Beethoven, Bottesini & Mustonen - Chamber music - live broadcast from Musiikkitalo
Musicians from the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra will perform chamber music for home audiences in the Concert Hall of the Helsinki Music Centre at 7pm. The online broadcast begins at 6:30pm on the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s HKO Screen mobile app and Yle Areena. The concert evening will be opened by a Visual Overture, which will also be presented on the media wall at the Helsinki Music Centre. The concert can be listened to on Yle Radio 1 at 7 pm.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
Kvintetto pianolle ja puhaltimille Es-duuri op. 16 (1796) 24'
Kvintett för piano och blåsinstrumet Ess-dur
Quintet for Piano and Winds
Grave - Allegro ma non troppo
Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo
Matilda Kärkkäinen, piano
Jussi Jaatinen, oboe
Osmo Linkola, klarinetti / klarinett / clarinet
Noora Van Dok, fagotti / fagott / bassoon
Ville Hiilivirta, käyrätorvi / valthorn / horn
Giovanni Bottesini (1821–1889)
Passione amorosa, kahdelle kontrabassolle ja pianolle (1880) 10'
för tvä kontrabaser och piano
for two double basses and piano
Maria Krykov, kontrabasso / kontrabas / double bass
Piotr Zimnik, kontrabasso / kontrabas / double bass
Matilda Kärkkäinen, piano
Olli Mustonen (1967–)
Pianokvintetto (2014) 22'
Drammatico e passionato
Quasi una passacaglia (Andantino)
Olli Mustonen, piano
Jan Söderblom, viulu / violin
Kati Kuusava, viulu / violin
Lotta Poijärvi, alttoviulu / viola
Senja Rummukainen, sello / cello
Ludwig van Beethoven: Quintet for Piano and Winds, Op. 16
Ludwig van Beethoven, son of a court musician, was, like Mozart, a precocious pianist and self-assured composer. The provincialism of the little town – Bonn – where he was born prompted him at an early age to head for the capital of musical life at the time, Vienna. Where else might he pay homage to such topical authorities as Haydn and Mozart? In Haydn, he found himself a composition teacher, though relations between the two were not always necessarily smooth. For as is often the case with colleagues both possessed of a large ego, their relationship lacked mutual respect. Beethoven was absolutely certain that he would soon be more highly renowned as a composer than Haydn. Mozart’s unexpected demise left a mammoth gap on the city’s piano scene, and one which Beethoven the young virtuoso eagerly sought to fill. His bursting energy and ferocity appealed to the refined elegant frequenters of the salons and at the same time afforded him entry into musical society. He was quick to appropriate the Viennese-Classical tradition, though naturally not as a copy & paster. One of the hallmarks of a good composer is, after all, a familiarity with tradition without merely copying it.
When a composer of the Viennese-Classical period begins a symphony in C major not with a C-major chord but with a seventh chord on the dominant G major, a stir shimmers through the audience. Listeners today may not see anything odd in this, though we have learnt from history to associate with Beethoven such epithets as rebel and innovator. Some six years before his first symphony beginning with the said seventh chord on G major, Beethoven had written a quintet for piano and winds. Though its harmonies did not yet threaten to stretch the borders to the limits, the music is already unmistakably his. The drama that is so much a part of his identity is always there, as is a budding tendency for romanticism. Some liken the Quintet to one composed by Mozart 12 years earlier. Though Mozart’s had not yet been published when Beethoven wrote his, it clearly served as a model; the instruments are identical, there are similarities of form, and the key is the same. Yet whereas Mozart’s Quintet is obviously chamber music, Beethoven’s is already strongly cast in a turbulent, dramatic, symphonic mode.
Giovanni Bottesini: Passione amorosa, for two double basses and piano
Musician-composers have, from time immemorial, been writing music for their own instruments. A complete street-cred command of all the ins and outs of the instrument in question is, as a rule, obvious even to the naked eye. Passione amorosa by Giovanni Bottesini is like a small-scale opera buffa in which two (counter?) tenor soloists alternately bicker with and make eyes at each other in true bel canto style, like two blackbirds incarcerated in double basses. The left hand for the most part inhabits a region of the fingerboard seldom frequented in orchestral scores. Anything the piece may lack in musical depth is easily compensated for by the engaging virtuosity. As brilliance alternates with lyricism, the staggering lightness and grace keep the listener/viewer glued to the screen.
“Under his bow, the double-bass sighed, cooed, sang, quivered,” wrote a contemporary critic. Anyone versed in music will immediately associate the name Giovanni Bottesini with the double bass and in particular the virtuoso pieces he wrote for it. Bottesini nevertheless had a much longer CV. True, he was the best-known 19th-century master of the instrument and one whose concert diary and passport stamp pages were just as full as those of today’s globe-trotting artists. But he was also a prolific composer and, at least by European standards, a notable conductor. His versatile musicianship was inclined especially towards opera; he conducted a lot of Italian opera (the premiere in Cairo of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, for example) and contributed several items to the operatic genre. His inner double bassist nevertheless refused to release its grip despite his other commitments; legend has it that on nights when he was conducting an opera, he would often bring his bass along and entertain the audience with a few virtuoso numbers in the interval. Bottesini was also an innovator; he was one of the first bass players to adopt the French style of holding the bow like that of a violin or cello instead of the German custom.
Olli Mustonen: Piano Quintet
In the works of Olli Mustonen, composer par excellence, mystery may instantly transform into drama and passion, and simplicity be honed into an insightful synthesis. Mustonen the composer has an endless fund of ideas, and everything seems easy and effortless. Drammatico e passionate is the heading of the first movement and applies to the core material. The second movement is a collection of polyphonic variations arranged in the manner of a Baroque passacaglia, while the third weaves together the seemingly unalike models of the first two along a path that proceeds through pastoral moods to a final gallop.
Blending different materials in a homogeneous entity is one of Mustonen’s trademarks. An example here might be the motif in the Quintet’s second movement – a motif that may suggest Shostakovich or, say, Bruckner. From there, the music nevertheless shoots off via some reflective merrymaking in the spirit of Hindemith to more new landscapes in which possible names flash past like those of little railway halts glimpsed as an express train hurtles through. These are, however, just wayside stations in the musical journey as a whole and possibly say just as much about the listener’s own musical preferences. The music of Mustonen is a unique embodiment of his triple role of composer, pianist and conductor and any search for models is of no more than academic interest. His idiom is inventive, timeless and subtle and his all-round musicianship is echoed in all he does.
(English translation: Susan Sinisalo)