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Spring Chamber Concert Series – One

April 10, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - May 21, 2021 @ 11:30 pm


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PREMIERES APRIL 10, 2021, 5:00 pm
with on demand streaming through May 21st


The first virtual concert in our Spring 2021 Chamber Concert series premieres April 10th and features musical selections by three SSO ensembles:

String Quartet – Masako Yanagita, Violin; Marsha Harbison, Violin; Delores Thayer, Viola; Boris Kogan, Cello
String Trio – Beth Welty, Violin; Noralee Walker, Viola; Joel Wolfe, Cello
Percussion Trio – Martin Kluger, Nathan Lassell, and Robert McEwan

Join us on the premiere date or stream anytime on demand through May 21st!

On the program:

Beethoven: String Trio No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 3
I. Allegro con brio

Beethoven: String Quartet in C minor, Op. 18, No.4
I. Allegro, ma non tanto

Beethoven: Sonata No. 4 in Eb Major, Op. 7, arr. by Martin Kluger
II. Largo con gran espressione

Kodály: Intermezzo for String Trio

Kluger: Sudoku 75 – first performance of this original composition by our principal timpanist Martin Kluger!

NOTE: Repertoire subject to change

Download the program for this concert
See program notes for this concert
Read musician bios

Once you purchase your ticket/s, you will receive a unique link via email. Please contact Lynn Nichols if you lose or misplace your concert link email and it will be resent to you. This concert is available on-demand streaming through May 21, 2021.

Through the Card to Culture program, individuals who are EBT, WIC, or ConnectorCare card holders may get free tickets to this event. Contact Education Director Kirsten Lipkens if you are interested.


Program Notes

Beethoven: Trio in E-flat Major Op. 3, Movement I, Allegro con brio

Performed by the String Trio

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) is rightly considered to be the greatest composer in the genre of the string quartet. But before he attempted his first string quartets (the op. 18’s), he composed five string trios. The earliest one, op. 3, was composed in Vienna in 1794 when he was just 23 years old. This trio is patterned on Mozart’s monumental Divertimento K. 563 for violin, viola and cello. It is in the same key and follows the same scheme for a 6-movement piece that features two separate minuet movements. In this concert, the string trio is playing the expansive first movement of the piece, which begins with an energetic, syncopated opening theme. – Program notes by Beth Welty

Beethoven: String Quartet in C minor, Op. 18, No.4, Movement I, Allegro, ma non tanto

Performed by the String Quartet

This is representative of the early work of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827), but differs from quartets of Haydn and Mozart by the use of unusual accents and uses of sudden dynamic changes.

Beethoven: Sonata No. 4 in Eb Major, Op. 7, arr. by Martin Kluger

Performed by the Percussion Trio

For 2 marimbas and 1 percussion (bass drum, tom-tom, snare drum, temple blocks, wood block, triangle, antique cymbal, suspended cymbal and bells). Duration 9:00.

Other than timpani, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) rarely included percussion instruments in his symphonic works. Percussion simply wasn’t part of the late 18th/early 19th century Viennese style that Beethoven helped define and that defined his orchestral compositions. When he occasionally orchestrated for percussion, as for the Turkish March section of his 9th Symphony or for his Wellington’s Victory, those percussion sounds evoked specific references, e.g., an outdoor Turkish marching band, or muskets and other artillery sound effects. Still, Beethoven was a pianist and his 32 fabulous Piano Sonatas are technically speaking, written for a percussion instrument.

So by that measure, perhaps it was not so much of a stretch to arrange this slow movement from Beethoven’s Fourth Sonata for Piano for percussion trio, which I did in part to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. While Beethoven’s groundbreaking, innovative and often prominent writing for timpani in his nine symphonies is limited to one part of a magnificent whole, this arrangement in contrast entrusts Beethoven’s entire artistic message to just the percussion section. The right- and left-hand parts on piano from the Largo con gran espressione (slow movement) fit comfortably onto the wooden bar keyboard of two marimbas; the warm tone of the magisterial opening theme made me wonder how it would sound rolled by soft yarn mallets on the lower marimba register, and its ponderously slow tempo interrupted by frequent silences seemed the perfect musical rejoinder to our other loud or fast programming for percussion. Of course, the non-pitched percussion part is entirely new. I imagine these sounds as living in the space in between the lower and upper staves of Beethoven’s piano part, i.e., implied but not explicitly present, and like a spice of an already delicious culinary dish, adding flavor. There’s also a practical acoustic role for the non-pitched percussion instruments, namely adding “sustain” and “depth”, possible for a grand piano but less so for the marimba (unless the mallets roll, which would be indicated as “tremolo” for piano).

