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TH 25/04/2024 Hours 20:00 Tickets no longer available
Where:
Opera Carlo Felice Genova

Duration
First part: 41 minutes
Interval: 20 minutes
Second part: 35 minutes
Total duration: 1 hour 36 minutes

 

 

 

MITTELEUROPA

Roberto Abbado conducts the Opera Carlo Felice Genova Orchestra. Music by Mendelssohn, Schubert and Brahms

FELIX MENDELSSOHN
Symphony n. 5 in D minor Riforma op. 107 (MWV N 15)

FELIX MENDELSSOHN
Hör mein Bitten (Ascolta la mia preghiera) WoO 15 (MWV B 49)

FRANZ SCHUBERT
Symphony n. 3 in D major D 200

JOHANNES BRAHMS
Akademische Festouvertüre (Ouverture per una festa accademica) op. 80

Soprano
Nicole Wacker

Conductor
Roberto Abbado

Opera Carlo Felice Genova Orchestra and Choir
Choirmaster Caudio Marino Moretti

The Symphony n. 5 by Felix Mendelssohn was composed in 1829, during a period of European travel. After various vicissitudes, the first performance did not take place until 1832, after which the Symphony was not performed again until after the composer’s death. Despite its catalogue number, this was the second work for large orchestra by the composer, who had just turned 20 and was in search of a symphonic expression that would embrace both the classical approach, and thus the legacy of Mozart and Haydn, and the more innovative and tendentially pre-Romantic thrusts of Beethoven. Mendelssohn’s reflection on the new demands of the classical form led him to identify a fundamental theme: the introduction of an ideal, non-musical aspect to support the music itself. The Symphony n. 5 takes the title Reformation, in fact the composition was dedicated to the third centenary of the Protestant Confession of Augsburg, hence the non-musical aspect, with the revolution of the Church as the ideal motif that the music seeks to convey. The classical formal model remains fundamental, especially for a composer so deeply attached to the 18th-19th century tradition, so the canonical four-movement structure and measured writing return. There is no shortage of more singular aspects, explicitly echoing the reformist ideal in music: the fourth movement opens with the theme from the Lutheran chorale Ein’ veste Burg ist unser Gott (Our God is a stronghold), first quoted by the flute and then taken up by the entire orchestra.
The hymn for soprano, choir and orchestra Hör mein Bitten (Hear My Prayer), dates back to 1844. Mendelssohn originally composed it for soprano, choir and organ, and the first performance was held with this ensemble in London in 1845. The text is a free interpretation of Psalm 55, with David’s lament asking God for help against his enemies, by Mendelssohn’s collaborator William Bartholomew. The form resembles that of the cantata, divided into two sections followed by a final recitative and aria. Among the most fascinating aspects of Mendelssohn’s writing is a fascinating contrapuntal play in this hymn, a central element both in the dialogue between soprano and choir and in the instrumental part.
Schubert’s Third Symphony belongs to the period of his youth. It was composed in just three months between the spring and summer of 1815. Divided into four movements, this Symphony demonstrates, on the one hand, the young Schubert’s sense of belonging to the classical tradition, from which he takes formal structures and various aspects of musical writing, and, on the other, the beginning of his personal research. Compared to the first two major orchestral works, the composer creates a symphony of relatively short duration, marked by a light and fresh spirit in which various influences find their place, in particular Mozart, in the thematic brilliance, Haydn, with the Adagio maestoso as a slow and restless introduction to the first movement, and again the Italian school. Like almost all of Schubert’s Symphonies, the third was never publicly performed during the composer’s lifetime, and was only rediscovered much later, with its first performance on 19 February 1881 in London.
Johannes Brahms devoted himself to the composition of the Akademische Festouvertüre (Overture for an Academic Feast) in 1880. The previous year, the University of Breslau had awarded him an honoris causa in philosophy, so the composer decided to create a musical tribute to be performed at the graduation ceremony on 4 January 1881. The decision to compose a symphonic overture can be traced back to the freedom that the form itself allows, as Brahms wanted to create a piece akin to the academic context, and had the idea of freely quoting motifs from various student songs of a goliardic nature such as Der LandesvaterThe Sovereign, Das FuctisliedThe Freshman Song and Gaudeamus igiturLet us rejoice, therefore. Although there is a subdivision into four movements, or episodes, the overture develops seamlessly in the reworking of the aforementioned themes, which emerge with immediacy (although it should be considered that this immediacy applies mainly to the audience of German students and academics contemporary with Brahms, and – with the exception of Gaudeamus igitur – less for a contemporary audience belonging to a different cultural context). The bright and joyful character of the composition respects the spirit of the real ‘academic party’ for which it was intended.

Ludovica Gelpi