Program Notes: Mostly Baroque

Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 5, D major Georg Fredric Handel (1685-1759)







Five Sonatas in the form of a Suite Domenico Scarlatti (1685- 1757)


Tempo di Menuetto



Fuga (Del Gatto)

Concerto for Four Violins, B minor, Op. 3, No.10, RV 580 Antonio Vivaldi(1678 – 1741)


Largo – Larghetto


Soloists: Michael Emery, Alyson Slack, Noah Luft-Weissberg, and Elizabeth Kilpatrick


Toy Symphony Leopold Mozart (1719-1787)




Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, G major, BWV 1048 Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)




At the age of ten, Michael Emery began his musical studies with Alfredo Cavalieri, and in two years was selected to perform in the Carnegie RecolorMichaelcital Hall by the Violin, Viola, and Violoncello Teacher’s Guild of New York City.  In 1972, he was the first prizewinner in the advanced instrumental competition of the Albany League of Arts and winner of the Albany Symphony Concerto Competition.  The following year he was soloist in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto as winner of the Northeastern Student Orchestra Concerto Competition.

After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from the College of St. Rose in Albany, Mr. Emery began his career as recitalist throughout New York and New England.  As a scholarship student in the Master of Music Performance program at the Manhattan School of Music, he was a student of Erick Friedman and the late Raphael Bronstein, served as concertmaster of the Manhattan Symphony, and was selected to perform in the master classes of Henryk Szeryng and Ruggiero Ricci.

Mr. Emery has performed in the Sibelius, Ludwig Spohr and the Paganini International Violin Competitions, and was invited to participate in the Tchaikovsky International Competition. Mr. Emery is concertmaster and is a frequent soloist with several orchestras in the Upstate New York region including the Catskill, Schenectady, and Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his teaching positions at Skidmore College and the College of St. Rose, Mr. Emery teaches privately in his studios in Saratoga Springs and Schenectady.

alysonslackcoloreditedAlyson Slack joined the Schenectady Symphony when she moved to the area in 2009. She is a founding member of the chamber group Lark Strings and plays Appalachian fiddle in the Battenkill String Band. She also frequently plays with the Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, and Catskill Symphony Orchestra. Alyson has performed and trained in Washington, D.C., Seoul, Korea, and Charleston, South Carolina, and is a multi-year alumna of the Brevard Music Center. By day, she is the director of special projects at the Center for Economic Growth.

noahweisbergNoah Luft-Weissberg, a Niskayuna native, has been playing the violin since the age of three. He began studies in the Suzuki Method with local teacher Ann Posner. Mr. Luft-Weissberg attended Suzuki Institutes, ESYO, NYSSMA festival orchestras including the All State orchestra, and NYSSSA School of Orchestral Studies, where he met his future college teacher, Ex-concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra William Depasquale. Mr. Depasquale took Noah into his studio at Temple University for Undergraduate and Graduate studies in violin performance. During this time, Noah served as concertmaster for the Temple University Symphony Orchestra, taught violin lessons, and freelanced in the Philadelphia area. After achieving a Master’s Degree in violin performance, he took a six month contract on a cruise ship, sailing from Alaska to the Caribbean while playing in a string quartet. Moving back to Niskayuna afterwards, Noah joined the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra and maintained a teaching studio. Mr. Luft-Weissberg now lives in Manhattan, where he freelances.

elizabethkirkpatrickViolinist Elizabeth Kilpatrick is an active recitalist, chamber and orchestral musician, and music teacher in the New England and Upstate New York area. She has performed recitals throughout the United States and chamber and orchestral music internationally, most notably in Smetana Hall, Prague. Elizabeth holds an interim position as violinist with the Glens Falls Symphony, and performs frequently with the Schenectady and Catskill Symphonies as well as other professional ensembles in the area. Her teachers include Joana Genova of the Michael Rudiakov Music Academy and Michael Emery, Senior Artist-in-Residence at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, with whom she currently studies. Elizabeth is earning her Associate’s Diploma in Violin Performance from The Royal Conservatory of Music to be completed in 2015, after which she plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree. An alumnus of the Luzerne Music Festival, Elizabeth also studies chamber music at Skidmore College, and has received coaching with the following: faculty of the Manchester Music Festival, faculty of the Luzerne Music Festival, the American String Quartet, the Ying Quartet, and Ensemble ACJW. She is on the violin faculty of the Michael Rudiakov Music Academy in Manchester, VT and also maintains a private violin and piano studio.

