One of the most popular chamber works by one of the world’s most popular composers, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet is unquestionably a masterpiece of the entire classical music repertoire: innovative, exquisite, and bursting with gorgeous colors. Perfectly preceded by Nielsen’s witty “Serenade in Vain,” this charming musical journey concludes with the youthfully exuberant Septet by Beethoven. All in all, a glorious showcase for the Academy’s winds and strings.
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THE ACADEMY OF ST MARTIN IN THE FIELDS CHAMBER ENSEMBLE
NIELSEN: Serenata in vano for Winds and Strings
MOZART: Clarinet Quintet K. 581 for Winds and Strings
BEETHOVEN: Septet for Winds and Strings
NIELSEN: SERENATA IN VANO FOR WINDS AND STRINGS
Serenata in vano for Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Cello and Double Bass (1914)
CARL NIELSEN (1865-1931)
The best-known of Carl Nielsen’s pieces for wind instruments is the sunny Quintet, Op. 43 of 1921, although he had shown his interest in using the wind instruments in a chamber setting several years earlier. In 1914 the bassist Anton Hegner asked him to compose something in a lighter vein for a concert at which he and some of his Royal Danish Orchestra colleagues were to offer Beethoven’s Septet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, viola, cello and double bass. For Hegner, Nielsen created a delightful work — a “Serenade in Vain” — for Beethoven’s trio of winds supplemented by cello and bass.
The Serenata in vano is arranged in three continuous movements — a gently flowing Allegro with extended solo passages, a tender Adagio and a chipper closing March — to which Nielsen applied this tongue-in-cheek program: “Serenata in vano is a humorous trifle. First the gentlemen play in a somewhat chivalrous and showy manner to lure the fair one out onto the balcony, but she does not appear. Then they play a slightly languorous strain (Poco adagio), but that doesn’t have any effect either. Since they have played in vain (in vano), they don’t care a straw, and shuffle off home to the strains of the little final march, which they play for their own amusement.” Despite its charm and immediate appeal, the Serenata was regarded by Nielsen as a minor work, and he did not offer the score for publication during his lifetime. It finally appeared in print in 1942.
MOZART: CLARINET QUINTET K. 581 FOR WINDS AND STRINGS
Quintet for Clarinet, Two Violins, Viola and Cello in A major, K. 581 (1789)
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)
Mozart harbored a special fondness for the graceful agility, liquid tone and ensemble amiability of the clarinet from the time he first heard the instrument as a young boy during his tours, and he later wrote for it whenever it was available. His greatest compositions for the instrument were inspired by the technical accomplishment and expressive playing of Anton Stadler, principal clarinetist of the Imperial Court Orchestra in Vienna and a fellow Mason, for whom he wrote not only this Quintet but also the Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Viola (“Kegelstatt,” K. 498), the clarinet and basset horn parts in the vocal trios, the clarinet solos in the opera La Clemenza di Tito, the clarinet parts added to the second version of the G minor Symphony (K. 550), and the flawless Clarinet Concerto (K. 622), his last instrumental work, completed in October 1791, just two months before his death.
The Quintet opens with a theme that is almost chaste in its purity and yet is, somehow, deeply introspective and immediately touching. The second theme, a limpid, sweetly chromatic melody is given first by the violin and then by the clarinet. A reference to the suave main theme closes the exposition and serves as the gateway to the development section, which is largely concerned with permutations of the arpeggiated figures with which the clarinet made its entry in the opening measures. The recapitulation provides exquisite closure of the movement’s formal structure and emotional progression. The Larghetto achieves a state of sublimity that makes it the instrumental counterpart to Sarastro’s arias in The Magic Flute, which George Bernard Shaw once said were the only music fit to issue from the mouth of God. The Menuetto is fitted with two trios: the first, a somber minor-mode essay for strings alone, is perfectly balanced by the clarinet’s lilting, dance-like strains in the second. The variations-form finale is more subdued and pensive than virtuosic and flamboyant, and serves as a fitting conclusion to one of the most precious treasures in Mozart’s peerless musical legacy.
