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LTCL Recital

Program Notes

Viola: Chow Lap Yin


Piano: Hui Wing Chun

Date: 12 May 2017

Time: 1:35 PM -2:20 PM

Venue: Parsons Music, Exam Room, P10A, Luk Yeung

Galleria, Luk Yeung Sun Chuen, Tsuen Wan


Passacaglia in C minor Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber
(1644-1704)

Originally written for the violin, Biber's Passacaglia in C minor is part of a group of
pieces composed either for the Archbishop of Salzburg, Maximilian Gandolph, Count
Khenburg (Biber's employer) or the Salzburg Confraternity of the Rosary. Finished
probably in 1676, the bulk of the pieces are violin sonatas on the 15 mysteries of the
rosary and are among the most important scordatura works ever written for the violin.

The Passacaglia in C minor is one of the only works in the collection that requires the
standard tuning (open strings on G, D, A and E for the violin). The basis of the
Passacaglia is a descending tetrachord: C, B flat, A flat, G. Many such pieces are built
on descending tetrachords, but in this case it may constitute a reference. In the
original publication the piece is headed by an illustration of the what is called the
Guardian Angel, in this case appearing to a small child. The Passacaglia's opening
four notes, which become its bass pattern, may refer to the traditional hymn to the
Guardian Angel, "Einen Engel Gott mir geben" (God, Give Me an Angel), which has
a similar tune and was published in 1666.

Sixty-five statements of the descending tetrachord support variations in this


continuously developing work. After 30 statements at the opening pitch level, the
motive moves up an octave for 15 statements, then back down to the original level for
the last 20. This pattern, however, does not delineate the structure of the piece. Five
sections of similar length are marked off by appearances of the descending tetrachord
played alone, grouping the variations thusly: 1-9, 10-19, 20-36, 37-50, and 51-65.

Generally, the notes of the Passacaglia theme sustain while variations occur above
them, requiring great skill on the part of the player. For some of the variations,
particularly those with figures that rocket rapidly skyward, Biber does not sustain the
notes of the theme, allowing the player ample time to execute the flourishes. Over the
constantly sounding theme, Biber creates a series of contrasting variations of various
moods before closing the piece by outlining a G major triad. It is one of the best
works for solo violin before those of J.S. Bach.
Viola Concerto in D Major Franz Anton Hoffmeister
(1754-1812)

Allegro

Hoffmeister's parents sent him to Vienna to study law, but he decided that music was
his true love, so he studied that instead. He mastered the conventional musical forms
of the day, and could turn out a pleasant sounding--even if unremarkable--sinfonia for
the court orchestra on demand.

Hoffmeister might have been nothing more than one of these musical journeymen but
he was a natural entrepreneur as well as a composer. He recognized the emerging
Viennese music publishing business as a financial opportunity, not to mention an
outlet for his own music. He started a publishing business, and after a failure or two
succeeded in establishing a partnership that led to what is now one of the major
European music publishing houses. Besides most of his own works, he published
pieces by Mozart; Haydn, Spohr and even Beethoven.

As a composer, he was prolific: 66 sinfonias for court orchestra, more than 50


concerti for various instruments, a dozen or so operas, countless songs and many
chamber works. The only field he left relatively untouched was the large orchestra.
Schubert respected him for his flowing and melodious style, although he thought his
works lacked originality and depth.

The viola concerto may be his most successful larger -scale work. Its three-
movement form is conventional, two fast movements flanking a slower one. After an
extended orchestral introduction, the soloist enters with a theme that will be the basis
for nearly the entire work. Later themes in all three movements relate so closely to
this first melody that Schubert's complaint about lack of depth seems obvious.
However, the piece is carefully constructed, showing off both the viola's dark and
mellow tone and an agility approaching the violin's. The small orchestra not only
supports the soloist's virtuosity, but displays moments of melodic interest of its own.
Even though the piece falls short of a "profound statement for the ages," every
moment is

The Concerto in D Major, composed prior to 1799, was one of the first major
concertos to feature the viola as a virtuoso solo instrument and its classically oriented
charms sound similar to Mozart as the soloist shows off in fast passages in the first
movement.
Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 120 No.2 Johannes Brahms
(1833-1897)
Allegro amabile
Appassionato, ma non troppo Allegro
Andante con moto- Allegro

Originally written for the clarinet in 1894 and dedicated to clarinetist Richard
Mhlfeld, Brahms himself transcribed these two sonatas, Sonata in F minor, Op.120
No. 1 and Sonata in E flat, Op.120 No. 2, for the viola. Violas rich sonority and
palette of colours complement the sonatas emotional turbulence perfectly. These two
sonatas along with a clarinet trio and quintet, were the last chamber works that
Brahms wrote before his death in 1897. They were considered as some of his finest
compositions.

The lyrical first movement begins with loving melody and this theme continue
todevelop throughout the movement, contrasted with a calmer, sotto voce second
theme. Triplets are playfully added to the movement and various keys are passed
through before a gentle ending in the home key. The Allegro amabile is unassuming
and subtle due to its musing, song-like character, explorations of colour and
interrelation of melodic and rhythmic motifies

The second movement is the last Scherzo Brahms ever wrote. It is in E flat minor and
is in 3 sections: the outer Appassionato sections are based around a triumphant rising
melody which is first stated in the viola, then taken up by the piano. It builds to a
climax and the energy leaves in downward passages. The middle Sostenuto section, in
the key of B major, contains a melody marked piano and bencantando (literally means
soft but well singing). This section is hymn-like and noble.

The third movement is an extended theme and variations. The theme, a grandioso
melody using falling and rising thirds with a dotted upbeat, is ambiguous in its
phrasing, leaving the listener wondering whether the viola starts on the upbeat or the
downbeat. The variations make use of syncopation, a triplet countermelody, question
and answer phrases passed between the viola and piano, soft bell-like offbeat
crotchets against the piano chords, and a minor Allegro decoration of the theme.
Brahms played on this rhythmic ambiguity in the five variations and the coda. The
coda, piu tranquillo, reverts to home key and develops all the ideas heard so far.