Longmont Symphony announces 2019–2020 season, “Music is Life”

Handel’s Messiah and ongoing Beethoven cycle will be among season’s highlights

By Peter Alexander May 15 at 2:15 p.m.

The 53rdseason of the Longmont Symphony will include a performance of Handel’s Messiah, two programs in the orchestra’s ongoing Beethoven cycle, and two performances each of two chamber orchestra programs in the Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium.

Elliot Moore with the Longmont Symphony 3.smiling_elk

Elliot More with there Longmont Symphony. Smiling Elk Photography.

Under the title “Music is Life,” the 2019–20 season is the third under music director Elliot Moore. There will be six concerts in the LSO’s home, Vance Brand Auditorium, including a Pops concert, “LSO at the Movies!” (May 9, 2020), and a family concert (Jan. 18, 2020; see full schedule below).

LSO Music Director Elliot Moore_preview

Elliot Moore

During Moore’s first two years with the LSO, the Beethoven cycle included performances of the First and Second symphonies by a chamber orchestra in Stewart Auditorium. For 2019–20, the cycle moves into Vance Brand Auditorium for a performance of the Third Symphony by the full LSO (Nov. 9), followed by the Fourth Symphony performed by the Longmont Chamber Orchestra back in Stewart Auditorium (March 7 & 8).

A longstanding tradition of the LSO, performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with Boulder Ballet, will continue on Dec. 7 & 8. The “Gentle Nutcracker,” a sensory-friendly performance of the beloved ballet designed for individuals with special needs and their families, will be presented Dec. 7.

The Main Series opening night, Oct. 5, will feature organist Brian du Fresne playing Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ and the organ part of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 “avec orgue” (with organ), popularly known as the “Organ Symphony.” Other soloists during the season will include Russian cellist Adrian Daurov, playing Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 (Nov. 9); the return to Longmont of violinist Andrew Sords for John Corigliano’s Violin Concerto “The Red Violin” (Feb. 15); and percussionist Cameron Leach performing Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto (April 4).

conover2

Christie Conover

The Messiah performance (Dec. 15) will feature the Longmont Chorale Singers and vocal soloists TBA. Soprano Christie Conover and bass Joshua South will perform Stravinsky’s complete Pulcinella ballet with the Chamber Orchestra in Stewart Auditorium (Oct. 19­–20), on a program that will also include Conover singing Mozart arias with the orchestra.

Kicking off the entire season is the LSO’s annual free concert July 4 in Thompson Park. As in past years, the program will be shared with the Longmont Chorale and the Longmont Youth Symphony.

Six‐concert subscription packages for the LSO’s 53rdseason go on sale on Monday, May 20 (call 303‐772‐5796;10 a.m.–2 p.m. Mondays; and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays). Series subscribers receive up to 20% off single ticket prices. Single tickets for Main Series concerts are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and active military, $5 for children/students ($10 for the Pops and Messiah performances).

All LSO Museum concerts are $35 (includes a glass of wine and post‐concert reception). Handel’s Messiah tickets are $30 for adults; children/students $10. Family Concert tickets are $10. Single tickets go on sale on Monday, Aug. 26, via phone and online here.

# # # # #

JULY 4TH CONCERT IN THE PARK

7.4.LSO.2

LSO in Thompson Park. Photo by Peter Alexander.

Thursday, July 4, 11:30 a.m.
Thompson Park, 420 Bross Street, Longmont (Free and open to the public)
11:30 a.m. – Longmont Youth Symphony
12:30 p.m. – Longmont Chorale
1 p.m. – Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor

MAIN SERIES CONCERTS
All Main Series Concerts are conducted by Elliot Moore and performed at Vance Brand Civic Auditorium at Skyline High School. 

