Friday, November 2, 2012

Haydn From Beethoven

After a spate of dramatic works, the KSO turns to the 18th century for the chamber orchestra’s presentation of music by Haydn and Beethoven. On Sunday, Nov. 4th, 2:30 at the Bijou Theatre, KSO principal trumpet Cathy Leach will be the soloist in Josef Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto, and early symphonies by Haydn and Beethoven will flank the concerto.

“Papa Haydn” uses an unusual instrumentation for his Symphony # 22. Instead of the expected pair of oboes, two English horns (cor anglais) bear the crown in the woodwind family. Down the ages, the naming of this instrument has had a far-flung path. Developed in Silesia in the mid-18th century, the original name seems to have its roots in the German word engellisches, which means angelic. As fate would have it, engellisches is also the same Middle High German word for “English,” which fed the confusion and lore. Throw in a camp of people who believe that due to the presence of an angled bocal (connecting the reed to the instrument), that cor anglais means “angled horn.” (The French word for “angled” is also its word for “English” and is not capitalized in that incarnation). Well, call it what you will, the deeper, thoughtful tone of the English horn is bound to result in some deep thoughts, hence the subtitle for the 22nd, The Philosopher.

Beethoven’s 1st (1800) is a product of a composer who was about to smash the mold that had been the symphonist’s formula for decades. Coming only 2 opus numbers after his six monumental op. 18 string quartets (the “Old Testament” of quartet playing), it is more like an orchestrated quartet in its mood and content. This is a work that my high school orchestra tackled, or attempted to tackle, back in the 1870's. Needless to say, the KSCO will be taking somewhat faster tempi than we took back at My Old School.

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