The deeply expressive Schumann Piano Quartet, Op. 47, with its sumptuous slow movement, is among the all-time favorite works for both professional and amateur chamber musicians. Here, it's performed by a definitively all-star lineup of artists celebrated worldwide: violinist Joshua Bell; violist Paul Neubauer; cellist Steven Isserlis; and pianist Jeremy Denk.
And the other performance in this broadcast also spotlights terrific musicians equally gifted as chamber artists or soloists-violinist Cho-Liang Lin and pianist Andre-Michel Schub, performing a Mozart Sonata supposedly created in one hour.
In a letter to his father, Mozart described this work as "a sonata with violin accompaniment for myself, which I composed last night between eleven and twelve (but in order to be able to finish it, I only wrote out the violin accompaniment for Brunetti and retained my own part in my head)." You can see from the manuscript's uncharacteristically messy look that this work was written in a hurry; Mozart's manuscripts are normally pristine, with very few crossouts or corrections.
Explore What's Behind the Music
Steven Isserlis: British-born cellist Steven Isserlis is equally at home drawing the audience into his circle of friends for chamber music or in recital; delving into the historical archives to emerge with a forgotten gem; or on the concert platform with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras. Read More
Jeremy Denk: Winner of the 1998 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the 1997 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Jeremy Denk made his New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall. Read More
Paul Neubauer: Violist Paul Neubauer's exceptional musicality and effortless playing distinguish him as one of this generation's quintessential artists. Read More
Joshua Bell: For over two decades, Joshua Bell has been captivating audiences worldwide with his poetic musicality. Read More
Steven Isserlis appears with the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Philadelphia Orchestra and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. His chamber concerts are renowned, not only for the quality of performance but also for his ingenuity and innovation in programming. Projects in the past few seasons have included a “Taneyev and Friends” series at the Wigmore Hall, a Brahms series at the Salzburg Festival, a festival entitled “Sleeping Beauties” with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and a highly-acclaimed Saint-Saëns festival in London. Isserlis is also well-known for his musical enthusiasms, which, in addition to the late music of Schumann, include the lesser-known music of Carl Frühling, performers such as cellist Daniil Shafran, violinist Jacques Thibaud and Chorale Gabriel Fauré. Among his non-musical enthusiasms are the Marx Brothers, the 19-century novelist Wilkie Collins and the children’s book "The Land of Green Ginger" by Noel Langley. The Nippon Music Foundation of Japan has kindly loaned the Feuermann Stradivarius of 1730 to Steven Isserlis.
Winner of the 1998 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the 1997 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Jeremy Denk made his New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall. Since then he has as recitalist and orchestral soloist in major venues and has been a featured artist-in-residence on NPR’s Performance Today. Denk has participated in many premieres, including Mark O’Connor’s Fiddle Sonata (with the composer on fiddle) at the Library of Congress, Leon Kirchner’s Duo No. 2, Ned Rorem’s "The Unquestioned Answer," Jake Heggie’s Cut Time with the Eos Orchestra, Alternating Current (written for him by Kevin Puts) and Libby Larsen’s Collage: Boogie with the American-Soviet Youth Orchestra and Zubin Mehta.
Collaborations include concerts with the Borromeo, Brentano, Colorado and Shanghai quartets, and appearances at festivals in Seattle, Spoleto (Italy) Bridgehampton, and Marlboro, among others.
Violist Paul Neubauer's exceptional musicality and effortless playing distinguish him as one of this generation's quintessential artists. Balancing a solo career with performances as an Artist of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Neubauer at age 21 was the youngest principal string player in the New York Philharmonic's history. In November of 2005, Mr. Neubauer performed the world premiere of Purple Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra by Joan Tower with the Omaha Symphony, followed by performances with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.
