Sunday 3 May 2020

Welcome to Day Three of the Leamington Music Virtual Festival!

Each day for the duration of the Festival, we will give you an e-flavour of what you could have enjoyed in person this weekend in the Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington – sometimes movements and sometimes whole works; some modern performances and some classics.

While we don’t have the technology to beam each of the programmed artists playing live into your living room, we hope you will enjoy these videos of live performances of some the music you were to hear in our Festival.

Sunday’s lunchtime concert was to be given by 21-year-old horn player Ben Goldscheider with pianist Richard Uttley.

Ben won the Brass Category of the BBC Young Musician Competition in 2016 and has since made his BBC Proms debut as well as concerto performances all over Europe.

Here is a short video of Ben playing Bach’s Nun Komm’ der Heiden Heiland with pianist Giuseppe Guarrera

Visit Ben’s website for more

Click here to visit the Presto Classical page on Ben Goldscheider which features an interview with Ben and details of his recordings.

The programme for this concert was to be:

Cherubini   Horn Sonata No 2 in F
Beethoven   Horn Sonata in F Op 17
Schulhoff   Selection from Esquisses de jazz WV90
Rosetti   Allegro and Romance from Horn Concerto in E flat
Schumann   Adagio and Allegro in A flat Op 70

Here we hear American Horn player, David Cooper, currently Principal Horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott playing the Schumann.

Schumann   Adagio and Allegro in A flat Op 70   

Composed just a week after the Fantasiestücke, the Adagio and Allegro in A flat Op 70, for horn and piano (issued with alternative parts for violin or cello), delighted Schumann when he heard Clara rehearse it with Julius Schlitterlau, first horn in the Dresden Orchestra.

Her response was even more euphoric: ‘A magnificent piece, fresh and passionate, and exactly what I like.’ Originally entitled Romanze, the Adagio is a tender colloquy for the two instruments that exploits both the heights and the depths of the new valve-horn. Schumann gives free rein to the horn’s agility in the Allegro, whose rollicking spirits are stilled in a central episode in B major that recalls the yearning melody of the Adagio.

The evening concert tonight was to be the return the Royal Pump Rooms of Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch, featuring a Leamington Music favourite, cellist Raphael Wallfisch, with colleagues Hagai Shaham violin and Arnon Erez piano.

Here is the Trio performing live – Arensky’s beautiful Piano Trio No 1 in D minor Op 32.

Visit the Trio’s website for more

Click here to visit the Presto Classical page on Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch which features details of the Trio’s recordings.

The Programme for this concert was to be:

Haydn   Trio in C Hob XV:27
Beethoven   Allegretto in B flat WoO 39
Beethoven   Variations on ‘Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu’ Op 121a
Beethoven   Trio in B Flat Op 97 ‘Archduke’

As this is a Virtual Festival, we can travel anywhere and to any time! Let us visit Paris in 1974 for a performance of the ‘Archduke’ by Yehudi Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Wilhelm Kempff…

Beethoven   Piano Trio in B flat Op 97 ‘Archduke’                     
i. Allegro moderato
ii. Scherzo: Allegro
iii. Andante cantabile ma però con moto
iv. Allegro moderato – Presto

Beethoven began to sketch the ‘Archduke’ in the spa of Baden bei Wien during the summer of 1810 when, true to form, he was also engaged on a composition of a radically different character: the violently compressed String Quartet in F minor Op 95.

He returned to the Trio in earnest the following March; he may, though, have revised it, as was his way, before the first performance, given by Beethoven himself (one of the last times he played in public) with the violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh and the cellist Josef Linke at the Viennese hotel ‘Zum römischen Kaiser’ on 11 April 1814.

