TŌN’s Elias Rodriguez on Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 1

Elias Rodriguez, winner of The Orchestra Now’s 2017 Concerto Competition, performed Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 1 with the orchestra on February 17 and 18, 2018. Below are his thoughts on this piece. 

There is no doubt that the clarinet was Carl Maria von Weber’s favorite wind instrument. Weber’s contributions to clarinet literature are significant and of comparable importance to that of Mozart and Brahms. It was only during the second half of the 18th century that the clarinet was sufficiently developed to become generally accepted as an orchestral and solo instrument. And between the years 1811 and 1816, Weber wrote no fewer than seven compositions featuring the clarinet. These include the Quintet Op. 34, a concertino, two concerti, and the Grand Duo Concertant, Op. 48, all of which (except the Duo) were written for the renowned clarinetist of the period, Heinrich Baermann (1784–1847). The First Concerto, composed in 1811, came about from a commission by Maximilian Joseph, King of Bavaria, after the success that the composer had with his Concertino Op. 26, written just before. The musicians of the orchestra begged Weber to write a concerto for their respective instrument, but to their dismay, he responded by writing a trio of pieces for solo clarinet.

I initially chose this concerto for the first movement theme introduced by the orchestra. From the onset, the music is full of drama. I fell in love with the decorative melodies contrasted by dramatic statements from the orchestra, and there is something captivating to me about the key of F minor, which though somber in sound, allows for a lot of expression—and it is no wonder. Non-clarinetists know Weber prominently for his opera overtures, most notably Der Freischütz, Oberon, and Euryanthe. And this concerto is essentially an opera in one act without words.

In my lessons of this piece, my teacher emphasized the importance of singing through my instrument, and I was encouraged to attend or listen to more opera, in order to better emulate the early German romantic style.

The second movement Adagio resembles largely and demonstrates the influence of the second movement Adagio from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, written just 20 years before. The melody is melancholic, and the long phrases test the soloist’s air control.

Characteristic of ending most concerti from the Classical and early Romantic period, the third and finale movement is a rondo. In a rondo, a principal theme (typically jovial and light in character) alternates with one or more contrasting themes.

Weber writes a number of expressive markings throughout the concerto, among them con duolo (with pain), morendo (dying), con anima (with soul), lusingando (flattering), scherzando (joking), con fuoco (with fire).

I try to live my life as peaceful as possible, but when it comes to music, bring all of the drama! I’ve known since I was a very young clarinetist that if I ever had the honor to stand in front of an orchestra, I would play Weber, without a second thought.

Photo by Jake Luttinger

Watch the Sight & Sound livestream

Curious about our series Sight & Sound at The Metropolitan Museum of Art? Now you can watch a full concert online!

At Shostakovich, Michelangelo & The Artistic Conscience, conductor and music historian Leon Botstein explored the parallels between Shostakovich’s Suite on Verses of Michelangelo and the artwork of Michelangelo. On-screen artworks were discussed alongside musical excerpts, followed by a full performance with baritone Tyler Duncan, and an audience Q&A.

Check out the event in the video below, as it was streamed live on Facebook.

Get to know the TŌN musicians!

Get to know the outstanding musicians of TŌN on our YouTube channel!

Some of our finest oboe, viola, bassoon, and violin players share their personal stories to give audiences some insight into the musicians’ experience.

Watch the TŌN performance series on YouTube

Find out which pieces our musicians love to play in TŌN’s performance series on YouTube.

Enjoy performances of works by Beethoven, Holst, Bach, and others as performed by TŌN musicians on solo oboe, viola, bassoon, and violin.

TŌN debuts on WMHT Live!

The Orchestra Now is pleased to announce our debut on WMHT Live! Tune in to WMHT-FM 89.1/88.7, serving Eastern New York and Western New England, on Sun, Oct 15, 2017 at 6 PM to hear Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and Tchaikovsky’s Third Symphony, conducted by Leon Botstein.

Future broadcasts will take place on Nov 5, 2017; Jan 28, 2018; March 18, 2018; April 8, 2018; and May 20, 2018.

>MORE INFO ON WMHT LIVE

Photo by Matt Dine

TŌN welcomes its newest musicians!

The Orchestra Now is pleased to welcome our newest class of musicians to the program! These 21 graduate students hail from 5 countries and 10 U.S. states, as close as White Plains, NY and as far away as Caracas, Venezuela and Sichuan, China. Collectively, they’ve studied at 30 schools, including The Julliard School, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, Yale School of Music, the Peabody Institute, and Eastman School of Music.

Take a look at their profiles and get to know these talented young musicians:

Violin
Hyunjae Bae
Yurie Mitsuhashi
Lila Vivas Blanco
Weiqiao Wu
Yuqian Zhang

Viola
Yuan Qi

Cello
Kyle Anderson
Danny Poceta

Bass
Joshua DePoint
Casey Karr
Luke Stence

Flute
Matthew Ross
Denis Savelyev

Oboe
Regina Brady
James Jihyun Kim

Bassoon
Carl Gardner

Horn
Ethan Brozka
Anna Lenhart

Timpani/Percussion
William Kaufman
Miles Salerni

Harp
Emily Melendes

Adina Tsai: No guts, no glory

Violin player Adina Tsai is featured in the latest edition of our video series TŌN Close-Ups.

She talks about her earliest musical memories, her favorite parts of playing in The Orchestra Now, and the surprising way livestock have been involved in making violins.

Zachary Silberschlag: I started buzzing and I never looked back

In the latest edition of our video series TŌN Close-Ups, trumpet player Zachary Silberschlag shares stories about his musical adventures as a child, talks about the perks of playing under Leon Botstein, and discusses different types of trumpets.

Omar Shelly: The viola as a question mark

Viola player Omar Shelly stars in the February edition of our video series TŌN Close-Ups.

He talks about the mystery of his instrument, the perks of having a varied taste in music, and what it takes to be part of The Orchestra Now.

Eleanor Lee: Let’s get physical

The January edition of our video series TŌN Close-Ups spotlights cello player Eleanor Lee.

She talks about the physicality of playing an instrument, the link between the cello and the human voice, and her hopes for the future of classical music.