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Chamber Winds

Thu, December 7th, 2006
9:00 pm

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Steven Dennis Bodner, director

Mozart: Serenade No. 10 in B-flat, K. 361 (370a) “Gran Partita”

Ian Jessen ’07 and Joseph Gross ’10, oboe
Elise Piazza ’09, Hannah Smith-Drelich ’10, Alexander Taylor ’10, Charlotte Healey ’10, clarinet
Libby Miles ’09, Jonathan Berch ’09
Elizabeth Irvin ’10, Meredith Gansner ’08, Ben Swimm ’09, Orlando Pandolfi (fac.), horn
Alex Johnson ’10, double bass

Louis Andriessen: M is for Man, Music, Mozart (1991)

Jennifer Ashe, soprano; Meghan Ramsey ’08, flute; Christopher Ting ’10, soprano saxophone; Steven Bodner (fac.), alto saxophone; Daniel King ’09, tenor saxophone
Connor Kamm ’10, Benjamin Wood ’08, Karl Schultz, trumpet; Matthew Stebbins (UMass) ’08, Isaac Bernstein ’10, trombone; Orlando Pandolfi (fac.), horn; Mike Blair (DHS), tuba; Joseph Shippee ’07, piano; Charles Dougherty ’09, bass guitar

Celebrating the end of the Mozart year, the Williams Chamber Winds — an ensemble of select students from the Williams Symphonic Winds and directed by Steven Dennis Bodner — will present a concert titled “mozart…NOT MOZART” on Thursday, December 7, 2006, 8:00 p.m., in Chapin Hall. The concert will juxtapose Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s sublime Serenade in B-flat, KV 361 (370a)—also known as “Gran Partita”—with Louis Andriessen’s ironic homage M is for Man, Music Mozart. As both works have seven movements and are written for ensembles of thirteen musicians, the concert will alternate movements from the two pieces, allowing Mozart and Andriessen to engage in a musical dialogue across more than two centuries. For more information about the ensemble, please visit: http://wso.williams.edu/orgs/symphwinds/index.php/home.

For the performance of M is for Man, Music, Mozart, Chamber Winds will be joined by soprano Jennifer Ashe, a member of the faculty at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. She has been hailed by the Boston Globe as giving a performance that was “pure bravura…riveting the audience with a radiant and opulent voice.” The Boston Phoenix describes her as possessing “rock solid technique” with “the kind of vocal velvet you don’t often hear in contemporary music”. A strong advocate for new music, Jennifer has participated in several premieres and recordings for composers active in the Boston area and beyond and her recent projects include Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with Firebird Ensemble and Peter Maxwell Davies’ Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot with Callithumpian Consort.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is regarded as one of the greatest and most significant composers in the history of Western art music. While Mozart’s genius may be most significantly demonstrated in his operas, symphonies, piano pieces, and string chamber works, his serenades and divertimenti—his Harmonie—are no less striking or innovative; in fact, his three wind serenades are arguably the finest works of the genre—with the “Gran Partita” the finest of the fine. Harmoniemusik refers to a musical genre written for pairs of woodwind instruments within the period 1750-1835. A typical Harmoniemusik ensemble would consist of 3-4 pairs of wind instruments: bassoons and horns, with either oboes or clarinets, or both. In a sense, these were the popular music ensembles of the time, playing a significant part in the social lives of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie. Each of the royal courts throughout Europe employed a personal Harmonie, to provide entertainment for themselves and for their distinguished guests, not only during dinner, but also in private and public concerts. In 1782 Emperor Joseph II appointed a Harmonie of the finest available players, including the Stadler brothers on clarinet and Johann Nepomuk Wendt on oboe. Although many composers contributed original works for the medium, the repertoire consisted mainly of full-length transcriptions of operas and ballets. Recognizing both the craze that transcribing operas for winds had become in Vienna and their financially lucrative nature, Mozart himself began arranging selections of his Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, writing to his father on 20 July 1782: “I am up to my eyes in work, for by Sunday week I have to arrange my opera for Harmonie. If I don’t, someone will anticipate me and secure the profits…You have no idea how difficult it is to arrange a work of this kind for Harmonie, so that it suits these instruments and yet loses none of its effect.” Mozart even included Harmonie in two of his operas: first, a Harmonie ensemble offers a serenade during a garden scene in Cosi fan tutte; and second, the dinner music in Don Giovanni (Finale, Act I) contains a transcription of his “Non più andrai” from Le nozze di Figaro, to Leporello’s comment “Questa poi la conosco pur troppo” (“I know this all too well”). The “Gran Partita,” though, is without question the gem in the original Harmonie repertoire. While most divertimenti were written in a light style and were intended for social occasions rather than formal concerts, the “Gran Partita” is striking not just for its seriousness of artistic content (it was presumably written for Anton Sadler for performance in a benefit concert), but also for its length and instrumentation: its seven movements exceed the usual form of most serenades, and at almost 50 minutes in length, it is longer than all of Mozart’s symphonies; and—with four pairs of woodwinds instead of the usual two or three pairs, four horns instead of two, and the addition of a string bass—the “Gran Partita” transcends the conventional limits of the genre and reveals Mozart’s affinity for the graciousness and clarity of wind ensembles.

