Musical Club of Hartford

Member Program - Dec 13, 2018

This holiday-season program features the Musical Club of Hartford Vocal Ensemble, soprano Adrienne Milics, and an unusual work of chamber music.


Musical Club of Hartford Vocal Ensemble
Gail Tanguay, director
Dorothy Bognar, accompanist
Velvet Shoes       Randall Thompson, 1899-1984
    Suzanne Hertel, organist  
This is a stunning setting of the famous winter poem by Elinor Wylie. The text reveals several metaphors for purity and delicacy, while the music suggests an awesome purpose of preserving that beauty.
She Sings       Amy F. Bernon
The haunting, yet whimsical quality of this piece, almost folk-like, is truly refreshing. The lyrics center on a child who loves to sing, and who is saddened by those who do not know that joy. Amy Bernon is a contemporary Connecticut composer and a graduate of the Yale School of Music and the Hartt School. She is the founding director of the Amanda Women's choir.
Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal  traditional American; text, F.R. Warren, arr. Mark Hayes               
    accompanists, Dorothy Bognar & Colette Switaj
This piece is a song of celebration and joy. The four handed accompaniment enhances the busy vocal arrangement, and is an extra treat for the audience.
Carol of The Bells   music by M. Leontovich (1877- 1921), arr. P. Wilhousky
Mykola Leontovich's "Shchedryk" contains one of the most famous four note ostinati in the world. The composition was given English lyrics and is known as Carol of the Bells. (Coincidentally, the Ukrainian composer, Mykola Leontovych, was born on this day, December 13, in the year 1877.)
Nativity Carol       music & lyrics by John Rutter
    Suzanne Hertel, organist
Nativity Carol is one of John Rutter's earliest acknowledged pieces. It exhibits much of what became a Rutter staple: a predictable structure made richer by complex harmonies and contemporary approaches. This carol uses the centuries-old form of verse followed by a communal chorus. The four topics are traditional: the stable of the incarnation, the mother of God, the wise men, and universal love born in a stable.
A'Soalin'     Paul Stookey, Tracy Batteast, Elena Mezzetti
According to Paul Stookey, A'Soalin' was not originally a Christmas song. He said he melded the old wassailing tune with the Celtic tradition of soul/soal-ing and then added God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen at the end. The Celts didn't like their ghosts hanging around, so they served a banquet for all the year's deceased, to encourage the ghosts to depart. That tradition merged with All Souls Day, and eventually into the Christmas holidays. In spite of the characters in the lyrics being in times of crisis it is a hopeful tune, not bleak, and lifts your spirits.
Hymn to Freedom    music by Oscar Peterson, lyrics by Harriette Hamilton

    Ms. Bognar is joined by Walter Mayo on string bass, and Dave Woodward on drums
Recognized as one of Oscar Peterson's most significant compositions, Hymn to Freedom was written in 1962 and was swiftly embraced by people around the world as the anthem for the Civil Rights Movement. For inspiration, Peterson drew upon various church renderings of Negro spirituals recalled from his childhood in Montreal. He maintained the unadorned yet poignant melody of the early Baptist hymns. The added lyrics express in a very simple language the hope for unity, peace, and dignity for mankind.
Öt Magyar Népdal (Five Hungarian Folk Songs) by Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
[from Hungarian Folksongs, for voice and piano (1906), BB 42 (Sz 33 / W 13)]
Adrienne Milics, mezzo-soprano
Lean-Cheng Tan, piano
1. Elindultam szép hazámból ("I left my beautiful country")
2. Által mennék én a Tiszán ladikon ("I would cross the Tisza in a boat")
3. A gyulai kert alatt ("In the summer fields")
4. Nem messze van ide ("Not far from here" - The Horseman)
5. Végig mentem a tárkányi sej, haj, nagy uccán ("Walking through the town")
We think of Béla Bartók primarily as a composer, but he was also a brilliant pianist and a serious ethnomusicologist. Through his collection and analytical study of folk music, he was one of the founders of comparative musicology, which later became ethnomusicology. Bartók wrote the Ten Hungarian Songs for voice and piano 1906. These were originally intended to be a second series to follow the first publication, Hungarian Folk Songs, in collaboration with Zoltán Kodály and later titled Twenty Hungarian Folk Songs. Bartók subsequently determined that some of the items were not folk songs.
In 1908, Bartók and Kodály traveled into the countryside to collect and research old Magyar folk melodies. Their growing interest in folk music coincided with a contemporary social interest in traditional national culture. They made some surprising discoveries. Magyar folk music had previously been categorized as Gypsy music. The classic example is Franz Liszt's famous Hungarian Rhapsodies for piano, which he based on popular art songs performed by Romani bands of the time. In contrast, Bartók and Kodály discovered that the old Magyar folk melodies were based on pentatonic scales, similar to those in Asian folk traditions, such as those of Central Asia, Anatolia and Siberia. (from Wikipedia) 
Trio in E-flat major Op. 43 for Clarinet, Bassoon, and Pianoforte, KWV 5105 by Conradin Kreutzer (1780-1849)
David Schonfeld, clarinet
Fred Fenn, bassoon
Cihan Yücel, piano
  I. Maestoso - Romanze: Allegro moderato
 II. Andante grazioso
III. Rondo: Allegro
Conradin Kreutzer was a German composer and conductor. His works include the opera Das Nachtlager in Granada, and Der Verschwender (Incidental music), both produced in 1834 in Vienna. He spent 1811–12 in Stuttgart, where at least three of his operas were staged, and where he was awarded the post of Hofkapellmeister. From 1812 to 1816, he was Kapellmeister to the king of Württemberg. He became a prolific composer, and wrote a number of operas for the Theater am Kärntnertor, Theater in der Josefstadt, and Theater an der Wien, in Vienna. In 1840 he became conductor of the opera at Cologne. His daughters, Cecilia and Marie Kreutzer, were sopranos of some renown.
Kreutzer owes his fame almost exclusively to Das Nachtlager in Granada (1834), which kept the stage for half a century in spite of changes in musical taste. It was written in the style of Carl Maria von Weber. The same qualities are found in Kreutzer's part-songs for men's voices, which at one time were extremely popular in Germany. His Septet for winds and strings, Op. 62, remains in the chamber music repertory. He was one of the 50 composers who wrote a Variation on a waltz of Anton Diabelli for Part II of the "Vaterländischer Künstlerverein" (published 1824). (from Wikipedia)
Note: Although Conradin Kreutzer's time in Vienna overlapped with Beethoven's, he was not the Kreutzer to whom Beethoven dedicated his 1803 Violin Sonata, Op. 47. (That was the French violinist and composer, Rodolphe Kreutzer).
The Trio in E-flat major Op. 43 is a charming work in three movements full of catchy tunes and virtuosic piano writing, probably intended as salon music for talented amateurs.