American Classical Orchestra – YOUNG GENIUS
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Thomas Crawford, conductor
Jiayan Sun, fortepiano
Mozart, Haydn, Vanhal
7:00PM Pre-Concert Lecture by Maestro Crawford
Concert Starts At 8:00PM
Haydn: Symphony No. 31 ‘Hornsignal’
Mozart: Symphony No. 1
Piano Concerto No. 4
Piano Concerti K. 107 ‘Pasticci’
Jiayan Sun, fortepiano
Vanhal: Symphony in D minor
This delightful program speaks of youthful genius. Mozart is known as the greatest musical prodigy, yet his early genius was not limited to touring Europe at age 9 while dazzling royal patrons. He was composing symphonies at age ten. People find it uncanny that a child could write symphonies and improvise at the piano while his feet could not yet touch the ground. What is more fascinating is the mark of an individual voice at such a young age. The Symphony No. 1 is only twelve minutes long, yet is perfectly proportioned. Themes are presented in a straightforward manner and with only limited development. But there are brief shifts to the minor key, thematic unity and contrast, instinctive knowledge of the instruments, and above all, Mozart’s sense of rise and fall, tension and release. In later years as an adult composer, his music becomes more complicated and sometimes more dense, but the sense of proportion that normally only comes from maturity was born in him as a child.
The ‘Pasticci’ piano concerti are short, sparkling works that fit well into a child’s hand size. Here too, Mozart made his first mark as both composer and performer. The piano solos seamlessly dovetail in and out of the orchestra tutti sections much as they would later do in the great mature concerti of the 1780’s. These childhood concerti are both interesting and exciting to hear.
Joseph Haydn had arguably the best ‘house’ orchestra in Europe. His long association at Esterhazy gave him early career tools of the highest caliber, particularly the strings and horns. The ‘Hornsignal’ Symphony is a relatively early work that features thrilling hunting horn music and the most famous string bass solo in the classical repertoire. Haydn experimented early with theme and variation form, of which this symphony is an excellent early example. Full of Haydn’s famed wit and humor, this symphony exudes youthful confidence from a composer who had top players at his fingertips.
The name ‘Vanhal’ does not come to mind when one thinks of classical masters. Johann Baptist Vanhal was well known to the Viennese public, much admired as a composer and performer in the generation just before Beethoven. Vanhal played violin in a string quartet that included Haydn and Mozart! His musical convictions, as evidenced in his Symphony in D Minor, was steeped in the ‘Sturm und Drang’ style made famous by Haydn. The overall style is conservative, but the minor key and bursts of dramatic gestures keep things at a fever pitch.
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