Opening Night: The Organ Symphony
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5
With Brian du Fresne, organ

J.S. Bach, arr. Stokowski: Passacaglia and Fugue
Francis Poulenc: Concerto for Organ
Saint‐Saëns: Symphony No. 3, “Organ Symphony” 

Adrian1-copy-1160x1740

Adrian Daurov

Beethoven Cycle
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9
With Adrian Daurov, cello

George Enescu: Prelude in Unison
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

The Force of Destiny
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15
With Andrew Sords, violin

Verdi: Overture to La forza del destino
John Corigliano: The Red Violin Violin Concerto
Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 2, Rondo (“La Campanella”)
Respighi: The Pines of Rome

Cameron+Leach+18-19+Headshot+COLOR

Cameron Leach

A Fanfare for All: Sidebyside with the Longmont Youth Symphony
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 4
With Cameron Leach, percussion

Gwyneth Walker: Open the Door
Jennifer Higdon: Percussion Concerto
Copland: Symphony No. 3

Pops Concert: LSO at the Movies!
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9

Music from Chariots of Fire, Cinema Paradiso, Batman, Titanic, Lord of the Rings, and other films

MUSEUM CONCERTS
Stewart Auditorium, Longmont Museum

museumconcert.cropped

La Commedia dell’arte
Longmont Chamber Orchestra
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Christie Conover, soprano; tenor TBA; and Joshua South, bass

7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20

Mozart: Overture to Le nozze di Figaro
Mozart: Selected arias for soprano and orchestra
Stravinsky: Pulcinella (complete ballet)

Beethoven_Hornemann

Beethoven. Portrait by Christian Horneman, 1803

Beethoven Cycle: Schubert & Beethoven
Longmont Chamber Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor

7 p.m. Saturday, March 7
4 p.m. Sunday, March 8

Schubert: Symphony No. 5
Beethoven: Symphony No. 4

 

HOLIDAY EVENTS

 The Nutcracker with the Boulder Ballet
Music by Tchaikovsky
Elliot Moore, conductor

4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7,
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium 

The Gentle Nutcracker
1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, 1 p.m.
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium

A sensory‐friendly performance for individuals with special needs and their families.

 

Handel’s Messiah
Longmont Chamber Orchestra and Longmont Chorale Singers
Elliot Moore, conductor, with vocal soloists TBA

4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15
Westview Presbyterian Church, Longmont

FAMILY CONCERT

 

Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor
4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium

Saint‐Saëns: Selections from Carnival of the Animals
Bizet: Les Toreadores from Carmen
Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf 

LSOTopBannerM2

Subscription tickets for the LSO go on sale Monday, may 20. Call 303-772-5796. Single tickets will go on sale Monday, Aug. 26.

Advertisements

Longmont Symphony continues Beethoven cycle with Symphony No. 2

“One of the greatest symphonies ever” is paired with Shostakovich

By Peter Alexander April 9, 2019, at 10:45 p.m.

Beethoven is consistently one of the top two classical composers by numbers of performances around the world—alongside Mozart—but not in Longmont.

Elliot Moore - credit - Photography Maestro

Elliot Moore. Photography Maestro.

“Particularly the earlier symphonies of Beethoven have been underperformed here,” Elliot Moore, the director of the Longmont Symphony, says. To change that, Moore has planned a complete cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies, more or less in order, over several years.

The First Symphony was played last year, and the Second Symphony, one of the least performed of Beethoven’s symphonies, will be performed this weekend (Saturday and Sunday in the Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium; see details below). The program also includes Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony.

“There was very little early Beethoven, very little Mozart, Haydn, being performed here for many years,” Moore says. And as a result, “there’s a freshness to the music here in Longmont that I’m not sure would be the case in New York.”

The documented history of the LSO supports Moore’s description. In the years since 1987 until last year, records that were easily found, there were no performances of symphonies Nos. 1, 2, or 4. There were two of No. 3, but only one each of 5 and 8. The later symphonies fared relatively better, with two each of Nos. 6 and 7, and three of No. 9.

Beyond the freshness and novelty of early Beethoven symphonies for Longmont audiences, Moore sees another reason to perform them. “Learning how the progression of the symphony has taken place helps inform our performances of music that was written later,” he says.

Elliot Moore with the Longmont Symphony 3_preview

Moore with the LSO. Smiling Elk Photography.

“In order to figure out how to play later symphonies, whether Berlioz, or Mendelssohn, or the orchestral works of Bartók, we need to know where the symphony came from. It’s important to understand how the early Beethoven symphonies helped bring the symphony into its current form.”

