Thursday 14.5.2020 19.00 season concert 9
Platinum 2020-2021 Gold 2020-2021
Thursday 14.5.2020 19.00 CNACELLED
Platinum 2020-2021 Gold 2020-2021

Mario Venzago brings an exciting combination to the concluding concert of the season: Romantic composers both famous and forgotten. A tone poem by Franz Liszt rocks and sways like life itself, from cradle to tomb. Ilya Gringolts gives a virtuoso performance of charming violin works by Schubert. The programme concludes with a rarity, Symphony no. 5 ‘Leonore”.




Franz Liszt

Symphonic Poem no. 13 “From the Cradle to the Grave”

For Liszt, a symphonic poem was a loosely defined orchestral work motivated by an extra-musical inspiration, whether from poetry, mythology or other literary source, visual art, natural phenomena or a nationalist theme.

Liszt returned to this genre late in life after a long pause and wrote Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe [From cradle to grave] in Rome in 1881–1882. The work was inspired by a drawing by Hungarian artist Mihály Zichy and, as the title says, depicts the span of human life. It is in Liszt’s late-period idiom, sparse and simple, an idiom that in some of his piano pieces from that time sounds quite modern.

The work is in three sections that are played without a break. It begins with ‘The cradle’, a sensitive and frail depiction of a new life, scored for a reduced orchestra of violins, violas, flutes and harp. The middle section, ‘The struggle of existence’, is full of the turmoil, questions and doubt of life and emotions, but also contains hopeful nuances. The work concludes with the section ‘To the grave, the cradle of life hereafter’, which begins in a sombre funeral mood but soon evolves into a lighter and more lucid texture. The beginning of a new life is heralded by a modified quote from the opening section.

Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

Franz Schubert

Konzertstück for violin and orchestra in D major D. 345

In 1816–1817, Schubert wrote three brief works for violin and orchestra, the first of them being the Konzertstück in D major (1816). This is often billed as a Violin Concerto.

Schubert’s Konzertstück in D major is a single-movement work lasting about 10 minutes. The orchestra is small but unconventional, since in addition to strings it includes oboes, trumpets and timpani, not oboes and horns as was common in works for solo violin and orchestra at the time, such as the violin concertos of Mozart. Schubert wrote the piece for his brother Ferdinand, but it is not known whether it was performed in his lifetime.

The work begins with a slow, solemn introduction, with the solo violin soon introducing a more intimate element with soulful ornamentation. The fast main section is cast in rondo form and is dominated by the lilting and vivacious main subject introduced by the solo violin, though there are darker tones in the contrasting sections. The solo part is idiomatically written, requiring considerable agility and featuring wide leaps in places.

Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

Franz Schubert

Rondo for violin and strings in A major D. 438

Schubert’s output covers a wide variety of genres: operas, Singspiels, sacred music, secular vocal works (including his magnificent Lieder), orchestral works, chamber music works and instrumental works. An observant reader may note that there is an important genre that Schubert never touched: his output does not contain a single actual concerto.

Schubert was not interested in virtuoso musicianship, not even as much as Beethoven, who organically incorporated virtuoso elements into the symphonic overall structure of his works. But if we consider the fundamental nature of Schubert’s musical idiom and its strong sense of atmosphere, we can understand that there was simply no room in his music for showmanship.
Schubert’s Lieder – about 600 of them – form such a substantial part of his output that ‘melody’ is often pointed to as a dominant feature of his instrumental music too. This is fair enough, but jumping from this to the conclusion that his extensive works suffer from structural weaknesses because he was good at miniatures is patently false. Perhaps the proximity of Beethoven prompts an unfavourable comparison. But Schubert’s instrumental music is in a class of its own, with premises and goals all its own, and cannot be regarded as an unsuccessful attempt to imitate Beethoven, as some have suggested.

Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

Franz Schubert

Polonaise for violin and orchestra in B flat major D. 580

The last of the three works written by Schubert for violin and orchestra to be completed was the Polonaise in B flat major, in September 1817. As with the two previous works for solo violin, Schubert wrote the Polonaise for his brother Ferdinand. For this work, we also know the place and date of the premiere: Ferdinand performed it in Vienna on 29 September 1818. The orchestra here too is small, including only oboes, bassoons and horns in addition to strings.

The polonaise is a Polish folk dance known since the 16th century. Because it was quite easy to learn, it became a popular parlour dance around Europe. Schubert too wrote several polonaises for piano four hands.

Compared with the previous two solo violin works – the Konzertstück and the Rondo in A major – the Polonaise is briefer. It has no slow introduction, but instead opens with the polonaise theme introduced by the solo violin. The mood of the work is bright and ceremonial, and although the music turns to a minor key in the middle section, this does not disturb its refined elegance.

Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

Joachim Raff

Symphony no. 5 in E major op. 177 "Lenore"

German composer Joachim Raff is principally known for his programmatic symphonies. He lived in Weimar from 1850 to 1856 and was assistant to Liszt for many years. The programmatic orchestral works of the latter – the tone poems and the Faust Symphony and Dante Symphony written in the 1850s – had a huge influence on his output. Because of the Liszt connection, Raff is often pigeon-holed under the New German School that Liszt represented.

Raff wrote eleven symphonies between 1864 and 1883. All but two of them have a descriptive subtitle. The best known of his symphonies is no. 5, ‘Lenore’ (1872), which was inspired by the eponymous ballad by Gottfried August Bürger (1773). Lenore longs for her beloved Wilhelm, who has gone off to war, and fears that he is dead. In the night, Wilhelm appears to Lenore and takes her on a wild ride with him. They end up at a grave, Wilhelm’s grave; the rider who had looked like Wilhelm was actually Death himself.

In this symphony, Raff applied the traditional four-movement symphony form to a narrative in three sections. The first two movements cover the first section, ‘Liebesglück’ [Lovers’ happiness]. The first movement is a bright allegro with rich Romantic textures and lyrical melodic moments. The slow movement comes across as an emotional love scene with soaring melodic lines and a passionate middle section. The third movement, in the place of a scherzo, is a march titled ‘Trennung’ [Separation], illustrating the arrival of a military unit from afar, the painful parting of the lovers and the departure of the soldiers, the young man now having joined them.

The first three movements set the scene for Bürger’s ballad, the events of which form the basis for the fourth movement, ‘Wiedervereinigung in Tode’ [Reunion in death]. Its tense opening section, recalling motifs from previous movements, erupts into a gallop of almost Berlioz-esque dramatic proportions (cf. La damnation de Faust). But for all the horror of the ballad, the work concludes on a positive and serene note, in a lucid hymn tune in a major key.

Kimmo Korhonen
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

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