Friday, July 7, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.
Brevard Music Center Orchestra
Matthias Bamert, conductor
Liza Ferschtman, violin
Ticket holders may attend a free Pre-Concert Talk in Thomas Hall, which begins one hour before the performance.
BRAHMS Tragic Overture
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3
BRAHMS Violin Concerto
More Information (Show)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Tragic Overture, Op. 81
Premiered December 26, 1880, in Vienna conducted by Hans Richter.
Brahms often worked on two contrasting pieces at the same time. So when he had been asked to write an overture for the University of Breslau, Brahms decided to compose two works, “one that laughs and one that weeps.” Since the Academic Festival Overture had a title, Brahms presumably felt the need to name the other overture as well. While trying to stay as generic as possible, associations were quickly made. Since Brahms had once contemplated incidental music for Goethe’s Faust, some have looked (unsuccessfully) for substantiating musical clues. While we’ll never know if or what story Brahms might have had in mind, a simple analysis shows how Brahms created a “tragic” plot through what we might call sonata form deformation. Conventional sonata form expresses plot through its three essential elements: contrast (two contrasting themes/keys), struggle (themes/keys are manipulated), and resolution (contrasting theme/keys arrive in the home key). By reversing the order of the main themes during the resolution, Brahms ends the overture with the fateful opening theme, thus creating a tragic ending.
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
Premiered December 2, 1883, in Vienna conducted by Hans Richter.
The Third Symphony was finished in Wiesbaden, Germany in the summer of 1883. It is Brahms’s shortest symphony but arguably his most progressive. The opening brief three-note motto, F-Ab-F, is the motivic and harmonic seed out of which the whole work 2017 Summer Institute & Festival 73 grows. The thematic process as well as the tonal development within each movement actualizes the motto in a very imaginative manner. Brahms seems to have conceived the whole symphony as a unified cycle, as all four movements are close to equal length with motivic ideas of earlier movements recalled in the final movement. The famous pianist and composer Clara Schumann (1819-1896), who was one of Brahms’ closest friends, explained in a letter to the composer her understanding of the work:
What a work! What a poem! What a harmonious mood pervades the whole! All the movements seem to be of one piece, one beat of the heart, each one a jewel! From start to finish one is wrapped about the mysterious charm of the woods and forests. I could not tell you which movement I loved most. In the first I was charmed straight away by the gleams of the dawning day, as if the rays of the sun were shining through the trees. Everything springs to life, everything breathes good cheer, it is really exquisite! The second is a pure idyll; I can see the worshippers kneeling about the little forest shrine, I hear the babbling brook and the buzz of the insects. There is such a fluttering and a humming all around that one feels oneself snatched up into the joyous web of Nature. The third movement is a pearl, but it is a grey one dipped in a tear of woe, and at the end the modulation is quite wonderful. How gloriously the last movement follows with its passionate upward surge! But one’s beating heart is soon calmed down again for the final transfiguration which begins with such beauty in the development motif that words fail me.
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 77
Premiered on January 1, 1879, in Leipzig conducted by Brahms with Joseph Joachim as soloist.
One cannot overestimate the impact of Joseph Joachim not only on Brahms’s Violin Concerto but his musical development in general. As a 15-year-old, Brahms heard Joachim perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, which left a lasting impression on the teenager. More importantly, however, Joachim introduced Brahms to Schumann, an encounter that would set Brahms on his compositional path. As their friendship deepened, playing concerts together with Brahms at the piano, they found a musical kinship, both interested in their Austro-German musical heritage, beginning with Bach, continuing with Haydn and Mozart, and ending with Beethoven. So when Brahms sent Joachim a draft of his Violin Concerto, the virtuoso was thrilled and sent back his suggestions—drawing on his experience as the premier violinist of his day.
It comes as no surprise, then, that this concerto is not only considered “serious” but also extremely difficult. In fact, conductor Hans von Bülow once called it “a concerto against the violin,” and the long and complex first movement truly does seem to pit the violin against the orchestra. At the same time, Brahms also integrates the solo part perfectly into the classically conceived movement structure (sonata form), exploring also the lyrical qualities of the violin. Joachim’s substantive cadenza draws the movement to a pensive close.
