Mozart and Prokofiev – Afternoon

Classics at HRC

Date & Time

15 October 2022 2:00 pm3:00 pm (1 hour)

Conductor

Gordon Gerrard

Venue

Holy Rosary CathedralWebsite
2104 Garnet St
Regina, SK, S4T 6Y5
http://maps.google.com/maps?z=16&daddr=2104+Garnet+St++Regina+SK+S4T+6Y5+Canada

Mozart and Prokofiev - Afternoon

The season at the Holy Rosary Cathedral opens with the playful and expressive Romp and Repose from Canadian composer Aura Pon. The fanfare of Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 will also provide a grand introduction to the new season with Lucy Wang’s performance of the graceful Prokofiev concerto closing out this lively program.

Gordon Gerrard, conductor
Lucy Wang, violin
Anna Norris, bassoon

PROGRAMME

PON                           Romp & Repose
(b. 1981)
I. Energetically
II. Leisurely, with relish

Anna Norris, bassoon

PROKOFIEV               Violin Concerto No.2 in G minor, op.63
(1891-1953)
I. Allegro moderato
II. Andante assai
III. Allegro; ben marcato
Lucy Wang, violin

MOZART                      Symphony No.39 in E-flat major, K.543
(1756-1791)
I. Adagio - Allegro
II. Andante con moto
III. Menuetto: Allegretto
IV. Allegro

Program Info

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Artists

Lucy Wang, violin

Canadian violinist Lucy Wang has garnered praise as an artist whose “technical prowess, tonal mastery and stage presence can come as no surprise to anyone who has seen her work” (Peace Arch News). She is a founding member of the Viano String Quartet, First Prize Laureates of the 2019 Ban International String Quartet Competition and the current Graduate String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music, and has performed in venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Wigmore Hall, Izumi Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Konzerthaus Berlin.

A native of Vancouver, B.C., Lucy was featured on CBC Radio’s List of “30 Hottest Classical Musicians Under 30”. A prizewinner in numerous solo competitions, Lucy has soloed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Colburn Orchestra, and Philharmonic Northwest, under the batons of Gordon Gerrard, Bramwell Tovey, Otto Tausk, and Xian Zhang. She has collaborated in performance with artists such as Emanuel Ax, Marc-Andre Hamelin, James Ehnes, Paul Neubauer, David Shifrin, and Elisso Virsaladze.

During the early days of the pandemic, Lucy immediately took initiative to continue reaching audiences virtually by sharing music on social media platforms, receiving nearly 50 million views and attracting over 500,000 followers worldwide. Lucy also presented over a hundred virtual and live socially distanced events with the Viano Quartet for organizations and festivals around the world, including the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Deutschlandfunk Radio, and the Montreal Chamber Music Festival. Lucy has studied with Martin Beaver at the Colburn Conservatory, Carla Birston, and Gerald Stanick.

Anna Norris, bassoon

Anna Norris has been lucky to get to play music all around Canada. Originally from Toronto, she studied at McGill with Stephane Levesque and Martin Mangrum, during which she attended three summer sessions on tour around the country with the National Youth Orchestra. While still at McGill she won the Principal Bassoon position with the Niagara Symphony in St. Catharines', Ontario; upon graduating, she headed to North for a contract with the Thunder Bay Symphony. After a career freelancing in Southern Ontario with numerous ensembles including the Toronto Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and Windsor Symphony, she landed in Saskatchewan as Principal Bassoon of the Regina Symphony orchestra and Regina Chamber Players. As well as playing bassoon and writing program notes for the RSO, Anna enjoys training and coaching gymnastics, studying mathematics, and attending to the whims of Ada and Mips, the world’s most handsome, intelligent and important house rabbits.

 

 

Program Notes

PON, AURA (b. 1981)
Romp & Repose (2011)

Romp & Repose was composed in 2010-2011 for its premiere by bassoonist Kelly Wood and the Symphony of the Kootenays in February 2011 in Cranbrook, BC. The music showcases the lyrical voice of the bassoon, with a sprinkling of jazz and blues idioms in acknowledgment of Kelly’s diverse background as a jazz saxophonist and classical bassoonist. It is dedicated to Kelly’s cat Sam and the composer’s cat Zippurr who passed away during the project, and while it would be oversimplifying to say the music became about the once frisky feline friends, the composer did take some inspiration from the quirky capricious essence of kitty spirit as an homage to them. Hence the two contrasting energies, which cats master so well, denoted by the title, Romp & Repose. It was subsequently performed by other bassoonists, including Karmen Doucette with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, Michael Hope with the Kensington Sinfonia, and Jonathan Gresl with the CalArts Orchestra.

Program Notes by Aura Pon

PROKOFIEV, SERGEI (1891-1953)
Violin Concerto No.2 in G minor, op.63

Sergei Prokofiev completed Violin Concerto No. 2 in 1935 as he was awaiting repatriation to his native Russia, having composed Violin Concerto No. 1 around the time that he first departed (with official permission) in 1917. For that reason, Violin Concerto No. 2 differs from the music Prokofiev wrote while living abroad in the United States and in France during the intervening years, in its modest dimensions and traditional form designed to convince Stalin that he no longer had an artistic use for “decadent formalism”.