BEETHOVEN: SEPTET FOR WINDS AND STRINGS
Septet for Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass in E–flat major, Op. 20 (1799-1800)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
The Septet, Op. 20, was Beethoven’s most popular work during his lifetime. Even before it was published, it had gained a reputation through circulating manuscript copies, and the score was in great demand as soon as it was printed by Hoffmeister in 1802. To make the music available to the widest range of music lovers and amateur performers, arrangements by many hands for all manner of instrumental ensembles were concocted and sold to an eager public. For the three decades after its composition, the Septet was played in homes and concerts and meeting halls more frequently than any other music by Beethoven.
The Septet’s slow introduction is more decorative than expressive. The main body of the first movement is in sonata form, with a dashing main theme (initiated by the violin) nicely balanced by a legato second subject, given by the strings in chordal texture. The Adagio is a long-limbed song in three-part form (A–B–A). Beethoven borrowed the theme of the following Minuet from his Piano Sonata in G major, Op. 49, No. 2 of 1796.; the chipper Minuet proper surrounds an enchanting trio in which the horn and clarinet indulge in brilliant flashes of virtuosity. The fourth movement is a set of variations on a theme once identified as a folk tune from the lower Rhine, Ach Schiffer, lieber Schiffer (“O Sailor, Dear Sailor”). Later evidence suggests, however, that Beethoven may have invented the melody. The Scherzo is airy in texture and spirited in mood. The closing movement begins with a somber introduction, but the mood changes with the fast tempo.
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
“An ensemble of first-rate musicians, technically superb, generously expressive, and obviously enjoying themselves.” - Dallas Morning News
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
The Academy Chamber Ensemble was formed in 1967, drawing its membership from the world-renowned chamber orchestra the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, which was itself founded by Sir Neville Marriner in 1958 and is currently led by Music Director Joshua Bell. The purpose behind the formation of the Chamber Ensemble was to perform the larger scale chamber music repertoire with players who customarily worked together, instead of the usual string quartet with additional guests. Drawn from the principal players of the orchestra and play-directed by Academy Director / Leader Tomo Keller, the Chamber Ensemble now performs in multiple configurations from wind trios to string octets. Its touring commitments are extensive and include regular tours of Europe and North America, whilst recording contracts with Philips Classics, Hyperion, and Chandos have led to the release of over thirty CDs.
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Where are the chamber music series performances held?
Bravo! Vail Chamber Music Series concerts at held at Donovan Pavilion, located at 1600 S Frontage Rd W, Vail, CO 81657
What time do performances begin?
Concerts start promptly at 6:00PM. Doors open 30 minutes prior. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get to the venue. Latecomers will be escorted to seats by ushers at an appropriate interval.
Where do I park for Chamber Music Series performances?
Free parking is available at Donovan Pavilion.
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last 90 minutes to 2 hours including a scheduled intermission.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets, passes, and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
1. Online: bravovail.org
2. By phone 877.812.5700
3. In person: Bravo! Vail 2271 N Frontage Rd W Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
Bravo! Vail accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover credit cards, cash, and checks. There is a $2 fee per ticket. Tickets are delivered by mail or email, or may be picked up at the Box Office.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9AM to 4PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700. Tickets are also sold at the Donovan Pavilion one hour prior to concert.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up one hour prior to the concert at the Box Office table located to the right of the entrance of Donovan Pavilion.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Discounts for groups of 15 or more are available for select concerts. Please call 970.827.4316 for more information.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
Tickets are non-refundable. You may exchange tickets ($7 fee per ticket) by calling the Box Office at 877.812.5700 up to 2 days before the concert. You may release your tickets or leave them for a friend at Will Call by calling the Box Office.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3PM on the day of the performance or allow extra time to request new tickets from the Box Office at the venue.
What is the seating plan?
Seating for Chamber Music Series concerts is general admission and is ADA (American Disability Act) accessible.
What food and beverages are available at the concert?
Food and beverages including beer and wine are available for purchase on the back patio prior to the concert and at intermission.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts.
What are some general rules of Chamber Series concert etiquette?
Please allow time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to not disrupt musicians and other patrons. Please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the performance. We recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission. Parental supervision is required for all children attending Bravo! Vail concerts.
What is the Donovan Pavilion Child Policy?
Chamber Music Series concerts are very intimate. We strongly recommend that parents bring children aged six or older who are able to sit quietly through the entire performance.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Call the Bravo! Vail Box Office 970.827.5700 or the Donovan Pavilion 970.477.3699.
What if I still have questions?
Please contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9AM–4PM (and Sat–Sun 10AM-4PM during the Festival).