[Originally published in the Enterprise on Friday, November 14, 2008.]
By MARILYN J. ROWLAND
The Falmouth Chamber Players, under the direction of John Yankee, will perform its first concert tonight [Friday, November 14, 2008] at 8 o’clock at the First Congregational Church of Falmouth, 68 Main Street. A second concert takes place Sunday [November 16] at 3 PM at the same location.
Mr. Yankee, who is also musical director of the Falmouth Chorale, has conducted professional orchestras here on the Cape, as well as in San Diego, Chicago, and Telluride, Colorado. His work with the Falmouth Chamber Players has been challenging because of the wide range in playing abilities and orchestra experience of the members. It was difficult, initially, for him to select a repertoire, not knowing the skill levels of the individual players. This caused some initial frustrations for him, and for orchestra members. “We have come a long way in a short time,” said Mr. Yankee.
“The Falmouth Chamber Players is a pretty diverse and remarkable collection of people,” said Mr. Yankee. “It is truly amazing that we can get together, put everything else aside, and work on a common cause—making music. There is a powerful, almost palpable, feeling of support for each other, and each in his or her own unique way has expressed appreciation to me, and encouraged me. I appreciate that very much.”
Mr. Yankee said that several members have taken on strong leadership roles. “The principal players have all been professional, generous, and helpful, and Hilde Maingay, our concertmistress, has been outstanding, constantly organizing and encouraging extra rehearsals and staying in communication with me. She has been a real partner in this process.”
When asked which piece of music on the program was his favorite, Mr. Yankee said, “I’m never good at that kind of question. My favorite piece is the one I’m doing—or studying, or listening to. They all fascinate, intrigue, and challenge me in unique ways. I suspect they do for the players as well—they should!”
The program is in keeping with the orchestra’s stated purpose, to perform “classical instrumental music, with an emphasis on historical chamber and orchestral works from the Baroque through the Romantic periods.” Works to be performed include: Overture from Water Music, by George Frideric Handel; Concerto in E minor for Recorder and Flute, by Georg Philipp Telemann; Scherzo from Symphony in C by Georges Bizet; Andante Cantabile by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Kamarinskaja, by Mikhail Glinka; and Overture to Rosamunde, by Franz Schubert.
Handel’s Water Music may be the most familiar music on the program for most audience members. A collection of 19 movements in three suites, it was first performed in its entirety on July 17, 1717, on the River Thames. Fifty musicians played on a barge floating on the river next to the royal party barge of King George I of England, who, along with his guests, was delighted by the music. It is said that he was so pleased that he had the musicians play the hour-long work three times that evening. The Overture is the first piece in the collection and provides a good representation of the work.
Bizet, who is best known for his opera “Carmen,” wrote his Symphony in C in 1855 when he was only 17 years old, possibly as a student assignment. He had entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of 9. The piece was lost, however, and not heard for 80 years. Discovered in 1933, the bright and effervescent work was first performed in 1935. The orchestra will perform the third movement of the symphony, the scherzo, which consists of a fast minuet contrasted with more airy passages, followed by a peasant-like dance trio over drones played by the lower strings.
Telemann’s Concerto features Jan Elliott on recorder, Suzie Dasilva on flute, and string orchestra. Written in the 1720s or ’30s, it combines two instruments rarely played together: the traditional instrument (the recorder) and the new (the transverse flute). Telemann played both instruments and was quite familiar with their features. The piece is written in four movements, the flute and the recorder mingling and taking flight, as the strings play a supportive role. Melodies from Polish folk tunes are featured in the final movement.
Ms. Elliott has been playing the recorder since she was 3 and is particularly fond of early music, as well as world music and dance. About the Telemann piece, she said, “It’s a charming concerto, alternately melancholy and playful. There are all kinds of interplay between the two soloists, and between soloists and orchestra. I get the sense that Telemann was in a good mood when he wrote it. Perhaps his patron was paying him well! He allegedly once said that his fast movements should ‘flow vivaciously, like champagne.’ ”
Ms. Dasilva has traveled and performed throughout Europe. She lives and teaches flute in Eastham.
Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile is the most famous movement from his String Quartet No. 1 in D Major. It is a melancholic piece, based on a folk song the composer heard whistled by a house painter. When the quartet was played for Leo Tolstoy, it is said that he was brought to tears by this movement. A chamber section of the orchestra performs this piece.
Described as the “father of Russian classical music,” Glinka was the first Russian composer to introduce Russian nationalism in music, and his work influenced future Russian composers. Written in 1848, Kamarinskaja is a fantasy on two Russian folk tunes, one a lyrical wedding song, and the other a fast-paced dance.
Schubert’s 1823 composition, Rosamunde, was written as incidental music for a play. The play failed, but the music was a success. The full composition, consisting of the Overture and 10 movements, takes more than an hour to perform, and is rarely performed in full. Starting slowly and dramatically, the Overture then moves into a more sprightly mood toward a thundering finish.
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