Firstly, we would like to thank Helen Vidovich for performing with us last month while she was home from the U.K. It was great to see Helen again and hear her beautiful playing. For those of you who would like to follow where Helen and Trio Marsyas are performing next visit their website.
Next month we will be performing again at St Philip’s Church. It will be a diverse program including the sombre ‘Quartet for the end of time‘ by Olivier Messiaen, contrasted with the more optimistic Incantations for Wind Quintet by Ross Edwards. Also on the program will be a repeat performance of the Clarinet Trio in Bb, Op 11 by Beethoven.
Composed as a prisoner-of-war on a scrap of paper with a borrowed pencil, the Quartet for the end of time (1940-41) was performed on old, broken instruments by fellow prisoners in the Stalag VIII-A in Görlitz, Germany on January 15, 1941. The work, in eight movements, was inspired by the text from the Book of Revelation. One can not imagine what was in the minds of the performers or the audience members while they sat in the rain listening, perhaps with some solace to this music. Despite the solemnity of the work, Messiaen drew inspiration for nature as well. In particular, the first movement for the whole quartet depicts the sounds of awakening birds. Messiaen wrote in the score the following description,
Between three and four in the morning, the awakening of birds: a solo blackbird or nightingale improvises, surrounded by a shimmer of sound, by a halo of trills lost very high in the trees. Transpose this onto a religious plane and you have the harmonious silence of Heaven.
The Incantations for Wind Quintet (2006) by Ross Edwards is the revised version of Maninya III (1985) . Like most of Edwards’ compositions the work depicts sounds from nature especially that of birdsong.
For the Clarinet trio in Bb, Op 11 (1798) Beethoven may not have used birds for inspiration but the theme of third movement was taken from a popular street song at the time. Descriptions of this work does not sound like the typical Beethoven. Indeed, ‘light’ and ‘gentle’ and words not often associated with Beethoven. Written when he was only 28 the three movement work for clarinet, cello and piano is lyrical and playful at heart.