Dan Berlinghoff, Piano,
Yevgenia Strenger, violin,
Sander Strenger, viola
1807 – 1895
TRIO NO.1 IN Bb MAJOR, OP.37
for piano, violin, viola
Andante con moto
Scherzo, Allegro molto
1864 - 1935
on a theme by G.F. Handel
for violin and viola
1847 - 1927
TRIO NO.3 IN F# MINOR, OP.115
for piano, violin, viola
Allegro molto moderato
Sunday, November 7, 2021
Born: September 17, 1807, Rain, Germany
Died: February 25, 1895, Hanover, Germany
Trio No.1 in Bb Major, Op.37
for piano, violin, viola
Ignaz Lachner and his music was quickly and unjustly forgotten during the many changes during the second half of the 19th century. His older and more famous brother Franz introduced him to Schubert and his circle of friends, which left a lasting influence on his musical style. The six trios are very similar in formal structure, each four movements in length. Nevertheless, each work is characterized by its own mood and atmosphere, one is denser, the other more symphonic, another more transparent, classical. Lachner's colorful palette of harmonies and sonorities is distinct, attractive and surprising.
This is the first of Ignaz Lachner's "indispensible" trios for this little served combination. And "indispensible" was the word the famous chamber music critic Wilhelm Altmann used to describe Lachner's trios for violin, viola and piano. And indeed they are among the best compositions ever written for this little used alternative to the standard piano trio. It is not known why Lachner chose to write all of his piano trios for this combination. It is thought that they were either commissioned over time by viola connoisseurs or that he simply like the light sound created by the ensemble. In any case, it is fortuitous, for he greatly enriched the literature for this combination.
The Op.37 Trio is a relatively youthful work and one can hear wonderful Schubertian melodies throughout. The opening movement Allegro moderato begins with a Beethovian melody. The development in which the strings answer the piano in sequence is very original and striking. The second melody is a lovely Schubertian lied. The second movement, Andante con moto, opens with a simple and naive tune in the strings but almost immediately and rather suddenly, the music quickly changes into a wild syncopated dance. Again, a very original treatment which is fresh and original. A muscular Scherzo follows, it is a mix of Schubert and Beethoven. The lovely trio section provides a superb contrast. The finale, Allegro, begins in a rather dainty fashion with a rhythmically off-beat melody. Then we hear Mozartian melody which Lachner puts to excellent use, quickly following it up with an elaboration of the first theme.
Lachner was influenced by Schubert, not to mention Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Though primarily known as a conductor, Lachner composed a considerable amount of music, much of it chamber music. His place in music is as a "Classicist-Romantic".
Born: March 15, 1864, Drammen, Norway
Died: December 4, 1935, Oslo, Norway
Passacaglia for violin and viola
Inside the Music: Halvorsen’s Passacaglia
by Lillian Matchett
Composer, conductor, and violinist Johan Halvorsen was a key figure in Norwegian music during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During his time, he established himself as a multi-talented professional, excelling as a concertmaster, conductor of theatre orchestra, and composer of incidental music, symphonies, and chamber music in Norway and across Europe.
Few of Halvorsen’s compositions have managed to withstand the test of time, but his Passacaglia has remained one of the most widely-performed string duos in the chamber music repertoire. The theme is from the final movement of Handel’s Harpsichord Suite in G Minor, and the virtuosic work is often dually attributed to Halvorsen and the Baroque giant. Although originally written for a violin and viola, it is most commonly performed with the deeper cello acting as the anchoring bass instrument.
George Frideric Handel was an influential composer of the Baroque era. Despite originally being from Germany, Handel is best known as an English composer, as he spent the majority of his career living in Britain. Handel's love of English music and culture went so far that he even anglicized his name to blend in, changing his German "Georg" to the English "George" and "Händel" to "Handel". The Passacaglia in G minor was originally a from a keyboard suite for harpsichord that Handel had written in the first half of the 18th century. As was the case with many keyboard suites of the time, each of the movements of this suite were inspired by different kinds of dances and could be used as music for people to dance to. The Passacaglia is a 17th century dance originating in Spain--and this particular passacaglia by Handel is perhaps the best known movement from his G Minor Suite. With its fame has come a number of different arrangements ranging from string duets to full orchestral versions. This version from International Music, arranged by Johann Halvorsen, is a duet for violin and viola.
