms began composing his Opus 119 Piano Pieces before completing the Opus 118 collection and published both sets in 1893. The Opus 119 pieces continue in the same predominantly introspective vein, except for the concluding Rhapsody of Opus 119, which ends Brahms’s solo piano output in heroic style. (Only the 51 Übungen, or Exercises, compiled over many years, were published later.) The three opening pieces of Opus 119 are titled “Intermezzo,” Brahms’s favored designation for a wide range of late piano pieces (see Opus 118 above). The first Intermezzo of Opus 119 is well-known for its characteristic falling thirds, which give it the resigned quality so often associated with Brahms’s works. The Andante of the F minor Two-Piano Sonata, op. 34b, the opening of the Fourth Symphony, and the Four Serious Songs provide notable examples of this characteristic. Brahms gave the first Intermezzo to Clara Schumann as a birthday present in 1893, though it actually marked his birthday by the time he sent it to her. He wrote: I am tempted to have a short piece of music copied for you, as I should very much like to know how you get on with it. It teems with discords. . . . It is exceptionally melancholy, and to say “to be played very slowly” is not sufficient. Every bar and every note must be played as if ritardando were indicated, and one wished to draw the melancholy out of each one of them, and voluptuous joy and comfort out of the discords. My God, how this description will whet your appetite! Clara wrote that “one actually revels in the discords” and also called the Intermezzo “a grey pearl. Do you know them? They look as if they were veiled, and are very precious.” Brahms also used the title “Intermezzo” for the second piece, an agitated piece in E minor that ingeniously employs the variation form. The central “waltz” section in E major provides a wonderful contrast, though it too is a variation. A wisp of the waltz returns at the close. The following quicksilver Intermezzo features the melody at the outset in the lower part of the right hand. Its scherzando character as abetted by the shifting melodic accents. The ebullient E-flat Rhapsody, probably not the last of the pieces in order of composition, is notable for its five-bar phrases, which Clara characterized as “Hungarian.” At the center occurs a lyrical section in A-flat major—perhaps suggesting the salon or café in its arpeggiations and grace notes—that is led up to and away from by a C minor/C major triplet idea. The following occurrence of the main theme is cleverly presented in a hushed staccato variation, lending all the more force to its return in its original guise at the close. This Rhapsody belongs to a small but significant group of works that open heroically in the major but close dramatically and darkly in the minor. Other notable such pieces include Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and Brahms’s B major Trio. Brahms’s Rhapsody, however, accomplishes this unusual twist in one movement, thereby joining an even more select niche of the repertoire—Schubert’s E-flat Impromptu, op. 90, no. 2 is one of the few other such works that immediately comes to mind. © Jane Vial Jaffe Return to Parlance Program Notes

  • Le Coucou, LOUIS-CLAUDE DAQUIN (1694-1772)

    LOUIS-CLAUDE DAQUIN (1694-1772) Le Coucou November 4, 2018: Lucille Chung, piano Louis-Claude Daquin’s intellectual, artistic family immediately recognized his prodigious talents. He took harpsichord lessons with his talented godmother Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre and composition lessons from the illustrious Nicolas Bernier, and at the age of six he performed for Louis XIV. Just two years later he conducted his own Beatus vir at the royal chapel, Sainte-Chapelle, and at twelve he became assistant there to Marin de la Guerre (Elisabeth’s husband). That year he was also hired as organist at Petit St.-Antoine, where crowds flocked to hear him. Daquin won the position of organist at St. Paul in 1727 in competition with a number of fine musicians including the great Jean-Philippe Rameau, and he remained there until his death. Concurrently he held other organist appointments—at Cordeliers from 1732, Chapelle Royale from 1739, and Notre Dame from 1755. He is also known to have mightily impressed his audiences at the Concerts Spirituels at the Palais de Tuileries and the Concerts Français. Contemporary accounts rate Daquin as the finest improviser of his time, but he may have been too busy improvising to commit the extent of his genius to print—just two collections of his compositions were captured for posterity. His Nouveau livre de noëls (New book of Christmas pieces), published in 1757, shows charm, brilliance, and imaginative registrations. But Daquin’s more original side shows in some of the pieces in his Livre de pièces de clavecin (Book of harpsichord pieces), a collection of four suites and a divertissement, for which there was enough demand to be printed twice, in 1735 and again in 1739. In his 1735 preface Daquin points to his use of “new styles of expression” while keeping within true keyboard idioms. He points to Les vents en couroux , in which he says the crossed hands passages represent the fury of the waves and flashes of lightning as the wind whips up a storm on the ocean, and Les trois cadences , which contains the novel technique of the triple trill. He also mentions his attempt to imitate the “appropriate effects and characters” in the publication’s final set of pieces, Les plaisirs de la chasse (The pleasures of the hunt), but other than including it in a list of pieces possible for violins or flutes, he does not mention Le coucou , which has become his most celebrated composition. Le coucou , the first piece in his Third Suite, shows his remarkable use of a stylized bird call in an original way. A cuckoo’s call is generally heard as a descending major or minor third, and Daquin starts with this interval, always placing it in the same rhythmic spot—from the second half of the second beat to the downbeat of the next measure. The call migrates from hand to hand, but more strikingly changes from a third to a second, fourth, fifth, or sixth depending on the harmony, and sometimes ascends rather than descends. It never loses its identity as the cuckoo, however, owing to its rhythmic configuration. In terms of form, Daquin opts for a rondeau in which the opening alternates with two couplets as a refrain in the form A-B-A-C-A. He never alters the texture of running sixteenth-notes against the “cuckoos” except to switch hands and add judicious ornaments, but he keeps the ear engaged with harmonic excursions and the flitting of the cuckoos from place to place. © Jane Vial Jaffe Return to Parlance Program Notes

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