Britt Orchestra: Symphonic Exploration

Friday, August 4, 8 p.m. • 2017


FRANZ SCHUBERT – Allegro moderato from Symphony No. 8 in B minor
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN – Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major
CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI – Toccata from L’Orfeo
SALAMONE ROSSI (orch. By Mark Knippel) – Sinfonia Grave à 5
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
WILLIAM BYRD (orch. By Mark Knippel) – In Nomine à 5
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART – Symphony No. 35 in D Major (Haffner)

TICKETS: Reserved $49 | Lawn $25 | Child/Student Lawn $10 
GATES OPEN: @ 5:45 Early Entry | 6:00 General Public
PRE-CONCERT TALK: 7:00 p.m. in the Performance Garden

Symphonic Celebration
Program: Symphonic Exploration - Jeffrey Kahane, piano

Franz Schubert – Allegro moderato from Symphony No. 8 in B minor
Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major
Claudio Monteverdi – Toccata from L’Orfeo
Salamone Rossi (orch. By Mark Knippel) – Sinfonia Grave à 5
Johann Sebastian Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
William Byrd (orch. By Mark Knippel) – In Nomine à 5
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphony No. 35 in D Major (Haffner)

Franz Schubert (January 31, 1797 - November 19, 1828)
Allegro moderato from Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 (“Unfinished”, 1822)

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, and strings.

Though he may have been alive during the Romantic era, Franz Schubert is widely considered a Classical composer. He may have stretched the boundaries of traditional forms and harmonies from time to time, but his music largely adhered to the traditions of the Classical era. His occasionally adventurous harmonic language seems to lean toward Romanticism, but as compared to some of his peers, Schubert would be considered conservative in his musical thinking. Additionally, since his music wasn’t widely known during his lifetime, further innovations in harmony by other composers had already become the norm by the time Schubert’s music was explored in more depth.

Schubert’s output focused on vocal works, in particular the Lieder that were the best known of his works during his life. Over his nearly 32 years on this Earth, Schubert managed to create over 600 secular vocal works, in addition to sacred music and operas. The lieder were wildly popular to a close inner circle of Schubert enthusiasts, but weren’t widely known beyond that. He struggled to get works published, since publishers tended to favor composers that also had strong performing careers at that time. Regardless of the lack of notoriety during his lifetime, he still managed to compose a great deal of wonderful instrumental music, including a huge amount of solo piano and chamber music, and nine complete symphonies.

Schubert only wrote two of the traditional four movements for his eighth symphony; he had also begun sketches for the third movement Scherzo, but he never finished it. He would live for another six years beyond the completion of these two movements, and the reasons behind his abandoning the rest of the work are still unknown. Many speculate that since Schubert contracted syphilis right around the time he was composing this work, he didn’t want to “dwell in the darkness” that was his disease, and thus moved on to other projects. There is also evidence that Schubert had abandoned more than one symphony during this time period, so perhaps he was reticent to be compared to Beethoven (like virtually every other composer that lived after Beethoven), and the Unfinished is just another attempt to grapple with the great legacy of Beethoven’s symphonic works. There’s really no way to know for sure.

Regardless of the work’s origins, we are left with one of Schubert’s finest instrumental pieces. Tonight, we hear just the first movement of the Unfinished Symphony, the Allegro moderato. The cellos and basses open the work with a somewhat ominous and brooding introduction. A restless string texture leads to the first theme in the woodwinds, and one is immediately struck by the lyrical nature of the music, which shouldn’t be too surprising given Schubert’s emphasis on composing art songs. The famous second theme (some may recognize it as “This is the symphony that Schubert wrote and never finished.”) continues the lyricism in the cellos, but as the development section begins, things begin to take an unexpected turn. Dramatic outbursts of tremolos in the strings drive the music first toward the repeat, and then the development of the first three themes.

The Unfinished Symphony sounds anything but unfinished. Even though we’re missing two movements for a proper symphony, this work stands out as one of the best examples of Schubert’s instrumental writing. His adventurous yet seamless harmonic language, combined with wonderful song-like melodies and a penchant for the dramatic, all come together to create some of the most memorable music in the orchestral repertoire.


Ludwig van Beethoven (baptised December 17, 1770 - March 26, 1827)
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, op. 58 (1806)

Allegro moderato
Andante con moto
Rondo (Vivace)

Instrumentation:  1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, strings, and solo piano.

By the time Beethoven composed this work, the concerto genre was well established by his peers, predecessors, and Beethoven himself, having written three previous concerti. The form of the first movement usually goes something like this: a lengthy orchestral introduction leads to a dramatic entrance by the soloist; the orchestra and soloist have a lengthy dialog, which may feel conversational or even adversarial at times. The two come together and build toward an exciting climax, which is generally marked by a cadenza for the soloist. Then, things wind down to the finish line.