A total of 12 variations comprise the work, and, though Handel’s original contained 15, Halvorsen extended the Baroque work in total length, breadth, and flair, drawing heavily upon his own prodigious expertise as a violinist. The piece is technically challenging for both performers, showing off a wide range of techniques, tempos, colors, and atmospheres.
Conservatory violinist Felicity James wrote the following synopsis of the piece notes for the Colburn Chamber Music Society.
The Passacaglia opens with the viola courageously stating the four-measure ground bass while the violinist introduces the melody in a series of powerful double stops. This opening statement is followed by a series of variations that feature melodies in both the violin and viola in a wide range of contrasting moods and styles, while using techniques such as pizzicato, ponticello, spicatto, and legato bowstrokes. … Halvorsen’s Passacaglia lasts several minutes longer than the inspiring work, as each variation elaborates extensively on the main theme, showing off every angle of the two instruments. The penultimate variation is one of the most virtuosic for both musicians, featuring thrillingly dramatic scales spanning the extreme low and high registers of each instrument.
This, in turn, leads into the final variation, which is a series of double-stop sixteenth notes that charge all the way to the finish line in breathtaking culmination. Unlike the somber conclusion of the Handel movement, Halvorsen calls for a Picardy third—a bold G Major chord closing the piece in triumph.
Passacaglia may soon have company as one of the few Halvorsen works to enjoy a prominent place in the classical canon. In 2016, a Canadian music library unearthed a manuscript of his 1909 Violin Concerto, previously believed to be lost. Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud, a champion for lesser-known works by Scandinavian composers, brought it back to life in at the International Musicological Society’s annual conference in Norway and released its debut recording on Naxos in 2017.
Born: February 15, 1847, Frauental an der Laßnitz, Styria, Austria
Died: February 19, 1927, Vienna, Austria
Trio No. 3, Op, 115
for piano, violin, viola
Robert Fuchs composed his Piano Trio no. 3, Op. 115, in 1921. It appeared in print in 1926 in Vienna, published by Adolf Robitschek.
This is almost unknown, lovely, unfailingly melodious late-Romantic chamber music, a treat for anyone who values the wistful themes, powerful developments and mahogany textures of Brahms and his contemporaries. Indeed Robert Fuchs became a good friend of Brahms, and elicited the older man's praise (remarkable in itself given his famously caustic opinions of his contemporaries) for "beautiful, perfectly written music, fascinating in its inventiveness and always pleasant."
Fuchs was of a late generation, however, and his music moves forward into the 20th century, not with the bold iconoclasm of the Second Viennese School but the urgent post-Romanticism of Korngold and Goldmark. The Op.115 trio is scored for piano, violin and (unusually) viola, for which there are certain precedents written by Mozart and Schumann. Perhaps most notable to us now is its resemblance, at least in certain harmonic twists and the intensity of its development, to the much grander works of Gustav Mahler. In fact Mahler was an early pupil of Fuchs, but the trio is written after Gustav had died of heart disease in 1911, his reputation already assured to posterity in a way that Fuchs’ was not.
Robert Fuchs (1847-1927) was born in Austria near the border of Slovenia. He went to Vienna for his musical education and became a close friend of Johannes Brahms, who expressed himself very favorably about his music (“beautiful, perfectly written and fascinating in its inventiveness”). Later Fuchs became Director of the Vienna Conservatory, and teacher of an impressive array of students: Mahler, Zemlinsky, Schreker, Sibelius, Schmidt, Enescu, Wolf…Fuchs’ chamber music reflects the musical atmosphere of late 19th century Vienna: highly expressive, wide tonality, extensive use of chromaticism.
© 2015 Enrico Maria Polimanti
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Yevgenia Strenger, violin
Yevgenia Strenger has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in concert halls of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, and played in every major concert hall worldwide on New York Philharmonic orchestra tours. Before coming to USA she toured the former USSR as a member of Kalinin String Quartet.
Upon arrival in New York Ms. Strenger became a member of the New York City Opera where she becamethe Concertmaster in 2001. Her contribution to Live From Lincoln Center performance of “Madama Butterfly” was honored by Emmy awards. She is also a member of New York City Ballet and has been a frequent player with the New York Philharmonic for many years.
Ms. Strenger made her debut with the Lviv Symphony Orchestra in her native Ukraine at the age of 13, performing as a soloist in concertos by Conius and Sibelius. Since her arrival in this country she performed and recorded with wide range of artists, from classical to popular to avant-garde, in concerts on TV, radio and in motion pictures.
