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Fate & Fantasy

October 17, 2020

Featuring our Young Artist Competition Winners of 2019, Olga Kossovich, Rebecca Hart, and Nicholas Mortenson

The concert features our 2019 Young Artist Winners and music of BruchWieniawski, and Donizetti, as well as Beethoven's ubiquitous Symphony No. 5.

Tickets may soon be available for non season ticket holders, watch this space!

Program

Faust Overture.......Louis Spohr (1784-1859)
 
Don Pasquale: "Bella siccome, un angelo" ...........Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1849)
                                       Nicholas Mortenson, baritone
 
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G, Op. 26........................Max Bruch (1838-1920)
       I. Vorspiel: Allegro moderato
                                       Rebecca Hart, violin 
 
Fantasie Brillante sur des motifs de l'Opéra Faust de Gonoud, Op. 20..............Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)
                                       Olga Kossovich, violin 
 
INTERMISSION
 
Symphony No. 5 in c minor, Op. 67...............Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
        I. Allegro con brio
       II. Andante con moto
      III. Allegro
      IV. Allegro 
 
 

Program Notes

Louis Spohr was of the same era as the German Romantic giants, and while highly regarded and prolific in his lifetime, fell into obscurity after his death.  Only recently has his music seen a revival in concert halls and opera houses.  His opera, Faust, was premiered in Prague in 1816 with Carl Maria von Weber conducting.  Spohr later turned the 2-Act Singspiel (spoken recitative) into a grand opera in 3 acts.  
 
Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 is one of the most popular violin concertos in the genre.  If you are a Prairie Public Radio listener, like me, you probably hear it on the radio at least once a week!  It's stirringly beautiful melodies, riveting energy at the end, and absolutely haunting slow movement make it a favorite of violinists, orchestras, conductors and audiences alike.  The concerto was completed and premiered in 1866.  There is a bit of "fate" associated with the score to this concerto as well.  While Bruch sold a copy to the music publisher Shimrock, he kept a copy for himself.  Destitute after the war, he tried to get help from the duo pianists Rose and Ottilie Sutro for whom he had also written a double concerto.  He wanted them to sell the score in the United States and send him the money, but sent him only fake paper money, claiming to have sold the score.  In 1949 they did sell the autograph score to Mary Flagler Cary, whose collection now resides at the Pierpont Morgan Public Library in New York City.  
 
Don Pasquale is an opera buffa in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti.  First performed in 1843 in Paris, it is generally regarded as the high point of the form of opera buffa, or comic opera.  The aria you will hear this evening is from Act I of the opera.  Ernesto, Pasquale's nephew, has refused the woman that his uncle Don had found for him, and as a result is to be disinherited. Ernesto declares his devotion to the young – but poor – widow Norina. Don Pasquale then decides to marry in old age to produce his own heir, and anxiously awaits the arrival of his physician, Dr. Malatesta.  Malatesta is determined to teach Don Pasquale how foolish he is, but has been pretending to search for a suitable bride for him. Malatesta, confronted with Pasquale's impatience, mutters that he is a buffoon, but proceeds to describe the attributes of the bride-to-be (Bella siccome un angelo – "Beautiful like an angel").
 
Like many other compositions by Wieniawski, Fantaisie brillante Op. 20, which was based on themes from Gounod’s opera Faust, was written in two versions: for violin with piano and for violin with orchestra, both published around the same time in 1865.  The fantasia genre was particularly popular among 19th century composer-performers. The pieces were typically based on a number of well-known melodies, frequently from operas popular at the time. Faust Fantasy consists of five sections ending with a short virtuoso finale.
 
Beethoven Symphony No. 5: Rather than the traditional, "this piece was composed..." program note, here are 5 fun facts about this ubiquitous work you may not know:
1) the 4 note opening has long been believed to represent "fate knocking at the door."
2) During World War II, Allied Forces used it to signal a victorious moment, as its short short short long rhythm matches that of the letter "V" in morse code.  3) In the 1970s Walter Murphy released "A Fifth of Beethoven," a popular disco recording based on the signature motive that was featured in the movie Saturday Night Fever. 4) It is considered to be the first full symphony, and definitely the most well-known one, to use trombones, contra bassoon and piccolo in the orchestration.  5)Franz Liszt arranged the symphony for solo piano.