Thursday, May 3, 2018

SHMO: 2018-2019 material including works by Marcello, Mozart and Bach.

After the Porter Phelps concert in July, the South Hadley Mandolin Orchestra will begin working on some new material.

The first is an original composition by Joseph Marcello simply entitled "Concerto for Two Mandolins".  The piece has one movement, and was composed in the key of D major.  The piece was commissioned by the South Hadley Mandolin Orchestra and originally was supposed to include three movements, but the composer decided it would be best with just the one.  We are thrilled to be able to present this original composition by a local composer!


Joseph Andrew Marcello is an author, music journalist and award-winning composer with a deep interest in physical and spiritual well-being. He makes his home on a pine-clad hilltop in western Massachusetts, at the juncture of Vermont and New Hampshire, amidst the flight and flurry of his 13 cockatiels, most of whom he bred and hand-fed right out of the nest. At any given moment throughout the day his shoulders are seldom free of them. He loves long-distance swimming, cycling and animals.




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In addition to the Marcello piece, the Orchestra will start working on String Quartet No. 19 by W. A. Mozart "Dissonance".

The String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, nicknamed "Dissonance" on account of its unusual slow introduction, is perhaps the most famous of his quartets.

It is the last in the set of six quartets composed between 1782 and 1785 that he dedicated to Joseph Haydn. 

According to the catalogue of works Mozart began early the preceding year, the quartet was completed on 14 January, 1785.

As is normal with Mozart's later quartets, it is in four movements:
  • Adagio-Allegro
  • Andante cantabile in F major
  • Menuetto. Allegro. (C major, trio in C minor)
  • Allegro molto
The first movement opens with ominous quiet Cs in the cello, joined successively by the viola (on A♭ moving to a G), the second violin (on E♭), and the first violin (on A), thus creating the "dissonance" itself and narrowly avoiding a greater one. This lack of harmony and fixed key continues throughout the slow introduction before resolving into the bright C major of the Allegro section of the first movement, which is in sonata form.

Mozart goes on to use chromatic and whole tone scales to outline fourths. Arch shaped lines emphasizing fourths in the first violin (C – F – C) and the violoncello (G – C – C' – G') are combined with lines emphasizing fifths in the second violin and viola. Over the barline between the second and third measures of the example, a fourth-suspension can be seen in the second violin's tied C. In another of his string quartets, KV 464, such fourth-suspensions are also very prominent.

The second movement is in sonatina form, i.e., lacking the development section. Alfred Einstein writes of the coda of this movement that "the first violin openly expresses what seemed hidden beneath the conversational play of the subordinate theme".

The third movement is a minuet and trio, with the exuberant mood of the minuet darkening into the C minor of the trio.

The last movement is also in sonata form.

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And finally, we will continue working on the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B major for Two Mandolas (originally violas) and continuo.  This is rather a challenging project for us, as all of us have to learn the Alto clef, soloists and continuo together.  

No. 6 in B♭ major, BWV 1051
(from Wikipedia)

Instrumentation: two viole da braccio, two viole da gamba, cello, violone, and harpsichord
Duration: about 16 minutes

The absence of violins is unusual. Viola da braccio means the normal viola, and is used here to distinguish it from the viola da gamba. When the work was written in 1721, the viola da gamba was already an old-fashioned instrument: the strong supposition that one viola da gamba part was taken by his employer, Prince Leopold, also points to a likely reason for the concerto's composition—Leopold wished to join his Kapellmeister playing music. Other theories speculate that, since the viola da braccio was typically played by a lower socioeconomic class (servants, for example), the work sought to upend the musical status quo by giving an important role to a "lesser" instrument. This is supported by the knowledge that Bach wished to end his tenure under Prince Leopold. By upsetting the balance of the musical roles, he would be released from his servitude as Kapellmeister and allowed to seek employment elsewhere.

The two violas start the first movement with a vigorous subject in close canon, and as the movement progresses, the other instruments are gradually drawn into the seemingly uninterrupted steady flow of melodic invention which shows the composer's mastery of polyphony. The two violas da gamba are silent in the second movement, leaving the texture of a trio sonata for two violas and continuo, although the cello has a decorated version of the continuo bass line. In the last movement, the spirit of the gigue underlies everything, as it did in the finale of the fifth concerto.


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