Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet

Saturday, April 1, 2017 | 5:30 PM
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Katherine McLin, violin
Mary Harris, viola
Marc Moskovitz, cello
John Pellegrino, double bass
Andrew Campbell, piano

ProMusica principal musicians join with guest pianist Andrew Campbell to perform works from the Classical and Romantic eras, including Schubert’s most beloved quintet, “The Trout.”

Haydn – Piano Trio No. 39 in G major, Hob. XV/25
Wallen – Romeo Turn, for viola, cello and double bass
Volkmann – Schlummerlied, Op. 76, for viola, double bass and piano
Schubert – Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 “ The Trout”

PROGRAM NOTES

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809): Piano Trio No. 39 in G major, Hob. XV/25
Franz Joseph Haydn had both the fortune and misfortune to find employment for much of his life with Nikolaus Esterhazy, an immensely wealthy Hungarian nobleman whose grand estate, Esterháza, still stands today. For some forty years, beginning in 1761, Haydn gave himself tirelessly to the Prince, composing operas and symphonies, writing and performing chamber music and overseeing all matters musical at the estate; from seeing to the condition of the court instruments to mounting operatic productions in its theater. Haydn was truly a musical servant, and he wore the livery to prove it. He needn’t have worried where his next meal was coming from and he had the great fortune to work with some of Europe’s premiere musicians. But his compositional creativity was almost entirely dictated by the needs or desires of his employers. Relegated to the estate—located in the remote Hungarian countryside—for the majority of his tenure, Haydn felt increasingly cut off from the musical currents of mainstream Vienna. As he himself said, he was “forced to become original.”

With the death of Nikolaus in 1790, the prince was succeeded by his son, Anton, who downsized much of the estate, including dismissing many of the court musicians and reducing Haydn’s salary. In return, Haydn was able to take up outside commissions and travel. He wasted little time taking advantage of his new station, almost immediately heading for England (crossing the English Channel granted the 58-year-old composer his first view of the ocean). The visits to London (he would return several years later) yielded some of the composer’s most famous symphonies, including the Surprise, Drum Roll and London Symphonies and this trio, nicknamed the “Gypsy Rondo” on account of its finale. Haydn’s time in London was busy but he evidently also made time for other pursuits. Rebecca Schroeter, a wealthy 40-year-old British widow and amateur musician, initially hired Haydn for a music lesson, but she soon fell in love with the renowned 60-year-old master. Haydn reciprocated her feelings and it was to her that his trios of 1795—including the “Gypsy”—were dedicated.

The “piano trio” of Haydn’s day was a genre still finding its legs. Early on, such works were primarily composed for piano with “obbligato” strings, but here we clearly note the violin frequently taking the lead, not only carrying the melody but doing so with virtuoso panache. The cello, on the other hand, remains largely subordinate, doubling the left hand of the piano, in essence adding color to the lower end of Haydn’s score. However, it is also clear that the composer is beginning to liberate the cello, if to a small degree, allowing it to occasionally join the violin in melodic exchange. His G major trio is in the usual three movements, although the opening Andante is perhaps more relaxed than might be expected. This charming movement, which includes a hunting call as part of its first theme (a gesture that certainly would have been recognizable to both English upper crust and continental European connoisseurs) provides a good indication of the general character of what was being performed in private drawing rooms and salons at the close of the 18th century: this is music meant to please, not to challenge. The Adagio is cast as a lovely song, in A-B (albeit brief)-A form, featuring gracious, long-hewn melodies with arpeggiated accompanying lines. The spirited gypsy-inspired finale is cast as a rondo (that is, the initial idea returns, interspersed with contrasting ideas). Filled with the wit and humor common to so much of Haydn’s music, one easily understands why this trio has long been the composer’s most famous.

