Concerts

online premiere
November 14, 2021

Mozart & the Genius of Love

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Rachell Ellen Wong
Mozart’s love manifests in music which is both immediately charming and deeply rewarding. Our celebration includes two sonatas, a trio, and an adagio originally for the glass harmonica, an invention of Benjamin Franklin.

“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

— Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

 

Rachell Ellen Wong

VIOLIN

Susan Gulkis Assadi

viola

Byron Schenkman

Piano

 

Program


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Sonata in G Major, K. 301, for violin and piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Sonata in C Major, K. 330 (300h), for piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Trio in E-flat Major “Kegelstatt” K. 498 for violin, viola, and piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:

Adagio in C Major, K. 356 (617a), for glass harmonica (or piano)

 

“  played with such unerring beauty…”

— ConcertoNet.com

 

Program Notes


The life of a working musician is a bit of a high wire act which often involves juggling many income sources and walking a fine line between being innovative enough to capture people’s attention and create something meaningful, while being careful not to alienate one’s patrons with overly challenging material. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a master at this. And if my circus analogies seem to be over the top (pun intended), keep in mind that Mozart began his career as a child prodigy, exploited by his abusive father as a kind of freak show. Throughout his short life, Mozart was constantly seeking employment and patronage for his work. He never had a steady position such as his friend Joseph Haydn had at the Esterhazy palace, let alone the kind of trust fund created for Ludwig van Beethoven by his Viennese patrons to keep him in Vienna. Yet he persisted in creating an astounding body of work full of inspiration, joy, and an abundance of love. And in the words of the composer himself, “Love, love, love: that is the soul of genius.”

Our program begins with the piece Mozart presented to the world as his opus one, number one (K. 301). First impressions are important and it is interesting to note that Mozart disregarded the childhood works which his father had published on his behalf, including an opus one from fourteen years earlier. In contrast to the unremarkable works published by his father, the new opus one contains six brilliant sonatas for violin and keyboard, an impressive calling card for a young professional musician. Many years later Joseph Haydn composed a sonata of his own incorporating one of the themes from Mozart’s opus one, number one.

Mozart was a great keyboard player and much of his music features the piano. Sometimes he was writing for his own use, and often for the use of students, friends, and patrons. Mozart’s description of some of his piano concertos, from a letter to his father, applies equally to the Sonata in C Major, K. 330/300h:

“These concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult…There are passages here and there from which only connoisseurs can derive satisfaction; but they are written in such a way that the less learned will still be pleased, though without knowing why.”

 

 

Mozart’s “Kegelstatt” Trio, which takes its nickname from the likely apocryphal story that he composed the work while playing a game of skittles, was written for two of his friends, the clarinetist Anton Stadler, and the pianist Franziska von Jacquin. Mozart played the viola part himself. In the score he indicated that the clarinet part could also be played on violin as it is in our performance.

In the last year of his life Mozart wrote a few short pieces for an unusual instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin incorporating a row of spinning glasses. We close our program with an ephemeral Adagio in C Major, composed for Franklin’s “glass harmonica” and adapted here for piano.

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