If this sounds like an educational project, Moore doesn’t deny that. And it is aimed at two constituencies. “There are two different groups that are evolving in terms of our listening ability and playing ability,” Moore says. “One is the audience, the other is the orchestra.”

Beethoven_Hornemann

Beethoven ca. 1802. Portrait by Christian Horneman. (fi.wikipedia.org, Public Domain)

The two major works on the current program—Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony—were written at low points in each composer’s life. Beethoven wrote his Second Symphony in 1802, at the time he first learned that he was going permanently deaf—when he wrote his famous “Heiligenstadt Testament” expressing his anguish. “I endured this wretched existence,” he wrote; “only art it was that withheld me” from ending his own life.

The chamber symphony is a string orchestra arrangement of Shostakovich’s Eighth String Quartet, written in 1960, during a similar emotional crisis in the composer’s life, caused by a diagnosis of ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and a period of extreme political pressure from Soviet authorities. Shostakovich did not write a testament, but friends and family reported that he too thought about suicide.

The musical responses of the two composers to their crises was utterly different. Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet is an anguished work, reflecting the composer’s despair, but Beethoven’s Second Symphony is one of his happiest and most serene works. If you are looking for a musical expression of the composer’s anguish, you just will not find it in the Second Symphony.

TestamentHeiligenstadt_Fin

Beethoven’s signature on the Heiligenstadt Testament

“The Second is really one of my favorites of [Beethoven’s] symphonies,” Moore says. “There’s a lightness, there’s a freshness to the music that I have adored for years. It’s one of the greatest symphonies ever composed. I love it.”

Officially, Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet was written for a film about art treasures stolen from Dresden by the Nazis during World War II, and it carries the dedication “to the victims of fascism and the war.” But the composer really wrote the quartet for himself, as reported by confidants and confirmed in a letter he wrote later. “It’s hardly likely that anybody will ever write a work dedicated to my memory,” he wrote. “So I have decided to write one myself.”

Shostakovich.1959

Shostakovich in 1959. Photo by Ida Kar.

“This is all about his experience, his life, and he’s pouring himself into the music,” Moore says. “That makes it his most personal work. How he made it so personal was by including the anagram of his name (D. Sch—D, Eb, C, B in German musical notation). He painted himself into this work, in each of the movements.”

Shostakovich wrote the String Quartet in Dresden. The city had been destroyed by the allies’ firebombing in February 1945. Even in 1960 Shostakovich was “shaken by the scenes of devastation,” a friend wrote, and managed to write the quartet in just three days.

Most commentators believe that the despair expressed in the quartet is as appropriate for the ruins of Dresden as for the ruins of Shostakovich’s emotions in 1960. The arrangement of the quartet for string orchestra that the LSO will perform was made by violist Rudolf Barhsai and approved by the composer.

ls2k8y5k2wd01

Ruins of Dresden, 1945.

Shostakovich fits well with Beethoven, Moore believes. “What I love about Beethoven and Shostakovich paired together is that in their own ways, they are both revolutionary composers,” he says. “The piece we’re opening with, Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, is about Count Egmont and how he stood up to an oppressor.

In this and other works, Moore says, “Beethoven paved the path for other composers to respond politically to what was going on. That’s often what Shostakovich was doing. They use different language, they used different approaches, but there’s something Shostakovich got from Beethoven.”

# # # # #

museumconcert

Longmont Symphony in Stewart Auditorium

“Beethoven Cycle”
Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor

Beethoven: Overture to Egmont
Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D major

7 p.m. Saturday, April 13
4 p.m. Sunday, April 14 (SOLD OUT)
Stewart Auditorium at the Longmont Museum

Tickets (April 13 only)

 

Elliot Moore is building bridges as director of the Longmont Symphony

First season is about connecting with local institutions—and friendship

By Peter Alexander

The Longmont Symphony Orchestra (LSO) has announced its 2017–18 season, the first under new music director Elliot Moore, and the consistent theme is building connections within the community.

