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Drew Petersen | Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players 2pm & 7:30pm

Starting on November 20, 2023 2:00 pm
Categories: PianoFest
Tags: Classical

Drew Petersen | Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players

Monday, November 20, 2023
2:00 pm & 7:30 pm (ET)

Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
152 West 66th Street (west of Broadway)


Niels GADE  Fantasiestücke Op. 43 ▪ 1864
  ~ impressive rhapsodies for clarinet and piano by Denmark’s most prominent 19th century composer, whose work was championed by Mendelssohn, who, in turn, was adored by and influenced the Dane

Gade (1817–1890) was the most important musical figure in Danish music and a major influence in Scandinavia. He was Mendelssohn’s friend and succeeded him in 1847, upon his death, as conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. And it was Mendelssohn who enthusiastically performed his First Symphony in 1843 with great success. When the war between Prussia and Denmark erupted, Gade returned to Copenhagen, and in the fall of 1850 he was appointed conductor of the Musical Society, which had been languishing. Under his leadership, the Society began to flourish again. In addition, he established a permanent orchestra and choir. In regard to his compositions, Bo Marschner in the New Grove Dictionary concluded, “More than anything else…it was Gade’s individual combining of characteristic elements in contemporary music that effected his great influence on Danish musical life until the 1880s: the German Romantic musical language generally associated with Leipzig and the names of Mendelssohn and Schumann, and a certain Scandinavian coloring. The latter is not as prominent in the later compositions, as his music underwent a refining process through the influence of the Leipzig musical climate.”

Johannes VERHULST  String Quartet No. 1 in D minor Op. 6 ▪ 1839
  ~ the Dutch composer’s “handsome and effective piece” with a “lilting Adagio… Mendelssohnian Scherzo and a breathless, fiery Presto finale,” commented Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times

Verhulst (1816–1891) achieved fame in Holland, attested by his musical appointments in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Born in The Hague, he studied music theory and violin at the city’s Royal School of Music. In 1836 he met Mendelssohn, then studied with him in Leipzig in 1838, upon receiving a grant. During this time he met Schumann at his teacher’s house, and they became lifelong friends, going on walks and dining at Schumann’s table with musicians like Ferdinand Hiller, Ferdinand David, Ignaz Moscheles, and Moritz Hauptmann. Verhulst sang songs that Schumann had just composed and they played piano 4-hands together. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of Schumann and was responsible for the latter’s success in Holland. His music is influenced by Schumann and Mendelssohn.

Fanny HENSEL  4 Lieder for Piano Op. 6 ▪ between circa 1840 and 1846
  ~ 4 precious Songs Without Words

No. 1—a seductive nocturne-like song
No. 2—suggests inspiration from Mount Vesuvius spewing smoke in reddish hues, as depicted in a vignette with the musical sketch in the Hensels’s Reise-Album
No. 3—emanating a sense of wonder, the miniature gem is subtitled O Traum der Jugend, o goldner Stern (“Oh Dream of Youth, Oh Golden Star”) on the manuscript, a reference to Fanny’s son Sebastian, who had been just confirmed in 1846
No. 4—“Il saltarello Romano”—a whirling, colorful Roman dance, composed in Berlin in March 1841, based on a musical sketch written in Rome

Fanny Hensel, the sister of Felix Mendelssohn, took an extended holiday in 1839–1840 with her husband Wilhelm and their young son Sebastian. Their travels included lengthy stays in Venice, Rome, and Naples, during which Fanny wrote several pieces for voice and solo piano. After returning to Berlin, the Hensels compiled a Reise-Album—a “Travel Album” comprising Fanny’s Italian compositions written on colored paper, with vignettes drawn by Wilhelm, a court painter. It was intended as a private keepsake, a souvenir of the treasured memories of their Italian trips. Fanny’s final works for piano—Vier Lieder Op. 6—include her favorites, 2 of which were conceived in Italy. The set was published in June 1847, just weeks after her death from a stroke at age 41. The entry for 7 February 1847 in her Tagebücher (diary) reveals much satisfaction: “I cannot deny that my pleasure I take in the publication of my music, also adds to my high spirits…and it is enticing to have this manner of success begin at an age when such pleasures, for women who experience them at all, are usually at an end.” Any aspirations she once had to pursue a career as a performer and composer like that of her brother were dashed as unacceptable for women. Her father Abraham’s letter of 1820 had even stated, “for you it can and must only be an ornament, never the basis of your being and doing.” Having a handful of her works published fulfilled her lifelong dream of being considered a serious composer.

MENDELSSOHN  Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor Op. 49 ▪ 1839
  ~ Schumann, after hearing the Trio, declared it the “master trio of our time,” stating that “Mendelssohn is the Mozart of the nineteenth century, the most illuminating of musicians”

Lyrical and driven, it premiered on 1 February 1840 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with violinist Ferdinand David, cellist Franz Karl Witmann, and Mendelssohn at the piano. Program annotator James Keller deemed the Trio “as great a masterpiece as Schumann proclaimed it to be. It offers abundant, arching melodies of Italianate, bel canto inspiration, proclaimed with luxuriant sonorities, often introduced in the tenorial tones of the cello. The minor mode provides a sense of depth that can be useful reigning in Mendelssohn’s native exuberance.… As one might expect, the piano part is brilliant.… After the premiere, Mendelssohn revised the piano part somewhat, incorporating certain new keyboard tricks associated with Chopin and Liszt.”


Drew Petersen is the winner of the 2017 American Pianists Awards.

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