A not -to-be missed release for fans of virtuosic trumpet playing. Principal David Bilger is featured in the Haydn trumpet Concerto, stepping to the front of the orchestra to give us his characteristic impeccable and polished.
Recorded live September 17, 1998 (Symphony No. 86), and February 13, 2003 (Trumpet Concerto), Academy of Music (1998) and Verizon Hall (2003), The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Composers such as Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi used the trumpet to brilliant effect in the Baroque era, both as a prominent member of large instrumental and choral ensembles (consider the limited but spectacular trumpet moments in Messiah) and as featured soloist in a concerto grosso (Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 is probably the most famous example). And although concertos for the instrument have become relatively rare in the last 200 years, Romantic and 20th-century composers integrated trumpets into orchestral works as a mainstay of the brass section. The trumpet played a more modest role in the Classical era, largely due to the instrument’s limitations: It could play only a select number of notes. Certain symphonies in certain keys—like Haydn’s in C major that opened this concert punctuated important structural moments with trumpet flourishes and concluded with triumphant fanfares, but the instrument otherwise was omitted entirely or its presence restricted to supporting the harmony. New Possibilities for the Trumpet The problem was that trumpets could only play a limited number of notes in a given key—if the music modulated to a distant key, the trumpeter would have to have another instrument on hand tuned to that key. Even within a given key, only certain notes could be produced by lip position and breath pressure. These problems would largely be solved in 1813 with introduction of the valve trumpet, an instrument that could produce many notes. Haydn’s Concerto in E-flat came about in response to an interim solution, a keyed trumpet invented by Anton Weidinger (1767-1852) in the early 1790s. Weidinger was a celebrated trumpeter in the Vienna Court Orchestra, as well as a friend and great admirer of Haydn. His concerts often featured Haydn’s music and around 1796, upon Haydn’s return from London, he requested a Trumpet Concerto. The work waited four years for its premiere, on March 28, 1800, perhaps because Weidinger was still working the kinks out in the instrument. An announcement of the concert stated, “Weidinger’s intention on this occasion is to present to the world for the first time, so that it may be judged, an organized trumpet that he has invented and brought—after seven years of hard and expensive labor—to what he believes may be described as perfection. It contains several keys and will be displaced in a concerto specially written for this instrument by Herr Joseph Haydn, Doctor of Music.” Haydn clearly reveled in new possibilities of the trumpet. There are passages in which he fully exploits the chromatic scale, the melody slithering up or down by half steps. And yet there are indications that the new instrument lacked the brilliance we associate with the trumpet. A Viennese report at the time noted: The Court trumpeter Weidinger invented a keyed trumpet, on which all the half notes can be produced very purely and with certainty over a range of two octaves. Really an important improvement; but it appears that through using the keys, the trumpet’s tone loses something of its characteristic and prominent strength, and approaches more closely the tone of a strong oboe. Obscurity and Fame After its premiere in 1800 the Concerto disappeared for more than a century. Some of Haydn’s other concertos are lost entirely and so it is fortunate that this one survived in its original manuscript source. In 1929 a Belgian publisher released the piece for the first time, arranged for trumpet and piano. A first recording on 78s in the mid 1930s, incomplete as it only included the second and third movements, put the piece on the map and sold remarkably well. Since then, as the preeminent Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon observes, it has undoubtedly become “Haydn’s most popular concerto (and probably his most popular work nowadays).” A Closer Look In the initial Allegro, Haydn gives the soloist time to “warm up” by having the soloist play along at times in the opening orchestral section. There is a point near the end where a cadenza can be inserted. Haydn provided none and tonight Mr. Bilger plays his own. The Andante is more intimate, lacking horns, trumpets, and timpani. The melody is somewhat similar to the Austrian National Anthem (“Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser”), from the “Emperor” Quartet, Op. 76, No. 