April 14, 2024
Mozart and Friends
Beloved classics for violin, cello, and four-hand piano. Works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and two friends who inspired his work: Josephine Aurnhammer and Joseph Bologne. Featuring violinist Eduardo Rios, cellist Nathan Chan, and pianists Joseph Williams and Byron Schenkman.
“[Nathan Chan’s] string tone is rich and dark-hued, his intonation is fearlessly precise, and his mastery of musical narrative unfolds with unerring clarity.”
— Joshua Kosman, Datebook: San Francisco Chronicle
Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 378/3717d, for piano and violin
Six Variations on a Hungarian Theme for piano
Sonata in F Major, K. 497, for piano, four hands
Air from “L’Amante Anonyme,” arranged for cello and piano
Trio in C Major, K. 548, for piano, violin, and cello
“[Schenkman is] a first-class Mozartean… an extraordinarily communicative player capable of great range and technical finesse… adding a dash of wit and humor along with the speedy fingerwork ”
– Melinda Bargreen, The Seattle Times
Notes on the Program
By Byron Schenkman
Every composer’s work is the result of multiple influences, including teachers, students, colleagues, and friends. Much has been made of Wolfgang Mozart’s relationship with Joseph Haydn, yet Mozart had many important musical friendships. While the six string quartets Mozart dedicated to Haydn are generally known as the “Haydn” Quartets, the six violin sonatas he dedicated to Josepha Barbara Auernhammer are mostly known only by their catalog numbers. And while Haydn’s influence on Mozart’s work has long been acknowledged, the importance of Joseph Bologne on the careers of both Haydn and Mozart has only recently come to light.
Mozart’s Sonata in E-flat Major, K. 380/374f, is from a set of six sonatas for violin and piano first published in 1781 and dedicated to Josepha Barbara Auernhammer, to whom Mozart also dedicated and performed his only sonata for two pianos. That same year Mozart wrote to his father that he was spending nearly every evening with the Auernhammer family and that Josepha played delightfully. He also made various rude and inappropriate comments about her, perhaps to convince his prudish and controlling father that there was no romantic connection between them. On numerous occasions Mozart and Auernhammer performed works for piano, four hands (two players at one keyboard), possibly including Mozart’s Sonata in F Major, K. 497.
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint Georges, was one of the most distinguished violinists of the late 18th century. He was also a prolific composer of symphonies, concertos, quartets, sonatas, and operas. Mozart met Bologne in Paris in 1779 and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola, and orchestra was clearly modeled on one that Bologne had published the year before. Bologne was also a prominent conductor who directed the premiere of Joseph Haydn’s famous “Paris” Symphonies. For this program we have adapted a tenor air from Bologne’s “L’Amante Anonyme” into a cello solo with piano accompaniment.
Most 18th-century trios for piano, violin, and cello are essentially piano sonatas accompanied by the two string instruments. In Mozart’s later trios such as the Trio in C Major, K. 548, the violin and piano parts are much more equal and even the cello occasionally gets a say in the conversation. The middle movement of this overall joyful work is tender and poignant while the last movement reveals Mozart’s great sense of humor and love of a good time.