 

Errollyn Wallen (b. 1958): Romeo Turn, for viola, cello and double bass
Born in Belize in 1958, Errollyn Wallen grew up in London and has since become one of England’s most eclectic composers. Her works have been performed by ensembles as diverse as the Brodsky Quartet, the Welsh National Opera and the Leipzig Ballet. The first black woman to have her work performed at the BBC Proms and the first woman recipient of the Ivor Novello Award for Classical Music, Wallen’s style ranges from pop to avant-garde and her influences are indeed wide. Her string trio, Romeo Turn, from 1999, sprang from a commission by a versatile group of British musicians known as the Adderbury Ensemble, though the title came to her while on plane and in a state of reverie: looking down at the runway, Wallen noticed the words “Romeo Turn” (that is, right turn) and thus the title, for this unusually scored ensemble, was conceived. The work is comprised of seven brief, highly individual movements (although movements 2-3 are played attacca, without pause), each seizing on distinct textures and rhythms. The second, for instance, holds tight to the two-note ascending leaps found at the outset, the third relies on a rocking gesture that grows from its opening cantabile lines, the fourth (Fighting) pits two rhythmic ideas against one another, and so on. It should be mentioned that this is music for three separate, but equal players. No single voice dominates nor does any one player serve the others. Rather each is fully involved in the musical dialogue—in other words, chamber music in the truest sense of the phrase. The work is dedicated to the composer’s father.

 

Robert Volkmann (1815-1883): Schlummerlied, Op. 76, for viola, double bass and piano
Born in Saxony, Robert Volkmann spent his early musical years in relative isolation in Budapest, carving out an existence as piano teacher, newspaper reporter, and choirmaster and organist of a reform synagogue. His Piano Trio found the sympathetic ears of Franz Liszt and for a short period the composer rode the coattails of that trio, and even moved to Vienna, where he became friends with Brahms. However, the bustling city evidently held little attraction to the German romantic, who soon returned to Hungary, where he took up a position teaching at the National Academy of Music. Volkmann’s is a story of a composer with promise who was either denied the true spark of Brahmsian inspiration, lacked the requisite drive to push through a competitive field, or both. His Schlummerlied (literally Slumber Song, or Lullaby) gives a strong impression of Volkmann’s style. Imbued with the romantic vocabulary of Brahms and his circle, the work is both well crafted and highly attractive. Though based on a long-short-long-short rhythm common to the barcarolle which reflects the gentle rowing of the Venetian gondolier, Volkmann’s melodies betray the unmistakable folk-like character of the Austrian countryside. The music builds in intensity towards its center, giving way to a piano cadenza, then returns to its opening themes, before tapering off to a state of repose. Though originally scored for cello, we thought Volkmann’s score would work particularly well on the double bass, by opening up the range between the strings.

 

Franz Schubert (1797-1828): Quintet A major, D. 667 “The Trout”
In the summer of 1819 a twenty-two-year-old Franz Schubert, in the company of his close friend Josef Vogl, headed west from Vienna for the “inconceivably lovely” town of Steyr, some 90 miles away. Here Schubert met Sylvester Paumgartner, a wealthy amateur cellist and fan of Schubert’s songs. His home, which contained a formidable music library and a dedicated music salon, functioned as a center of musical activity in town. Having already mastered the relatively simple cello part to Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s septet, which Schubert had arranged for piano and string quartet, Paumgartner commissioned the composer to write a quintet with similar instrumentation to include variations on one of his favorite Schubert songs, the popular Die Forelle, The Trout. Schubert set to work immediately but only completed the score later that autumn, after returning to Vienna. The timing no doubt came as a disappointment to Paumgartner, who had hoped to introduce the work in his home. There is no record of the quintet having been performed by the cellist, nor by Schubert himself. Still, it is difficult to envision Schubert not having done so, perhaps playing viola for one of many Schubertiads, a gathering of fellow musicians where much of the composer’s chamber music was performed.

The Trout, with its interesting instrumentation—the double bass would become supplanted by a second violin in the majority of piano quintets to flow from the 19th century—displays Schubert’s youthful genius through and through, from its ebullient opening themes to its infectious variations of the celebrated fourth movement. Indeed, the triplet motive that accompanies the Trout variations can be found in four of the work’s five movements, including at the very start, where the rippling upward gesture gives lift to the slower moving string melody. To that motif Schubert then adds a rapid rocking accompaniment that further propels the movement forward, though the triplet motif remains nearly omni-present throughout the opening Allegro vivace. While the movement is constructed in the expected sonata form, keep your ears open for unexpected and striking shifts of key—these occur with frequency and remain a unique characteristic throughout much of the composer’s mature work.