Program notes

Concerto grosso Op. 6, No.5 Georg Fridric Handel

The fifth grand concerto in the brilliant key of D major is an energetic concerto in six movements. It incorporates in its first, second and sixth movements reworked versions of the three-movement overture to Handel’s Ode for St Cecilia’s Day (Larghetto, e staccato  allegro  minuet), composed in 1739 immediately prior to the Op.6 concerti grossi and freely using Gottlieb Muffat’s Componimenti musicali (1739) for much of its thematic material. The minuet was added later to the concerto grosso, perhaps for balance: it is not present in the original manuscript; the rejected trio from the overture was reworked at the same time for Op.6 No.3.

The first movement, in the style of a French overture with dotted rhythms and scale passages, for dramatic effect has the novel feature of being prefaced by a two bar passage for the first concertino violin.

The allegro, a vigorous and high-spirited fugue, differs very little from that in the Ode, except for three additional bars at the close. The composition, divided into easily discernible sections, relies more on harmony than counterpoint.

The third movement is a light-hearted presto in 3/8 time and binary form. A busy semiquaver figure runs through the dance-like piece, interrupted only by the cadences.

The largo in 3/2 time follows the pattern set by Corelli. The concertino parts dominate the movement, with the two solo violins in expressive counterpoint. Each episode for soloists is followed by a tutti response.

The delightful fifth allegro is written for full orchestra. The rollicking first subject is derived from the twenty third sonata in Domenico Scarlatti’s Essercizi Gravicembalo of 1738. The subsequent repeated 16th-note passage-work over a walking bass recalls the style of Georg Philipp Telemann. Handel, however, treats the material in a wholly original way: the virtuoso movement is full of purpose with an unmistakable sense of direction, as the discords between the upper parts ineluctably resolve themselves.

The final menuet, marked un poco larghetto, is a more direct reworking of the minuet in the overture to the Ode. The first statement of the theme is melodically pruned down, so that the quaver figure in the response gives the impression of a variation. This warm-hearted and solid movement was added at a later stage by Handel, perhaps because it provided a more effective way to end the concerto than the brilliant fifth movement.

Five Sonatas in the form of a Suite Domenico Scarlatti

Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti, an Italian composer, spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style. Like his renowned father Alessandro Scarlatti he composed in a variety of musical forms, although today he is known mainly for Only a small fraction of Scarlatti’s compositions were published during his lifetime; Scarlatti himself seems to have overseen the publication in 1738 of the most famous collection, his 30 Essercizi (“Exercises”). These were well received throughout Europe, and were championed by the foremost English writer on music of the eighteenth century, Charles Burney.

The many sonatas which were unpublished during Scarlatti’s lifetime have appeared in print irregularly in the two and a half centuries since. Scarlatti has attracted notable admirers, including Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Béla Bartók, Dmitri Shostakovich, Heinrich Schenker, Vladimir Horowitz, Emil Gilels, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and Marc-André Hamelin.

Scarlatti’s 555 keyboard sonatas are single movements, mostly in binary form, and mostly written for theharpsichord or the earliest pianofortes. (There are four for organ, and a few for small instrumental group). Some of them display harmonic audacity in their use of discords, and also unconventional modulations to remote keys. Other distinctive attributes of Scarlatti’s style are the following: The influence of Iberian (Portuguese and Spanish) folk music. An example is Scarlatti’s use of the Phrygian mode and other tonal inflections more or less alien to European art music. Many of Scarlatti’s figurations and dissonances are suggestive of the guitar. A formal device in which each half of a sonata leads to a pivotal point, which the Scarlatti scholar Ralph Kirkpatrick termed “the crux”, and which is sometimes underlined by a pause or fermata. Before the crux, Scarlatti sonatas often contain their main thematic variety, and after the crux the music makes more use of repetitive figurations as it modulates away from the home key (in the first half) or back to the home key (in the second half).

