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Yale School of Music and Yale in New York Present Chamber Music for Mozart’s Birthday at Weill Recital Hall

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Yale School of Music
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Robert Blocker, Dean
Yale in New York
(Yale in New York Website)
David Shifrin, Artistic Director

Mozart’s Birthday:
Music of Mozart, Beethoven,
and Aaron Jay Kernis

Weill Recital Hall
(Carnegie Hall Website)


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 27, 2013


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) - Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Preludes III, I, II, from Six Preludes and Fugues for String Trio, K.404a
Performed by Nayeon Kim, violin, Eleanor Kendra James, viola, Arnold Choi, cello.

Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960)

Mozart en Route (Or, A Little Traveling Music)
Performed by Benjamin Hoffman, violin, Eleanor Kendra James, viola, Arnold Choi, cello.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Seven Variations on “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” from “Die Zauberflöte”, WoO46

Performed by Ole Akahoshi, cello, Melvin Chen, piano.


Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor, K. 478

Performed by Ani Kavafian, violin, Ettore Causa, viola, Ole Akahoshi, cello, Peter Frankl, piano.

Tonight’s chamber concert, presented by Yale School of Music and Yale in New York, was timed for Mozart’s birthday, January 27 (1756). An ensemble of classical musical artists, all renowned for solo and concert performances, as well as affiliations with Yale University School of Music, collaborated to make tonight’s concert at Weill Hall a huge success. The Hall was packed with devoted fans of Yale in New York and fans of Mozart, as well.

The Mozart “Six Preludes and Fugues for String Trio” were inspired by and based on Bach’s music, to which Mozart was introduced during a trip to Vienna in 1781. In some cases Mozart transcribed Bach’s Fugues; in other cases he composed original Preludes, for scholarly comparison and contrast. Nayeon Kim, on violin, Eleanor Kendra James, on viola, and Arnold Choi, on cello, performed three of the six, called “Prelude. Adagio – Fugue”, in the sequence of F-sharp major, D-sharp minor, and F-sharp minor. The Prelude III was performed first, with elegant fullness of sound and sweeping circles of tonality. Rapid sequences followed that merged mellifluously. Prelude I was next, with repetitive phrases led by the violin, amidst contrasting tones on cello and viola. One deep, central theme was evocative. Prelude II was last, and it was the most melodic and compelling. Violin and viola shared the theme intermittently, with the Fugue dancing about in spirited rhythm.

Program notes quote Mozart, about an exhausting and painful, 1780 mail coach ride, from Salzburg to Munich. Kernis wrote “Mozart en Route” in 1991, for the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death, using elements from Mozart’s “Divertimento for String Trio”. It’s a fairly brief work, with varied fusion of contemporary atonality and bits of Mozartian quotes. At one point, I almost heard bluegrass, with Benjamin Hoffman on violin, Eleanor Kendra James on viola, and Arnold Choi on cello. After a pause, there was a rapid, dissonant finale. Kernis’ work appropriately exudes the sense of modern travel, with tempestuous, windy sound. Beethoven’s “Seven Variations on “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” from “Die Zauberflöte” was performed on cello and piano by Ole Akahoshi and Melvin Chen. I noted that Mr. Akahoshi played without sheet music, allowing him to fully face the audience, with his magnificent cello visible, throughout. Beethoven uses romantic themes from Mozart’s opera, “Die Zauberflöte”, and it’s filled with animation and ardor, melancholy and yearning.
The final work, Mozart’s “Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor”, has three movements, Allegro, Andante, and Rondo. It was performed by Ani Kavafian, on violin, Ettore Causa, on viola, Ole Akahoshi, on cello, and Peter Frankl, on piano. At times, the strings take the spotlight, at times the piano. This Quartet is imbued with a piano melody that echoes on violin, then on violin, viola, and cello at once. There’s a swirling piano dervish that’s also recreated on strings, while the languorous Andante hinted at tones of a harpsichord. The final Rondo is dynamically optimistic, filled with rhapsodic piano harmonies and echoing refrains from the full ensemble. The audience was vocally appreciative.

Peter Frankl
Courtesy of MusicYale

Melvin Chen
Courtesy of MusicYale

Ani Kavafian
Courtesy of MusicYale

Ettore Causa
Courtesy of MusicYale

Ole Akahoshi
Courtesy of MusicYale

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at