3, he would write the following year. The Finale (Allegro) wins high praise from the authoritative Landon, who thinks the piece Haydn’s “best” concerto: “The third movement is without any question one of the most fascinating, scintillating, and formally brilliant rondos that Haydn ever composed—and he wrote upwards of one hundred which could compete in such a contest.” —Christopher H. Gibbs Program note © 2003. All rights reserved. Program note may not be reprinted without written permission from The Philadelphia Orchestra Association. Symphony No. 86 in D major Composed in 1786 Franz Joseph Haydn Born in Rohrau, Lower Austria, March 31, 1732 Died in Vienna, May 31, 1809 By 1785 Haydn’s fame in German-speaking lands was secure—and in England as well, even though he had yet to make his famous visits there. But France was a different matter: symphonic composers from the German and Austrian courts were not immediately welcomed among French audiences, which in any case overwhelmingly preferred opera to instrumental music. Nevertheless when the first “bootleg” editions of Haydn’s works (the String Quartets, Op. 1) had been disseminated in Paris during the 1760s, they were wildly successful. And his symphonies, which were heard in the city as early as 1773, seemed to suit perfectly the French taste for melodious but sharply etched tunes and richly unexpected harmonic developments. So familiar was Haydn’s name to Parisian concertgoers that when Count Claude-François d’Ogny led a group of freemasons in commissioning symphonies for the Concert de la Loge Olympique, there seemed little question that Haydn was everyone’s first choice. The composer was contacted at the Eszterházá palace (in what is now northwestern Hungary), where he had lived in the service of the Esterházy family for most of his musical career, and was asked to write six symphonies for the Loge’s rather large orchestra. (French orchestras frequently employed 40 to 50 musicians, as opposed to the 25 to 30 that was the norm for Austrian ensembles; Haydn’s group at Eszterház á, on the other hand, had only 24 players.) Haydn responded quickly and enthusiastically to the opportunity to compose for such a large orchestra, and the depth and richness of the instrumental writing in the “Paris” Symphonies (Nos. 82-87) are matched by nothing that precedes them—and by little that comes after. He completed the six in 1785 and 1786, and they were first performed during the 1787 season. “Monsieur Haydn’s symphonies were performed on each of last year’s concerts,” wrote a critic in the Mercure de France of April 5, 1788, of the Loge’s series. “The more one heard them, the more one admired the output of this great genius; in each of his works he manages to produce unique tunes and rich, varied developments—quite unlike those sterile composers who move lifelessly from one idea to another, mechanically and tastelessly accumulating cheap effects with no sense of connecting them.” The 86th Symphony was probably the fifth composed of the set, in 1786, if one is to believe the order in which Haydn later instructed his publisher, Artaria, to print the set. Like the Symphony No. 87 (and unlike the other “Paris” symphonies), it employs trumpets and drums to lend a stately brilliance. H.C. Robbins Landon, the great Haydn scholar, calls it “perhaps the greatest of the Paris Symphonies: certainly the most majestic in its quick movements, the most profound in its slow.” Indeed, the piece is one of Haydn’s most dynamic compositions from any period; its slow introduction (Adagio) hardly prepares the ear for the surprisingly unstable tonality of the principal theme (Allegro spiritoso), introduced in a violin melody that takes its time in establishing the main key of D major. The quirky second subject, with its smirking dotted-figure, seems too brief, almost inconsequential, but this is compensated in the unusually long development section, which lavishes uncommon attention on both subjects. The slow movement (Capriccio: Largo) employs a theme derived from the ascending arpeggio (“broken chord”) that we heard at the outset of the first movement’s the introduction. The structure is highly free and its emotional range is wide. Landon draws parallels to C.P.E. B ach’s erratic emotional swings, though in fact movements such as these—in which turbulent outbursts are freely juxtaposed with passages of abruptly restored calm—are not all that uncommon in Haydn’s output either. The Menuet (Allegretto) restores a majestic orderliness to the proceedings, though the density of its textures looks forward to the symphonies of the London visits; the Trio features solos from the bassoon, oboe, and flute. The sonata-form finale (Allegro con spirito) is one of the composer’s most fleet and delightfully symphonic