I had a rejuvenating week-long break with my wife visiting Niagara Falls and Toronto. I have finally found “somewhere, over the rainbow” (See photo!)
Since our return, I have been preparing for Market Square Concerts Summermusic 2014, and thinking about inspiration, or the exhilarating feeling one gets from new ideas or perhaps seeing something familiar in a new light. The repertoire I am preparing is from the century between 1756, the year of Mozart’s birth, and 1856, the year of Schumann’s death. I have performed all of these pieces quite a few times, but as I am working on trios and quintets by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann next to each other, I am wondering to what extent our perceptions of these people and their music are shaped by different social and cultural context. Did familiar and comforting poise and elegance of Mozart’s Divertimento reflect his outlook on life, or were they just an acceptable form of expression in a rigid imperial society? Was Beethoven looking for more attention when he introduced jarring surprises in his music in the same way as some modernist artists, or was the new level of dramatic intensity an authentic expression of who he was, how he felt? Did Schubert’s fascination with human vulnerability in the face of death come from the fragility of his physical existence or from a deep poetic insight?
When I programmed these three concerts last year, I wanted to offer people a chance to hear works that inspired each other side by side. I have been really energized by noticing how similar rhythmical ideas in music of Schumann and Schubert communicate very different messages and how identical use of instruments by Mozart and Beethoven create completely opposite effects. Pulling the curtain back on Mozart’s stylish façade to find humanity with its humor, tenderness and sadness is very exciting. It is also fun to experience a masterful use of harmony by both Mozart and Schubert in creating emotionally complex music often light-hearted on the surface with darkness lurking underneath and tragic sections with hope and humor just around the corner. I do hope that people will enjoy these programs as much as I do.
If you happen to be in Harrisburg area in the next week or two, here is a link to Market Square Concerts’ Summermusic 2014 schedule and venues: http://www.marketsquareconcerts.org/#!summermusic/c1g5g