The Woods Hole Recorder Consort. Shown left to right are Jan Elliott, Dorene Sykes, Wendell Bishop, Helen Trainor, Gisela Tillier, Barbara Blair. (Bishop and Trainor will not be performing.) Photo credit: Dorene Sykes
The Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra, under the direction of John Yankee, will present their Spring Musicale on Sunday, May 15, at 3 PM at the Cape Cod Conservatory, 60 Highfield Drive, in Falmouth.
Members and friends of the orchestra will present a variety of short early music, classical and contemporary chamber music works.
Selections from “The Art of the Fugue” (“Die Kunst der Fuge”) by Johann Sebastian Bach will be performed by Laura Sonnichsen, first violin; Fritz Sonnichsen, second violin; Robin Kruse, viola; and Brian Kruse, cello. The 14 fugues and four canons in D minor in the collection are for four voices, though no instrumentation was specified by Bach, and the works have been played by string and wind quartets, solo keyboardists, as well as orchestras.
“’Die Kunst der Fuge’ is considered one of the monuments of Western music,” said Fritz Sonnichsen. “The work was not completed at the time of Bach’s death in 1750; it ends abruptly, the last few notes spelling out the name ‘B A C H.” H is the German representation of B natural.”
The quartet will perform two fugues and a chorale prelude. “As we are using modern instruments, we are taking liberties by combining a stiff, vibrato-free organ-like interpretation with a more modern vibrato style in the supporting counter lines,” said Sonnichsen.
Jordan Mora, Carol Rizzoli, Robert Knapp, and Winn Johnson, first and second violin, viola, and cello, respectively, will play the Menuetto and Allegro Vivace movements from Mozart’s String Quartet in G Major, K. 387. Nicknamed the “Spring” quartet, it was composed in 1782. It was the first of Mozart’s “Haydn Quartets,” written in honor of composer Joseph Haydn, who is considered the father of the string quartet.
Upon hearing several of the “Haydn Quartets,” Haydn said to Mozart’s father, Leopold, “Before God and as an honest man, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name. He has taste and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of composition.”
The Sonnichsen/Kruse quartet will perform the first movement, Adagio-Allegro, from another of Mozart’s Haydn Quartets: No. 19 in C Major (K 465). Completed in 1785, it was nicknamed “Dissonance” because of its unusual slow introduction. The cello begins with quiet, but ominous, repeated Cs, and is joined successively by the viola, second violin, and first violin, each adding a somewhat discordant note.
“This is one of Mozart’s most challenging quartets,” said Laura Sonnichsen. “We have to be as precise as possible to make it sound as Mozart wrote it. It was very enjoyable to practice this piece with my fellow players—we each have difficult parts to play, and making it cohesive and beautiful is a challenge and a pleasure at the same time.”
Alison Heleen will perform Willson Osborne’s “Rhapsody for Clarinet,” a piece for unaccompanied B-flat clarinet. The piece was originally written for bassoon but was transcribed for clarinet shortly afterward. “With its wide variety of themes, from peaceful to chaotic, and the use of fortes and pianos, the Rhapsody has become one of my favorite works for clarinet,” said Heleen.
The Woods Hole Recorder Consort will perform a variety of short pieces composed in the 14th to the 20th centuries. These include a medieval canon by Guillaume de Machaut, a baroque Fantasia by Henry Purcell and two modern pieces: “Sambuca” by 20th c. composer Hans Ulrich Staeps, and “Tango Für Elise,” by Paul Leenhouts (b. 1957), written in the style of Beethoven.
The Purcell Fantasia, incorporating many flavors and styles from the period, was originally written for viol consort, bowed instruments with a lower pitch. Recorder players aim to translate one texture to another while keeping the rich blended sound.
The Woods Hole Recorder Consort was founded in the 1980s by Patricia C. Brown, a lifelong musician and teacher in Falmouth to whom numerous local groups owe their origin. Present coach Jan Elliott learned from Ms. Brown as a child, and remembers performing “Sambuca” with an after-school recorder group. “Sambuca was upbeat and exciting, with challenging harmonies and multiple meters. It’s still satisfying to play,” she said.
Members performing at the Musicale are: Elliott, Barbara Blair, Dorene Sykes and Gisela Tillier, all of Falmouth.
Melanie Hayn, English horn; Lorrie Hassan, flute; Cathy DePasqua-Egan and Alison Heleen, both playing clarinet; and Dave Prentice, bassoon, will perform Andante No. 1 by Anton Reicha (1770-1836). The piece is part of a set of three Andantes and Adagios Reicha wrote for wind quintet, with English horn instead of oboe.
Reicha, a contemporary and lifelong friend of Beethoven, was known for his 24 woodwind quintets, a genre he claimed to have invented and did much to formalize.
“The piece has many of the qualities of Reicha’s other works—a trading off of melodic lines among members of the group, interesting variations of the melody worked into the harmonic lines, and his signature experimentation of the role each instrument plays in a group,” said Hayn. “At the same time, it is unique in that it has extended virtuoso passages for English horn, a role the instrument seldom gets to play in chamber music.”
Most of Reicha’s music was not published or performed during his lifetime, as he had an aversion to seeking performances, considering his time better spent at his desk composing.
Flutist Richard Payne and clarinetist Cathy DiPasqua-Egan will perform “Three Romances,” written by contemporary composer Daniel Dorf in 2006. “Cathy and I enjoy the quirky rhythms and good melodies,” said Payne.
Dorf has described the three movements: “Despite the many long notes, ‘Languid’ is an allegro, and despite the many 8ths and 16ths, ‘Sultry’ is most effective when played as a slow steamy bump-and-grind song. The ‘Frisky’ finale may be played as fast as remains comfortable.”
Eland Creade will play two works he arranged for classical guitar. “Inventive Suite in D” includes an Allemande from a Bach suite in D as an introduction to what Creade describes as “my pseudo-composition, the complement in the minor key to a much-loved cello prelude.” Declining to name the original piece, Creade said, “Listeners will realize, with a gentle surprise, that familiar music can be presented in alternative ways.
Creade will also perform his arrangement of “Romanza de Amor,” a traditional Spanish piece also known as “Spanish Ballad.” “I added a mid-register contrapuntal melody, and I changed the rhythm a bit,” said Creade, “to help this wonderful ‘every-player-owns-it’ piece of music stay
Tickets are available at the door. Admission is by donation and the suggested donation is $15 for adults and $5 for children. For more information about the musicale and other activities of the Falmouth Chamber Players Orchestra, visit famouthchamberplayers.org.