Soloists: Nikolai Mokhov (flute), Timur Martynov (trumpet), Daria Lebedeva (cembalo)
Chamber Orchestra of the St Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov School of Music
Artistic Director and Conductor: Dmitry Ralko
Johann Joachim Quantz
Concerto for Flute and Strings in G Major
Johann Baptist Georg Neruda
Concerto for Trumpet and Strings in E Flat Major
Symphony No 45 F Sharp Minor, Farewell, Hob I: 45
Johann Joachim Quantz (1697–1773) was born in a merchant’s family. His first teacher was his uncle, a municipal musician of Merseburg. At the age of seventeen he joined the town orchestra, where he mastered the flute, oboe, trumpet and several other instruments. In 1716 he was appointed oboist and flautist at the Staatskapelle Dresden and studied composition under Jan Zelenka and Johann Fux in Vienna. With the Court Orchestra of King Augustus II of Saxony he undertook frequent visits to Poland. From 1724–1726 he travelled to Italy where he studied counterpoint and met his idols – Alessandro Scarlatti and Antonio Vivaldi, also travelling to Paris and London where his music was highly praised by Handel.
In 1828, having been appointed a flautist with the Court Capella of Saxony in Dresden, he began to give flute lessons to Prince Frederick – the future King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Quantz remained at his Court in Berlin to the end of his life, directing the orchestra and serving as a master flute-maker. He wrote the treatise On Playing the Flute – basically one of the first didactic manuals for performing Baroque music. Quantz perfected the flute, bringing it close to the instrument we know today. Quantz composed over two hundred sonatas and three hundred concerti for flute, some fifty trio sonatas and numerous flute duets, trios and quartets...
Much loved by musicians, the Concerto for Flute and Strings in G Major is an example of the transitional style between the Baroque and early Classicism that emerged in Quantz’ music in the mid 18th century. With the music of this concerto, Quantz was as if passing on the composer’s baton from the genre’s founder Antonio Vivaldi to its reformer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
A younger contemporary of Quantz, Johann Baptist Georg (Jan Křtitel Jiří in Czech) Neruda (1708–1780) was born in a musical family in Bohemia (today the Czech Republic). Even as a young man he had won a reputation as a violinist and conductor, followed by success in Germany where he later became concertmaster of the Court Orchestra in Dresden. Neruda was a typical representative of the pre-Classical style as well as the composer of eighteen symphonies, fourteen instrumental concerti, sonatas, sacred music and the comic opera Les Troqueurs.
Of the composer’s concerti for wind instruments, the most popular is the Concerto for Trumpet and Strings in E Flat Major. Initially, the concerto was composed for corno da caccia (“hunting horn”), meaning for true French horn using a generally higher register. In performance practice today the version for solo trumpet is much more frequently met.
The “Farewell” Symphony is one of the most famous works by the Viennese maestro. The unusual nature of this music gave birth to myriad legends regarding the circumstances of its creation while the composer was still living. In 1772, Haydn, at the time in the service of the Hungarian Prince Eszterházy, was commissioned to compose a new symphony: the Prince was a great music lover, and almost always there would be some kind of concert at one of his homes. The novelty of the work caught the imagination of Eszterházy and his guests from the very first bars with its mournful minor key and the dramatically expressive theme accompanied by the anxiously pulsing chords. But the main surprise for listeners comes at the end: after the traditional conclusion in the fourth movement, there comes an additional fifth, written by the composer with a specific and original ain. During the performance, the musicians in turn extinguished the candles on the music stands then left, taking with them their instruments – and the symphony came to a conclusion with just two violins, one of them played by Haydn himself. According to a report by the composer’s friend and first biographer Georg August Grisinger, this highly unexpected conclusion to the work was intended as a kind of hint to Eszterházy: that day, the Prince was at his summer residence, and among the musicians there were several newlyweds who were keen to return to their spouses who had remained in the city. Grisinger noted that Eszterházy was just as witty as his court composer – when the musicians departed, he said “Well then, as everyone has gone, we too must leave this castle.” And the next day he gave the order to return to town.