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Celebrate spring’s renewal with this sumptuous concert of music revelling in the glories of the season. Featuring a performance by the winner of our 2015 Young Performer’s Competition and Beethoven’s glorious 6th Symphony this concert will have you ready for the rising crocuses and tulips at long last.
CONCERTO FOR FLUTE AND ORCHESTRA (FS 119)
C. Nielsen (1865-1931)
ALLEGRETTO UN POCO; ADAGIO MA NON TROPPO; ALLEGRETTO-POCO;
ADAGIO-TEMPO DI MARCIA
OVERTURE FROM OBERON
C. M. von Weber (1786-1826)
K. Jones (1922-2004)
TWO ELEGIAC MELODIES
E. Grieg (1843-1907)
SYMPHONY #6 IN F MAJOR OPUS 68 (PASTORAL)
L. Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
ALLEGRO MA NON TROPPO
ANDANTE MOLTO MOSSO
Danish Composer Carl Nielsen is widely regarded as one of Scandinavia’s most important composers of orchestral works. His flute concerto was written while he was on an extended tour of Germany and Italy and had to be sent to its soloist Holger Gilbert Jespersen in a series of postcards so that it would be ready for its premiere in 1926. The tonal flute concerto is a neo-classical work, an aesthetic that took hold in the early 20th Century as composers such as Hindemith, Poulenc and even Aaron Copland sought a response to the unrestrained emotionalism prevalent during the Romantic Period. Neoclassicism’s form and style show a marked restraint and demonstrate a strong sense of structure.
Carl Maria von Weber’s final work, the English Opera Oberon was premiered in London to rapturous acclaim. Written between 1825 and 1826, it tells the tale of the King of Elves and his quarrel with the Elf Queen, Titania, with whom he has vowed not to reconcile until his servant Puck is able to find a pair of human lovers who are faithful to each other through all trials and temptations. Puck’s journey takes him to the middle-east and beyond, through war and retribution until the couple are found and the King and Queen are happily reunited.
Weber, who passed away less than a month after the Opera’s premiere, was somewhat less enthusiastic about the work whose libretto, by James Robinson Planche, he found pat, and pantomimic. History seems to have borne the unhappy composer out: although the score is much lauded, the opera as a whole is rarely performed. However, the Overture has won fame for its delicately beautiful orchestration, aptly matched to its fairly-tale theme.
Canadian Composer Kelsey Jones took enormous pleasure in folk music and his 1954 work Miramichi Ballad is reflective of this. Jones believed that music should directly impact the emotions of both the performer and the listener and showed little regard for the avant-garde forms that were so popular at the time. Yet there was much dissonance in Jones’ music, ‘when there’s a reason for it – when I want to hit somebody. If everything is dissonant,’ he argued, ‘you don’t hit anybody.’
Once again I have seen the winter
give way to spring;
Saw the snow melt and the foam of the river
swirl and rage.
The wild cherry trees in full bloom,
I saw once again.
Once again I saw the ice
break free from the land,
And the plants and flowers once again
I saw them bloom;
And again I heard the spring song of the birds
expectant of sun and summer.
-Vinge from Last Spring
(translated by Grieg as the 2nd Movement of Two Elegiac Melodies)
Edvard Grieg was a Romantic composer who commanded respect. Celebrated throughout Europe, he is also considered Norway’s first and finest National Composer, and a leader in the classical development of Norwegian Folk music at a time when Norway was still under Danish rule and struggling to express its national identity. Today, you can’t walk around the city of Bergen without tripping over the composer, his name still an expression of pride amongst the Norwegian people.
Grieg’s Two Elegiac Melodies are orchestral transcriptions of two movements of the composer’s 1880 work for voice and piano Twelve Melodies, after poems by Aasmund Olafsson Vinje. Vinje (1818-1870) was a quintessential Romantic nationalist whose art often focused on rural Norwegian life. Grieg, who could be described in much the same way, found kindred sentiment in Vinje’s words. In Two Elegiac Melodies Grieg has masterfully transcribed the vocal line for strings, a beautiful transcription representative of his nostalgic sense of home.
Written during the Spring and fall of 1808, Beethoven’s Symphony #6 is the composer’s only programmatic symphony, and one of only two that he named himself (he also chose the name Eroica for his third symphony.) While the Pastoral is a meditation on Beethoven’s love of nature he famously declared that the work is “more an expression of feeling than painting.”
Despite their dramatically different characters, Beethoven’s 5th and 6th symphonies were written in tandem and he considered them to be musical fraternal twins. Both works premiered at Beethoven’s famous marathon concert of December 22nd 1809, which also included performances of the concert aria “Ah Perfido” excerpts from the Mass in C Major, the 4th piano concert and Choral Fantasy. Neither Symphony was particularly well received. In spite of this, Beethoven favoured his 6th symphony and further performances have proven successful throughout the centuries.