The Andante is cast in two symmetrical units. The movement opens in A-flat major (located a half step below the work’s overall key!) with a gentle theme ushered in immediately by the piano, alternating phrases with the violin and set over a casual viola accompaniment. This soon gives way to a melody in F sharp minor offered by the viola and cello together, a poignant theme that relegates both the violin and piano to the background. Increased rhythmic activity brings the first section to a close and we then return abruptly to the opening realm of A-flat, as the initial ideas return. Schubert’s brisk Scherzo betrays the influence of Beethoven, particularly the very incorporation of such a movement. Previously, composers would have looked to the minuet at this point, also a ¾ time movement yet one moving at a significantly slower pace. But Beethoven, who lived across town—though the two composers probably never actually met—had already upped the ante in his symphonies, a contribution that clearly worked its effect on the younger composer. And as if to be doubly sure his intentions were not lost on later performers, Schubert indicated that the movement was to be played “Presto,” thus ensuring a brisk tempo. The primary theme, comprised of a series of three upward lunges again incorporating the triplet gesture, is pure Schubert, yet the spirit of Beethoven is never far away, as evidenced by the movement’s sudden dynamics and off beat stresses.

The Andantino theme and variations are, of course, the crown jewel of the quintet and right from the start, we note the freshness with which Schubert reinvents his song, Die Forelle, composed two years prior. Indeed, whereas the piano originally offered up the accompaniment, it is completely absent during the opening theme of this movement. Schubert’s approach throughout the variations is to keep the theme more or less intact (as opposed to altering and transforming the basic material, a technique far more common), coloring it with melodic decoration or placing it within a changing framework. Thus, the theme is offered to various members of the ensemble throughout the first several variations, while the surrounding accompaniment becomes increasingly active. Variation IV features an abrupt change to the minor mode and moves progressively from its stormy opening bars, marked fortissimo, to a relaxed pianissimo at its close. Variation V looks to the cello for a moving rendition of the theme, perhaps a special gift to Paumgartner, the cellist who commissioned the composition. Towards the end Schubert bumps the tempo up to Allegretto, a spirited version of the theme that nevertheless brings the movement full circle, which then closes it as quietly as it began.

The light-hearted Allegro giusto is, like the second movement, built of two large sections. The first has an unmistakable folksy quality about it, in no small part a consequence of the sustained drone heard at its start. This material gives way to a contrasting section featuring a warm, expansive theme shared by the strings, underscored by the triplet figure which becomes increasingly present (particularly in the piano). The movement offers a kaleidoscope of characters—charming, moving and energetic—providing a brilliant conclusion to one of the gems of the chamber music repertoire.

(c) Marc Moskovitz
www.marcmoskovitz.com

Featured Musicians Bios

Katherine McLin, violin
The Donald G. Dunn Chair
Violinist Katherine McLin enjoys an extremely varied and prolific performing career as a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber and orchestral musician. Since her debut with the Oregon Symphony at the age of fifteen, Dr. McLin has made over 100 appearances as soloist with orchestras across the country. Recent and upcoming appearances include the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Symphony of the West Valley, Sibelius Violin Concerto with the Tempe Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn Concerto with the Scottsdale Philharmonic, Joel Puckett’s Short Stories with the University of Michigan Wind Ensemble and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Ohio.

Dr. McLin appears on 20 compact disc recordings under the Summit, Centaur, and Opus One labels. Her live and recorded performances have been broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today, NYC’s WQXR (Bob Sherman’s “Listening Room” program), and local television and radio stations throughout the country. As a member of the McLin/Campbell Duo with pianist Andrew Campbell and frequent chamber music collaborator with colleagues around the world, Dr. McLin performs extensively throughout the United States and abroad. She serves as a guest artist at numerous summer chamber music festivals, most recently with the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival (OR), Saarburg Chamber Music Festival (Germany) and with the Orlando Chamber Players at the Festival of the Black Hills (SD).

