Glorious Brahms and Lyrical Wagner
How wonderful it is for me to the invite everyone to my very first concert with the KWS after my nomination last March. It is a special moment for me and for the orchestra and I feel lucky and privileged to be part of this new adventure.
The program we are going to share with you it is by far the most romantic germanic concert with the great symphonist Brahms and the opera composer Wagner.
It will be my first collaboration with the canadian Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo and we are happy to present you the Wesendonck Lieder of Wagner. It's a small cycle of 5 songs from 5 poems written by Mathilde Wesendonck who fell in love with Wagner and this was a pretext for the composer to spend time with her. It is a very intimate music which prepared the great opera Tristan und Isolde.
To open the concert I chosed the Meistersinger von Nürnberg overture. It came to me very clearly that I wanted to share with everybody an opening piece that sounds like a celebration. Indeed, this piece is a hymnus to art, to music. I already hear in my mind this overture in the amazing acoustics of the Raffi Armenian Theatre in the Center in the Square. So there is no better way for me to play my first notes after what happened last season.
Brahms is always a unique composer for every performer. His music is so hard the decode sometimes that it's fascinating to try go as far as we can into this adventure. For me Brahms is the perfect balance between intelect and emotion. Every single note is carefully written in the score, nothing is there by chance or luck.
The second symphony is in a way his Pastoral symphony. Even if the end of the piece is very glorious, there is always something melancholic hidden in the music. But this was Brahms, a very shy person and his real emotions were hard to know. I think this melancholy of the 2nd Symphony goes perfectly well with this time of the year, October and November. This piece is constructed from a very short motiv of 3 notes expressed by the cellos at the beginning of the piece. There is the genius of Brahms by creating an entire symphony from nothing.
I am looking forward to come back and develop my relationship with the orchestra and the audience. This will be the beginning of a very long and fun adventure. I hope to see you there.
Mozart & Dvořák’s New World
"In 2012, I enlisted the help of composer Jennifer Higdon to commission a piece inspired by Chicago’s dynamic architecture that was created by four emerging composers for the Chicago Sinfonietta. The piece, later called Chi-Scape, included a movement, Aqua, by Canadian composer Vivian Fung. John von Rhein, the classical music critic for the Chicago Tribune, best described the electric work, “a sound portrait of architect Jeanne Gang's 82-story apartment tower in downtown Chicago. The building's gracefully curving concrete balconies and silken lines are evoked by undulating strings, contrasted with the whooping horns and rumbling trombones that suggest the brawniness of the structure. A roaring improvisatory passage gives way to a magical close: soft, glinting timbres disappearing into the ether.”
This work, and Darren Fung’s Sesquie for Canada’s 150th (receiving it’s KWS premiere here), celebrate not only North America, but the beauty and energy of contemporary classical music.
These works provide an intriguing contrast to two well-known works – Dvořák’s masterpiece, the New World Symphony, with its captivating rhythms and stirring melodies premiered in 1893 while the composer lived in New York City, considered among the most popular works he ever composed; and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, composed in 1786 – a period that was monumental and very prolific for Mozart – he also wrote The Marriage of Figaro, Piano Concerti Nos. 23 and 24, and Symphony No. 38 “Prague” – Concerto No. 25 is full of emotion and drama, a wonderful vehicle to introduce KWS audiences to rising star pianist Rémi Geniet, who makes his KWS debut with this concert.
I hope you enjoy the concert!"
- Mei-Ann Chen