HOMAGE TO PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY for Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano and Clarinet
W. A. Mozart
DIVERTIMENTO in E-flat Major for String Trio, K. 563
W. A. Mozart
FANTASY in C Minor for Piano, K. 396
W. A. Mozart
TRIO (Kegelstatt) in E-flat Major for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, K. 498
QUARTET in C Minor for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, Op. 15
A world premiere by Jackson Berkey opens the 23rd season of The Orion Ensemble. Jackson Berkey has composed more than 400 titles encompassing choral, solo vocal and instrumental, chamber ensemble, band and orchestral works, as well as concerti and works for chorus and orchestra. Nationally known as a pianist and recording artist, he has performed as featured keyboardist with Mannheim Steamroller for nearly 40 years. Berkey’s “Homage to Percy Bysshe Shelley,” for violin, viola, cello, piano and clarinet, is a brief, expressive musical poem written for Orion.
Three works by Mozart appear on this program. Divertimento in E-flat Major for String Trio, K. 563 illustrates Mozart’s love of composing and performing ensemble music (he was reputed to have been an expert string player and enjoyed the viola). Unlike string quartets and quintets, string trios provide only one instrument in each range; thus the sheer creativity and technique necessary to produce a full, rich tapestry, and at the same time have each instrument display its own particular beauty, is immense—a task Mozart was more than equipped to handle.
Fantasy in C Minor for Piano, K. 396 is an example of a form that has been an invaluable tool for composer-pianists to combine their imaginative compositional visions with their skill and prowess as keyboard artists. Mozart not only innately understood the touch sensitivity of this new instrument (the fortepiano in his time), he created upon it some of his most emotionally stirring works.
Trio (Kegelstatt) in E-flat Major for Clarinet, Viola and Piano, K. 498 has a nickname that refers to Mozart’s boast of having composed several works while playing skittles, a form of bowling (Kegelstatt refers to a place where people played skittles). Though considered traditional today, Mozart was viewed during his time as “cutting edge,” experimenting with newer forms as well as new instruments, such as the piano and clarinet. Combining these instruments with the more traditional viola in this work allowed him to explore tonal combinations that are charming, haunting and expressive.
Gabriel Fauré’s Quartet in C Minor for Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano No. 1, Op. 15 is actually a string trio with piano, in which the strings can become a microcosmic orchestra against the coloristic shadings of solo piano. The piece opens with a sonata-allegro movement with a yearning theme and rhythmic outbursts; the energetic second movement is a scherzo, with a slower third movement providing the work’s emotional core; the piece concludes with a triumphant fast-paced finale.