march, 2019

31mar4:00 pmM's Crystal Chamber Music ConcertFolksong in Chamber Music


Event Details

Where: Glam, No.5 The Bund (corner of Guangdong Lu) 广东路20号(外滩5号)7楼

When: 31 March 2019 – 4 pm

Tickets: 150 RMB

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Long before the Belt and Road, the news of the impressive musical talent of young Chinese students had already spread out around the world.  Remember From Mao to Mozart? Music lovers who attend the Glam Chamber Music series are treated regularly to performances where young students play at professional levels far beyond their years.  On Sunday March 31st we will have an abundance of young musical talent when nine students ages from six to twenty-three will play folk music inspired chamber music masterpieces from the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. 



Both Bela Bartok (1881-1945) and Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) were keenly interested in the folk music of their native Hungary.  Their interest was indicative of the nationalistic movements that swept through central Europe in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries as various ethnic groups sought to realize national identities separate from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany.  Contemporaries and friends, the two composers took extensive trips into the Hungarian countryside to record local folk songs by hand notation and on an Edison cylinder phonograph.  These

hundreds of songs were to become sources for much of the music of the two composers. 


Kodaly and Bartok were also passionate about teaching music to the young.  They believed that folk music was ideal for teaching children the purest form of musical thought.  The first ten pieces on our program come from Bela Bartok’s 44 Duos for Two Violins.  Originally intended for teaching purposes, the Duos have now made their way into the standard chamber music repertory. The pieces have evocative titles like the ones that we will hear: Teasing Song, Pillow Dance, Limping Dance, Midsummer Night Song, etc.   Our big treat is that these duos will be played by two brothers, Stanley and Roger Xu, six and eight years old!


The second part of the program is devoted to Kodaly’s Serenade for Two Violins and Viola. This piece was not written for pedological purposes, but it does have a wealth of references to Hungarian folk song and harmonies. Bartok was so impressed by this work when it was first performed in 1922 that he wrote, “This composition is a genuine, modern product of Hungarian culture.  It is extraordinarily rich in melodies with melodic characteristics influenced by the strong rubato of old peasant music.” 

Kodaly’s biographers have said the composition’s three movements imply a story of two lovers going through first love, then rejection and finally reconciliation.


Finally we have Georg Philipp Telemann’s Sonata in A Major for String Quartet.

Telemann was the most prolific composer in musical history with over 3000 works attributed to him.  In his day he was considered Germany’s greatest composer, but his reputation faltered in the 19th Century under the colossal shadow of his friend Bach.  He has enjoyed a significant revival in the past 100 years as musicians come to terms with the immensity of his output, much of which has not been played since his time. So on March 31 we will join in the Telemann’s revival.  Telemann’s output is not as steeped in folk music as that of Kodaly or Bartok, but he did incorporate Polish folk and popular songs into some of his work.  He was also one of the very first composers to publish books of folk music.


Telemann’s Sonata in A Major for String Quartet is a relatively short piece compared to the quartets of Haydn, Mozart and later that we are accustomed to hearing in our series. However, it is a delightful, spirited work that gives us a good idea of what the string quartet was all about before Papa Haydn.


So do come at 4pm on March 31 to hear the incredible talent of these students playing a tuneful program spanning 200 years!


Bob Martin


Some pre-listening:


Bartok, Duo for Two Violins:

Kodaly, Serenade (2 violins, viola) :

Telemann, Sonata in A for String Quartet:




(Sunday) 4:00 pm