Vienna Philharmonic 4 Cellos

  • 04/11/2017
  • 8pm
  • €25
  • National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta

Beautiful music will resound through the National Museum of Archaeology on the 4th, when an ensemble of four violoncellos from the famous Vienna Philharmonic will be playing well-known works by Corelli, Mozart, Schubert and Offenbach as well as others which are less frequently played in concert such as the Serenade for 4 Violoncellos, op. 29 by Franz Lachner.

Corelli Concerto Grosso in D major, Op. 6, N. 4
Lachner Serenade for 4 Cellos, Op. 29
Mercadante La Poesia
Popper Concert-Polonaise in D minor, op. 14

Arrangement for 4 violoncellos by Edison Pashko

Mozart Three pieces from “The Magic Flute”
Schubert Marche Militaire, D733
Offenbach Scherzo
Fitzenhagen Concert-Walzer, Op. 31

Arcangelo Corelli – Concerto Grosso in D major, Op. 6, N. 4

Arcangelo Corelli was born in Fusignano, near Bologna, on February 17, 1653 and died in Rome on January 8, 1713 after a remarkably successful career as violinist and composer. He was arguably the most influential composer of the Baroque era, his meticulously honed works serving as standards of musical excellence throughout Europe. His twelve Opus 6 concertos were published in Amsterdam in 1714, one year after his death.

Concerto No. 4 in D Major opens with a short curtain-raising Adagio, then launches into a dazzling Allegro that stirs discreet contrapuntal imitation into a mostly chordal soup. The Adagio movement that follows is vintage Corelli, a gravely beautiful processional in B minor, its occasional flashes of dissonance adding a discreet touch of drama. A triple-meter Vivace partakes of lively dance rhythms, sounding for all the world like a quickstep minuet or—to look forward a bit— a Viennese waltz. The energetic Allegro finale has a surprise in store: after spending most of its time in whirling, compound duple meter, it treats us to a virtuoso coda in sturdy common time.

Franz Lachner – Serenade for 4 Violoncellos, Op. 29

The main activity of Franz Lachner (1803-1890) from Raim-am-Lech in Upper Bavaria, was in Munich. After studying there, he went to Vienna for several years, where he not only belonged to the circle of artists around Franz Schubert, but also was in contact with Beethoven and worked as a conductor for the Käntnertortheater for eight years. In 1836 he returned to Munich.

His extensive work includes compositions in almost all genres, including eight symphonies and seven orchestral compositions, solo chamber music, ample chamber music, piano works and even four operas. During his lifetime, Lachner was very successful with his music, which was elaborately worked out in a style that was rather conservative.

After his death, however, he fell into oblivion and nowadays one hardly meets his works in concert. With his two-movement Serenade in G major Op. 29, published in Vienna in 1830, he provides one of the few original contributions to the literature for four violoncellos.

Saverio Mercadante – La Poesia  

Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870) was once described in a music lexicon as “the most important of those Italian composers”, who were “contemporaries of Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi, but whose works are no longer in the repertoire”.

Hardly anyone knows one of his 60 operas by name. Il Giuramento was a work that was to be heard at the Vienna Staatsoper in three concert performances in 1979. However, Mercadante also wrote a large number of instrumental works, symphonies, solo concertos (especially for flute) and chamber music of various instrumentations. La Poesia (with the subtitle “Melodia per quattro violoncelli”) is another original piece of work for this instrumental combination, which stylistically anticipates the operas of Giuseppe Verdi and was composed around 1818.

David Popper – Concert-Polonaise in D minor, Op. 14, (Arrangement: Edison Pashko)

David Popper (1843-1913) is well known to every cellist, because one inevitably makes acquaintance with his Études during the studies. Born and educated in Prague, Popper was one of the most famous cello virtuosi of the 19th century. At the age of 25 he became a solo cellist in the orchestra of the Wiener Hofoper and a member of the Hellmesberger Quartet.

However, his international solo commitments increased quite early, so that after five years he left the orchestra. He was in touch with the most important composers of his time, settled in Budapest in 1896 and became teacher at the Conservatory there. He also founded the Hubay Popper Quartet, which was one of the leading quartet formations for over 30 years. As a pedagogue, Popper was a European celebrity. He published a masterpiece, the High School of the Violoncello, which is still used and consulted. He also enriched the cello literature with several solid compositions, including four concerts, many études, and a series of salon pieces, including the Concerto Polonaise in D minor Op. 14, published in 1878, which was originally composed for violoncello and piano.

Wolfgang A. Mozart – Three pieces from The Magic Flute

Particularly popular works are a cause for many arrangements for various instrumentations. This then leads to second and third-degree processing, which is also the case with the next piece. The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) has proved to be one of the most famous and popular operas, and every music lover knows its most famous numbers.

Already in 1792, a year after the premiere, an anonymous arrangement for two violins and two flutes was published. In 1998, more than 200 years later, the French ensemble Les Quatre Violons worked out an arrangement for four violins, which has now been transposed for four violoncellos. For this concert, three excerpts were selected: the aria of Tamino “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön/This portrait gloriously beautiful” from the first act, the duet Pamina-Papageno “Bei Männern welche Liebe fuhlen/Men who feel love” from the first act and the duet Papageno-Papagena “Pa-pa-pa” from the finale of act 2.

Franz Schubert – Marche Militaire, D 733

The number of four-hands piano works by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) is unmistakable. Among them are the Trois Marches Militaires D 733, which Anton Diabelli published during Schubert’s lifetime in 1826 as Op. 51.

The first of these three marches became one of his most famous compositions, and when one speaks of Schubert’s Marche Militaire, one is always talking about the first march in D major (No. 1 in D 733). It is not precisely determined when exactly it was composed; the dating varies between 1818 and 1824.

The popularity of this work corresponds with the abundance of arrangements for all instrumental combinations. The Polish pianist Carl Tausig created a two-hands piano version (in D major), played by many famous pianists from Vladimir Horowitz to Yevgeny Kissin. The march also widely occurs as quotation in many other compositions, of which Stravinsky’s Circus Polka might be the most famous.

Jaques Offenbach – Scherzo, from Adagio et Scherzo for 4 violoncellos

Jaques Offenbach (1819-1880) is considered the inventor of the operetta as an independent and recognized genre of musical theatre, but in his early days he mainly worked as a cellist and became famous as a first class performer. Even after 1855, when Jaques Offenbach began a second career with the founding of “Bouffes Parisiens”, his success as a cellist remained well known. It was only after his death that a certain opinion changed regarding Offenbach, whose nearly 75 completed cello compositions were overshadowed by his almost more than one hundred stage works. The “Quartet” for four violoncellos, which probably dates to the mid-1840s, is listed as Adagio et Scherzo in the list of works. From this you can now hear the Scherzo, in which the composer partly uses unusual harmonic means.

Wilhelm Fitzenhagen – Concert Waltz in D Major for 4 Violoncellos, Op. 31

The concert ends with the Concert Waltz in D Major for 4 Violoncellos in D major Op. 31 by Wilhelm Fitzenhagen (1848-1890). He was a German cellist and composer, who worked for twenty years as a university lecturer at the Moscow Conservatory. He was appointed concertmaster of the Russian Imperial Music Society and in 1884 Director of the Moscow Music and Orchestra Society. Among his friends was Tchaikovsky, who dedicated to Fitzenhagen his Rococo Variations, Op. 33. Fitzenhagen left more than 60 works, including four cello concertos, a suite for violoncello and orchestra, chamber music (including a string quartet), songs and also this original concert waltz for four violoncellos.