Feb 23, 2021 - 8 PM EDT
Members of the NAC Orchestra with pianist Frédéric Lacroix showcase their exceptional musicianship in this chamber music concert of works by two distinguished women composers of the 19th century: Louise Farrenc and Luise Adolpha Le Beau.
This concert features the chamber music debut of Stephanie Morin, the NAC Orchestra’s new Second Flute, who began her first season in September 2020.
LOUISE FARRENC Flute Trio, Op. 45 (22’)
I. Allegro deciso - Più moderato ed espressivo
III. Scherzo. Vivace - Poco più sostenuto
Stephanie Morin, flute / Rachel Mercer, cello / Frédéric Lacroix, piano
LUISE ADOLPHA Le BEAU Piano Quartet in F minor, Op. 28 (24’)
I. Adagio – Allegro con fuoco
III. Tempo di Mazurka
IV. Finale. Allegro
Yosuke Kawasaki, violin / Paul Casey, viola / Rachel Mercer, cello / Frédéric Lacroix, piano
Louise Farrenc (1804–1875) and Luise Adolpha Le Beau (1850–1927) emerged as composers of note at a time when musicians of their gender were more often performers rather than writers of music. They also established their reputations composing chamber music, which, in their respective cultural milieus in France and Germany, was remarkable, for neither was it the most fashionable genre (as in Farrenc’s opera-obsessed Paris) nor the most progressive (as in Le Beau’s Munich, where Wagner’s influence held sway). Their chamber works were presented by some of the most notable musicians of their day, including themselves as pianists, and received praise from critics and other composers such as Schumann, Liszt, and Brahms. The Trio and Piano Quartet on this program are exceptionally well-crafted and engaging for performers and listeners alike.
The Trio in E minor for flute, cello, and piano is one of Farrenc’s last chamber compositions. It was premiered in 1857, at a privately organized concert (as was typical of chamber music in Paris) at the home of Madame Pierson, née Sophie Bodin. One of Farrenc’s former students, she performed the piano part alongside eminent Parisian musicians: flutist Louis Dorus (the work’s dedicatee) and cellist Charles Joseph Lebouc. The instruments are equal participants in the dramatic opening movement, which also exhibits the composer’s stylistic use of continually shifting harmonic colours. In the Andante, the flute introduces a tuneful melody that returns in varied settings, including a stormy middle section. The Scherzo is agitated in mood, with flute and piano playing running passages; in the trio, the cello takes the lead in a songful duet with the flute. A near-constant patter of notes imbues the Finale with vigour and restless drive.
Le Beau’s Piano Quartet dates from 1883, when she was living in Munich. Dedicated to the German composer Franz Lachner, with whom she had recently studied, the work had a high-profile premiere at the Leipzig Gewandhaus that year on December 1. It was received with great acclaim and was successfully performed internationally, including in Sydney, Australia, several years later. The first movement opens with a melancholy chorale for the strings, after which the piano takes up the energetic main theme of the fiery Allegro; a second theme, first presented by the cello, provides sweet contrast. The Adagio is all exquisite tenderness. Unusually, Le Beau incorporates a mazurka for the scherzo movement, which surrounds an ethereal intermezzo. The rondo Finale is full of high spirits with moments of impassioned warmth, and features an intense reminiscence of the opening Allegro’s main theme, just before the end.
By Dr. Hannah Chan-Hartley