Since 2007, Dr. McLin has held the position of Concertmaster of the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio. Previously she served as Concertmaster of the Brevard Music Center Orchestra, the Michigan Sinfonietta, and the Aspen Sinfonia Orchestra, and Principal Second Violin of the Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra.

A committed and passionate teacher, Dr. McLin is Professor of Violin at the Arizona State University School of Music. In 2004 she was awarded the Distinguished Teacher Award for the College of Fine Arts, chosen from over 170 faculty, and was a finalist for the 2007 university-wide ASU Professor of the Year award.

Dr. McLin received her doctorate in violin performance from the University of Michigan as a student of Paul Kantor. She holds additional performance degrees from Indiana University and the Oberlin College Conservatory, and for three years was an orchestral fellowship recipient at the Aspen Music Festival. Her former teachers include Franco Gulli, Josef Gingold, and Kathleen Winkler.


 Mary Harris, viola
The Margaret & Jerome Cunningham Chair
Mary E.M. Harris is Professor of Viola at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She was a member of the Oxford String Quartet at Miami from 1988 to 2005. She is a graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, where she studied with Mimi Zweig and Georges Janzer. She went on to complete her graduate work at the Institute of Chamber Music at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where she studied and performed with members of the Fine Arts Quartet and performed for WFMT-Radio in Chicago. A former member of the Dakota String Quartet and I Musici de Montreal, Ms. Harris has also served as principal violist of the New American Chamber Orchestra, touring Europe extensively and performing at the Korsholm, Casals, and other international festivals. In addition to serving as prinicipal violist of ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus, Ohio, she also serves as principal violist of the Richmond (IN) Symphony Orchestra and formerly served as principal of the Echternach Festival Orchestra in Luxembourg. During the summers she has performed at the Garth Newel Festival in Virginia. She currently spends summers performing at the New Hampshire Music Festival and as a member of the Peter Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon. She is a founding member of the flute, viola, harp ensemble COSMOS, a group dedicated to commissioning and performing new works for this combination. Fun fact- she backpacked the 500-mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango this past summer 2015!


Marc Moskovitz
The Barbara Trueman Chair
The son of a professional violinist, the musical path of cellist Marc Moskovitz has taken him from North Carolina to Indiana, Berlin, Virginia, Ohio, Boston and finally back to North Carolina. He has held positions at The University of Virginia and The University of Toledo, where he served as associate professor of cello and cellist of the Toledo Trio.  In 2001, Marc moved to Boston, where he performed with some of the city’s most venerable music organizations, among them The Boston Pops and The Handel and Haydn Society, both of with which he toured, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, with which he frequently recorded. As co-founder and cellist of Montage Music Society, he gave the North American premiere of Zemlinsky’s rediscovered Cello Sonata at the Library of Congress, which the Washington Post called “an impassioned performance.”  His recordings include the music of cello virtuosi David Popper and Alfredo Piatti, both on the VAI label, and premiere recordings of music of Franz Reizenstein and Eric Zeisl (ASV).  Marc has also performed as a guest of the International Piatti Festival in Bergamo, Italy.  In addition to his work as principal cellist of the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, he performs regularly with the North Carolina Symphony and is founder of the Trinity Park Salon Series, a house music concert series in Durham, NC. A former student of cellists Janos Starker and Gary Hoffman, Marc holds a doctorate and master’s degree from Indiana University and spent one year in Berlin with cellist Wolfgang Boettcher as a Fulbright scholar.

A committed scholar, Marc has written on a variety of musical subjects and contributed to various music journals.  His entries on historical cellists are found in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians; in addition to writing the program notes for the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, he has provided program notes for orchestras and opera houses in Germany, Spain and China as well as the U.S.; and his liner notes can be found on the Melba and Naxos record labels.  Marc’s biography of composer-conductor Alexander Zemlinsky, Alexander Zemlinsky: A Lyric Symphony, is published by Boydell & Brewer. He is currently at work on a second book.

