Program Notes

Mozart & Haydn

February 2nd, 2022

This concert is made possible by the Ferber Family Foundation of Houma, a Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, in honor of Dora Ferber.

Conductor

Carlos Miguel Prieto

Featured Artists

Anne-Marie McDermott

LPO Musicians

Guest Artist Bio

Anne-Marie McDermott

In a career that has spanned over 25 years, American pianist Anne-Marie McDermott has played concertos, recitals, and chamber music in hundreds of cities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. The breadth of her repertoire matches that of her instrument, spanning from Bach, Haydn, and Beethoven to Rachmaninoff, Prokoviev, and Scriabin to works by today’s most influential composers — Aaron Jay Kernis, Steven Hartke, Joan Tower, and Charles Wuorinen, among them. As an Artistic Director, Ms. McDermott leads the Ocean Reef Chamber Music Festival in Florida and the Avila Chamber Music Celebration in Curacao.

Beginning with the 2011 season, she is also the Artistic Director of the Vail Valley Music Festival in Colorado. Anne-Marie has been an Artist Member of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1995. Ms. McDermott’s passions have recently coalesced in several important projects that are indicative both of her popularity and the range of her musical interests: the presentation of The Complete Prokoviev Piano Sonatas and Chamber Music as part of the Lincoln Center Festival; The Chamber Music of Shostakovich at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; the premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s Piano Sonata No. 6; and the performance and recording of Gershwin’s Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra with the Dallas Symphony (2008, Bridge Records). The latter was named Editor’s Choice by Gramophone.

About her critically acclaimed recording of the Complete Prokoviev Piano Sonatas (2009, Bridge Records), Gramophone wrote “we have waited a long time for an American pianist of this stature.”  

Composers

Edwa Silvestre Revueltas (1899 – 1940) Alciancias (1932)

Composed for piccolo, oboe, 2 clarinets, French horn, 2 C trumpets, trombone, timpani, percussion, and strings.

Mexican composer, violinist, and conductor Silvestre Revueltas is regarded as one of the most important figures in Mexican classical music during the first half of the 20th century. Although his career was cut short by illness, he left behind an impressive body of work that continues to influence and inspire. Revueltas’ family recognized his musical talent and sent him to study in Texas and Illinois.  It was during this time that his writing style was said to have “unconsciously approached” the style of Claude Debussy. Revueltas claimed to have had no knowledge of Debussy’s music when he was compared to the French composer’s work. A comparison of the two composers’ works would show the unique cultural and musical language that Revueltas managed to capture in his work that makes it distinct from anything else that was happening around him.

Alciancias (‘Piggy Banks’) is a work in three movements. Each movement takes as its theme an object of Mexican folk art: multicolored pottery piggy banks, usually in the shape of fish or a pig that would be smashed open in order to get the money kept inside.

The first movement, Allegro, begins with an uneven, unequally accented five-measure statement that leads us into the main theme which could best be described as “tonally ambiguous.”

The second movement, entitled Walking, feels like a melancholic folk song, in contrast to the angular energy of the first movement. 

Revueltas brings the traditional Mexican huapango dance to the forefront in the final Allegro movement. Classical musical developments take a back seat to folk musical traditions as the piece concludes in a colorful, almost improvised conclusion. 

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809) Symphony no. 90 in C major, Hob. I/90

Composed for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, continuo (harpsichord) and strings.

In the span of a single generation, composers writing more than nine symphonies would be seen as stepping outside of the towering shadow of Ludwig van Beethoven, who’s symphonic output kept composers like Schubert, Dvorak, and Mahler from even attempting to write beyond the threshold of what Beethoven had accomplished.  

Thankfully, (and probably very agreeably to the good humor of the composer) no such expectation existed for Franz Joseph Haydn who completed 106 symphonies over the course of his illustrious career.  As a composer, Haydn is considered to be a profound influence on the musical generations that would follow, (especially as Ludwig van Beethoven’s mentor and teacher.) 

Haydn composed his 90th symphony as the first in a triptych of symphonies in 1788, dedicated to the Count d’Orgny (along with symphonies 91 and 92.) This was a significant move for Haydn, who had spent the majority of his compositional career writing for the Hungarian Prince Esterhazy. While this was not always the most comfortable arrangement for Haydn, it had guaranteed financial stability and regular performances of his works, but when Prince Esterhazy died in 1790, Haydn was free to begin writing some of his most profound symphonic works.  Those final dozen London symphonies (or Salomon symphonies) should be included along with this trio of symphonies as Haydn’s most important and enduring contribution to the symphonic literature. 

Haydn opens the first movement (Adagio – Allegro assai) in grandiose fashion, pulling the curtain back on an introductory statement before we are quickly whisked away on an energetic ride.

Andante, the second movement, includes a double theme and variations with corresponding solos from different instrument groups in the competing keys of C major and F minor.

The third movement, Menuetto – Allegretto, unfolds with the characteristic ease and carefree character that indicates much of Haydn’s writing. The finale, Allegro assai, contains one of the good-natured jokes that Haydn was well-known for.  In the middle of the movement, there is a convincing C major cadence that might confuse the listener into believing they had arrived at the end of the symphony.  However, after four measures’ silence, the main melody quietly begins again, this time in the distant key of D-flat major.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) Piano Concerto no. 25 in C major, K. 503

Composed for solo piano, flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings.

1786 was an important year for Mozart.  Work was finished on his opera The Marriage of Figaro, his B-flat piano trio, (K. 502,) as well as his twenty-third and twenty-fourth piano concertos (K. 488 & 491) If the entire year was prolific for the composer, December 4th was a particularly important day: not only did Mozart put the finishing touches on his 25th piano concerto, but he also completed the Prague Symphony (no. 38, K. 504) the very same day. 

This period of Mozart’s life was particularly important for his keyboard writing.  (The composer would pen the final 12 of his 27 piano concertos during the span of 1784 – 1786.)  While more attention is usually drawn to his 24th concerto, the 25th is forward-looking as Mozart the maturing opera composer began to expand the structure of the medium.  Movements in this concerto take on a symphonic scope, with prolonged tutti sections full of orchestral opportunities to enjoy their moment in the spotlight.

The concerto’s has perhaps not enjoyed the same notoriety as some of the other late piano concertos, but there is strong evidence to suggest that it was such an influence on a young Ludwig van Beethoven that not only did the young Beethoven elect to perform the 25th concerto as a soloist, but also penned his first piano concerto in the same key (C major) as an homage to Mozart in 1797.

The concerto’s opening movement, Allegro maestoso, is in a sprawling sonata form that moves between key areas numerous times and affords the orchestra the opportunity to introduce the major thematic material before being joined by the soloist. 

Andante, the second movement, is also in a tranquil sonata form, albeit without a development section and relies heavily upon the woodwind section.

Mozart begins his Allegretto finale by lifting a gavotte theme from his opera Idomeneo. While the movement begins light-heartedly, the movement retains a feeling of sincerity all the way until the concerto’s joyous ending.

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