Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Weber Clarinet Concerto Program Notes

Program note written by Andrew Lee who will be featured on the March 6 concert performing the concerto.

Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No. 1 in F minor. Op. 73; Mvt. I
Carl Maria von Weber
Born 18 November 1786 in Eutin, Germany
Died in 5 June 1826 in London, England
Throughout history, many composers have written pieces for specific players whose music making amazed and inspired them. As a result, we have wonderful music. Carl Maria von Weber as an excellent example of this practice. In addition, he has written what is considered today as fundamental clarinet repertoire.
Weber is famous for his chamber music pieces which were composed to accommodate several kinds of ensembles: Clarinet Quintet Op. 34, Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano op. 63, and the Piano Quartet op. 18. However, Weber has a larger reputation as a prominent opera composer. Some of his more famous works include Der Freisch├╝tz, Oberon, and Euryanthe. Less well known, but just as important to clarinettists, were his contributions to clarinet literature (being of comparable importance to Mozart and Brahms). Weber dedicated his Clarinet Concertino for Orchestra Op. 26 and both his Clarinet Concertos for his respected peer and clarinetist, Heinrich Baermann.
Weber first met Baermann in 1811 in Darmstadt. At the time, Baermann was a renowned clarinetist who had acquired fame after touring throughout Europe, including performances at England, France, Italy, and Russia. In Baermann's playing, Weber found a mixture of the French vivacity and German fullness with darker tone. Baermann's personal charisma, as well as his mature virtuosity on the clarinet, led to a close friendship between the men. For an upcoming concert in Munich, patronized by the Royal Minister Maximilian Josef von Montgelasm, at Baermann's request, Weber composed the Concertino in E-flat Op. 26. The concert sold out the entire hall , and was a big success with the audience. The Concertino in E-flat initiated a trio of solo pieces for clarinet and orchestra.
Weber composed the piece on this evening's program after the development of the ten-key clarinet, which allowed for more flexibility and smoothness of playing. He composed his two solo pieces with a Classical format, but incorporated a hint of Romantic drama. Weber's fine balance between the dramatic high points and subtle, technical passages makes his concerto an excellent example of his dual-musical personality. His reputation for the use of earlier Romantic style sets him apart from his more Classical contemporaries, and for this reason, Weber can be seen as a transitional composer who undergoes a change in style over the course of his lifetime.
Weber wrote the first movement of the concerto, including the entire orchestral part, in one day. Because he often wrote pieces rapidly and furiously, sometimes they lacked complexity and places where the soloist could truly exhibit technical skills or emotion. Carl Baermann, Heinrich Baermann's son and successor to the position of principal clarinettist at the Munich Orchestra, felt that the first movement of the concerto needed something more exciting to move from a playful, nimble section to the solemn, grave one. To accommodate this problem, Carl inserted a cadenza, or brilliant flourish for the soloist. The cadenza represents the younger Baermann's musical ideas. His incorporation of the candenza reflects the mixture of various influences in this concerto.
Instrumentation:two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, solo clarinet, and strings.

Andrew Lee, clarinet

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