Virtual concert: Serenade to Spring

Thursday 13.5.2021 19.00 Virtual concert
YouTube
Thursday 13.5.2021 19.00 YouTube

Artists

Program

Sebastian Fagerlund

Partita

One of the key moments in Sebastian Fagerlund’s career arrived with the Clarinet Concerto (2005–2006). He had already written several fine works, but here he discovered the expressive idiom that would form the foundation for much of his subsequent output. His music is characterised by stylistic elements drawn from a wide range of influences, fused into a concise and dramaturgically effective musical language.

Partita for strings and percussion was completed soon after the Clarinet Concerto, in 2007–2009. Unlike many of Fagerlund’s works, it focuses on slow tempos that dominate the flanking movements of the three-movement structure. The titles of the movements imply that the work has a strong mythical undertone despite its neutral overall title. This impression is further heightened by the three percussion parts, which employ a broad variety of instruments.

The opening movement, ‘Cerimonia’ – with the performing instruction ‘Misterioso’ – begins with a slowly breathing, mysterious layer of sound punctuated by ritualistic soft percussion blows. A melodic arc emerging from the low register carries the music to a culmination from which the middle movement, ‘Risonanza’, emerges without a break. Its edgy kinetic energy subsides to the threshold of silence at times but finally escalates to a shamanist pulsation.

The concluding movement, ‘Preghiera’, takes us deep into the realm of mystery. The music is coloured by meditations in tones evoking the Middle East, resembling lonely souls searching for something indescribable by words. The spacious texture evolves into a translucently radiant conclusion that seems utterly detached from the mundane world.

Text: Kimmo Korhonen

Johannes Brahms

Serenade for orchestra No. 2 in A major op. 16

As a young man, between 1857 and 1859, Brahms was employed off and on for a few months at a time as a musician at the tiny princely court of Detmold. Apart from other duties, he had the opportunity to conduct the court orchestra, which yielded valuable first-hand orchestral experience. It was during this time that he completed his first works to include an orchestra: his First Piano Concerto and two Serenades, partly written in parallel.

The serenade was an unusual genre to choose in the middle of the 19th century. The serenade and its close cousin the divertimento had had their heyday in the late 18th century – Mozart wrote several of both – but in the Romantic era they had fallen out of favour. Writing works with such a title partly reflected Brahms’s idealisation of the past but was partly perhaps due to an unconscious avoidance of writing a symphony. Then again, Brahms’s Serenades are more free-flowing than his symphonies, so in that sense the choice of title was apt.

The Serenade in A major (1859) is one of Brahms’s warmest works. It is coloured by the absence of violins from the orchestration, transferring much of the thematic work to the woodwind. The work is cast symmetrically in five movements, much like many serenades of the Classical era. The flanking movements are fast, the second and four movements are a Scherzo and a ‘Quasi Menuetto’, and the central movement is the sombre core of the work, a slow movement in A minor.

Text: Kimmo Korhonen

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