Concerto for 4 Violins Antonio Vivaldi

L’Estro Armonico (Harmonic Inspiration), Op. 3, is a collection of twelve concertos for one, two and four violins written by Antonio Vivaldi in 1711. It augmented the reputation of Vivaldi as Il Prete Rosso (The Red Priest). Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot described the set as “perhaps the most influential collection of instrumental music to appear during the whole of the eighteenth century.”

The Toy Symphony Leopold Mozart

The Toy Symphony is a musical work with parts for toy instruments and is popularly played at Christmas. It was long reputed to be the work of Joseph Haydn, but later scholarship suggested that it was actually written by Leopold Mozart. Its authorship is still disputed, however, and other composers have been proposed as the symphony’s true author. The symphony did not appear in published form until 1820. In the first edition the composer was given as Haydn with no further identification. From that time it was assumed that Haydn was the composer of this seven-minute, three movement homotonal symphony which calls for toys, a trumpet, ratchet, nightingale, cuckoo and drum. A fanciful story was concocted in which Haydn composed this work after purchasing several toys at a fair, and then performed the result at Eszterháza for delighted children at a Christmas party. By the 1930s scholars began to doubt that this tale was truthful, as no such work appears in the exhaustive Entwurf-Katalog Haydn himself compiled of his own compositions.

The identity of the true composer of the Toy Symphony seemed clinched with the discovery of the work in its three-movement form in a manuscript copied by Leopold Mozart in 1759. This was supported by the existence of a similar work (also once believed to be Leopold Mozart’s) The Musical Sleigh-Ride, which calls for a cracking whip, sleigh bells and other sound effects that resemble those in the Toy Symphony. However, the accuracy of the Leopold Mozart attribution was called into question as it became clear that even The Musical Sleigh-Ride was probably not Leopold’s work; he was an avid copyist who made exemplars of dozens of pieces by hand. The best research indicates that the Toy Symphony is not even a symphony as such; its three movements are most probably compiled from one or even several toy cassations (i.e. divertimenti) long, multi-movement works that were written in the 1750s and 1760s in and around the city of Berchtesgaden, a major manufacturer of toy musical instruments. Both professional and amateur composers wrote these pieces, and existing sources are not clear if much of this literature can be safely ascribed to any composers of note, let alone such “magic” Classical-era names as those of the Mozarts or the Haydns.

Recent research on a newly found manuscript suggests the Austrian Benedictine monk Edmund Angerer (1740–1794) to be the author. If Angerer’s manuscript is the original, the Toy Symphony was originally written not in G but rather in C. These findings, however, are disputed among scholars. There is reason to believe that the true composer will likely never be known, in whole or in part, given its confused origins and the paucity of related manuscript sources.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 , G Major, BWV 1048 Johann Sebastian Bach

In this concerto, three string choirs are used, each divided into three. Sometimes the three instruments within their respective choirs are used in unison, and sometimes they are split up as separate voices. This allows for remarkable variety.

The first movement (with no explicit tempo marking but usually played as allegro) can also be found in reworked form as the sinfonia of the cantata Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte, BWV 174. The second movement consists of a single measure with the two chords that make up a “Phrygian half cadence” and—although there is no direct evidence to support it—it was likely that these chords are meant to surround or follow a cadenza improvised by a harpsichord or violin player. Modern performance approaches range from simply playing the cadence with minimal ornamentation (treating it as a sort of “musical semicolon”), to inserting movements from other works, to cadenzas varying in length from under a minute to over two minutes. The score calls for three violins, three violas, three cellos, and basso continuo (including harpsichord).

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