Elliot Moore - credit - Photography Maestro

Elliot Moore. Photo by Photography Maestro

That and friendship. The first concert explicitly highlights friendships, and the entire season is filled with performances that developed out of Moore’s professional friendships.

“Building connections is something that I’m really passionate about with this orchestra and with Longmont,” Moore says. Some of the connections he has worked to establish over the coming season are with the Longmont Public Library, with local composers, with the Longmont Museum through a chamber orchestra concert in Stewart Auditorium, and with other local cultural organizations.

“These are friendships that I think are so valuable, and I’m happy that we’re highlighting that very thing on the first concert,” he says.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Composer Carter Pann, one of Moore’s new friends

The season opening concert Oct. 7 features three pieces, each representing a different facet of friendship: Slalom by CU composer Carter Pann, who Moore counts as a new friend since coming to Colorado; Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with piano soloist Spencer Myer, a professional colleague and friend that Moore has worked with before; and Elgar’s Enigma Variations, in which each variation describes one of Elgar’s close friends, from his wife to his publisher.

In addition to Pann, the season includes another local composer, Michael Udow, a percussionist/composer who lives in Longmont. The LSO concert on Feb. 24 will feature the world premiere of Udow’s Mountain Myths.

Udow.Michael

Percussionist/composer Michael Udow

Udow had been on the faculty of the University of Michigan when Moore was a student. “When I was guest conducting the LSO, Michael contacted me and said, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m living in Longmont,’” Moore explains. “I got to know some of his music, and thought that he writes really beautiful stuff. I was very happy to be able to draw on that connection with a fantastic composer who literally lives right there in Longmont, and it goes along with the theme of friends.”

Several of Moore’s friends will appear as soloists. In addition to Myer on the first concert, violinist Andrew Sords will play the Barber Violin Concerto on Nov. 11, and cellist Matthew Zalkind, Moore’s fellow student at Michigan who now teaches at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, will play the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 on Feb. 24.

prelutsky2

Popular children’s author Jack Prelutsky

Another personal acquaintance on the season is sure to attract attention. “I believe this is going to be a real feather in the cap of this orchestra and this season,” Moore says. “The main work on our family concert (Jan. 27) is Lucas Richman’s Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant. People are going to have an unbelievable experience because the music is so good!”

In collaboration with the Longmont Public Library, the LSO is bringing in to narrate Richman’s piece the well known author and former Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky. “Prelutsky is a music lover and a great singer,” Moore explains. “It just so happens that my mom conducted a choir, which she recently stepped down from, and Jack was in her choir.”

Another program that Moore wants to point out is the concert on Nov. 11, Veterans’ Day. Titled “The American Frontier: In Honor of Our Veterans,” the all-American program includes both Aaron Copland’s World War II-era “Fanfare for the Common Man,” and Joan Tower’s 1987 response to Copland’s iconic piece, “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman.”

Other works on the program are “Hymn to the Fallen,” taken from John Williams’ score for the World War II film Saving Private Ryan, and the Barber Violin Concerto, played by Sords. The program closes with just about the first piece to enter the standard orchestra repertoire that was written in America, Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”

Balancing the needs of the orchestra and the audience, Moore has put together a season with a mix of styles and periods, known and unknown composers. There are several pieces by living composers, but also many of the most popular classical composers are on the schedule as well: Rachmaninoff, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Dvořák, Vivaldi, Bach, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky. And the season will end with a chamber orchestra concert featuring the two most loved classical-era composers, Beethoven and Mozart.

Six‐concert subscription packages will go on sale by phone only on Thursday, July 6 (303‐772‐5796; 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Fridays). Prices and details will be available on the LSO Web page. Single tickets go on sale on Monday, Aug. 28 by phone or online.

