Saturday, October 15 2022 at 7:30 p.m. - Christ Church Cathedral
Boccheriniana celebrates one of the most delightful and original voices of the classical era, Luigi Boccherini, alongside European composers from the same era: W.A. Mozart, J.C. Bach, and Maddalena Lombardi Sirmen. During this era, famed for its elegant ‘galant’ music, Boccherini championed his instrument, the cello and played as a travelling virtuoso until he settled in Madrid as court composer. This concert showcases a variety of chamber music favourites: flute quintets, string trio, oboe quartet, and quintets with oboe, flute and strings. The programme reunites string players Laura Andriani, Rossella Croce, Isaac Chalk, and Elinor Frey, together with the celebrated traverso player Jan De Winne, flute professor at the Paris and Brussels conservatories.
Luigi Boccherini (1743–1805)
Flute Quintet in B-flat Major, Op. 19, no. 5 (G 429)
Allegro presto assai
Maddalena Sirmen (1745-1818)
String Quartet no. 2 in B-Flat Major
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Flute Quartet in A major, KV289
Rondeau allegretto grazioso
String Trio Op. 6, no. 5 in G minor (G 93)
Tempo di minuetto
Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782)
Quartet in G Major for flute, violin, viola and cello, op. 19, no. 3
Flute Quintet in D Major, Op. 17, no. 1 (G 419)
Tonight’s program, Boccheriniana, celebrates one of the most delightful and original voices of the classical era, Luigi Boccherini. We showcase here two of his flute quintets and a string trio alongside chamber music by household names such as Mozart and J.C. Bach and a string quartet by Maddalena Sirmen, the known female composer of this genre.
Luigi Rodolfo Boccherini was born in Lucca, Italy, the third child of seven. The oldest, his sister Maria Ester, was an accomplished dancer and danced in Vienna where ballets were all the rage. Indeed, dance was an important part of the Boccherini household. As the son of a double bass player, Leopoldo, who also played in Vienna, it seems that Boccherini developed a concept of string writing where all voices are given both technically demanding and beautifully melodic passages. However, much of Boccherini’s music gives prominence to the cello, the instrument that Boccherini championed and played as a traveling virtuoso until he settled in Madrid as court composer.
As a cellist, Boccherini first studied in Rome around the age of 13, taking lessons with the famed musician, Giovanni Battista Costanzi. A few years later he visited Vienna to perform alongside his father. Between 1766 and about 1769 Boccherini may have toured in a string quartet formation with violinist Pietro Nardini and Nardini’s pupil, Filippo Manfredi, as well as with Giuseppe Cambini, each composers in their own right. When trying to verify these facts we run into some inconsistencies, but it makes for a charming tale of an early touring string quartet. While it is also complete conjecture, we could also imagine that the string quartet on tonights program by Maddalena Sirmen could have been read by this group. A child prodigy, Sirmen grew up in Venice and, like Nardini, was a pupil of Giuseppe Tartini. Her string quartets were published in Paris in 1769 meaning they were probably composed just before then.
Also by Boccherini, we will perform an absolutely charming flute quintet from Boccherini’s Op. 19 collection of 1771 and the first flute quintet from his Op. 17 collection from 1773. These two works perfectly embodies the idea of “sensibilité” (as discussed by Elisabeth LeGuin in her seminal book “Boccherini’s Body”), signified by his many sighs, portamenti, larger melodic trajectories, tender harmonies, throbbing accompaniments, and static passages that bring the listener into the present. Tonight we will also hear one of my favourite genres by Boccherini, the string trio, here Op. 6, no. 5 that features virtuosic writing fo the two violins and cello.
Boccherini was court chamber composer to the Berlin court, although he stayed in Spain. In the 1780s, the court of Friedrich Wilhelm II was a major centre for violoncello music. Works by Boccherini were premiered there, alongside those by Mozart and Beethoven. To enjoy a bit more of chamber music with flute from the same time, we will perform J. C. Bach’s flute quartet Op. 19, no. 3 (pub. approx. 1772) and Mozart’s lively and touching Flute Quartet in A Major (composed around either around 1778 or later in 1786). For this program, we are honoured to feature Belgian traverso player, Jan De Winne, who is also one of the most respected flute makers of his time. Tonight De Winne performs on a flute that he made recently, a copy after H. Grenser, tuned to A = 422 Hz, the pitch of the tuning fork of Mozart’s piano.
notes by Elinor Frey
GETTING TO CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL
The Cathedral is located on Quadra Street at Rockland Avenue.
Street parking is available on Quadra Street, Burdett Avenue, and Rockland Avenue, as well as at the south entrance to the Cathedral off Burdett.