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The College Concert: Mozart, Piazzola and Beethoven

Every concert is an opportunity for talented musicians to demonstrate their understanding and interpretation of certain musical pieces. The task becomes especially complicated when works dating from different styles and epochs are combined in one concert, since it requires careful selection of the pieces providing sufficient diversity without excessive dissimilarity. In this sense the college concert was a success, and the program choice appeared to be harmonious and fascinating.

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Allegro from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D Major captivates by its simple elegance. Written in traditional sonata form, this piece represents a combination of wind and string instruments untypical of Mozart’s chamber works. Flute, violin, viola and cello engage in a smooth flow dominated by the melody of flute that is as if substituting for the traditional first violin. The overall impression created by the piece is that of carefree joy, with the light timbre of the ensemble being an ideal means of expressing the composer’s intention.

The final Rondo from the same Quartet continues the optimistic line of the Allegro, with a lively dialogue between the flute sounding playful passages and the violin engaging into more lyrical episodes. The resulting dialogue is entered by cello and carried on by viola further on. The structure of the main theme of this rondo reminds that of baroque concerts, with the tutti of the orchestra voicing the theme and the soloist taking up; but in this case the explication of the theme is reversed.

One of the least renowned but nonetheless remarkable chamber pieces created by Mozart, Duo for violin and viola K424 captivates by its charming tunefulness. The second part of it, the elegant three-beat Andante cantabile E-flat Major, represents a masterpiece for the violin. The singing instrument seems to pours out an endless melody rich with extensive melisms reminding of the Italian bel canto tradition and leaving the audience breath-taken.

A historical excursion in the world of tango is undertaken through listening to Astor Piazzola’s Café 1930 from the cycle Histoire du tango. The virtuosic guitar fingering as if asks one to a dance, and are answered by the languishing cues of the violin. The whole duet resembles the passionate dance by its exotic harmonies and rubato rhythm, with the guitar accompaniment carefully supporting the violin melody which winds around in fanciful arabesques. After a while of enthralling dialogue between the guitar and the violin, alternating with solos of either, the conciliatory E Minor returns the audience into the melancholy and spleen of a smoke-filled café.

Quite another atmosphere is created by the energetic Allegro con brio from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Trio for piano, clarinet and cello op.11. The vital and life-asserting B Major of the piece develops through a complicated dialogue between the instruments of the ensemble, with the piano playing a role of harmonic base, on the one hand, and of an independent driving force performing large solo pieces, on the other hand. The sharp four-beat meter is continuously emphasized in the accompaniment of the piano, and Beethoven’s determinate character is traced in the trochaic assertive phrases. The developmental phase of the sonata form is dominated by polyphonic motive development typical of Beethoven’s developments. Among the main performance difficulties in this piece is to achieve a well-balanced ensemble without overweighting any of the parties, and this task was skillfully solved by the musicians.

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