Mr. Neubauer has appeared as soloist with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles and Rochester philharmonics, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the San Francisco, National, St. Louis, Dallas, Indianapolis, Puerto Rico and Cincinnati symphonies, the Bavarian State Radio Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Hungarian Radio Orchestra, the Orchester der Beethovenhalle Bonn. A list of his collaborative chamber projects would include partnerships with such colleagues as Andre Watts and Vladimir Feltsman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; with Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis at London's Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Hall's; and with Pinchas Zukerman, James Galway, Vladimir Spivakov and Alicia de Larrocha at the Mostly Mozart Festival. He has also collaborated with the Emerson, Juilliard, Cleveland and Fine Arts Quartets.
In the 2007-8 season violinist Joshua Bell released the world premiere recording of John Corigliano's The Red Violin Concerto, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop. That year he won the coveted Avery Fisher Prize, and was appointed to the faculty of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music as a senior lecturer.
Recent appearances include festival performances at Tanglewood, Verbier, and Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center, a European tour with Kurt Masur and the Orchestre National de France, as well as appearances with the Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Chicago Symphony, the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra and the Tonhalle-Orchester. In December he was the guest soloist with Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic at the annual New Year’s Eve Gala at Lincoln Center. A recital tour with Jeremy Denk takes the pair to Europe and the U.S., including The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Bell will also tour Europe as a guest soloist with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Today he is equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra leader and his restless curiosity and multifaceted musical interests have taken him in exciting new directions, that has earned him the rare title of “classical music superstar.” Bell enjoys chamber music collaborations with artists such as Pamela Frank, Steven Isserlis and Edgar Meyer as well as occasional collaborations with artists outside the classical arena, having shared the stage with Josh Groban, James Taylor and Sting. “Bell,” Gramophone stated simply, “is dazzling.”
Bell's impressive discography includes concerti by Beethoven and Mendelssohn (both featuring his own cadenzas), and Sibelius and Goldmark, as well as the Grammy Award winning Nicholas Maw concerto. His Gershwin Fantasy premiered a new work for violin and orchestra based on themes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Its success led to an all-Bernstein recording (also a Grammy nominee) that included the premiere of the West Side Story Suite as well as a new recording of the composer’s Serenade. Bell's collaborative projects include a children's album with Wynton Marsalis, Listen to the Storyteller and Bela Fleck’s Grammy Award-winning Perpetual Motion. He has twice performed on the Grammy Awards telecast in recent years, performing music from Short Trip Home and West Side Story Suite.
Violinist Cho-Liang Lin's stellar career has included appearances with virtually every major orchestra in the world, including the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw and the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras. Born in Taiwan in 1960, he studied in Sydney and New York City, where he was a student of Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School. His recordings- featuring partners including Yefim Bronfman, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin and Michael Tilson Thomas, have been critcially acclaimed- winning several Grammy nominations and Gramophone's Record of the Year award. Lin is a strong champion of new music, both as a performer and a presenter; he is artistic director of the La Jolla SummerFest series. He has premiered works by Tan Dun, Joel Hoffman, Christopher Rouse, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Elie Siegmeister, George Tsontakis, George Walker and Chen Yi, with notable recordings of Aaron Jay Kernis' Concerto for Violin and Guitar, with Sharon Isbin, and concertos by Chen Yi and Christopher Rouse.
A forthcoming Naxos recording (winter, 2008) will feature Bright Sheng's "Three Fantasies for Violin and Piano," a co-commission of the Library of Congress and the La Jolla Music Society.
Lin is a member of the faculty at the Juilliard School of Music and at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.
Pianist André-Michel Schub has given solo recitals recently in Washington, D.C. and in Phoenix, as well as joint recitals with violinist Cho-Liang Lin, and trio concerts with David Shifrin and Ani Kavafian. He is currently engaged in a special Mozart recording project to commemorate the 10th season of the Virginia Arts Festival, where he has been artistic director of the chamber music series since 1997.
