Café Vienna celebrates the music of composers who lived in the capital of classical music. The program begins with Wieniawski’s Variations on an Original Theme, written in 1854, when the composer was only 19. The lightness of melody and unparalleled virtuosity required made the piece and Wieniawski himself immediately popular. When Zemlinsky showed his Trio in D Minor (Clarinet) to Brahms in 1895, Brahms was readily impressed and immediately recommended that his own publisher print the work. The publisher, however, with an eye for sales, insisted that Zemlinsky add a violin part so the work could be performed by standard trio. The Piano Trio is clearly Romantic and inspired by Brahms, but more exotic and free-flowing.
The second half of the program revels in songs and melodies produced by the Waltz King. Kurt Weill’s songs characterized a time of world change and cultural upheaval. His songs, like Mack the Knife, embody the voice of the times and the bohemian curiosity of the jazz-age. Strauss and Offenbach were not only contemporaries, but Offenbach informed Strauss that he needed to turn his hand to writing operettas in addition to the light fare that he was already composing. The three pieces on this program reflect Stauss’ multi-faceted talent. Korngold’s Tales of Strauss is mélange of melodies from works by both father and son.