endings. —Paul J. Horsley Program note © 1998. All rights reserved. Program note may not be reprinted without written permission from The Philadelphia Orchestra Association. ABOUT THE ARTISTS The 2002-03 season marks Wolfgang Sawallisch’s tenth and final year as music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Acclaimed as one of the greatest living exponents of the Germanic musical tradition, he has enriched and expanded upon the Orchestra’s century-old tradition of excellence. He was an outspoken advocate for the construction of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s new home at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. He actively participated in planning for the concert hall’s acoustics and operations, and conducted the Orchestra’s first performances in Kimmel’s Verizon Hall, in December 2001. Mr. Sawallisch was born in Munich and graduated from that city’s Academy of Music. His career began in 1947 at the Opera Theater of Augsburg, where he was vocal coach, chorus master, and conductor of ballet, opera, and concert music. In 1953 he became the youngest conductor to lead the Berlin Philharmonic. He next held successive music directorships in Aachen, Wiesbaden, and Cologne and appeared annually at Bayreuth. During the 1960s he was music director of both the Vienna Symphony and the Hamburg Philharmonic and from 1973-80 served as artistic director of Geneva’s Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. In 1971 he became music director of the Bavarian State Opera, serving concurrently as general manager during his last decade there before coming to Philadelphia. Mr. Sawallisch’s discography includes numerous orchestral and opera recordings, both with The Philadelphia Orchestra and with a number of European ensembles. His recordings of Schumann’s symphonies with the Dresden Staatskapelle are considered a benchmark against which other renditions are compared. His Philadelphia discs include works by Bruckner, Dvořák, Hindemith, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner. Mr. Sawallisch’s artistry has been recognized with many awards. He was given the Toscanini Gold Baton in recognition of his 35-year associa¬tion with La Scala and he has received honorary degrees from the Curtis Insti¬tute of Music, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and Villanova University. Last season he received the Pennsylvania Governor’s Distinguished Artist Award, as well as the new Avatar Award for Artistic Excellence, created by the Arts and Business Council of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. A gifted pianist, Mr. Sawallisch is highly regarded as a chamber musician and accompanist. 2/2003 David Bilger has held the position of principal trumpet of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 1995. Prior to joining the Orchestra, he held the same position with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Dallas Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the Oakland Symphony, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, among others. Mr. Bilger made his Philadelphia Orchestra solo debut in December 1996. In 1998 he performed the Tomasi Trumpet Concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and on tour in North and South America. He has performed recitals in New York, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and other major American cities. Mr. Bilger has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with which he recorded Bach’s Second Brandenburg Concerto. Other chamber music appearances include performances with Chamber Music Northwest, the New York Trumpet Ensemble, Saint Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, as well as guest appearances with the Canadian Brass and the Empire Brass. He recently released a recording of new electro-acoustic music for trumpet and synthesizers with composer Meg Bowles. Mr. Bilger is currently on the music faculties of the Curtis Institute of Music, Temple University, and Swarthmore College, and has formerly been affiliated with Catholic University, Rice University, and the University of North Texas. He has performed master classes at dozens of institutions, including Indiana University, the University of Michigan, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Peabody Conservatory. Mr. Bilger, who was born in Brookfield, Wisconsin, was educated at the Juilliard School of Music and the University of Illinois. He and his wife, Cynthia, have three children, Emily, Richard, and Abraham. 2/2003 PRODUCTION CREDITS Balance Engineer: George Blood Recording Engineer: George Blood Editor: Charles Gagnon Assistant Editor: Carlos Prieto Archival Transfer: Virginie Gagnon-Leduc Sawallisch Cover and Bio Photo: Chris Lee Bilger Bio Photo: Jean Brubaker