Baermann, Kritz, Tchaikovsky
Quartet in B-Flat Major for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello
Connections for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano (2001)
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Trio in A Minor for Violin, Cello, and Piano
Chicago composer Robert Kritz has had a long-term "connection" with the Orion Ensemble and its members. Connections for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, which he wrote for Orion in 2001, refers to internal and external aspects of the work. Internally, a motif connects the three movements of the piece, like many late 19th century works. Externally, Kritz writes music that is virtuosic, jazz-influenced and warmly romantic with a goal of enabling and enhancing human connection--between composer, performers and audience. To him, those human connections are the meaning of music and the essence of life.
An infrequently performed work on the program is the Quartet in B-Flat Major for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello, Op. 18 by Heinrich Baermann. The 19th century "Rubenstein of the clarinet," Baermann inspired several prominent composers with his superb artistry on the instrument, including Mendelssohn, Weber and Meyerbeer, all of whom wrote works for him. Baermann also wrote his own works--quartets, quintets and concertinos--which show his lively musical mind, winsome personality and keen awareness of the clarinet's expressive possibilities that made him a favorite performer and friend of composers.
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote the Trio in A Minor, Op. 50, for Violin, Cello and Piano as a memorial to his mentor and friend Nikolai Rubenstein, premiering it on the first anniversary of Rubenstein's death in 1882. The first movement is in a standard romantic sonata form, and the second is a large set of variations that starts simply and builds in power and energy before returning to the first movement theme in funeral march garb. One Tchaikovsky scholar asserts that all the different forms in the variations are recollections of Rubenstein, which the funeral march finally brings to a close.