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Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninoff

Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninoff 2018-05-04T10:23:45+00:00

Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninoff

 Saturday, 3 March 2018

TCHAIKOVSKY: Concerto in D Major for Violin & Orchestra

Conducted by Rune Bergmann
Featured Artist: Ning Feng, Violin
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

VIOLIN CONCERTO IN D MAJOR, OP. 35
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893)
Once Tchaikovsky had completed this concerto in 1878, he sent it to Leopold Auer, the distinguished Hungarian soloist. To his horror, Auer declined to perform it, citing technical and artistic shortcomings. Sometime later, German soloist Adolf Brodsky expressed an interest, and spent the better part of two years preparing to give the premiere. That took place in Vienna on December 4, 1881. The audience loved Brodsky’s playing, but they hissed the piece. The press heaped abuse upon it too. Despite this initial hostility, it lost little time in establishing itself as a concert favourite. In breadth of conception and richness of contents, the opening movement is virtually a complete concerto in itself. Since both principal themes are lyrical, Tchaikovsky achieves the necessary contrast by alternating lightly scored passages for violin and orchestra, with more forceful sections scored for orchestra alone. Woodwinds introduce the wistful, elegant second movement. The soloist uses a mute, giving the violin a veiled, restrained sound most appropriate to the music. The vivacious, folk-flavoured dance rhythms of the finale burst in abruptly. Two warm contrasting ideas are subjected to elaborate presentation. The solo violin then leads off an exhilarating chase which brings the concerto to a dashing close.

Programme notes by Don Anderson © 2018

RACHMANINOFF: Symphony No. 2 in E Minor

Conducted by Rune Bergmann
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

SYMPHONY NO. 2 IN E MINOR, OP. 27
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943)
Rachmaninoff idolized Tchaikovsky. Imagine his joy when the senior composer not only broke off composing his Sixth Symphony to attend a performance of Rachmaninoff’s first opera, Aleko, in 1893, he applauded it vociferously and made sure that everyone was aware of his high opinion. Rachmaninoff became Tchaikovsky’s successor as the great Russian Romantic composer. By the autumn of 1906, he came to feel that his activities as pianist and conductor were leaving him too little time for his first love, composition. Seeking a retreat from these stresses, he leased a villa in Dresden, Germany and spent several months there during each of the next two-and-a-half years. In that idyllic setting, he was free to relax, to ponder, and to allow his inherently expansive creative impulses to define their limits. Having finally exorcised the demon of his First Symphony’s dismal failure in 1897, he was able to consider the creation of a successor. He took great care with it, sincerely wishing it to succeed. His efforts won total vindication when the first performance, which he conducted himself in St. Petersburg on February 8, 1908, scored a resounding triumph. Under pressure from conductors, he reluctantly agreed to authorize cuts, but fortunately these have long been abandoned. The symphony makes its full, carefully balanced effect only when heard in its entirety, as it will be at these performances. This reveals it as a vast, unbroken outpouring of emotion, dramatic, sumptuously scored and above all lyrical in expression. As would be the case in all three Rachmaninoff symphonies, the Second is bound together by a brief, simple recurring theme, a “motto.” This one is played by the double basses at the beginning of the first movement’s slow, brooding introduction. The main Allegro presents a balance of restless, dramatic, and yearning elements. In its urgency and rhythmic drive, the following scherzo leans toward the tart style of Prokofiev, but only Rachmaninoff could have written the soaring second theme. The third movement Adagio is the symphony’s beating heart, an outpouring of passionate lyricism virtually unsurpassed in all music. The principal theme is a long, glowing melody introduced by solo clarinet. As the movement develops, it touches repeated heights of rapture, before dying away into contented stillness. The symphony concludes with a surging, joyful rondo. Fleeting reminiscences of previous movements crop up, en route to the exhilarating conclusion.

Programme notes by Don Anderson © 2018

Maestro Rune Bergmann

Violin Ning Feng

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
Diana Cohen, John Lowry, David Lakirovich, Hojean Yoo, Genevieve Micheletti, Olga Kotova, Hangyul Kim, Bonnie Louie, Erica Hudson, Eva Sztrain, Andrea Neumann, Kiarah Boughen, Stephanie Soltice-Johnson, Theresa lane, Craig Hutchenreuther, Min-Kyung Kwon, Adriana Lebedovich, Jeremy Gabbert, Eric Auerbach, Elisa Milner, Evgueni Alexeev, Louise Stuppard, Laurent Grillet-Kim, Marcin Swoboda, Peter Blake, Jeremy Bauman, Daniel Stone, Carl Boychuk, Arthur Bachmann, Michael Bursey, Arnold Choi, Josue Valdepenas, David Morrissey, Tom Mirhady, Karen Youngquist, Janet Kuschak, Thomas Megee, Joan Kent, Sam Loeck, Kyle Sanborn, Patricia Reid, Patrick Staples, Matthew Heller, Graeme Mudd, Sara Hahn, Gwen Klassen, Sarah Gieck, Jean Landa, David Sussman, June Kim, Jocelyn Colquhoun, Stan Climie, Erin Fung, Christopher Sales, Michael Hope, Robert McCosh, Jennifer Frank, William Hopson, Laurie Matiation, Heather Wootton, Adam Zinatelli, Miranda Canonico, Richard Scholz, James Scott, Michael Thomson, David Reid, Tom McCaslin, Alex Cohen, Joshua Jones, Timothy Borton, Malcolm Lim