# # # # #

Longmont Symphony
Elliot Moore, music director
2017–18 Season

(All performances at Vance Brand Civic Auditorium except as noted)

Opening Night: On the Frontier with Old & New Friends
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Spencer Myer, piano

Carter Pann: Slalom
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Elgar: Enigma Variations

The American Frontier: In Honor of Our Veterans
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Andrew Sords, violin

Joan Tower: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman
John Williams: Hymn to the Fallen from Saving Private Ryan
Samuel Barber: Violin Concerto
Aaron Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”

HOLIDAY EVENTS

The Nutcracker Ballet with the Boulder Ballet
Elliot Moore, conductor
4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2.
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3

Candlelight Concert with the Longmont Chorale Singers
4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17
Westview Presbyterian Church, Longmont
Longmont Symphony Chamber Orchestra
Elliot Moore, conductor, with the Longmont Chorale singers & soloists

Vivaldi: Gloria
J.S. Bach: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Respighi: Adoration of the Magi
John Rutter: Candlelight Carol and Angel’s Carol
Cynthia Clawson: O Holy Night
Holiday carols & sing‐alongs

Family Matinee Concert
4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Concerto Competition Winner (TBA)
Longmont Youth Symphony
Jack Prelutsky, narrator

Matthias Bamert: Circus Parade
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 (Finale)
Lucas Richman: Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant

A Longmont World Premiere
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Matthew Zalkind, cello

Michael Udow: Mountain Myths (world premiere)
Saint–Saëns: Cello Concerto No. 1
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

Tales from the Sea
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 7, 2018
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Sarah Barber, mezzo‐soprano

Mendelssohn: The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave)
Elgar: Sea Pictures
Rimsky Korsakov: Scheherazade

Museum Concert
4 p.m. Sunday, April 15, 2018
Stewart Auditorium, Longmont Museum
Longmont Symphony Chamber Orchestra
Elliot Moore, conductor

Mozart: Symphony No. 35, “Haffner”
Beethoven: Symphony No. 1

Pops Concert: Divas through the Decades
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12, 2018
Elliot Moore, conductor, with vocal soloists

In celebration of Mother’s Day, the LSO will feature music by and about women across decades and genres―from opera to cabaret, jazz and pop, and from Bernstein’s West Side Story to Lady Gaga.

 

 

“Stunningly brilliant” Brahms captivates Stewart Auditorium audience

Boulder Bach Festival unveils the sound of Romanticism

By Peter Alexander

Technical perfection is what musicians strive for in all those hours of practice, but never achieve. In classical music, that perfection would include uncompromised accuracy and control of pitch, and consistency of sound in all registers.

Interestingly, musical instrument makers have aimed for the same qualities, especially the consistency of sound, and they have made great progress over the past 200 years. Much has been gained in the technical capacities and consistency of sound in modern pianos, for example, as well as wind instruments. But much has been lost as well.

What has been lost was demonstrated yesterday (May 15) in a stunningly brilliant performance of the Brahms Horn Trio in E-flat major, op. 40, presented by the Boulder Bach Festival in the Stewart Auditorium in Longmont.

The performance brought together three players: violinist and artistic director of the Bach Festival Zachary Carrettin; pianist Mina Gajic, the festival’s director of education and outreach; and guest artist Thomas Jöstlein playing horn. More crucially, it brought together three instruments that were perfect partners: A violin strung with 19th-century style strings, including pure gut; an 1895 Érard piano; and a natural horn (without valves), made in about 1815. I have never heard a better balanced performance with such disparate instruments.

Erard@Stewart

1895 Érard piano onstage at Stewart Auditorium

The Érard, a beautiful example of the piano maker’s craft in the 19th century, was a critical ingredient. With its remarkably transparent, clear and nuanced sound, it paired with the other instrument as no modern piano could. Gajic could play with full commitment and never overwhelm the other players.

Jöstlein’s natural horn was equally critical to the success of the performance. Its smaller bore and restrained sound never overwhelmed the violin, its closest partner throughout the piece, as a modern large-bore horn, built for a big sound and the ability to cut through a modern orchestra, would do.

Both the piano and the horn brought another quality that we have lost: a sound that varies from register to register, or, in the case of the horn, from note to note. Brahms made expressive use of these differences. As Jöstlein demonstrated before the performance, the sound of the horn could be bright and clear in one phrase, muted and distant in another. And one thing you almost never hear today: the natural horn, which changes pitch by the player moving his hand inside the bell, added a snarling quality to some of the crashing chords that could be suddenly resolved into a clear and pure sound.

zacharycarrettin

Zachary Carrettin

The differences in sound for Carrettin’s violin were less dramatic, but his choice of natural gut for some strings, steel for the highest string, and wound gut for the lowest, gave the instrument a sound that matched the others.