Schub appears frequently as guest artist with Mostly Mozart, Tanglewood, Ravinia and Blossom festivals. He has performed with major orchestras, including the Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, St. Louis and Cleveland and Philadelphia symphony orchestras and the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics and the Royal Concertgebouw. He is an artist of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Notes on the program
Schumann Piano Quartet Op. 47
1842 has been called Schumann’s “chamber music year”: he composed the three quartets of op.41, the Piano Quintet, op. 44, the Piano Quartet, op. 47, and the Phantasiestücke for piano, violin, and cello, op. 88. The year also saw the first marital crisis of the Schumanns, caused by a tension inherent in the union itself.
On the one hand, Clara’s reputation as a performer surpassed that of her husband’s. She clearly had no intention of giving up her career after marriage; in fact, she gave concerts the week before their wedding. Schumann, however, expected her to be first and foremost a wife and a mother. Undoubtedly, his attitude derived partly from the fact that he could no longer play the piano, his right hand having been permanently crippled. It also did not help that Clara programmed only few of his works and infrequently at that.
On the other hand, they complemented each other’s creativity. Schumann mentored Clara in the works of the great masters, helping her become the preeminent woman pianist of her time. And as her husband’s critic, Clara gave Schumann constant advice, encouragement, and support in writing works of diverse genres and proportions that established him as a major composer in Europe.
But the innate tension went deeper: their temperaments were polar opposites. Schumann needed privacy and quiet for composing, while Clara as a performer thrived on the approbation of a wide audience that crossed geographic boundaries.
In February 1842, Clara embarked on a tour of northern Germany, accompanied by a reluctant husband, who, apparently anticipating the tour, wrote in a diary entry in late January that he was feeling sick and melancholic-a predicament that seemed to arise every time the possibility of a tour presented itself. When the couple arrived in Hamburg in early March, Schumann had become so horribly ill and that he decided to return to Leipzig. What precipitated his departure, however, was the indignity he felt at having been snubbed by the officials of Oldenburg, who did not invite him to a reception after Clara’s concert on February 25. Her decision to attend without him further fueled his indignation.
Back in Leipzig he immersed himself in writing contrapuntal exercises and in a serious study of the string quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. After Clara returned from her tour on April 25, they both explored quartet scores at the piano. What followed was a period of intense work: in June and July, Schumann composed the three quartets of op. 41; in August he started the Piano Quintet, finishing it in mid-October, then spent most of November writing its companion piece, the Piano Quartet, in the same key of E-flat Major; and by the third day after Christmas, he completed the Phantasiestücke, op. 88, chronologically his first piano trio. All this effort drove him to the edge of a mental breakdown, and consistent with his manic-depressive pattern, his creative output and mental health steadily declined until 1844, when he plunged into severe depression that lasted throughout the year-a period during which nothing was composed.
-Tomas C. Hernandez, Music Division
Mozart Violin Sonata K. 379
The early classical period was one of remarkable transition for the genre of the sonata for violin and piano. Some composers chose to look backward to the Baroque and used the keyboard alternately as an accompanying continuo instrument or as a combination of melody instrument and supporting bass. After 1750, however, more and more composers throughout Europe cultivated what is referred to as the “accompanied sonata,” a clavier sonata with ad libitum or obbligato accompaniment. The immense popularity of this genre in the late 18th century was sudden and widespread. (Attesting to this is the fact that the Library of Congress holds a rich collection of no less than 350 sets of accompanied sonatas from this period!)
Mozart brought the genre to its peak during the classical period, composing examples of the accompanied sonata throughout his creative life, 26 in all. It was also Mozart who, over the course of his career, was credited with the restoration of balance between the two instruments and the eventual creation of a true dialogue between them. Featured in this broadcast is Mozart's unique K. 379 Sonata in G Major, completed in April 1781, whose genesis is nothing less than breathtaking.
