9 months ago

CAMA presents Academy of St Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell / Wednesday, March 14, 2018, International Series at The Granada Theatre, 8:00 PM

CAMA's International Series at The Granada Theatre presents Academy of St Martin in the Fields Wednesday, March 14, 2018 The Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara, 8:00 PM Joshua Bell, Music Director and Violin Felix Mendelssohn: Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op.21 Henryk Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No.2 in D minor, Op.22 Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F Major, Op.68, “Pastoral” The Academy of St Martin in the Fields returns with famed Music Director and Violinist Joshua Bell. As one of the world’s premier chamber orchestras, the Academy is renowned for its fresh, brilliant interpretations of the world’s most-loved classical music. Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era, and his restless curiosity, passion, and multi-faceted musical interests are almost unparalleled in the world of classical music. •

Program Notes Felix

Program Notes Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy At a remove of nearly two centuries, it can hard to understand what a groundbreaking work the Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture was. In it, the 17-year-old Felix Mendelssohn created a new musical genre and language. It was the first “concert overture,” a work intended not to introduce a dramatic presentation, but to represent, complete in itself, a literary work, or story, or place. Music as literature soon became a quintessentially Romantic concept, so the concert overture and its offshoot, the tone poem, became common in the 19th century. The Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture’s sounds and concept may be forward-looking but, Mendelssohn being Mendelssohn, it is in form very much a traditional sonata. He originally wrote it as a piano duet in 1826, but must have had much of the orchestration in mind from the beginning. The orchestral version, completed soon after the duet and premiered in 1827, did much to establish his reputation. In 1833, Mendelssohn wrote to his publishers, who had apparently asked him if there was specific program to the overture: I believe it will suffice to remember how the rulers of the elves, Oberon and Titania, constantly appear throughout 8

[Shakespeare’s] play with all their train, now here and now there; then comes Prince Theseus of Athens and joins a hunting party in the forest…then the two pairs of tender lovers, who lose and find themselves; finally the troop of clumsy, coarse tradesmen, who ply their ponderous amusements; then again the elves, who entice all—and on this the piece is constructed. When at the end all is happily resolved…the elves return and bless the house, and disappear as morning arrives. So ends the play, and also my overture. Mendelssohn’s letter did not bother to mention that Bottom, one of the coarse tradesmen, spends much of the play with a donkey’s head in place of his own. The overture is full of braying of one sort or another. To the orchestra that had been standard since Mozart’s day, he added an ophicleide, a bass brass instrument that works like a woodwind, changing pitch by covering and uncovering holes with keys. Its sound is edgier, and rather more ass-like, than that of the tuba, which supplanted it in the second half of the 19th century. Although the ophicleide had been invented only in 1817, Spontini and Berlioz had already used it in serious music. But including an ophicleide (or tuba) among trombones in a big orchestra was a far cry from writing for it in a small orchestra used as sparingly as Mendelssohn used his in this overture, where the bass instruments are held out for long stretches, leaving a light and transparent texture. The big instrument can stick out of the shimmering orchestral fabric like Bottom the weaver, with his jackass head, sticks out of the fairy queen’s bower, which is of course the point in using it. It even gets to bray like an ass, exposed under the softly scurrying violins, in the recapitulation. Henryk Wieniawski The overture is full of other memorable touches. After opening chords define the key of E Major, violins divided into four parts abruptly change to E minor, letting us know we’re entering a different world, and then depict the fairy world in quick notes. Little woodwind fanfare figures that seem inconsequential in the exposition become mysterious, like spirits popping out of the shadows and then disappearing, in the development. The strings offer their own 9