Haydn & Jazz from Mads – February 20, 2015

Samuel Barber (1910-1981): Symphony No. 1, Op. 9

“Give me a place to live in the country and a peaceful room with a piano in which to work, and I ask for nothing more,” said Barber after graduating from the Curtis Institute. The Institute’s founder, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, promptly invited him to spend the summer of 1935 at her estate near Rockport, Maine, and there he began his First Symphony. While there he also learned that he had won the American Prix de Rome, which meant $2500 and free living quarters in Rome. He sailed for Italy in August, taking his unfinished score with him.

By November of 1936 Barber had completed the Symphony. It was introduced by Bernardino Molinari and the Augusteo Orchestra on December 13, 1936. The following year Artur Rodzinski conducted the American premiere with the Cleveland Orchestra and later performed the work at the Salzburg Festival. In 1942 Barber revised the Symphony and this version was first played by Bruno Walter and the New York Philharmonic on February 18, 1944.

The Symphony is in one large movement, but with four distinct sections. Barber provided his own analysis: “The form is a synthetic treatment of the four-movement classical symphony. It is based on three themes of the initial section, which retain throughout the work their fundamental character. It opens with the usual exposition of a main theme, a more lyrical second theme, and a closing theme. After a brief development of the three themes, instead of the customary recapitulation, the first theme, in diminution, forms the basis of the scherzo section. The second theme (oboe over muted strings) then appears in augmentation….An intense crescendo introduces the finale, which is a short passacaglia based on the first theme (introduced by the cellos and double basses), over which, together with figures from other themes, the closing theme is woven, thus serving as a recapitulation for the entire symphony.”

~ Notes by Charley Samson, copyright 2015.

Mads Tolling (b. 1980): Begejstring (Excitement) 

“Begejstring” is a Danish word which when translated to English means excitement, enthusiasm, gusto, and passion.  I have entitled my composition Begejstring because it encompasses who I am, what I am, and where I am in this moment, with my music and my evolving growth as an artist.  Having grown up in Copenhagen, my Danish heritage and background is inherent to my perspective as a musician and a composer, and provides me with the foundation from which I continue to expand my landscape and horizons.  The excitement I felt when I wrote my first piece in high school for my band was pivotal.  The expression of something so personal, the connection with friends and band mates, and ultimately the audience, was an emotional epiphany.  Since that time, I have had extraordinary opportunities to continue that sharing process while challenging myself along the way by writing for string quartets, various chamber music groups, jazz combos and even Big Band.  Composing for symphony is yet another challenge, which I have embraced with Begejstring.  Integrating groove-based music with jazz, fiddle styles, and improvisation, fusing it with sixty-seven other musicians, and communicating it all to an audience is a fresh adventure for me.  I am appreciative of everyone who is taking this journey with me, and look forward to the discovery of a new destination.

Movement I, “Muligheder” (Possibilities)

The possibilities are endless in music: where to go, how long to stay, what to say…. and we, the musicians, decide.

This movement highlights different instrument groups of the symphony and juxtaposes groove-based ostinatos in the heavy brass with chamber music-like fugues of the string quartet. It reaches its climax with a challenge between violin and trumpet, gradually ascending towards the end.

Movement II, “Forståelse” (Understanding)

Understanding why we play music, what it is we have to say, and who we are as musicians and artists:  these questions can only be answered over a lifetime. I would like to thank my mentors, who have helped me find my way to a deeper understanding of music, and of myself. Thanks to Stanley Clarke, Jean-Luc Ponty, members of the Turtle Island Quartet, and my Mom and Dad, who first introduced me to jazz listening to a cassette tape of Miles Davis.

The second movement highlights the simplicity of a beautiful melody and its unhurried, intimate message of calm, serenity, and allure. The intro’s moaning blues lines in clarinet and violin plant the seed for things to come.

Movement III, “Jubel” (Jubilation)

Sometimes as a musician, we reach a level of joy when playing that words cannot describe. Those are rare moments to come by, to be cherished even more because of their fleeting occurrences.

The third movement is a bit of a fiddle hoedown that crosses into a boogie-woogie blues.  All men on deck, senses heightened, watch out!

“Begejstring” is dedicated to all those who have made me feel that fervor, zeal, and excitement when sharing music on this odyssey I have been on ever since I started playing the violin at six years old.

Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809): Mass in C major, Hob. XXII:9 (Missa in tempore belli: Mass in Time of War)

The Missa in tempore belli (Mass in Time of War) is sometimes called the Paukenmesse (Kettledrum Mass), because of the timpani in the scoring. It was Haydn himself, who wrote “Missa in tempore belli” at the head of the score in August, 1796.

Austria at the time was mobilizing for war with France, having suffered humiliating defeats in Italy and southern Germany. Indeed, Napoleon’s armies were threatening to invade Vienna. The Mass was first performed in the Piarist Church of Maria Treu in Vienna on December 26, 1796.

In his liner notes to the Richard Hickox recording, David Wyn Jones writes: “‘In tempore belli’ first suggests itself, very subtly, in the Benedictus. Traditionally, the text of this movement was set indulgently, with an expansive, lyrical style and an atmosphere that was gently ecstatic. Here, however, the opening orchestral introduction in C minor, with its short phrases leading to a powerful climax, suggests an entirely different mood; when the four solo voices enter it is not with expansive melodies but with a comparatively short motif, nervously shared between all four voices. Later, the music turns to C major, yet the memory of the unsettling C minor remains.

“In the following Agnus Dei the menace is more explicit; the three traditional statements of the prayer are undermined by ominous drumbeats and insistent fanfares on wind instruments.” Haydn said the drumbeats should sound “as if one heard the enemy approaching in the distance.”

Jones continues: “The opening movements of the mass–Kyrie, Gloria, Credo and Sanctus–provide a more conventional background to the ‘tempore belli’, but one that is informed with the full range of techniques and emotions typical of Haydn’s six late masses: easy integration of soloists and chorus, simple melodies as well as intricate fugues, and great vitality alongside sections of exquisite beauty.”

~ Notes by Charley Samson, copyright 2015.