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Of Art, Invention, and Good Spirits

Paul Wiancko (b. 1983) | American Haiku for Viola & Cello


I. Far Away
II. In Transit
III. Home

W.A. Mozart (1756—1791) | Divertimento in E♭ major for String Trio, K. 563


I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Menuetto
IV. Andante
V. Menuetto (Allegretto)
VI. Allegro

~

Sasha Callahan, violin

Alexander Vavilov, viola

Leo Eguchi, cello​

~

Program and Wine Tasting Notes

 

Winter has been the quintessential challenge to human survival since the beginning of time. As the cold freezes the plant and creature alike, we shelter inside with our loved ones and hope that the kindling and the nourishment will last until nature awakens again in Spring. As we make our way through the cold dark months, we are inspired to recognize and celebrate that which sustains us and gives us hope: human invention and good cheer.

The first item on our menu has no shortage of either about it. How do you combine Appalachian fiddling and Japanese folk tunes in a piece for just two Italian instruments? Paul Wiancko excelled in just that with his viola and cello duo, aptly named American Haiku. It starts with a fanfare invoking a virtuosic brass ensemble and quickly swirls into a tapestry of infectious percussive rhythms in the cello underpinning the Japanese folk tune in viola. In just a few moments we are transported half a world away to a village in Kentucky, tapping our toes and bobbing our heads to a jiving fiddle tune.

The only string trio Mozart ever completed is rightfully celebrated as one of the jewels of chamber music repertoire. The unparalleled inventiveness of the creator is prominently on display here, but is only a part of the story. By 1788, the year of writing, Mozart and his family fell on hard times and were struggling to make ends meet. A fellow Freemason and good friend of the composer, Michael Puchberg, had often extended a lifeline to the family by loaning money and on one such occasion received back a dedication of this trio as a way of repayment.

The loan must have been generous indeed for the 50-minute-long composition is double the length of a standard string quartet or even a symphony. The assembly of 6 movements ranges wildly in character and takes us on a breathtaking journey from the symphonic opening through the serendipitous Adagio, a set of colorful variations sandwiched between two Minuets (one, vigorous; another, elegant), and towards the folksy finale.

In Mozart: His Character, His Work, one of the most revered Mozart scholars, Alfred Einstein, wrote about this divertimento: “Each instrument is primus inter pares, every note is significant, every note is a contribution to spiritual and sensuous fulfillment in sound”. He thought that the piece “was intended to offer something special in the way of art, invention, and good spirits,” and we couldn’t agree more.

 

- Alexander Vavilov

Beyond a name:

Before Mozart’s groundbreaking string trio K.563, the title Divertimento was reserved for light, easy going works — a diversion, nothing serious. All that was redefined with this six movement epic of depth and complexity. Similarly, Paul Wiancko’s American Haiku for cello and viola bears a finely etched intricacy that belies the brevity of its seventeen syllable namesake.  To match these two great works, I looked for wines of great complexity and soul…wines that transcend their appellations. 

Every wine from Domaine Huet makes me question my assumptions of what the wines of Vouvray, and the Chenin Blanc grape in general, is capable of. Ginger, honey, lime, stone fruits and minerality rest on a textured and bone dry frame. I love how this wine mirrors the program in juggling delicate nuance with sharply defined contrasts.

Second generation master of Zinfandel Morgan Twain-Peterson’s 2018 Bedrock Wine Company’s Esola Vineyard is a beauty. Lighter in spirit, if not body, than your father’s zin, the brambly fruits, white pepper notes and lively acidity create a balance that stands up nicely to the rich layering of both musical works.

 

- Leo Eguchi

 

© 2018 by Sheffield Chamber Players

a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

Sheffield Chamber Players

9 Arborway Terrace

Boston, MA 02130

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This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council

and administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.