Louis Andriessen is, without question, the most significant living Dutch composer—and, by most accounts, he is one of Europe’s most eminent and influential composers. He has explored, in relation to music, the subjects of politics, time, velocity, matter and mortality in five works for large ensemble: De Staat (1976), De Tijd (1981), De Snelheid (1983), De Materie (1985-88), and Trilogy of The Last Day (1996-97). His music blurs the boundaries between “high” and “low” arts, not just in his choice of instruments (often dominated by wind, brass, pianos, and electric guitars), but also in his musical language, which combines a jazz/rock aesthetic with post-WWII intellectualism; in Andriessen’s own words: “From Stravinsky to Steve Reich, from the gamelan to Miles Davis and Stan Kenton, this is all part of my musical language. But one thing is clear: I almost completely shied away from the nineteenth century [Romanticism].” When Andriessen (along with five other composers) was asked by BBC in 1991 to compose a film score that would be part of a television movie (and now DVD), titled Not Mozart, that would be an irreverent alternative to the respectful homages during the Mozart Bicenntennial, he immediately suggested that his filmmaker-collaborator be Peter Greenaway, known for such avant-garde and controversial films as Prospero’s Books and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, Her Lover (and with whom Andriessen has since created two operas: Rosa: Death of a Composer and Writing to Vermeer.) Since Andriessen had been planning also to write a work to commemorate the twentieth anniversary for the Orkest de Volharding—created by Andriessen in 1971, Volharding is, in Andriessen’s words, the “Terrifying Orchestra of the Twenty First Century:” a thirteen-member, democratic wind ensemble that, performing standing shoulder-to-shoulder, is dedicated to not only redefining music in socio-political terms, but also to “de-hierarchizing” music by “vigorously and vociferously break[ing] the division between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art” — he decided to write the score with Volharding in mind. Andriessen and Greenaway agreed on a symmetrical form of an alternation of four songs (sung by the jazz singer Astrid Seriese) with three instrumental interludes for their film, titled M is for Man, Music, Mozart (1991). The elegant logic that underlies this arresting, provocative, highly avant-garde thirty-minute film is, simply:

Stopping at M, the center of the alphabet, the Gods decide to create man.
Having created man, it was necessary to give him movement.
Having given him movement it follows that he should have music.
And having invented Music, it was necessary to invent Mozart in order
to have Perfect Music.

In M is for Man, Music, Mozart—with music that quotes Mozart (specifically two piano sonatas, K. 310 and K. 545), recalls Milhaud (especially La création du monde, a fitting reference for a film about creation), toys with boogie-woogie, and reveals the influence of both Stan Kenton and Stravinksy, but with songs that emphasize the crudeness, vulgarity, and base physicality that defines, at least in scientific terms, what it means to be human—Greenaway and Andriessen chose to paint Mozart not as a god-like creator to be held aloof on a pedestal, but instead as a human: the most gifted of humans. In fact, the final song states describes Mozart as “a man bringing himself, melody, and mathematics into perfect and enviable proportions. Only more so. Much more so.” Perhaps this ironic homage, then, is the most appropriate—both demystifying Mozart and his music while concurrently reflecting its status as a pinnacle human creation.


wolfgang amadeus mozart (1756-1791) LOUIS ANDRIESSEN (B. 1943)
serenade no. 10 in b-flat, k. 361 (370a) M IS FOR MAN, MUSIC, MOZART (1991)

largo—allegro molto

menuetto—trio I—trio II


menuetto (allegretto)—trio I—trio II


tema con variazioni

allegro molto


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