Music in the Making

Music in the Making: Flora & Fauna

Venturing forth into the great outdoors with Mahler, Britten, and Schubert.


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As the weather here in Houston continues to get warmer, we’re continuing with another nature-themed episode of Music in the Making. We’ll hear music inspired by the outdoors composed by Gustav Mahler, Benjamin Britten, and Franz Schubert.

Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 3 in D Minor, Part Two, II. Tempo di Menuetto. Sehr massig.
Festival Orchestra, Melanie Sonnenberg (mezzo-soprano), Festival Women’s Chorus, Houston Treble Choir at Christ Church Cathedral
Moores Opera House

In his epic third symphony, which lasts nearly an hour and a half, Gustav Mahler marshals all the forces of the orchestra, a mezzo soprano soloist, a boys’s chorus, and a women’s chorus to communicate his message. He sketched an outline of his imagined program in a letter, in which he titled each of the movements. The second movement, which he labeled, “What the Flowers in the Meadow Tell Me,” opens with a delicate minuet, interspersed with more dramatic moments.

Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten: The Wasp, from Two Insect Pieces
Tali Morgulis (piano), Anne Leek (oboe)
Moores Opera House

Though originally composed by Britten in 1935, this charming set of vividly descriptive miniatures, called “Two Insect Pieces,” was not premiered until over forty years later, in 1979. We’ll hear the second of the two, called “The Wasp.” Frenetic motion in the outer sections captures the buzzing of the insect.

Franz Schubert
Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert: Quintet in A Major for Piano and Strings, D. 667 “Trout”
Faculty and guests of the Texas Music Festival
Moores Opera House

Our final selection this evening, Franz Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet, takes its nickname from its fourth movement. This Andantino consists of a set of variations based on an earlier song by Schubert, also called “The Trout,” which set a poem by Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart, which tells of a fisherman and his catch. Commissioned by Sylvester Paumgartner, a wealthy music patron, the work is scored for a somewhat unusual ensemble: piano, violin, viola, cello, and bass.

This episode originally aired Sunday, May 7th, 2017. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical.