ensemble 4.1 Program Notes

ensemble 4.1

October 4, 2017 | 7:30PM | Loeb Playhouse




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Quintet in e-flat major, KV 452
Largo - Allegro moderato, Larghetto,
Avner Dorman
Jerusalem Mix
Heinrich von Herzogenberg
Quintet op. 43
Allegro giocoso

With respect to the musicians and your fellow patrons, we request your participation in the tradition of withholding applause between movements of a selection. To the same end, we also ask that you silence and discontinue use of all electronic devices.

About ensemble 4.1

Thomas is considered one of the most outstanding pianists of his generation. He has been a chamber music partner to artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Antje Weithaas, Tabea Zimmermann, Alban Gerhardt and Frans Helmerson, to name just a few.

As pianist of the ATOS Trio he has won numerous prizes and awards including the German Music Competition in 2004, the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition in 2007, selection as BBC New Generation Artists in 2009 and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Special Ensemble Fellowship in 2012.

Hoppe taught master classes for piano accompaniment and chamber music in Europe, Australia, China, South America and the USA. Thomas Hoppe lives in Berlin with his family and is a fulltime faculty member of the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin.

Jörg Schneider grew up in Berlin and received his first oboe lessons from Carsten Schlottke and Christoph Hartmann. He studied in Berlin and Munich under Professor Ricardo Rodrigues, Professor Burkhard Glaetzner, Mario Kaminski and Francois Leleux.

After being given a position in the Berlin Youth Orchestra he was made principal oboe in the RIAS-Youth Orchestra Berlin, followed by the same position with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (Federal Students’ Orchestra) and the Bayreuth Festival Youth Orchestra.

He gained orchestral experience at the Frankfurt/Oder State Orchestra, the Coburg State Theatre, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, the North German Philharmonic Orchestra Rostock and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. In 2000 he was made a fellow and member of the orchestra academy of the Essen Philharmonic.

Jörg Schneider is currently a substitute with the Ensemble Modern, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the German Symphony Orchestra (DSO) Berlin as well as the Bonn Classical Philharmonic. In 2006 he was appointed principal oboe of the National Ensemble of Spain for Contemporary Music. Since 2007 Jörg Schneider has also been associate principal oboe for the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra.

He is a winner of international chamber music competitions in Osaka, Marseille and Schwerin and a scholarship holder of the German Music Competition.

Alexander Glücksmann began playing the clarinet at the age of nine. During his studies under Professor Diethelm Kühn at Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin he participated in numerous chamber music and master classes, including under Eduard Brunner, Karl Leister and Karl-Heinz Steffens. His first orchestral experience was as principal clarinet for several youth symphony orchestras in Berlin and Brandenburg, including in 1999 in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under the direction of Daniel Barenboim.

After completing his studies Alexander Glücksmann won a scholarship to the Herbert von Karajan Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic.

In 2003 he was appointed principal clarinet of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Since then Alexander has also been with many German orchestras amongst others as principal clarinet including with the Comic Opera Berlin, the State Opera Unter den Linden, the Semper Opera Dresden, the Concert House Orchestra Berlin, the Potsdam Chamber Academy, the Brandenburg Symphony Orchestra and the State Theatre Braunschweig.

His great love is and remains chamber music however, to which he has devoted himself after completing his studies. He has performed several times at the Opera Barga chamber music festival in Italy with members of the Berlin Philharmonic. He also accepted invitations to the Kremerata Lockenhaus, the Chamber Music Festival Davos, the Richard Strauss Festival Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Chamber Music Days in Barth, as well as international festivals in Israel, Spain and Kurdistan. He also frequently works on contemporary music projects with the Chamber Ensemble Quillo.

Christoph Knitt was born in Berlin and attended the Hanns Eisler Special School of Music and then studied at the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin under Professor Klaus Thunemann. He was a soloist and partner in chamber music ensembles at an early age when he participated in the summer and winter courses in historical and modern interpretation for young instrumentalists at the Kloster Michaelstein Music Institute.

He gained his first experience as an orchestral musician as principal bassoon in the State Youth Orchestra of Saxony-Anhalt. Solo performances as a member of this orchestra also resulted in solo recordings in collaboration with the central German broadcasting company MDR.

Broadcast appearances at the Schwetzingen Festival followed. He was principal bassoon in the RIAS Youth Orchestra Berlin and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (German Students’ Orchestra) conducted by Kurt Masur, Gerd Albrecht and Michael Gielen.

In 1999-2000 he was a frequent substitute at the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra and in 2001 he was given a temporary contract as principal bassoon. In the same year he was an intern at the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin (RSB). In 2002 he appeared with the Petersen Quartet at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg. In 2002-2003 he had a temporary contract as principal bassoon at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki and at the beginning of the 2003-2004 season he was given a temporary contract in the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin.

Since 2006 he has been principal bassoon at the Potsdam Chamber Academy and member of the
Persius Ensemble. Through regular temporary jobs he is also connected to orchestras such as the State Opera Unter den Linden in Berlin, the Comic Opera Berlin and the German Opera Berlin. In 2010 he accepted an invitation from the Philharmonic Octet of the Berlin Philharmonic to participate in Austrian Radio (ORF) concerts in Kufstein.

Since 2009 Christoph Knitt has been working for cultural reconstruction in Iraq together with the Goethe Institute.

Fritz had his first horn lessons at the age of nine from the resident horn teacher and composer at the music school in Rottweil Professor Andreas Kummerländer.  After graduating from high school he studied at the Trossingen University of Music with Professor Orval and then with Professor Dallmann at Berlin´s Universität Der Künste.

Fritz Pahlmann’s first permanent engagement took him to the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra as utility horn. He then began building up his experience as principal horn in the Magdeburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Antwerp.

He was and is a regular guest as principal horn at the State Opera in Munich, the Munich Philharmonic and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, as well as other orchestras. He has also played in the same position with the Concert House Orchestra Berlin and the opera houses of Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Essen, Nuremberg and Hanover. Fritz Pahlmann has performed as a soloist with the Staatskapelle Weimar Orchestra and the Magdeburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

As a member of ensemble 4.1 and the Quinteto Madrid-Berlin Fritz Pahlmann is an internationally experienced chamber musician. At home he has performed in various chamber music formations at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for International New Music, the Schwetzingen Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the Rheingau Music Festival.

Having worked as second horn at the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, Fritz Pahlmann moved to the Staatskapelle Weimar Orchestra in 2007, where he has since been engaged as principal horn.


Quintet in E-flat major, K. 452 (1784)

by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Salzburg, 1756 – Vienna, 1791)

This unique masterwork is a singular cross between a concerto and a chamber-music composition.  Written for an instrumentation Mozart used only once, it is contemporaneous with the great series of piano concertos that brought the composer some of the greatest successes of his life.  In many of those concertos, Mozart gave extensive solos to the woodwinds and the horn, so that many passages sound almost like chamber music between the piano and those instruments.  That sound idea takes center stage in the Quintet, to become the generating force of an entire piece.

Sound as a generating force of a piece?  Isn’t that a quintessentially 20th-century phenomenon?  In a way, it is—if one thinks of the sophisticated explorations of musical color that started with Claude Debussy.  Yet it is clear that this Mozart Quintet wouldn’t be what it is without the ever-changing coloristic combinations of the piano, the oboe, the clarinet, the horn, and the bassoon.  Those combinations will no doubt fascinate us more than the melodies and harmonies, exquisite though they certainly are.

This fascination derives from the fact that each of the five instruments has a different timbre (unlike what is the case in a string quartet), and therefore each instrument preserves a degree of independence even as it blends in with the others.  This can be observed right away in the opening Largo, whose simple E-flat and B-flat chords are like no E-flat or B-flat chords we have ever heard.  As the five instruments pass the melody back and forth among themselves, we witness a true rainbow of musical colors, and Mozart always makes sure to treat all instruments as equals.

To be sure, the piano—Mozart’s own instrument—is often ‟the first among equals,” but each wind player also gets plenty of solo turns.  Both the first and second movements are in sonata form which, through the presence of a recapitulation section, allows the composer to distribute the musical material among the players differently the second time around.  The last movement, a Rondo, achieves a similar coloristic variety through the alternation of the rondo theme and the episodes.  At the end of this movement, there is a regular cadenza as in a concerto, with the difference that this is a cadenza in which all five instruments participate and therefore improvisatory freedom is not a possibility.

This quintet was first performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna, on April 1, 1784.  Nine days later, Mozart told his father in a letter that the quintet had ‟called forth the greatest applause.”  And he did not hesitate to add:  ‟I myself consider it to be the best work I have ever composed”—a judgment we have to take very seriously.  Others admired the work no less:  in 1796 Beethoven paid the ultimate compliment by writing a quintet for the same instrumentation and the same key of E-flat major (Op. 16) as an obvious tribute to Mozart, who had died five years earlier.

Jerusalem Mix (2007)

by Avner Dorman (b. Tel Aviv, 1975)

Avner Dorman—an Israeli-born composer and conductor now living and working in the United States—has offered the following remarks on his piece:

Jerusalem Mix takes its title from a popular Israeli dish made of an eclectic assortment of fried meats.  The dish, much like the city of its origin, is a melting pot of flavors and characters, each preserving some of its unique characteristics while contributing to the whole.

When I was first approached to write a woodwind and piano quintet for the 10th anniversary of the Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival I knew I wanted to write a piece that would reflect the spirit of the festival and of the city of Jerusalem.

As I started writing the piece, I discovered that the piano and woodwind quintet is a tricky ensemble as it embodies members of four different instrument families:  the bassoon and oboe are both double-reed instruments; the clarinet is a single-reed instrument; the French horn is a brass instrument; and the piano is of the percussion family.  I decided to use the diversity of this ensemble to mirror the diversity of Jerusalem.

With this in mind I set out to write this piece as a collage of short scenes, each portraying one or more aspects of the city:

I. Jerusalem Mix – portraying the busyness of the modern city.  Musically, this movement is based on Armenian and Turkish folk dance-styles in which the length of the beats constantly varies.  In the middle part of this movement a prayer-like melody is introduced in the oboe emulating its Middle-Eastern origins such as the zurna or the duduk.

II. The Wailing Wall – emulates the sound of a praying crowd.  This movement is based on the characteristic sigh of the Jewish prayer and pays homage to the opening movement of Mordecai Seter’s oratorio Tikun Hatzot.

III. Wedding March – a humorous movement that is first inspired by Hasidic Music but gradually incorporates wedding music from Middle-Eastern Jewish traditions.  As the wedding party reaches higher levels of ecstasy (and the guests are increasingly drunk) these different styles collide and collapse into one another.

IV. Blast. [no comment from the composer]

V. Adhan (the Islamic call to prayer) – by hitting the strings of the piano with drumsticks the pianist emulates the sound of a Kanun and the prayers of the opening movement and of the “wailing wall” movement become the call to prayer of the Muezzin.

VI. Jerusalem Mix.

All the movements are based on two simple melodic cells – one chromatic and the other made of a whole step.  For me, the fact that these simple motifs can lend themselves to the music traditions of Christianity (Armenian dance), Islam, and Judaism, express that on a deep cultural, musical, and human level, our cultures are closer than we realize.

Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 43 (1883)

by Heinrich von Herzogenberg (Graz, Austria, 1843 – Wiesbaden, Germany, 1900)

Known mostly for being a close friend of Brahms, Heinrich von Herzogenberg, whose ancestors belonged to French nobility, has long languished in the master’s shadow.  His voluminous output of orchestral, chamber and sacred music has only recently begun to appear more frequently on concert programs and recordings.  The melodic richness and formal perfection of his works definitely make him a composer worth rediscovering.

In composing a quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn in E-flat major, Herzogenberg paid homage to both Mozart and Beethoven.  Boldly taking up the mantle of these two great predecessors, Herzogenberg composed a four-movement work filled with memorable themes, attractive and idiomatic instrumental parts.  (The Mozart and the Beethoven quintets each have only three movements.)  Herzogenberg particularly excelled in the emotionally intense second-movement Adagio.  Then, a spirited Scherzo is followed by a last movement that invests the type of “hunting” rondo in 6/8 time, so frequent in the Classical era, with a great deal of Romantic energy, briefly interrupted by a tinge of Brahmsian nostalgia in one of the episodes.

Program notes by Peter Laki.