COPLAND Duo for Flute & Piano (15’)
WEIR Airs from Another Planet (12′)
MOZART Quintet for Piano and Wind in E flat K452 (25’)
This concert gives the wind players of Ensemble 360 a chance to shine, starting with the flute in Copland’s atmospheric evocation of the US landscape. Mozart’s Quintet is one of the best-loved works in the wind repertoire, full of his typical catchy themes shared across the ensemble. ‘Airs from Another Planet’, Judith Weir’s piece for piano and wind quintet, takes traditional Scottish folk tunes and reimagines them as if remembered in the future by a human colony on a distant planet.
PRE-CONCERT TALK, 4.15pm – 4.45pm
HELEN GRIME & JUDITH WEIR
FREE, please request tickets when booking for the 5.00pm concert
Sheffield Chamber Music Festival runs 13–21 May 2022
COPLAND Aaron, Duo for Flute & Piano
Duo was commissioned by seventy pupils and friends of the celebrated flutist William Kincaid after his death in 1967. Copland described it as lyrical and in a pastoral style. “Lyricism seems to be built into the flute,” he wrote. Duo is in three movements. “The whole is a work of comparatively simple harmonic and melodic outline, direct in expression. Being aware that many of the flutists who were responsible for commissioning the piece would want to play it, I tried to make it grateful for the performer…it requires a good player.” The piece has become a standard in the repertoire of flutists worldwide and is also available in a version for violin and piano.
WEIR Judith, Airs from Another Planet
I once read of an idea to establish a human colony on Mars which was at once visionary and practical. In order to acclimatise themselves, potential settlers would at first live together, sealed off from the human race on a remote Scottish island.
This is the music of the Scottish colonisers, several generations later, marooned on a lonely and distant planet; the ancient forms of their national music almost completely lost in translation, with only the smallest vestiges of the national style remaining.
Three traditional melodies are quoted, but as if refracted through space time, far distances and strange atmospheric effects. These are ‘The Leys of Luncarty’ (heard on the horn in the opening Strathspey); ‘Ettrick Banks’ (played on the clarinet in the Traditional Air) and ‘Miss Margaret Graham of Gartmore’s Favourite’ (played by everyone in the Jig).
© Judith Weir
MOZART Wolfgang Amadeus, Quintet for Piano and Wind in E flat K452
Largo – Allegro moderato
In a letter to his father on 10 April 1784, Mozart described his new Quintet for Piano and Wind as ‘the best piece I have ever written’. Completed on 30 March 1784 it was given its première just two days later on 1 April, at a ‘grand musical concert’ for the benefit of the National Court Theatre in Vienna. The extraordinary programme consisted of two Mozart Symphonies (almost certainly the ‘Haffner’ and the ‘Linz’), an ‘entirely new concerto’ played by Mozart (either K450 or K451, both recently finished), a solo improvisation, three opera arias and the first performance of an ‘entirely new grand quintet’. It was probably the presence of wind players for the symphonies that prompted Mozart to write one of his most original chamber works for this occasion.
While the first movement is designed on almost symphonic lines (complete with substantial slow introduction), it has a gentler sensibility and textures that recall the kind of dialogue between piano and wind that are such a feature of Mozart’s mature piano concertos. After a slow movement that makes the most of the song-like expressiveness of wind instruments, the finale is a sonata rondo – in essence a theme that returns repeatedly within a developing context – that was also much favoured in the piano concertos. The Quintet is highly original in terms of how it is put together, and the daring with which Mozart explores unusual sonorities.
Nigel Simeone © 2011