Church Concerts

Tuesday December 28 | 13:30 hr

A regular and beloved item of the IKFU! From 1.30 pm we will take you to three beautiful atmospheric Utrecht churches that are extra beautifully decorated at this time of the year. Our international top cast plays familiar works, some of which are given a different look. For example, flutist Gili Schwarzman plays the first violin part of ‘The American’ by Dvořák. And Bach’s cello suites, but performed in an arrangement for two cellos. Mozart’s clarinet quintet goes as usual and Barber’s famous Adagio will touch you even more in the church. We will end the afternoon together in the Nicolaikerk. Of course with mulled wine and a (coronaproof) ‘oliebol’.

GEERTEKERK, 1.30pm – 2.15pm & 2.45pm – 3.30pm
J.S. Bach – Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007: Prelude, Sarabande, Gigue
W.A. Mozart – Clarinet Quintet in A, KV 581

Daishin Kashimoto – violin
Clara-Jumi Kang – violin
Sara Férrandez – viola
Pablo Férrandez – cello
Wenzel Fuchs – clarinet

LUTHERSE KERK, 1.30pm – 2.15pm & 2.45pm – 3.30pm
J.S. Bach – Cello Suite No. 3 in C, BWV 1009: Prelude, Sarabande, Gigue
A. Dvořák – String Quartet No. 12 in F ‘The American’, op. 96 (arr. Guy Braunstein)

Gili Schwarzman – flute
Guy Braunstein – violin
Amihai Grosz – viola
Zvi Plesser – cello

NICOLAIKERK, 4pm – 5pm 
J.S. Bach – Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 for 2 cellos (arr. Zvi Plesser & Hillel Zori)
S. Barber – String Quartet No. 1 in B minor, op. 11, part 2: “Molto Adagio”
A. Arensky – String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 35

Daishin Kashimoto – violin
Clara-Jumi Kang – violin
Sara Férrandez – viola
Amihai Grosz – viola
Pablo Férrandez – cello
Zvi Plesser – cello

Whether you as a listener start in the Geertekerk or in the Lutherse Church, the Churches Marathon begins anyway with cello music by Bach. The cellists Pablo Ferrández and Zvi Plesser will each play a
a few movements from the famous Cello Suites and at the end of the marathon they will play the complete Second Cello Suite together in the Nicolai Church in a special version cello suite in a special version for two cellos. Amihai Grosz & Friends combine Bach with masterpieces by Mozart, Dvořák, Barber and Arenski.

No cellist can do without Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites. They are perhaps the most important pieces ever composed for cello have ever been composed for the cello. Not only because Bach was one of the first composers to write such challenging and intriguing works written for solo cello, but especially because the suites are of a universal beauty. Bach wrote the six suites most probably between 1717 and 1723, the years when he was working was working at the court of Prince Leopold of Anholt-Köthen. Because the prince, in Bach’s own words, “was a music lover and a
connoisseur of music,” many musical activities took place. The court chapel in Calvinist Cöthen had to accompany church services much less frequently than in the often had to accompany church services than in the Lutheran cities. Bach therefore had time to compose and perform new instrumental music together with the excellent and perform it together with the excellent musicians of the court chapel, with whom he rehearsed weekly. In addition to the Cello Suites in this period probably also the Sonatas and Partitas for violin solo and parts of the solo and parts of the Well-Tempered Clavier.
In keeping with tradition in Bach’s time, each suite consists of a collection of dances consists of a collection of dances: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, two Minuets or two Bourrées and a concluding Gigue. These stylized dances are by no means popular with Bach. He demonstrates his mastery of the art of variation with an almost inexhaustible almost inexhaustible abundance of unexpected melodic, harmonic and rhythmic harmonic and rhythmic ideas. Cellist Pablo Ferrández will play three movements from the radiant and majestic Third cello suite in C major: a noble Prelude, a philosophical Sarabande and an exuberant Gigue.

