Today’s concert will begin with the overture to a lesser-known operetta by Johann Strauss Jr. The main motif of the stage work Waldmeister (Woodruff) is a waltz theme that incorporates the inverted arpeggio of the first three notes of the famous Blue Danube Waltz. And although contemporary critics scoffed at this late work, Brahms expressed his admiration: Strauss’s magnificent orchestration reminded him of Mozart.
The evening continues with our conductor Guido Mancusi conducting his own work, ‘Stil & Eleganz’, or Style and Elegance Waltz.
Austrian piano virtuoso and composer Friedrich Gulda is best known for his Cello Concerto, composed in 1982. In this work, he managed to reconcile the contrast between the noble and elegant cello voice and the often trivial military music. The solo will be played by cellist Lida Limmer.
After the break, Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 (in C major) will be performed. ‘Anyone who does not know this symphony knows little about Schubert,’ wrote Robert Schumann of this extraordinary work.
The ‘Great’ Symphony in C major was never performed in public or printed during Schubert’s lifetime, so it is only by chance that it has survived. Ten years after the composer’s death, Robert Schumann acquired the manuscript from Schubert’s brother and passed it on to Mendelssohn, who conducted the first complete performance of the work in 1839. Shortly afterwards, Schumann wrote an enthusiastic account of the symphony, praising its masterly interpretation and its strikingly innovative features (that were considered such even in 1840).
Schumann also praised the brilliant orchestration of the work by Schubert, who had heard so few of his own instrumental works performed, as a sign of his extraordinary talent, and also noted the composer’s use of the instruments in the symphony as if they were singing voices and the instrumental groups as if they were a choir. Perhaps the most striking example of this is in the middle section of the third movement, the scherzo, the heart-warming melodies of which are ‘sung’ throughout by the wind choir with string accompaniment. And it is perhaps no coincidence that the finale, with its elemental rhythms rooted in the finale of Beethoven’s symphonies, is set to a quotation from the Ode to Joy in the middle of the finale, a tribute to a much-loved older fellow composer.