As you listen, try imagining each of the melodic-harmonic themes of this movement as a distinct dramatic character, for example as in a play, because you’ll hear an unfolding dialogue, a musical story told by distinctive themes nearly operatic in contrast. The serious opening theme with its weighty silences, is followed immediately by a new theme lighter in character ornamented to near frivolity, which is followed by a third theme that moves forward in a yearning song-like fashion. Let you the listener decide which side of the dialogue prevails in the end, Beethoven’s somber grandfather or his youthful somewhat frivolous granddaughter. – Program notes by Martin Kluger

Kodály: Intermezzo for String Trio

Performed by the String Trio

Zoltan Kodály (1882-1967) is considered to be one of the most important 20th century Hungarian composers after Bartok. Like Bartok, he was very interested in collecting folk melodies from remote villages in Hungary and both made many contributions in the field of ethnomusicology. Folk music played a big role in Kodály’s compositions and also in his work as a musical pedagogue. The Kodály method is still used today in many places to teach musical skills to children.

The Intermezzo was composed in 1905, right around the time he was collecting the folk melodies, and their influence can be heard in the piece. It is a short one movement work. – Program notes by Beth Welty

Kluger: Sudoku 75

Performed by the Percussion Trio

Composed by SSO Principal Timpanist Martin Kluger, this piece is for three percussionists each playing nine instruments: three of skin, three of metal and three of wood. Twenty-seven instruments used are: 1 bass drum (or very large tom-tom), 5 toms graduated in pitch, 3 bongos, 6 wood blocks, 3 temple blocks, 4 cowbells, 2 triangles and 3 suspended cymbals.

Marty writes:

During the pandemic I acquired the habit of starting my day with a Sudoku puzzle. The organization and style of this composition is inspired by the Sudoku puzzles I and many others find captivating.

A Sudoku puzzle has 81 squares arranged into nine rows, that overlap nine columns and nine nonets (3x 3 groupings of nine squares). At the start of a puzzle, most squares are empty, but in the course of solving a puzzle, each square is filled with a single digit, and each row, column and nonet must contain all of the digits one through nine. So each nine digit sequence is non-repetitive and seemingly random, but the placement of digits is governed by the fact that each of the 81 squares belongs to a row, to a column and to a nonet. One morning before breakfast as I penciled in my Sudoku solution, it struck me that these Sudoku sequences might furnish the raw material for composing a percussion trio, since the organization of music similarly combines mathematical order with variety.

In my Sudoku music, silence gradually becomes filled with sound, just as Sudoku puzzle squares are gradually filled with the numbers one through nine. Hence, the Sudoku pattern is expressed musically as percussion rhythms within a 9/8 time signature (that has nine possible eighth note positions per measure). My composition also has a more human element, representing the flashes of insight and frequent obstacles encountered by the Sudoku puzzle devote exerting mental effort, becoming alternatively frustrated and successful at making progress towards the puzzle’s solution.

Try listening in this performance to how sounds gradually fill in the silence, progressing from a sparse to a greater rhythmic density. Listen for metal, wood or drum sounds from each player that form either an accompaniment, or a solo line, or a line passed from player to player. Listen for how the pace (tempo) of the music varies, suggestive of rapid or slow progress in finding solutions. As a puzzle nears completion, it becomes rather obvious how to fill in the few remaining empty squares, so likewise in the final seconds of Sudoku 75 the assortment of percussive sounds and rhythms intensify for a fast finish to the piece. – Program notes by Martin Kluger

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April 10, 2021 @ 5:00 pm
May 21, 2021 @ 11:30 pm
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