Toward the end of his life, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote a number of beautiful works for clarinet for his friend, the clarinet virtuoso Anton Stadler: the Clarinet Concerto, the arias for clarinet from the opera La clemenza di Tito and the Clarinet Quintet. Mozart had previously encountered this new wind instrument in 1778, during a visit to the virtuoso and progressive Mannheim orchestra. “Ah, if only we had clarinets in our ensemble in Salzburg,” Mozart wrote to his father afterwards. Yet it was more than a decade after that before he would write his own masterpieces for clarinet, inspired in part by his friend Stadler. “I have never heard anything like what you with your instrument manages to invent,” Mozart wrote to him in 1785. “Never would I have thought that a clarinet could so well could imitate the human voice as you imitate it. Your instrument has such a soft and lovely sound that no one can resist it.” Stadler was musician of the Vienna court orchestra and he was famous for his exceptionally beautiful sound in the lowest register of the clarinet. He even owned a special instrument with which he could play even four tones lower than on an ordinary clarinet. The original version of the Clarinet Quintet, like the Clarinet Concerto, is actually intended for this so-called basset horn, but after Mozart’s death adapted versions for an “ordinary” clarinet soon circulated. The first performance of the Clarinet Quintet took place on 22 December 1789 during a private concert at the Burgtheater in Vienna, at one of the Christmas concerts of the Viennese ‘Tonkünstler Societät’. Mozart himself was probably playing the viola and of course Stadler was the clarinetist. The quintet has the grandeur and maturity that are so characteristic of Mozart’s last chamber music works. There is nothing to suggest that he has never before chosen the combination clarinet and string quartet before: the music is highly convincing, brilliant and moving. In the opening movement, the clarinetist carries on an eloquent conversation with the strings; in the second movement he is the lyrical opera singer, in the third movement he is allowed to take a break breath during an elegant trio for strings only and in the final movement the last movement he has the highest voice as the great virtuoso.

During the Churches Marathon, two cellists are in the spotlight. While Pablo Ferrández in the Geertekerk plays a few movements from Bach’s Third Cello Suite, Zvi Plesser in the Lutheran Church Zvi Plesser will play a few movements from the First Cello Suite. After that three more three colleagues will join us for Dvořák’s most famous string quartet in a surprising arrangement: flutist Gili Schwarzman plays the first violin part, arranged by second violinist Guy Braunstein.

Although Bach’s Cello Suites are already three centuries old, they have lost nothing lost none of their profundity and eloquence. No wonder that many distinguished cellists regularly perform and record them.
It is a source of frustration, however, that Bach’s manuscript has been lost. Fortunately, his second wife Anna Magdalena made a copy of the Cello Suites between 1727 and 1731. In addition, a copy by Bach’s student Johann Peter Kellner. Both Anna Magdalena and Kellner did not play a stringed instrument themselves and were unfortunately both no stringed instrument themselves and were unfortunately both very careless in copying Bach’s articulation arcs. Because the manuscripts are not complete, cellists themselves have to make a number of decisions about bowings, phrasings and harmonies without ever knowing for sure whether they come close to Bach’s original idea. The world-renowned cellist Anner Bijlsma aptly articulated this frustration in his book Bach, The Fencing Master: “Oh! Mrs. Bach! Why are your slurs so high over the notes? One more note under the slur, or one less, already turns my whole bow-arm machinery around!” Cellist Zvi Plesser has selected three movements for this afternoon’s performance from the First Cello Suite, the very same three dance forms that Pablo Ferrández is performing in the Geertekerk from the Third Cello Suite. The First Cello Suite is the best known and has a friendly and comforting character, thanks in part to the and comforting character, thanks in part to the mild key of G major. The striking and constantly repeating arpeggios (broken chords) in the enchanting Prelude immediately draw the attention. The same broken chords around the single strings G-D-A resound, somewhat less conspicuously, also in the contemplative Sarabande and the fast Gigue.

The successful Czech composer Antonin Dvořák composed his famous Twelfth String Quartet as well as his Ninth Symphony ‘From the New World’ during his stay in America from 1892 to 1895. The founder of the conservatory in New York, Jeannette Thurber, had brought Dvořák to America in the hope that he could make a contribution to the development of American music, which did not yet have a clearly identifiable style. After all, hadn’t Dvořák done the same for Czech music? She offered him a job as director and teacher of composition at her conservatory and paid him more than ten times what he earned in Prague for a similar position. Dvořák found the origins of the American music in the African music of the black population and in the music of the Indians he met in Iowa. It is often suggested that the influence of both cultures is evident in Dvořák’s American compositions, recognizable by the pentatonic melodies, syncopations and distinctive African rhythms. However, he did not adopt authentic melodies, and the
use of chromaticism, pentatonics and striking rhythms may just as well refer to influence from Czech folk music. Dvořák wrote his Twelfth String Quartet in the summer of 1893 in the Czech settlement of Spillville, Iowa, where he and his family to spend the vacations. After three days, the first draft was already finished. He was impressed with it himself, for he wrote on the last page of the manuscript “Thank God, I am satisfied. The went fast”. Happiness floods the listener from the first to the last note, except in the hypnotic slow movement, which perhaps refers to Dvořák’s homesickness for the Czech Republic. This afternoon the quartet sounds in a special form, because the first violin part has been replaced by flute. Violinist Guy Braunstein, who now plays the only violin part, made this arrangement about ten
years ago. Not only because he often performs with flutists and always on the lookout for new repertoire, but also because he was the first violinist in the original as first violinist in the original version of Dvořák’s quartet often tries to imitate the sound of a flute, for example, for the imitation of bird sounds in the third movement.

