Romance (Portola Valley)

In an intimate and heartfelt evening, ESF explored the music of unrequited love. San Francisco Symphony’s assistant principal cellist Amos Yang joined ESF musicians Rebecca Jackson, Matthew Young, Mingjia Liu, and Christine McLeavey Payne.

HANDEL-HALVORSEN – Passacaglia
LOEFFLER – Two Rhapsodies for Viola, Oboe, and Piano
BRAHMS – Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 60

The evening began with a lively duo performed by Rebecca and Matt. Handel’s Passacaglia (originally a Spanish street dance) is re-imagined as an intricate violin and viola duet by Johan Halvorsen.

The Loeffler Rhapsodies bring together mysticism and folksong to portray two poems about death and lost love. Composed for the unusual trio of oboe, viola, and piano, Loeffler creates a unique sound world, blending influences as diverse as medieval music, Russian folk music, and American jazz.

The Piano Quartet in C Minor by Johannes Brahms is one of the great works in the chamber music repertoire. Brahms began the composition while living with Clara Schumann, with whom he was famously in love, though she was already married to composer Robert Schumann. Brahms was candid that the brooding quality of the piece was a direct reference to Werther, Goethe’s Romantic hero of unrequited love who eventually commits suicide. Nevertheless, from the midst of this stormy and passionate work emerges a gorgeous slow middle movement, featuring one of the most gentle love songs ever composed.

 

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