Sander Strenger, viola
Recognized as one of the rare breed of left-handed players in Ovation Magazine, Sander Strenger, moves comfortably between the violin and viola. Employing a lyric and graceful approach to the violin, and a beautifully balanced sound to the viola, Mr. Strenger was praised for his "lively…elegant performance"(Boston Globe). His playing calls attention to those small details of phrasing, articulation and tone which separate a performance from a mere reading. Mr. Strenger has appeared as soloist with the Bronx Symphony, the West Side Symphony, Broadway Bach Ensemble, and the Missouri Symphony Society. Mr. Strenger was also a member of the Lydian and Estehazy Quartets, the Berkshire Chamber Players, Euterpe Ensemble, and the Music Project. In addition, he has been heard in recitals and chamber music concerts at the Lenox Arts Center, Winthrop University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Emelin Theater, Merkin Hall, Weil Recital Hall, the Bronx Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and the National Arts Club. Formerly an assistant professor of music at the University of Missouri, Columbia, he served as Assistant Concertmaster of American Ballet Theater and the Opera Orchestra of New York.
Among numerous works performed by Mr. Strenger are premieres of compositions by Alexander Dmitriev and Matthew Greenbaum, and music by Arnold Rosner, Willard Roosevelt, Otto Luening, and Alexander Tcherepnin. A native New Yorker, Mr. Strenger is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied violin with Ariana Bronne and Raphael Bronstein, and chamber music with Lilian Fuchs and Artur Balsam.
Dan Berlinghoff, piano
Buffalo-born pianist Dan Berlinghoff was a late-starter at 12, studying with Allen Giles at the University of Buffalo and Villa Maria Institute of Music. After making his debut at 15 in Mozart's D minor Concerto, “handling an exacting concerto with skill and poise” (Buffalo Evening News). This “serious and persuasive musical personality” was a winner or finalist in several competitions from New York to Texas. Two years later, the Buffalo Courier Express praised his solo recital as “fluid and natural, dazzling and virtuosic. The spirit of his playing was charged with enthusiasm.”
Berlinghoff earned B.M. and M.M. degrees as a student of Beveridge Webster at the Juilliard School, studying chamber music with Lillian Fuchs and accompanying with Samuel Sanders. Postgraduate studies were with Artur Balsam at Manhattan School of Music where he was also a chamber music instructor. Described as “one of those accompanists who almost seems to breathe with the musician for whom he is playing” (San Angelo Standard Times), he partnered nearly every orchestral instrument and voice and appeared as soloist in Beethoven's C minor Concerto and Schumann's A minor Concerto in summer concerts with the Buffalo Philharmonia.
As co-founder, artistic director and pianist with The Music Project, a 10-member repertory ensemble of winds, strings and piano, he appeared in over 100 subscription concerts at Merkin Hall, Town Hall and Carnegie Recital Hall; on series at the Frick Collection, Caramoor Festival, and Maverick Concerts; in broadcasts on NPR and The Listening Room on WQXR; and on tours across the U.S. The group premiered or revived works by Beethoven, Mahler, Respighi, Hindemith, Persichetti and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and featured guests from Gerard Schwarz to Patricia Routledge— winning praise from The New Yorker as “New York’s bright, fresh alternative to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.” The New York Times called Berlinghoff “an elegant player,” in one
instance noting “one can only admire the ease with which his big hands wrapped around the octaves and rippling arpeggios.” (He believes his hands to be of normal size.)
Theater credits include sci-fi rock musical, CORFAX—Don’t Ask, and Carmilla, A Vampire Tale at LaMama Experimental Theater Club (off-Broadway and European tour), national tours of Pippin and I Do I Do (Howard Keel, Carol Lawrence), NY Shakespeare Festival productions of Mother Courage (Gloria Foster, Morgan Freeman) and The Pirates of Penzance (Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt) in Central Park and 700 performances on Broadway as pianist (cast album and film) and conductor.
In 1994, Berlinghoff became co-founder and executive director of the Artur Balsam Foundation for Chamber Music, supporting scholarships, workshops, a chamber music curriculum, duo competition at Manhattan School, archives at the University of Maryland and the Library of Congress, and historic recordings released on Bridge Records.
He now lives on Cape Cod.