Osmo Vänskä conducts Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony

אוסמו ונסקה

Date

05.3.2020

Thursday 20:00

Hall

The Lowy concert hall

Venue

Charles Bronfman Auditorium, Tel Aviv

Venue

Charles Bronfman Auditorium, Tel Aviv

Hall

The Lowy concert hall

Artists

Osmo Vänskä, conductor 

Concert Program

Bach-Skrowaczewski: Toccata and Fugue in D minor
Mozart: Symphony no. 35 (“Haffner”)
Mendelssohn: Symphony no. 3 (“Scottish”)

Event Info

The IPO is delighted to welcome back the Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, who received rave reviews on his previous visits here.

Bach-Skrowaczewski: Toccata and Fugue in D minor

One of the most disturbing inventions during the period of austerity was the food substitute “Eggplants that taste like liver” or “Cimacao that tastes like chocolate” (chicory, etc.). The musical parallel to this processed food is Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor “which tastes like Richard Strauss”. “Also sprach Bachatustra”? Trumpets and trombones, timpani and cascades of double-basses (dubbed a “plethora of color”) paint Bach’s sophisticated counterpoint in Technicolor. Perhaps the “blame” (or the enjoyment, depending on your perspective) for this arrangement can be put on the world of film. Leopold Stokowski, an important conductor, influential music director and a man with an instinct to break stylistic boundaries, presented the world with the famous arrangement of this Toccata in the soundtrack to Walt Disney’s film, Fantasia. What caused Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, a wonderful conductor, important composer and artist, who organized the avant-garde Zodiac Group in post-War Paris, to create this arrangement? Perhaps the invitation he received from George Szell to conduct the Cleveland Symphony in the 60’s aroused in him the need to bask in his own repertoire, and perhaps, this work expresses a stylistic concept that challenges the objective performance of Bach’s works. In any event, placing this work in a concert that also features a premiere of a percussion concerto and a late symphony by Sibelius creates an intriguing context for contemplation about sonorities in general, and specifically in this work.

Mendelssohn: Symphony no. 3 ("Scottish")

A conundrum: Mendelssohn composed five symphonies, however this symphony, the Third, was the last he wrote. Composed in 1842, the Symphony numbered four was written in 1833 and the Fifth was completed in 1830. Another strange thing: when the symphony was premiered (in 1842), the composer did not entitle it “Scottish”, and it did not receive any subtitle even after the score was published. Perhaps the lack of extra-musical reference reflects the side that the composer took in the aesthetic controversy which prevailed in the 19th century between the symphonists, who believed in “pure (objective) music”, which does not have any extra-musical characteristics (the prominent enthusiasts of this line of thought were Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann) and the dramatic Romantics (headed by Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner), who believed that the boundaries of “pure music” can be broken by referrals to extra-musical sources. Mendelssohn, who hinted in the titles that he gave to some of his works (including “Fingal’s Cave”, “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage”) at his impression of places or extra-musical events, regarded his Third Symphony as a distinctly symphonic work. How, then, did the work receive the title “Scottish”? It turns out that the young (and rich) Mendelssohn embarked at the age of 20 on a five-year tour of Europe (his parents thought it would be wise for him to take in as much European culture as he could and to become acquainted with the working forces behind the music field on the continent). During this tour he also visited Scotland and in July 1829 wrote to his parents from Edinburgh: “I believe that today I have started composing my Scottish Symphony”. In any event, this project waited thirteen years and only in 1842, while he was in Berlin, did Mendelssohn complete the work. Scottish or not, the work is one of the best works by the mature Mendelssohn. Starting with the enchanted choral opening, through a rich assortment of beautiful melodies to the spectacular and lively finale – no wonder this is one of the most popular works of the beloved composer.

Text: Prof. Oded Zehavi

Following the regulations of the Ministry of Health, baritone Thomas Hampson, who arrived from Switzerland, had to leave Israel and will not be able to appear in the concerts.

Instead of the Schubert Songs the orchestra will perform Mozart’s Symphony no. 35 ("Haffner").

Price Range

Duration

approx 2 hours including intermission

Duration

approx 2 hours including intermission

Price range

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