Beethoven, never one to be restricted by convention, chooses to open this work with the piano, which surely must have been a surprise to the first audience that heard the work at the premiere. The first public performance of this concerto took place on a concert that also included the first hearings of Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Choral Fantasy, and part of the Mass in C Major (that is one epic concert!).  

Following the unconventional opening, the orchestra takes up its normal role in the typical concerto form. Throughout the first movement, we hear an idea similar to the famous Fifth Symphony motive, though in much friendlier musical terms. The motive in the concerto is sweeter, and a bit longer than that of the Fifth Symphony, but the four eighth note gesture that leads to the downbeat was clearly on Beethoven’s mind as he composed these two works. Afterall, Beethoven finished the Fifth Symphony mere months after completing this work, so it would be natural for the two to share material. As with all of Beethoven’s piano concerti, the virtuosity seems casual at times, as seemingly natural outbursts of pianistic fireworks color the orchestral texture, especially as the recap begins. It is useful to remember that Beethoven wrote these concerti for himself to play, though this fourth concerto was the last he was able to perform due to the onset of his deafness.

The second movement begins with forceful declamations in the strings, all in unison/octaves. The piano responds with a much more subdued tone. This back and forth carries the movement forward, as the two begin to interject on one another. Gradually, the orchestra joins the piano in its more softened mood, with some comparing the piano’s role as akin to Orpheus, when he tames the Furies of the Underworld with music from his lyre. This, of course, makes the orchestra the Furies in this analogy, and are finally tamed as they meet the piano’s disposition. There is no evidence that Beethoven had this program in mind for the movement, but scholars as early as the 19th century have appropriated the legend of Orpheus’s journey to the underworld to describe this Andante con moto movement.

The final movement launches directly out of the final chords of the second movement, and we’re instantaneously transported to a very different kind of music; a Haydn-esque wit pervades the now jaunty mood, as the piano and orchestra have clearly come to more agreeable terms than in the second movement. The trumpets and timpani also finally make a triumphant entrance, punctuating the boisterous refrain. The scoring is lush and full, the piano’s virtuosity is on full display, and Beethoven’s mastery of symphonic forms is clearly evident in what is widely considered Beethoven’s finest achievement in the concerto genre.

Claudio Monteverdi (baptised May 15, 1567 - November 29, 1643)
Toccata from L’Orfeo (1607)

Monteverdi holds an important place in musical history as the one credited with the creation of the opera. Though he didn’t invent the idea of dramatic musical scenes and other elements of what opera looks like today, he did manage to synthesize many of these concepts into a new form that was truly fresh at the time. Monteverdi is also viewed as an important transitional figure between the Renaissance and Baroque eras. In other words, he was a true pioneer in the field during his lifetime.

This short work serves as an introduction to one of Monteverdi’s first successful operas, L’Orfeo, which depicts the Greek myth of Orpheus’s trip to the underworld in an attempt to save his lover. What we’ll hear tonight doesn’t really carry this story, as an introductory gesture such as this one likely would have served as a means to get the audience’s attention. Original instrumentation would have included sackbutts (a precursor to the trombone), cornets, harpsichord, and various string instruments only used today in the performance of Renaissance works. We have “translated” the music to a modern orchestral context, as with two others works on the program this evening.


Salamone Rossi (ca. 1570 - ca. 1630)
Sinfonia Grave à 5 (orchestrated by Mark Knippel)

Instrumentation: 1 horn, 2 trumpets, 1 bass trombone, continuo, and strings.

Much of the details of Rossi’s life are vague at best. We’re not certain when or where he was born (most guess sometime around 1570, in Mantua), nor when or where he died (his last known manuscript was signed “From Venice, 3 January 1628”, so we surmise he died shortly thereafter). We do know he was employed at the Mantuan court as a composer, conductor, and violinist. In fact, he was renowned as one of the great violin virtuosos of the time, and even played in many of Claudio Monteverdi’s works. He was active in the Jewish community as well, composing numerous instrumental and liturgical vocal works for the synagogue in Mantua.

This Sinfonia is a prime example of a work that straddles the lines between the Renaissance and Baroque styles. The work has a five-part contrapuntal framework, an idea associated with Renaissance era music, where each of the five parts are complementary but independent. However, this work also bears the trappings of Baroque music, with its inclusion of a continuo part (generally a keyboard instrument that plays chords as an accompaniment), and a homophonic texture (melody with accompaniment). The music has two sections that repeat, the first shorter than the other. Performance practice dictates that upon those repeats, melodic lines have ornaments such as turns and trills added to it. This arrangement also utilizes texture to demark the form. For example, the brass open the work playing the unadorned melody, and when it repeats, the strings are added while the brass ornaments the repeated lines.

