Philadelphia Story

 

Friday, April 8, 2011, Christ Church, Cambridge
Sunday, April 10, 2011, First Unitarian Church, Worcester

Symphony in Bb Major, H I:85 ............ Joseph Haydn  (1732-1809)
    Adagio-Vivace    
   

Sonata in D Major for flute (originally violin) and fortepiano, Benton 5765 ............ Iganz Pleyel (1757-1831)
    Allegro • Andante • Allegro   
   

Selections from Blake’s Collection of Duets for two flutes, clarinets, or violins ............ William Shield (1748-1829)

    Swift as Time (Allegretto-Allegro moderato)
    Siciliana (Andantino)        Jacob Wragg (dates unknown)
    Allegro con spirito    William Shield
   
Sonata no. 4 in D Major for cello and continuo ............ Raynor Taylor (1747-1825)
    Allegro • Andante • Allegro moderato  

Intermission

Sonata in Eb Major for violin and fortepiano, op. 2, no. 6 ............ Raynor Taylor
    Andante maestoso pomposo
    Largo e sostenuto
    Giga. Con vivace ma non troppo
           

Rondo in G Major for flute and fortepiano ............ Giacomo Gotifredo Ferrari (1763-1842)
       
   

Piano Trio in A Major, op. 4, no. 5 ............ John Christopher Moller (1755-1803)
    Allegro • Tempo di menuetto  

Symphony in Bb Major, H I:85 ............ Haydn
    Finale (Allegro)

Suzanne Stumpf, flute; Sarah Darling, violin
Daniel Ryan, cello; Michael Bahmann, fortepiano


 Program Notes

As America’s largest city and first capital, late 18th-century Philadelphia boasted a lively musical scene during the early Federal period. Residents of the city could enjoy a wide variety of public concerts, English opera, church music, and domestic music-making. The city’s active concert life was developed and promoted primarily by Alexander Reinagle, Benjamin Carr, Raynor Taylor, John Christopher Moller, Henri Capron, and J. George Schetky. These musicians organized and performed in the public concerts that were, along with theatrical performances, the pillars of the cultural life of the city.

Public concerts during the Federal era commonly included a mixture of chamber and orchestral works, frequently bookended by symphony movements. In keeping with this practice, our program begins and ends with selections from Haydn’s Symphony no. 85. This work was programmed on Philadelphia’s City Concerts subscription series in December 1792, a series that was organized by Reinagle, Moller, and Capron. This work, one of Haydn’s “Paris” symphonies, become known as La reine (the queen) because Marie Antoinette declared it her favorite. The chamber arrangement of this work presented on this program was made by Ludwig Wenzel Lachnith, a Bohemian composer and horn player who was active in Paris in the 1780s. It is not known whether this particular arrangement was ever performed in America, but it is certainly characteristic of this common practice that made orchestral works more widely accessible.

Benjamin Carr was a singer, keyboard player, composer, and music publisher. He was involved in so many aspects of the city’s musical life that he has been referred to at the “Father of Philadelphia music.” He edited and printed a wide range of vocal and instrumental works aimed principally for the market of amateur musicians. From 1800-1804 he published a periodical collection of vocal and instrumental works entitled Musical Journal. This collection was comprised of selections from the latest vocal and instrumental works imported from Europe as well as his own compositions and those of his Philadelphia colleagues. The sonata for flute and fortepiano by Pleyel is taken from this collection. Originally scored for violin and fortepiano, Carr adapted the violin part to fit the compass of the flute. In this work, the flute is truly the accompanist to the piano, reinforcing the dramatic and emotional content. Its lighthearted and playful outer movements are intersected by a dark middle movement, evocative of “Sturm und Drang” style.

Another Carr publication is the Rondo for flute and fortepiano by Giacomo Gotifredo Ferrari. Italian by birth, Ferrari spent most of his career in Great Britain, where he became renowned as a singing teacher. His Rondo is a delightful romp that offers listeners an example of the attractive music that was performed in domestic settings at the time.

Another important Philadelphia publisher was George E. Blake, who at his peak was the most prolific music publisher in America. The duets from Blake’s collection are perfect examples of pieces intended for domestic music-making. The collection contains 33 short pieces of varying character by numerous composers, including Pleyel, Mozart, and William Shield, who was a British composer known for his comic operas and the use of folk melodies in them. The drama and character of the Shield duos in Blake’s collection lead one to surmise that they are taken from his theatrical works. A large number of the works in Blake’s collection are by Jacob Wragg, author of a very popular flute method book that was released in over 40 editions between 1792 and 1859. The sweet siciliana we have included in this set features a brief, written-out double cadenza.

Raynor Taylor made a name for himself in England as composer and music director at Sadler’s Wells Theater in London. He came to America in 1792 and settled in Philadelphia where he was very active as a composer, performer, and concert organizer specializing in light musical entertainments. Of the hundreds of works he is known to have composed, very few survive. Among them is a set of six cello sonatas. These works are thought to have been written in England between 1772-1783, but the autograph manuscript was penned on paper milled in Pennsylvania around 1800. The fourth sonata amply shows Taylor’s skill and maturity as a composer as well as his command of idiomatic writing for the cello. The outer movements are composed in an exuberant character, making frequent use of chords. The plaintive slow movement shows Taylor’s sensitivity to the sonority of the cello.

Taylor’s violin sonatas were composed during his time in England and published in London in 1781. He brought these works to Philadelphia with him and had the first of the set published there, with unfulfilled plans to publish the others. Of the six, the final sonata is the most adventurous. The first movement is almost orchestral in its scope, with broadly unfolding thematic material, daring modulations, and virtuosic figuration in the piano part, including frequent hand crossings. The somber, atmospheric slow movement includes a muted violin part and highly dramatic dynamic contrasts.

John Christopher Moller was a German native who lived in London from c. 1775-1785 where his major works were published. Upon his immigration to the U. S. around 1790, Moller quickly became prominent in the musical life of Philadelphia, most notably as co-manager (with Alexander Reinagle) of the City Concerts, performing as a harpsichordist, pianist, and violist. Moller’s Piano Trio in A Major is an inventive work in the two movement format in vogue at the time. Its use of frequent dynamic contrasts and crescendos point to a probable influence of the composers of the Mannheim School

©Daniel Ryan and Suzanne Stumpf