When in Columbus, Marc performs on a cello owned by Catherine Adams. The instrument was owned and played by her great-grandfather, a professional cellist-turned-homesteader, who immigrated to America after serving in the court of the King of Hanover.


John Pellegrino
The Stephenson Family Chair
John Pellegrino is Principal Bass of the Peninsula Music Festival, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, a member of the Grand Teton Music Festival and has performed, toured and recorded with many of this country’s leading orchestras. As a chamber musician John has collaborated with such artists as Joseph Kalichstein, William Preucil, Ronald Leonard and James Dunham as well as the Miami String Quartet and the Apple Hill String Quartet. Other chamber music performances have included concerts at the Roycroft, Sarasota, Aspen, Waterloo, Grand Teton festivals as well as OSU’s Contemporary Music Festival, the Sunday at Central recital series in Columbus, OH and at the OWU•//•NOW contemporary music festival in Delaware, OH. In 2007 John was named Artistic Director of Music on the Hill, a chamber music festival located in the Ocean State. Before moving to Ohio in 1989, John was a section member of the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. Prior to joining the NOSO John earned degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School. Mr. Pellegrino has served on the faculties of Ohio Wesleyan University, the Eastern Music Festival (NC), the Warwick Music Festival (RI), Kinhaven Music Camp (VT) and the Chamber Music Connection in Worthington, Ohio. In 2008, John was the recipient of the Ohio Private/Studio Teacher of the Year award given by the Ohio String Teacher’s Association. His students have won competitions held by the International Society of Bassists, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Ohio String Teachers Association, Interlochen Arts Camp and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

John was born and raised in Warwick, RI and owes much to his family of music educators/performers, private teachers, the public school music program in Warwick and to the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestra program under the direction of Nedo Pandolfi.


Andrew Campbell, piano
Andrew Campbell has established himself as one of the most versatile collaborative pianists in the United States with a performing career that has taken him to six continents. Recent appearances include a recital at the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, a performance of the Bach d minor keyboard concerto with the Chintimini Festival Chamber Orchestra in Corvallis, Oregon, and a performance of the Stravinsky Concerto for Piano and Winds with the ASU Wind Symphony. He has collaborated in recitals with such diverse artists as violinist Chee-Yun, double bassist Catalin Rotaru, flutist Thomas Robertello, bassoonist Judith LeClair, trombonist Charles Vernon, saxophonist Timothy McAllister, composer Bright Sheng, and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey. He served as opera rehearsal pianist for distinguished conductors André Previn, Plácido Domingo and Heinz Fricke, and worked closely with the composer Carlisle Floyd on several productions of his operas. Chamber music performances have taken him to important venues including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, where The Strad and Strings magazines both hailed his performance as “excellent.” His partnership with violinist Katherine McLin in the McLin/Campbell Duo has led to performances on numerous recital series throughout the United States and Europe. He has recorded several CDs on the Summit and Centaur labels, and his performance of the Rachmaninoff cello sonata with bassist Catalin Rotaru was cited for special praise by Bass World and XBass, two leading international journals. He has appeared as collaborative pianist at numerous international conferences, including the National Flute Association Convention, MTNA, the Society for American Music, the International Viola Congress, and multiple appearances at the International Double Reed Society, for which he has served as official pianist. Dr. Campbell received the Doctorate in Piano Chamber Music and Accompanying from the University of Michigan where he studied with the renowned collaborative artist Martin Katz.

Dr. Campbell is currently Director of the Collaborative Piano Program at the Arizona State University School of Music. He recently completed his 7th season as Assistant Director and Director of Chamber Music for the Saarburg Serenaden Music Festival (Germany) and the Vianden International Music Festival (Luxembourg), performing annually on their faculty recitals in collaboration with colleagues from the United States, Europe and the Asia. Previous positions include Director of the Collaborative Piano Program at the Brevard Music Center, music staff for both the Washington National Opera and San Diego Opera, and Music Director and Pianist for the San Diego Opera Ensemble.

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