Johann Sebastian Bach (March 31, 1685-July 28, 1750)
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major (BWV 1048)


Instrumentation: three violins, three violas, three cellos, and continuo (harpsichord and bass).

As we look back on Bach’s massive and impressive output as a composer, it is truly shocking to know that virtually none of his works were published during his lifetime, and his style was widely viewed as antiquated by the musical world of the time. As more composers wrote music with a melody-accompaniment texture, Bach continued his pursuit of the mastery of counterpoint, a style that was falling out of favor. His music didn’t receive the accolades it deserved until the 19th century, when Felix Mendelssohn and others revived Bach’s works in concert. We all owe Mendelssohn a debt of gratitude, for Bach’s music truly stands out as some of the best wrought, emotionally deep, and intellectually stimulating music ever written.

Bach’s Six Concerts à plusieurs instruments (Six concertos for diverse instruments), better known now as the Brandenburg Concertos, stand out as some of his finest works for instrumental ensembles. They were written (or collected from previous works of Bach’s) as what amounts to a job application, sent to the Margrave of Brandenburg in 1721 with a rather sycophantic dedication, imploring the Margrave “...not to judge their imperfection with the rigor of that discriminating and sensitive taste, which everyone knows Him to have for musical works, but rather to take into benign Consideration the profound respect and the most humble obedience which I thus attempt to show Him.” The works were never performed, as the Margrave did not employ musicians with enough skill to execute the music properly. Thus, the works languished in the archives of Brandenburg until 1849, when they were found and promptly published.

The third concerto opens with a ritornello (literally “a returning thing”) that provides the first movement with the seeds of the musical materials to be developed. There is no particular voice that is the soloist; rather, instruments take turns in the spotlight, in particular the three violins. The middle movement is simply two chords, which are treated as an opportunity for cadenza-like passages, and serves as a bridge between the two Allegro sections. The final movement, a Gigue of sorts, is generally performed at a blistering pace. Fast, virtuosic lines emerge from the texture in various instruments, and one can immediately discern why it may have been difficult to perform this work without having the finest musicians to play these parts.

William Byrd (ca. 1539 - July 4, 1623)
In Nomine à 5 (orchestrated by Mark Knippel)

Instrumentation: three clarinets, one bass clarinet, and strings (four violins, two violas, two cellos, and one bass).

We now turn to England during the Renaissance, where William Byrd thrived as a composer of Anglican and Catholic sacred music, secular polyphony, and keyboard music. He was also a well-known composer of consort music written for a homogenous group of like instruments, such as recorders or viols (a precursor to the modern day violin). Byrd’s consort work includes seven In Nomine settings. This particular genre of consort music arose from the Benedictus section of a mass composed by John Tavener, which included the text “In nomine Domini” set as a four-part counterpoint. Other composers began arranging this section for different instrumental groups outside of the mass, which led them to begin composing similar works with other plainchant melodies.

Most In nomines include a cantus firmus (fixed melody) in long tones in the alto voice, with the other voices playing more ornamented lines against it. The arrangement for tonight pairs two “consorts” together to realize Byrd’s work - a group of four clarinets share the duty of playing the cantus line at the beginning, while the strings play the counterpoint composed by Byrd. The roles switch at important points in the music, and the two consorts begin to highlight the way Byrd’s lines imitate one another. The music occasionally includes interesting dissonances that spice up the harmony in ways one might not expect from Renaissance music. Eventually, the two instrumental groups come together to end this short but intriguing work of English instrumental music.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 - December 5, 1791)
Symphony No. 35 in D Major, Haffner (K. 385, composed in 1782)

Allegro con spirito

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings.

In 1782, Mozart was one busy man. Having recently moved to Vienna, he had numerous teaching engagements, a marriage engagement to Constanze Weber, in addition to his performing and composing career. In the midst of reworking the score for his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail for a second performance, Mozart received word from his father that a prominent family in Salzburg, the Haffners, wished to commission Mozart for a new work. The Haffners had already commissioned Mozart once for their daughter’s wedding, and now wanted another work for the ennoblement of their son. Mozart quickly delivered on the request, sending section by section back to Salzburg of a new serenade, which included a march and two minuets. When Mozart later revisited this music, he decided to rework the material into a four-movement symphony, and thus the Haffner symphony was born.

