Editors note: 2-for-1 tickets all weekend long, including this performance, for Carbon County residents! If you’d like to hear something classic, but perhaps new, this could be your show!
Bethlehem’s Lyra Ensemble performs Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time at the Mauch Chunk Opera House on Sunday, October 16 at 3 PM in a benefit for the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce. The afternoon’s programs begin with compositions by Mozart and Beethoven. The ensemble comprises cellist Deborah Davis, clarinetist John Schwartz, pianist Michael Toth, and violinist Stephan Xhori.
The Piano Trio K. 496 in G Major by Mozart is a charming and cheerful work. Finished in July in 1786, the trio was written for Franzisca, the daughter of Mozart’s friend, Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin, reportedly one of Mozart’s more talented students. The second and third movements feature flowing melodies echoing between the three instruments demonstrate Mozart’s almost unlimited imagination when presenting the most simple of musical ideas.
Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio in B-flat major was written in 1798 and is a well-known classic of the clarinet chamber repertoire. It was written for Maria Wilhelmine von Thun und Hohenstein, a Viennese aristocrat who commissioned works from both Beethoven and Mozart. The piece is bright and full of fireworks and dramatic changes in mood. These variations foreshadow the growth of this form in Beethoven that one sees later.
In 1940, Olivier Messiaen (1908-92) was interned in a German prison camp, where he discovered among his fellow prisoners the clarinetist, Henri Akoka, violinist, Jean le Boulaire, and the violoncellist, Étienne Pasquier. He wrote a trio for the three musicians and from that evolved the quartet. The first performance of the quartet was on January 15, 1941 by some accounts to 5000 prisoners.
According to Messiaen, the Quartet was intended not refer to his own captivity, but to be a kind of musical extension of the concept of the end of time. His development of a varied and flexible rhythmic system, based in part on ancient Hindu rhythms, came to fruition in the Quartet.
The architecture of the Quartet is both musical and mystical. There are eight movements because God rested on the seventh day after creation, a day which extended into the eighth day of timeless eternity. All display intricate thematic, stylistic and theological relationships.
The artwork of Abie Harris will be on display in the Opera House gallery, adjacent to the performance space. Asked by cellist Deborah Davis to “draw” the Quartet, she became immersed in the project, which she executed in pastels and other media, reflecting the composition’s structure, tempo and mood. After graduating from North Carolina State’s School of Design, she won the Paris Prize in Architecture, and later taught at NC State’s College of Design.
Tickets for this performance can be purchased online here or by calling the box office at 570-325-0249. They are also available at SoundCheck Records at 23 Broadway in Jim Thorpe. They can be reached at 570-325-4009.