Only a small portion of the concertos that Bach composed during his years in Cöthen (1717–1723) have survived, but some of the lost concertos can be reconstructed from the transcriptions he went on to make in Leipzig, when he needed to come up with reams of music to fill the weekly concerts presented by an amateur ensemble he directed. Some old works found new life as harpsichord concertos for his talented sons to perform, and details within the keyboard parts hint at the original instruments Bach had in mind. Twentieth-century scholars followed those clues to recreate a Concerto for Oboe and Violin, the presumed source for the existing Concerto for Two Keyboards in C Minor, BWV 1060.
In the opening movement, the part Bach adapted for the second keyboard soloist undoubtedly originated on the violin, with figures divided between two adjacent strings, one moving melodically, the other holding constant. In the first solo part, the sustained tones suggest that the music was first conceived for oboe, given its ability to shape long, slow-moving phrases with the breath.
The gorgeous middle movement weaves the two solo voices in fluid counterpoint, supported by a gentle, rocking pulse of accompaniment. In the fast finale, the more virtuosic material goes to the violin soloist, who barrels through quick sextuplets under leaping figures from the oboe.
Aaron Grad ©2020
At the age of 57, Brahms declared his retirement from composition, intending his Second String Quintet from 1890 to be his final work. Eventually an encounter with a clarinetist coaxed Brahms back to composing — twice actually, since he “retired” again in 1894 — so the quintet turned out not to be his swan song after all. In both the first quintet from 1882 and this successor, Brahms used Mozart’s configuration with a second viola, as opposed to the second cello found in quintets by Boccherini and Schubert. (Brahms had drafted a two-cello quintet back in 1862, but after his friend Joseph Joachim expressed misgivings about the scoring, Brahms converted it into a piano quintet.)
Adapting a sketch drafted for an unrealized fifth symphony, Brahms assigned the quintet’s heroic first theme to the cello. The two violas come to the fore in the contrasting theme, their harmonies gliding together as smoothly as two dancers in a Viennese ballroom. The Adagio also links the two violas over pizzicato cello, with a stately pace and dotted rhythms that hint at a bygone Baroque sensibility. For the finale, a viola introduces a compact motive that moves through a variety of keys, speeds and orchestrations until it climaxes in an accelerated tempo. It is intriguing to imagine these final bursts of ecstatic music as an intentional goodbye, supposing Brahms had stuck with his planned retirement.
Aaron Grad ©2020
The Fifth Symphony comes from the heart of Beethoven’s “middle” period, a phase when his encroaching deafness changed his relationship to composing and performing, and when the crystalline classicism of his early works gave way to a more focused and concentrated manner of writing. Rather than issuing flowing melodies, Beethoven’s quintessential works from this period build highly integrated forms out of compact, elemental materials.
The most famous musical nugget Beethoven ever conceived — perhaps the most recognizable motive ever penned by a composer — comes at the start of the Fifth Symphony, when the orchestra delivers four unadorned notes: three short repetitions of G dropping to a sustained E-flat, representing two notes from the home triad of C minor. This one motive fuels the entire first movement based in Beethoven’s favorite key for stormy and fateful music, and traces of it return later in the symphony.
The second movement features a double set of variations, alternating the development of two contrasting themes. Some of the accompanying rhythms echo the short-short-short-long rhythmic pattern from the first movement, contributing to the symphony’s organic cohesion.
The Scherzo retreads the central tonal conflict of the work, juxtaposing a moody first theme in C minor and a spry fugal section in C major. A coda builds tension that releases directly into the triumphant finale, anchoring the redemptive new key of C major with the added brilliance of piccolo a
Aaron Grad ©2020
About This Program
Second Annual Musician Appreciation Concert
Judith Garcia Galiana, Event Chair
Please join us for our second annual Musician Appreciation Concert in celebration of the musicians of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. You and fellow SPCO supporters will be treated to a very special evening where you’ll experience a one-of-a-kind program featuring audience favorites by Beethoven, Bach and Brahms. Net proceeds from ticket purchases for this event will go directly to SPCO Musicians in appreciation for the passion, dedication and incredible artistry they share with thousands in our community every year.
Please note: a portion of the ticket price for this concert is a tax-deductible donation, so ticket prices differ from our regular concert pricing. This concert is not eligible for ticket exchanges, free child or student tickets, Create-Your-Own Packages, Concert Membership or voucher redemption.
Premium Packages and Seats
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Includes 10 premium concert tickets and invitation to post-concert reception with musicians
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Includes 6 premium concert tickets and invitation to post-concert reception with musicians
* Premium Seat - $1,000
Includes 1 premium concert ticket and invitation to post-concert reception with musicians
* Scale 1 seat - $500
* Scale 2 seat - $250
* Scale 3 seat - $100
Please note: Your purchase total minus $15 per ticket is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law
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