The serene, Apollonian tone of the Allegro moderato is set by the glorious opening theme, with its broad harmonic motion and mingled grandeur and tenderness. In keeping with the spacious scale of the whole movement, the theme is heard twice, first in a rich piano texture, then, varied and extended, in full trio scoring: already here Beethoven creates a depth of sonority, with the cello ranging across its entire compass, that is one of the work’s hallmarks. It is typical of this most tranquil of Beethoven’s great sonata structures that rather than modulating to the ‘tensing’ dominant, F, the music glides to the more remote G major for the equally lyrical second theme – the kind of key relationship Beethoven was to cultivate increasingly in his later works. In the development Beethoven takes each phrase of the main theme as a cue for calm dialogues between violin and cello, or strings and piano. At its centre is a hushed, mysterious duet for the two strings, pizzicato, against flickering piano trills, leading to a crescendo and the promise of a triumphant return of the opening theme. But Beethoven shies away from clinching the climax; and after a ruminative cadenza-like passage and a prolonged piano trill, the recapitulation steals in almost unobtrusively, dolce and pianissimo. Any sense of triumph is held back until the coda, where the main theme sounds fortissimo in the most majestic sonority of the whole movement.

Beethoven was fond of juxtaposing a broad, lyrical opening movement with a witty, laconic, faintly cussed Scherzo – cases in point are the F major ‘Razumovsky’ Quartet, the Cello Sonata Op 69, and the late String Quartet in E flat Op 127. Like the Scherzo of Op 127, the second movement of the ‘Archduke’ makes humorous play with an elementary rising scale. The initial vision of dry bones (note the bare string textures, in extreme contrast to the sonorous close of the first movement) is later transformed into a relaxed, convivial Ländler. Beethoven is at his most eccentric in the Trio, which against all expectation far exceeds the Scherzo in scale and range. It opens with a groping chromatic fugato in B flat minor and then proceeds incongruously to a splashy salon waltz such as Weber might have written, veering wildly from D flat to E major and finally to B flat. As in many of Beethoven’s middle-period Scherzos, the Trio comes round twice, after a full repeat of the main section; and the eerie chromatic music makes a final appearance in the coda before dissolving into the rising scale with which the movement began.

For the Andante cantabile Beethoven moves to D major, a luminous key in relation to the preceding B flat (shades here of the turn to G major in the first movement). This is one of the rare slow variation movements in Beethoven’s middle-period works, a series of meditations on a hymn-like theme of sublime simplicity that foreshadows the transcendent finales of the piano sonatas Opp 109 and 111. Each of the four variations preserves the structure and broad harmonic outline of the melody against increasingly elaborate figuration. After the intricate, luxuriant keyboard textures of the fourth variation, Beethoven brings back the opening of the theme in its original guise before feinting at distant keys; then, in a long, rapt coda, violin and cello muse tenderly on a cadential phrase like soloists in some transfigured operatic love duet.

In his middle-period works Beethoven often linked the slow movement directly with the finale, delighting in jolting the listener from timeless contemplation to the world of robust action. The dance-like theme of the rondo finale, with its whiff of Viennese café music, is, in fact, subtly adumbrated in the closing bars of the Andante. Beethoven makes witty capital from the theme’s harmonic ambivalence (it starts as if in the ‘wrong’ key of E flat) on each of its returns, while the central ‘developing’ episode irreverently punctuates an expressive new cantabile melody with fragments of the rondo theme. The Presto coda encapsulates the volatile, wayward spirit of the whole movement, changing the metre to 6/8 and transforming the main theme in an outlandish A major before firmly restoring the home key.

Join us here tomorrow’s ‘concerts’ in our Virtual Festival!


Can you help…?

We are raising money to help see our artists and our organisation through the Covid-19 crisis. Every pound that is donated will make a difference to the way we can support these musicians now and with our plans for the future, and we are extraordinarily grateful to everyone for their understanding and support in such challenging times.

Leamington Music is a not-for-profit charity which relies on your much-valued support to keep bringing international music-making to the area. When this crisis subsides, we are all going to want music more than ever to lift the spirits, and so we at Leamington Music would be very grateful for your help to keep the charity, along with our artists, buoyant in the meantime.