Also during the final concert of the Churches Marathon, the cellists Pablo Ferrández and Zvi Plesser play a notable role. In Nicolaikerk you will hear a unique arrangement for two cellos of Bach’s Second Cello Suite, created by Plesser and his friend and colleague Hillel Zori. This is an excellent match for Arenski’s string quartet with the exceptional scoring of two cellos instead of two violins.

The idea of adapting Bach’s Cello Suites for two cellos arose almost a decade ago. “My colleague and good friend Hillel Zori and I were invited together at the time by a chamber music festival in Isräel,” explains Zvi Plesser. “They wanted us to play a recital together, including something by Bach. So we cautiously began to arrange a few movements and the result was strikingly beautiful. With two cellos you can make the Bach’s hidden harmonies better, normally you have to normally you have to fantasize as a listener. Our arrangement makes this music a little more accessible. We have not left out a single note of Bach. We have only added the chords that Bach suggests in his solo part, but that you can’t possibly make sound on one cello. We decided at the time that we would like to edit all six cello suites in this way, and we
and we have been working on that for the past ten years. In Utrecht I will play the complete Second Suite, at Amihai’s special request. request of Amihai, exceptionally with another cellist. Together with Hillel Zori I would love to record the cello suites one day. And we are also going to publish our arrangement, one version for performing musicians and one especially for teachers.”

Encouraged in part by his musical parents, the Russian composer Anton Arenski quickly made a career as a composer, conductor and pianist. He studied with, among others, Rimsky-Korsakov and he was also very impressed by Tchaikovsky, with whom he became friends when he was a with whom he became friends when he himself became a teacher at the Moscow. In 1895 Arensky dedicated his Second String Quartet to Tchaikovsky, who had died in 1893. Initially Arensky chose a very exceptional scoring of violin, viola, and two cellos, but at the request of his publisher he soon after made a version for ‘ordinary’ string quartet as well, with two violins instead of two cellos. He also arranged the second movement for string orchestra. Amihai Grosz & Friends will close the Churches Marathon with the original version of Arenski’s impressive string quartet. The added value of two dark, low cello parts is immediately apparent in the first movement, which sounds extra melancholy thanks in part to two lyrical cellos. Also in the second movement, which is based on a based on a melody by Tchaikovsky, this scoring offers every opportunity to vary with timbres and moods. The seven variations are full of energetic, optimistic and humorous passages, alternating with somber, intimate or somber, intimate or, on the contrary, mysterious melodies. In all three movements Arensky uses motifs from Russian Orthodox church songs and folk-like melodies that give this quartet a particularly Russian character. This is also true of the robust finale, which refers to a Russian Orthodox liturgical hymn.

As an interlude between Bach’s somber and introverted Second Cello suite and Arensky’s melancholy Second String Quartet, we hear the moving Adagio by Samuel Barber. This is originally the second movement from Barber’s first (and only) string quartet of 1936. When it was premiered in 1938 in a version for string orchestra conducted by the renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini, Barber became Barber became famous overnight. At first Barber still thought that Toscanini was not interested in the piece, because after he had sent his arrangement for string orchestra to Toscanini, he received the score without any Toscanini, he received the score back without any comments. But Toscanini let Toscanini let it be known through a friend that he had immediately learned the score by heart and and some time later he conducted the premiere, which was broadcast live on the radio in America. The Adagio is very sad and speaks directly to the heart. Not for nothing does it also regularly at important public mourning moments, such as during the funerals of J.F. Kennedy, Einstein and ‘Lady Di’. In addition, this serious music is also often used in films, usually at death scenes or funerals.