A fourth partner was the space where the music was performed, the intimate Stewart Auditorium of the Longmont Museum. In an interview before the concert, Carrettin had stressed the importance of the hall: “Stewart Auditorium . . . is a 250-seat hall. It’s very much a salon setting, so we don’t have to worry about projecting to a 3,000 seat house. That has in it an authenticity in the way that we can craft the interpretation.”

Gajic

Mina Gajić

The combination of a space where everyone felt in close contact with the performers, and instruments that were perfectly matched freed the performers to play with complete commitment. No punches needed to be pulled, no climaxes pushed too hard, no passages held back in the name of balance. I have rarely heard such excitement as Gajic, Carrettin and Jöstlein generated in the last movement.

The Stewart Auditorium crowd—totally sold out with seats added onstage—gave a standing ovation that went well beyond the expected, dutiful “standing o” we get with too much regularity. They knew they had heard something special, and they reacted in a way we do not usually associate with “original instruments” or “historically accurate” performances. They had heard the door opened into an unfamiliar sound world, and they were captivated.

The short program, played without intermission, had opened with Carrettin and Gajic playing a 19th-century arrangement of Bach’s much-loved “Air on the G String.” As Carrettin explained beforehand, violinists at the time were starting to play with continuous vibrato and used far more portamento, or sliding glissandos, than we are accustomed to hearing.

The performance was fascinating, although not to the taste I developed through mid-20th-century training and listening. As the great violinist Fritz Kreisler said appreciatively of that style of playing, it gave melancholy to the music. That’s not the spirit of the original Bach, but it is the spirit of the late 19th century and Carrettin played with passion. I would not have missed the experience.

Amanda Balestrieri

Amanda Balestrieri

The remainder of the concert was filled with one Bach aria and three Brahms songs, eloquently rendered by soprano Amanda Balestrieri and Gajic (plus Carrettin on the Bach). Balestrieri’s bright, clear sound was ideal for the well controlled filigree of the Bach aria. The Brahms was sung with exemplary expression of the text, and only the slightest push to the highest notes. The lyrical songs formed a lovely companion to the more intense Horn Trio.

As this concert shows, Boulder County now has such musical riches that revelation can strike in almost any concert. This may be a golden age. If you have any interest in classical music, don’t let it pass you by.

Boulder Bach Festival will remove the veil from Romanticism

In Longmont, J.S. Bach shares the program with Brahms songs and Horn Trio

By Peter Alexander

zacharycarrettin

Zachary Carrettin

Zachary Carrettin, artistic director of the Boulder Bach Festival, has an apparently inexhaustible supply of surprises.

He and the festival have offered Bach in many different guises—on historical instruments, on traditional modern instruments with a full-sized symphony, on electronic instruments—always revealing new discoveries. And now they are heading down one of the most well traveled paths in the concert repertoire, the music of Romanticism.

You might think that era would not hold many surprises today, but the festival’s next concert—5 p.m. Sunday, May 15, in the Stewart Auditorium of the Longmont Museum (tickets)—promises to present “Romanticism Unveiled.” The program features the Horn Trio in E-flat of Johannes Brahms played on historical—that is, Romantic-era—instruments, as well as a familiar piece by Bach in a late-19th-century arrangement, and several Brahms songs.

Performers will be Carrettin, playing a modern violin but with types of strings that would have been used in Brahms’s lifetime; pianist Mina Gajic playing her straight-strung 1895 Érard piano; horn player Thomas Jöstlein playing a 19th-century natural horn; and soprano Amanda Balestrieri applying what is known of 19th-century vocal style.

The Brahms Horn Trio is a fairly well known work, but as Carrettin explains, today it is usually played on modern instruments, including a valved horn and a grand piano. “There is content in this music that is revealed when it is played on the instruments of the time,” he says. “So we are unveiling some of the colors, and some of the meaning in the music that is different when played on the original instruments.”

