Gateway Arts Concerts

Gateway Arts Lunchtime Concert

Thursday 20th September 2012

1.00 p.m.

Mozart Sonata in E minor

Brahms Sonata in A major

Massenet - Meditation from Thaïs

Alison Loram – violin
Vivian Redfern – piano

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)

Sonata No. 21 in E minor, K. 304 for Piano and Violin

1. Allegro

2. Tempo di Menuetto

The E minor sonata is the fourth of six (K. 301 to K. 306) composed during 1778 while Mozart was in Paris. Like all but the last of the six sonatas which are sometimes known as the Palatine sonatas after their dedicatee Maria Elisabeth, Electress of the Palatinate, the E minor has only two movements, but is the only one in a minor key. It is is often considered to be Mozart’s musical response to the death of his mother in July of that year. Certainly, it is at times intensely expressive and uncharacteristically dark in mood.

The sonata also takes forward Mozart’s attempts to give greater equality to the violin in a genre traditionally dominated by the keyboard. All 36 of Mozart’s violin sonatas are designated as being for keyboard and violin, rather than the reverse, but here, the austere opening theme of the Allegro is dramatically announced by both instruments in unison and afterwards is taken up not by the piano, but the violin.

JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 100 for Piano and Violin

1. Allegro amabile

2. Andante tranquillo - Vivace - Andante - Vivace di piu - Andante – Vivace

3. Allegretto grazioso (quasi andante)

The A major sonata is the shortest of Brahms's three sonatas for violin and considered to be the most lyrical. It was written during the summer of 1886 during Brahms’ first visit to what was to become his favourite retreat at Lake Thun in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. The summer was a refreshing and productive period for Brahms. Inspired by the convivial atmosphere of his surroundings and meetings with poets Josef Victor Widmann and Klaus Groth, and contralto Hermine Spies, he also produced his second cello sonata (F Major, Op. 99), the third piano trio (C minor, Op. 101) and various songs.

Motives from three of the songs, all written with Hermine Spies's voice in mind, appear fleetingly in the sonata: "Wie Melodien zieht es mir leise durch den Sinn", Op. 105, No. 1 ("Like melodies it steals softly through my mind"; words by Klaus Groth) makes an appearance in the second subject of the first movement, whilst "Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer", Op. 105, No. 2 ("Ever gentle is my sleep"; words by Hermann Lingg) and "Auf dem Kirchhofe", Op. 105, No. 4 (“In the Churchyard”; words by Detlev von Liliencron), are quoted in the final movement. Another song, "Komm bald", Op. 97, No. 5 ("Come soon"; words by Groth) is also said have provided thematic inspiration for the sonata.

The sonata was first performed later in 1886 in Vienna by the violinist Joseph Hellmesberger, Sr. and Brahms himself at the piano.

Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet (1842 – 1912)

arr. M.P. Marsick (1848-1924)

Méditation from Thaïs

Written for solo violin and orchestra, the Méditation is a symphonic entr'acte performed between the scenes of Act II in the opera Thaïs. In the first scene of Act II, Athanaël, a Cenobite monk, attempts to convince Thaïs, a beautiful and hedonistic courtesan, and devotée of Venus, to leave her life of luxury and pleasure, and find salvation through God. It is during a time of reflection following the encounter that the Méditation is played by the orchestra. In the second scene of Act II, following the Méditation, Thaïs tells Athanaël that she will follow him to the desert.

In an operatic setting the solo violin part is usually taken by the leader of the orchestra. However, the Méditation has become a popular concert piece and has been transcribed for many other instruments as well as for violin and piano. Massenet may have written it with religious intentions: a tempo marking of Andante Religioso, suggests that it should be played religiously and at walking speed.

Alison Loram, a former pupil of Harlescott Grange Primary School and the Wakeman School, Shrewsbury, began playing the violin first as a pupil of John Flint through Shropshire’s County Music Service and later with Robin Thurlby. She led the Shropshire Schools’ Symphony Orchestra from 1980-81, which included the orchestra’s tour to the Soviet Union, and in 1983 she was one of the joint equal winners of The Shropshire Concerto Competition. Alison went on to study at the Royal College of Music with Hugh Bean, John Ludlow and Rodney Friend, subsequently leading the orchestra of the National Centre for Orchestral Studies at Goldsmith’s College, with which she was also soloist in a performance of Barber’s Violin Concerto. A persistent shoulder problem led Alison to the Alexander Technique which she studied with Brian Door, qualifying as a member of the Professional Association of Alexander Teachers in 1992. Since that time, in addition to teaching the Technique at Birmingham Conservatoire, Alison has developed a career as a research scientist gaining a BSc and a PhD from the University of Birmingham and working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sheffield. As a member of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, Alison is currently combining her experiences in music, teaching and science in research into the neuromuscular aspects of playing the violin and viola. Alison now lives in Crewe and is a member of the Lydian Singers. This recital will be her first since taking up the violin again in 2011.

Vivian Redfern read Modern Languages at Girton College, Cambridge and has combined her musical activities with a busy teaching career. Born in London, Vivian played her first piano concerto with a local orchestra at the age of thirteen. She has spent most of her life in Shropshire where she continues to be based and is much in demand as an accompanist in Shropshire, Cheshire and farther afield. Vivian has played regularly for the Lydian singers, the Phoenix singers and the Newport and District Male Voice Choir of which she was appointed Musical Director in 2009. Her last appearance at the Gateway was in 2010 when she performed sonatas by Brahms, Shostakovitch and Franck with violist Helen Wearing.

Admission £4.00 on the door (£7.00 for evening concerts)
Friends of Gateway Arts £3.00
Carers with disabled and children free

To reserve tickets phone Muriel Williamson on 01743 850267

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