Saturday, 16 February 2019 - 19:30
February Festival 2019

Waltzes With A Depth Of Feeling

Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, Dirk Luijmes, Quatuor Van Kuijk, Ishay Shaer, Animato Kwartet, Renate Arends, Barbara Kozelj, Hans Pieter Herman, Hannah Strijbos, Peter Nilsson, Jan-Paul Grijpink

This evening’s programme is a festive soirée, in which we pull out all the stops. Brahms’ Liebeslieder-Walzer are more than light-hearted songs of love - albeit in its numerous facets. Not only are they moving in their sincerity; they also showcase Brahms’ musicality and profundity. Never, ever could they be called kitschy - an achievement he shares with the unsurpassed ‘king of melodies’ Johann Strauss Jr. The last work is Brahms’ Piano Quartet, in which the audible influences of gypsy music clearly hark back to his youth, exhibiting an unprecedented vitality and a tremendous promise of the future.

 

PROGRAMME *

Johann Strauss jr./Berg: Wein, Weib und Gesang
Brahms: Two Songs, Op. 91
Röntgen: a selection from Lyrische Gänge
Johann Strauss jr./Schönberg: Rosen aus dem Süden
Dvořák: Two Waltzes, Op. 54
Brahms: Liebeslieder-Walzer, Op. 52
Brahms: Piano Quartet No. 1, Op. 25

PROGRAMME NOTES

‘Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang der ist ein Narr sein Leben lang.’ This sentence was attributed to Martin Luther, and served as the title and text for Johann Strauss Jr.’s Choral Waltz, which was written in 1869 for the Vienna Male Chorus. An orchestral version appeared in the same year, of which Alban Berg would make an arrangement for string quartet, piano and harmonium in 1921.

Brahms’ ‘Spiritual Lullaby’ for voice, viola and piano, was written for his friend Joseph Joachim and his wife Amalie, a famous singer. It was composed upon the birth of their first child. When they encountered marital problems several years later, Brahms wrote a second song scored for the same instruments. Perhaps this was an attempt to save their marriage?

The manuscript of the special Lyrische Gänge was discovered in 2004 by Jurriaan Röntgen, a grandson of Julius, tucked away in a cupboard. The songs are scored for the same instruments as Brahms’ Opus 91: voice, viola and piano.

Schönberg also made an arrangement for harmonium, string quartet and piano of Johan Strauss Jr.’s waltzes.

To Dvořák composing just came naturally. Brahms was a jealous of this proficiency: ‘This young man has more ideas in his head than all of us collectively. I wish I was able to come up with my main themes as easily as he does, which he would simply use as secondary themes.’

It is whispered that Brahms derived the inspiration for his Liebeslieder-Walzer from his unrequited love for Clara Schumann. It is a collection of love songs in the Ländler style, scored for four voices and four-handed piano, based on folk songs and love poems by Georg Friedrich Daumer.

Brahms, who generally speaking preferred classic forms and structures, completely abandoned these principles in the Finale of his First Piano Quartet, Opus 25 in G minor with its wild gypsy music. The entire quartet appears to constantly want to break free from the chosen form. Clara Schumann was the pianist in this quartet’s première performance.

* Programme is subject to possible changes.

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