Friday, April 9, 2021  Glenn Gould Studio 

A kaleidoscope of delights from three centuries

MOZART String Quartet No. 2 in D Major K 155 
WEINER Divertimento No. 2


About the program

String Quartet No. 2 in D Major, K 155 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
The six string quartets, K. 155–160, were composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in late 1772 and early 1773 when Mozart was sixteen and seventeen years of age. Because they were composed in Milan while he was working on his opera Lucio Silla, they are popularly known as the Milanese Quartets. Before this set was composed, Mozart had written one earlier string quartet (K. 80/73f in 1770), so these six quartets are ordinally numbered from No. 2 to No. 7. The quartets are written in a plan of keys of D-G-C-F-B?-E? following the circle of fifths. All six quartets have only three movements. 

Suite                                                                           Leos Jánacek (1854-1928)
Jánacek’s first instrumental works, this Suite, composed in 1877, and the Idyll, in 1878, were both written for string orchestra. Jánacek direct the premiere of the Suite himself in December 1877 in Brno, the main city of Moravia. This energetically bright, youthful work demonstrates Jánacek’s musical heritage, flowing out of the Czech national style founded by Bedrich Smetana and raised to masterful heights by Antonín Dvorák.

Dvorák’s influence in particular is evident in the striking three-chord opening of the Moderato first movement and the free-spirited lyricism that follows. The first Adagio displays brooding Romantic chromaticism and tone-colours in its scoring for muted violins and violas alone. The third movement Andante is classically simple, clearing musical space for the driving fourth movement Presto. The Suite’s fifth movement is a short second Adagio which features the cellos and bass and sets the stage for the last movement.  The finale is an Andante which again recalls Dvorák, punctuating an engaging melodic line with a striking dotted-rhythm motif.

Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)   
                                             The original version of Vocalise was the last song in a set of fourteen Rachmaninov composed for voice and piano between 1910 and 1912. The first thirteen songs were settings of verses by Russian romantic poets including Pushkin, Polonsky, Korinfsky and Shaginyan.  The Vocalise capped off the entire cycle through the beauty of its wordless melody.  It quickly became tremendously popular, leading Rachmaninov to rewrite it in 1915, creating different arrangements for solo piano, violin and piano and orchestra. Many others have added to the trove of arrangements since then. The magic of the Vocalise’s short six minutes lies in Rachmaninov’s ability to translate his love for his country estate, Ivanovka, into a memorable melody. There he found tranquil beauty and found calm and relaxation, the respite he required from the hectic demands of touring and a double career as an eminent composer and lionized piano virtuoso.

Divertimento, Op. 20 by Leó Weiner (1885-1960)                                           Leó Weiner’s dates are more modern than one would assume on hearing his works. He took inspirations from Mendelssohn and Brahms, grounded in Viennese musical traditions. After winning the Franz Josef Jubilee Prize, a travelling fellowship that allowed him to study in Vienna, Berlin, Leipzig, and Paris, he became a coach at the Budapest Comic Opera and then from 1908 to 1949 he was a professor at the Budapest Academy of Music.Weiner published about thirty compositions, including this captivating Divertimento and his best-known work, the incidental music for the fairy play Csongor and Elf. Unlike his compatriots Bartók and Kodály, he retained folk music in its near-original state rather than reformulating it into a personal style. The Divertimento is dedicated to another countryman, the famous conductor Fritz Reiner. Its five movements are orchestrations of Hungarian dances which preserve their characteristic charm and flavour.

Sinfonia Toronto  now in its 22nd season, has toured twice in Europe, in the US, South America and China, receiving glowing reviews. It has released four CD’s, including a JUNO Award winner, and performs in many Ontario cities. Its extensive repertoire includes all the major string orchestra works of the 18th through 21st centuries, and it has premiered many new works. Under the baton of Nurhan Arman the orchestra’s performances present outstanding international guest artists and prominent Canadian musicians.  

Maestro Nurhan Arman has conducted throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada and the US, returning regularly to many orchestras in Europe. Among the orchestras Maestro Arman has conducted are the Moscow Philharmonic, Deutsches Kammerorchester Frankfurt, Filarmonica Italiana, St. Petersburg State Hermitage Orchestra, Orchestre Regional d’Ile de France, Hungarian Symphony, Arpeggione Kammerorchester, Milano Classica and Belgrade Philharmonic.

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