The period between the spring of 1781 and the autumn of 1782 has been identified by Mozart scholars as the most crucial one in Mozart’s career. From his moment of arrival in Vienna on March 16, 1781, Mozart’s highest priority was to make his musical mark on the capital city. Despite the speed at which he composed, many of the works from that period exhibit a heightened imagination, bold experimentation, and, in the case of sonata K. 379, his uncanny ability to seize an opportunity to show off both his compositional and his performing skills.
Perhaps the most impressive characteristic of the K. 379 sonata is its uniqueness-in its actual composition, in the physical appearance of its surviving manuscript, and ultimately, in the provenance of that document. On April 8, 1781, Mozart wrote his father Leopold: “Today we had a concert, where three of my compositions were performed-new ones, of course; a Rondo for a concerto for Brunetti; a sonata with violin accompaniment for myself, which I composed last night between eleven and twelve (but in order to be able to finish it, I only wrote out the violin accompaniment for Brunetti and retained my own part in my head); and then a work for Ceccarelli… .”
The first amazing aspect here is Mozart’s casual claim to have completed the sonata (K. 379) within one hour. The second is Mozart’s extraordinary feat of memory, considering the dramatic scale of the sonata in question. (Three years later a similar circumstance would arise in the presence of the Emperor at the first performance of the violin sonata, K. 454. Joseph reportedly observed him pretending to read the piano part from what appeared to be a blank page.)
The holograph manuscript of K. 379, held in the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation collection at the Library of Congress, serves as documentary evidence to the story related above. Unlike most of Mozart’s scores, this manuscript is uncharacteristically messy, utilizing two different paper types, reordering sections of the musical content, notating some passages in brown ink, others in an almost black ink, and then some with two layers of ink - one superimposed on the other. Musicologist Robert Riggs proposed the following compositional time-line based on evidence contained in the sonata’s autograph: Under severe time constraints, Mozart prepared a single score that served both performers. First, in a light brown ink, he wrote out as much of the sonata as time permitted, and necessity dictated, in order to perform it. At a later time, using a darker ink, he completed the sonata by (1) writing in the missing piano parts, (2) clarifying lightly or partially notated passages (hence, the double layers), and (3) writing out and appending the final folio containing the mentally conceived and memorized piano part for the final variation movement.
How the Library acquired the manuscript One final enigma associated with the K. 379 manuscript entails the purple accession stamps of the Austrian National Library of Vienna prominently located on the front and back pages of the manuscript along with a rectangular black stamp containing the inscription S.M. No. 19597. These stamps, along with several less obtrusive markings, have motivated all who view the autograph to ask: Where did this manuscript come from?
Various sources confirm that for over 125 years, the manuscript was in the possession of [the family of] Johann Anton André (1775-1842), composer, music publisher, and purchaser of Mozart’s Nachlass from the composer’s widow in 1800. The last vestiges of the Nachlass, including the K. 379 manuscript, were sold at auction by André’s heirs in 1929 and 1932 via the Berlin antiquarian Leo Liepmannssohn. Austrian industrialist Oscar Bondy and his wife, Elizabeth Anna, added this treasure to their extensive collections of manuscripts, paintings, and pre-1700 works of art.
Tragically, their collections were targeted and consequently confiscated by the Nazis in 1938. The Bondy family's paintings were reportedly stored in the salt mines at Linz, while the music manuscripts were incorporated into the Musiksammlung of the Austrian National Library. The Bondy family managed to escape Austria, first traveling to Switzerland and then on to New York where Oscar Bondy died in 1944. His widow and other family members were reasonably successful in their struggle for legal restitution of their collection after the war; on 18 June 1947, the Austrian government returned the music manuscripts held in their libraries to their rightful owners.
This story concludes in 1949, when Mrs. Bondy sold six music manuscripts to Gertrude Clarke Whittall: three chamber works by Johannes Brahms; a string quartet by Joseph Haydn; and two violin sonatas- op. 137, no. 2 by Schubert and K. 379 by Mozart. Once again, through the generous Whittal donations, the collections of the Music Division became immeasurably richer.
-Susan J. Clermont, Music Division, Library of Congress