Carrettin admits that the modern instrument are technologically advanced, and in some ways easier to play than older versions of the same instruments. At the same time, though, the older instruments reveal aspects of the music that modern instruments may conceal—or veil from view.

“When you open the can of worms with period instruments, you have to explore different techniques, different intonation, different balance, and also (different) phrasing,” he says. “The instruments teach you how they want to be played. Certain things are possible and other things are more difficult.”

old interior

1895 Érard piano

Gajic’s Érard piano was made in Paris in 1895. It is straight strung, meaning that the strings all run parallel, which creates a different sound from the modern cross-strung grand piano. The Érard is clearer than the modern piano, and each register has its own sound. (Read my earlier description of this piano here.)

Carrettin will play his modern violin, which is essentially the same as the violins of Brahms’s era, but with strings that reflect 19th-century practice. “I’m using a combination of gut, wound gut and steel strings,” he says. “I’ll have (natural) gut wound in silver on the G, and I’m still playing with all other options. Typically for this kind of setup my two middle strings are pure gut, not wound, (with a steel E string).”

Another issue you may not have thought of is the use of a chin rest. In the Baroque and early classical era, violinists did not have chin rests, but during Brahms’s lifetime chin rests were in wide use. “One day I practice with no chin rest, which gives the violin a rounder, darker sound. The next day I practice with the chin rest which gives the violin more focus,” Carrettin says. The decision to use the chin rest will depend on how the violin sounds with the other instruments.

Jostlein

Thomas Jöstlein (l) with his 1815 natural horn and Ab Koster (r), the German horn player from whom he purchased the horn

The third member of the trio, Jöstlein, will be playing a natural horn, without valves. Even though the valved horn that we know today had been invented during Brahms’s lifetime, it was not the composer’s first choice. “He played (natural horn) as a child and always preferred it over the pistons and valves,” Carrettin says. “He wrote all four symphonies with the natural horn in mind.”

As principal horn of the St. Louis Symphony, Jöstlein has plenty of experience on the modern instruments, but he also owns and performs widely on natural horns from the 18th and 19th centuries. For “Romanticism Unveiled,” he will play a horn from about 1815 that he purchased in Europe.

Other works on the program will include a 19th-century arrangement of Bach’s “Air on the G string” for violin and piano. “We’ve talked so much in our concerts about electric violins and Baroque violins and Steinway pianos and harpsichords,” Carrettin says. “We typically have modern instruments and Baroque instruments, but this is the first time the Bach Festival has played Bach on 19th-century Romantic instruments with a style influenced by research on Romantic chamber music style.”

Amanda Balastrieri

Amanda Balestrieri

To fill out the Romantic program, Balestrieri will sing an aria from Bach’s cantata BWV 196 and three Brahms songs with piano. “Amanda is the perfect artist for this program,” Carrettin says. “She has spent her career performing with period and modern instruments and in a variety of historically informed styles.”

He is particularly pleased to be performing music from the 19th century in a smaller facility. “We’re performing in the beautiful Stewart Auditorium of the Longmont Museum,” he says. “It’s a 250-seat hall. It’s very much a salon setting, so we don’t have to worry about projecting to a 3,000 seat house. That has in it an authenticity in the way that we can craft the interpretation.”

It all adds up to an unusual opportunity for local audiences, Carrettin says. “It’s a rare thing to hear Romantic period chamber music on original instruments in this part of the country,” he says.

# # # # #

IMG_0993

Stewart Auditorium in the Longmont Museum

“Romanticism Unveiled”
Boulder Bach Festival

Zachary Carrettin, violin
Mina Gajic, piano (Érard, 1895)
Thomas Jöstlein, natural horn
Amanda Balestrieri, soprano

Program includes several short selections by J.S. Bach, Lieder by Brahms, and the Brahms Horn Trio in E-flat major, op. 40, performed on Romantic-era instruments

5 p.m. Sunday, May 15
Stewart Auditorium at the Longmont Museum, Longmont

Tickets

5/12/16 Edited for grammar