From the Romantic Salon

Friday, February 5, First Parish, Wayland
Saturday, February 6, Harvard Epworth Church, Cambridge

Rondo in A Major, op. 28, no. III for guitar              Francesco Molino (1775–1847)

Variations for flute and guitar                                            I. A. Preis (dates unknown)

Serenade in C Major for viola, cello, and guitar         Nicolò Paganini (1782-1840)
    Allegro spirituoso   
    Minuetto (Andantino, amorosamente)
    Adagio (Unione e con anima)
    Rondò (Canzonetta Genovese)
    Andantino (alla Polacca)

Intermission

Nocturne no. 2 for cello and guitar                      Friedrich Burgmüller (1806-1874)
    Adagio cantabile   

Notturno D. 96 for flute, viola, cello, and guitar          Wenzel Matiegka (1773-1830)
    Allegro moderato                                      arranged by Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
    Menuetto
    Lento e patetico
    Zingara (Andantino)
    Thema [con variazioni]

Olav Chris Henriksen, guitar
Suzanne Stumpf, flute
Sarah Darling, viola
 Daniel Ryan, cello
 


Program notes

This program offers a sampling o f the vast and varied repertoire of Romantic chamber music with guitar. Although the guitar was used during the Renaissance and Baroque eras as a solo and continuo instrument, its popularity blossomed in the early 19th century as an instrument for both amateurs and professional virtuosos. This was, in part, brought about by changes in the instrument’s form from a small instrument strung in four-or-five courses often played with a strumming technique to a larger six-string form that increased its range and contrapuntal capabilities. The cities of Paris, Vienna, and London were centers of popularity for the guitar with virtuosos such as Fernando Sor, Ferdinando Carulli, Mauro Giuliani, and Francesco Molino prolifically composing and performing.

Molino played guitar, violin and viola. Early in his life, he traveled around Europe, and it is known that in 1814 he was appointed as a violinist at the Royal Chapel of Torino, Italy. Finally in 1819, he settled in Paris as a guitarist and teacher. “Trois Rondeaux Brillantes,” op. 28, was published ca. 1810, while he was in Leipzig.

Like Molino, many early 19th century guitar virtuosos were also accomplished performers on other instruments. The most famous of these multi-instrumentalists is Nicolò Paganini. In addition to being one of the world’s most accomplished violin virtuosos, Paganini was a fine guitarist who for a time actually abandoned the violin to focus on guitar. Most of his works with guitar were composed in Italy prior to 1820. The Serenade in C Major was composed in 1808 for the marriage of his sister Dominica, and is one of only a few works he wrote featuring the viola. It is a spirited trio that reflects the occasion for which it was composed. All the movements of the piece can be seen to serve a literal or allegorical wedding function—the first movement a spirited prelude, the second movement a first dance of the wedding couple, the Adagio an intimate romance, the Rondò a wedding song from the Paganini family’s home town, and the Polacca a processional dance. Paganini’s inclusion of movement designations such as amorosamente (lovingly), Unione e con anima (joined, and with spirit), and the frequent duet writing in thirds and sixths between the viola and cello reinforce the wedding theme.

A large portion of published works intended for the enjoyment of musical amateurs was composed in lighter musical forms such as variations, nocturnes, romances, and dances. The works by I. A. Preis and Friedrich Burgmüller included on this program are in this more ephemeral vein. The variations by Preis are written in a colorful, almost folkloric style intended to capture an array of moods through its changes of figuration. The work was published in Hamburg in the first third of the 19th century. Despite diligent research by the performers, no information about the composer has yet been found. The Nocturne for cello and guitar by Burgmüller is from a set of three published in Mainz. It is the most expressive and introspective of the set by a composer known for his ballet music and piano works for children.

A manuscript in Schubert’s handwriting of the Notturno for flute, guitar, viola, and cello was found in an attic in a home in Zell-am-See, Austria, in 1918. The score, dated 1814, displayed a remarkable sophistication for the 17-year-old composer. Despite this and perplexing, mysterious references in the manuscript to a previous work, scholars still believed it to be a composition by Schubert. An explanation, however, to these questions was found through the discovery in 1931 of the original version of this work by Wenzel Matiegka for flute, guitar, and viola. That trio had been published in 1807. Schubert’s quartet was obviously, therefore, an arrangement.

Matiegka was a guitar virtuoso of Czech descent who settled in Vienna around 1800, participated in Viennese amateur music circles, and, by 1809, had solo guitar sonatas issued by the best Viennese publishers. His op. 21 Notturno contains a colorful variety of movement types, including an unusually structured sonata form in the first movement, a rhapsodic, Spanish-flavored Lento patetico, and a fiery Gypsy Zingara. His selection of flute, guitar, and viola for instrumentation was not atypical for the period—many other minor composers also wrote for this combination.

In creating an arrangement of this work that included cello, Schubert greatly enhanced the palette of textures and colors for the piece. The original melodic activity in the viola part was redistributed between the viola and cello. His addition of doublings and some new accompanimental material produces a richer, fuller ensemble presence. Schubert also composed two new sections for the work: a second trio to the minuet, and a spectacular variation for the cello in the final movement. (This is the only part of the work in which the guitar is tacet.)

© Daniel Ryan, Suzanne Stumpf, and Olav Chris Henriksen