Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival Ensemble:
Michael Barenboim, violin
Mohamed Hiber, violin
Gerard Caussé, viola
Sara Ferrandez, viola
Astrig Siranossian, cello
Ivan Karizna, cello
Nabil Shehata, double bass
Pablo Barragán, clarinet
Elena Bashkirova, piano
Of dogs and nightingales. Elena Bashkirova (piano) and her Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival Ensemble present works by Rossini and Brahms.—
Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868):
Sonata No. 3 a Quattro for 2 violins, violoncello and double bass
Johannes Brahms (1833–1897):
Trio in a minor for piano, clarinet and violoncello, op. 114
String Sextet No. 2 in G major, op. 36
If you’re setting out from Italian-speaking Canton Ticino, you can reach Andermatt by Swiss Postbus over the Gotthard Pass. And if you listen carefully as you drive through the alpine mountain world, you’ll hear the famous horn signal of the Postbus that has become a kind of acoustic trademark of Switzerland – that’s also why the horn is removed when old busses are sold off to people abroad. This sequence of notes – basically just a simple triad – is in fact taken from the Overture to Gioachino Rossini’s opera “Guillaume Tell”, whose action is set in Canton Uri and relates the liberation struggle of the Swiss under the legendary figure of William Tell.
Rossini is best known for the 39 operas that he composed in just under 20 years. In our first chamber music concert with the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival Ensemble under the direction of Elena Bashkirova, you can also hear one of Rossini’s six String Sonatas, which are among the very few instrumental works that he wrote until he returned to instrumental composition in his late years. He composed these Sonatas at the age of just 12, at the time that he began taking composition lessons. Many years later, he wrote on his manuscript: “Six ghastly sonatas”. This merciless self-assessment is difficult for us to comprehend, because these works demonstrate perfect craftsmanship while exuding a melodious charm that is full of wit, originality and youthful zest.
Rossini complained about the musicians who performed these early sonatas, claiming that they had played “like dogs”, though he by no means excluded himself (he had played the second violin), writing that “by God, I was not the least doglike among them”. By contrast, when Johannes Brahms wrote his four late works for clarinet, he used a much friendlier animal comparison to describe the musician who played them: their dedicatee, the clarinettist Richard Mühlefeld, was in Brahms’s opinion the “nightingale of the orchestra”. It was he who prompted Brahms in 1891 to abandon his hitherto resolution to cease composing after his String Quintet op. 111. Inspired by Mühlfeld’s clarinet playing, Brahms composed this Piano Trio in a minor that is today considered prototypical for the composer’s late style: “The music appears as if bathed in a mellow light, and a serenity and calmness prevail that seem like a gentle farewell to the world”. This concert will be rounded off with Brahms’s Second String Sextet, op. 36, which was one of the first chamber music works for strings that he published.
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