With its festive origins, this symphony was designed to please from the get-go. The work opens with a forceful octave leap for the whole orchestra. This theme permeates the entire movement, a masterclass in the development of a single theme into a whole movement. Mozart fragments the initial theme to develop practically all of the material for the sonata form movement. The two middle movements seem to harken back to a simpler life outside of the city, with the second movement’s delightful melodies, and the third’s regal grace and simplicity. The fiery mood of the first movement returns in the finale, with Mozart suggesting it be performed as fast as possible. Laden with surprising moments of contrasting dynamics, unexpected pauses, and virtuosic lines, this Presto movement keeps you on the edge of your seat, and represents a Mozart that had begun to embrace his role as one of the true masters of symphonic writing.

Guest Artist: Jeffrey Kahane, piano

Jeffrey Kahane

Equally at home at the keyboard or on the podium, Jeffrey Kahane has established an international reputation as a truly versatile artist, recognized by audiences around the world for his mastery of a diverse repertoire ranging from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Gershwin, Golijov and John Adams.
Since making his Carnegie Hall debut in 1983, Mr. Kahane has given recitals in many of the nation’s major music centers including New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. He appears as soloist with major orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and the Toronto and San Francisco symphonies and is also a popular artist at all of the major US summer festivals.

Jeffrey Kahane made his conducting debut at the Oregon Bach Festival in 1988. Since then, he has guest conducted many of the major US orchestras including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Indianapolis and New World symphonies among others. Currently in his 20th season as Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Kahane concluded his tenure as Music Director of the Colorado Symphony in June 2010 and for ten seasons was Music Director of the Santa Rosa Symphony, where he is now Conductor Laureate. He has received much recognition for his innovative programming and commitment to education and community involvement with all three orchestras and received ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming for his work in both Los Angeles and Denver. He is also the Artistic Director of the new Green Music Center Chamberfest in Sonoma, CA, which had its inaugural season in June 2015.

Recent engagements include appearances at the Aspen, Caramoor and Blossom festivals; concerto performances with the Toronto, Houston, New World, Colorado and Oregon symphonies among others; play/conducts with the San Francisco, National, Detroit, Vancouver, Indianapolis and New Jersey symphonies and the Rochester Philharmonic, as well as for the third time in four seasons with the New York Philharmonic; and conducting the New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra in Boston, the Juilliard Orchestra at Lincoln Center and the National Repertory Orchestra in Colorado.

The 16/17 season will be Mr. Kahane’s 20th and final season as Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. During the course of the season, he oversees a three week city-wide festival in January 2017. The festival will incorporate a major educational and outreach project honoring the legacies of composer Kurt Weill and civil rights activist Rabbi Joachim Prinz and culminates in Kahane conducting LACO and a distinguished cast of vocalists in a production of Kurt Weill’s final Broadway opera, “Lost in the Stars.”

Additional 16/17 season highlights includes return visits to the Oregon Bach Festival, the Ravinia Festival, where he does a play/conduct with the Chicago Symphony, and New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, where he play/conducts three Mozart concertos; a return to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; a solo recital for CAL Performances at UC/Berkeley; and re-negagements with the Houston, Oregon, Utah, Colorado and Alabama symphonies.

Mr. Kahane’s recent European engagements include play/conduct programs with the Camerata Salzburg, Hamburg Symphony and the Real Philharmonic de Galicia in Spain, as well as appearances at the Meck-Pomm Chamber Music Festival in Germany.

Jeffrey Kahane has recorded for the SONY, EMI, Telarc, RCA, Nonesuch, Deutsche Grammophon, Virgin Records, Decca/Argo and Haenssler labels in collaboration with the New World, Cincinnati, Bournemouth and Oregon Bach Festival symphonies, as well as works by Gershwin and Bernstein with Yo-Yo- Ma, the complete works for violin and piano by Schubert with Joseph Swensen, and Bach concertos with LACO and Hilary Hahn.

A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Mr. Kahane's early piano studies were with Howard Weisel and Jakob Gimpel. First Prize winner at the 1983 Rubinstein Competition and a finalist at the 1981 Van Cliburn Competition, he was also the recipient of a 1983 Avery Fisher Career Grant. An avid linguist who reads widely in a number of ancient and modern languages, Mr. Kahane received a Master’s Degree in Classics from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011. Beginning in the fall of 2016, he will be a Professor of Keyboard Studies at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.

Jeffrey Kahane resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Martha, a clinical psychologist in private practice. They have two children - Gabriel, a composer, pianist and singer/songwriter and Annie, a dancer and poet.

Visit these sites for more information on Jeffrey Kahane:


Pre-concert music: Musikgeselleschaft Möhlin

Begins in the Britt Performance Garden at 6:00 p.m.

Pre-concert talk: Host Eric Teel interviews Jeffrey Kahane & Teddy Abrams

Begins in the Britt Performance Garden at 7:00 p.m.