The ensuing Adagio opens with one of the most beautiful oboe solos in the symphonic repertoire—causing violinist Sarasate to quip that it required the soloist to awkwardly “listen, violin in hand, how the oboe plays the only melody in the whole piece.” Once the violin enters, however, it quickly becomes the expressive voice of this tender and serene movement.
For the last movement, Brahms invokes his “Hungarian style.” As a collector of folk music, Brahms was particularly drawn to what is also referred to as the Gypsy style. Presumably, Brahms must have thought of his many performances with Joachim of works in this vein. In many ways, it is the perfect ending to this collaborative work, offering a surprisingly raucous finale to a work that moves from grandeur through serenity to pure joy.
- Siegwart Reichwald
Overture Program Information
Artist Information (Show)
Matthias Bamert's distinguished career started at the Cleveland Orchestra where he was Resident Conductor alongside the then Music Director Lorin Maazel. Since then he has held Music Director positions with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Swiss Radio Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and Associate Guest Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.
Music Director of the London Mozart Players for seven years, he has masterminded a hugely successful series of recordings of works by “Contemporaries of Mozart” which has already exceeded 75 symphonies. In 1999, the orchestra's 50th anniversary year, he conducted them at the BBC Proms, in Vienna, and at the Lucerne Festival, and returned with them to Japan in January 2000.
He has worked frequently in the concert hall and studio with such orchestras as the Philharmonia, the London Philharmonic, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, has appeared regularly at the London Proms, and often appears with orchestras outside London such as the BBC Philharmonic and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Outside of the UK he has regularly appeared with the great orchestras of the world including the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal, the Leningrad Philharmonic, the Sydney Symphony, and the NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo among many others.
2015/2016 season highlights included appearances with the Israel Symphony Orchestra, Gunma Philharmonic Orchestra, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Kanazawa, Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra, Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.
A prolific recording artist, Bamert has made over 80 discs, many of which have won international prizes. His recordings include 24 discs of Mozart's contemporaries with the London Mozart Players, Sir Hubert Parry (the complete Symphonies) and Frank Martin (5 discs) with the London Philharmonic, the symphonies of Roberto Gerhard with the BBC Symphony, Dutch composers with the Residentie Orchestra, and the Stokowski transcriptions, Korngold and Dohnanyi with the BBC Philharmonic.
Dutch violinist Liza Ferschtman is known for her passionate performances, interesting programs, and communicative qualities on stage. The daughter of Russian musicians, Liza Ferschtman grew up constantly surrounded by music. One of her earliest major influences was the violinist Philipp Hirschhorn, a close family friend. She received her formal training from Herman Krebbers at the Amsterdam Conservatory, Ida Kavafian at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and David Takeno in London. In 2006 she received the highest accolade awarded to a musician in the Netherlands, the Dutch Music Award.
Liza Ferschtman's worldwide appearances include: BBC National Orchestra of Wales and London Philharmonic, Dallas and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras, Essen Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Weimar and Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, Orchestre National de Belgique and Flanders Symphony Orchestra, Radio Symphony Orchestra of Prague, Malmö Symphony and Bergen Philharmonic, Yomiuri Nippon Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic as well as virtually every Dutch orchestra, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philhamonic. Amongst the Conductors with whom she has worked are: Stefan Blunier, Frans Brüggen, Christoph von Dohnányi, Claus Peter Flor, Neeme Järvi, Yakov Kreizberg, Zdeněk Macál, Jun Märkl, Gianandrea Noseda, Marc Soustrot, Leonard Slatkin, Thomas Søndergård, Karl-Heinz Steffens, Mario Venzago, Jan Willem de Vriend, and Jaap van Zweden.
An avid chamber musician, Liza Ferschtman has collaborated regularly with artists such as Jonathan Biss, Nobuko Imai, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Christian Poltera, Lars Anders Tomter and Alisa Weilerstein, counting as her duo partners Enrico Pace and Inon Barnatan. Appearing at venues such as Alice Tully Hall (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), Musikverein (Vienna), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Liederhalle (Stuttgart), and Beethoven Haus (Bonn), she is also present at major international Chamber Music festivals. Moreover, Ms. Ferschtman has been the artistic director of the Delft Chamber Music Festival since 2007, one of the most admired festivals in the Netherlands.