Very shortly before Prokofiev’s permanent relocation, and the Spanish Civil War, Violin Concerto No. 2 was premiered in Madrid, Spain in December of 1935 by French violinist David Soetens and the Madrid Symphony Orchestra led by Enrique Fernández Arbós. In what must have been a refreshing surprise for the composer at the time, the Spanish loved the work so much that a special delegation of musicians was sent to personally thank Prokofiev. This premiere, with its international cohort of musicians, undoubtedly helped Prokofiev believe, at least temporarily, that he could act as a musical ambassador between Europe and Soviet Russia.

It was also during this period that Prokofiev wrote Peter and the Wolf, Lieutenant Kijé, and Romeo & Juliet, three of his most famous works. In fact, there are numerous musical references to Romeo & Juliet throughout this concerto, particularly in the second movement, and more broadly in how the solo violin part is constructed to evoke the ballet. This era of composition in Prokofiev’s life demonstrates his extraordinary ability to adapt to the circumstances, political and otherwise, dictating his music-making. Working with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in Paris after a brief stay in the United States, Prokofiev was inspired to write opera, ballet, and large symphonic works such as Symphony No. 3 The Fiery Angel which showcases his interest in expressionism and large musical forms.
However, much of his work at this time experienced production issues, an unenthusiastic reception, and of course drew negative attention from the Soviets. With an economic depression underway during the 1930s in the United States and Europe, which dampened his aspirations as an opera composer while forcing him to rely on touring income as a concert pianist, and tensions that soon led to World War II, Prokofiev sought a spiritual path in Christian Science that engendered a newfound simplicity and sincerity in his composition that seemed to pave the way for resettling in Russia.
The rules governing the arts were somewhat relaxed during the War years in Soviet Russia, and Prokofiev enjoyed a period of creativity and freedom in the works he produced. However, he found himself once again at odds with the Communist Party following the war and several of his compositions were banned. Nevertheless, he is considered one of the greatest composers of modern classical music, and both the State Music Academy and the Airport in Donetsk Oblast in Ukraine, where Prokofiev was born, have been named in his honour.

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MOZART, WOLFGANG AMADEUS (1756-1791)
Symphony No.39 in E-flat major, K.543

Symphony No. 39 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is believed to be the first in a set of three, all written in 1788 in Vienna, including Symphony No. 40, and Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”), the last symphony Mozart wrote. The Clarinet Quintet (K. 581) and the opera Così fan tutte were also written during this period and premiered in 1789 and 1790 respectively. It’s unclear whether Mozart heard Symphony No. 39 performed in his lifetime, although one theory holds that he attempted to organize a series of concerts in a casino which may have featured this work. The first recorded account, by Iwan Anderwitsch, of hearing Symphony No. 39 in 1792 in Hamburg, was as part of a memorial concert of Mozart’s music. About this experience, Anderwitsch had the following to say:

The opening is so majestic that it so surprised even the coldest, most insensitive listener and non-expert, that even if he wanted to chat, it prevented him from being inattentive, and thus, so to speak, put him in a position to become all ears. It then becomes [so] fiery, full, ineffably grand and rich in ideas, with striking variety in almost all obbligato parts, that it is nearly impossible to follow so rapidly with ear and feeling, and one is nearly paralyzed. This actual paralysis became visible in various connoisseurs and friends of music, and some admitted that they would never have been able to think or imagine they would hear something like this performed so splendidly in Hamburg.

Mozart did not live long enough to benefit either musically or financially from the success of his three late symphonies, which remain gems of the orchestral canon to this day. However, in the years leading up to the Austro-Turkish war in 1788, Mozart had hit his stride as a musician and entrepreneur. His final years of impoverishment were in fact a product of the war; without a robust local economy, the upper class was no longer in a position to spend their disposable income on the arts, preferring instead to relocate to country estates.

Symphony No. 39 has several unusual features, which may have been a salute to a beloved friend, clarinetist and fellow Free Mason, Anton Stadler. Mozart had written for him the Clarinet Quintet in 1789, the (“Kegelstatt”) Trio K. 498 in 1786, obbligato solos in La clemenza di Tito K. 621 in 1791, and the stunning Clarinet Concerto K. 622 also in 1791. Symphony No. 39 prominently features a pair of clarinets, with several lyrical solos in the Minuet and Trio movement, which traditionally had belonged to the oboe section in 18th century music.

While the Finale is crafted thematically to invoke fellow composer Joseph Haydn’s mischievous sense of humour, the first movement opens with an extended slow introduction. This is another stylistically unusual decision for Mozart, which may suggest he was coming to believe a symphonic work need not function solely as a stand-alone composition, but, by virtue of its structure, may belong in series with other multi-movement symphonic works. It’s seductive to believe that Mozart may have had a sixth sense of how the orchestra would grow and change dramatically over the following century.

Program Notes by Tamsin Lorraine Johnston

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