Eric Paetkau, Music Director
Sarah Yunji Moon, flute
Is it possible that the thumping opening chords of Beethoven’s third symphony changed the history of music?
Considered one of the greatest and most popular orchestral works ever written, Beethoven’s Eroica is a symphonic masterpiece and it’s steeped in myth. Did Beethoven really change its dedication? Did audiences really find its strange modulations and violent transitions unsettling?
We open the night with Beethoven’s Contradances for orchestra. You’ll hear the composer working through his early sketches of ideas for his third symphony.
The night features the SSO’s Principal Flute Sarah Yunji Moon in a thrilling concerto by audience favourite Christos Hatzis. Departures requires a fearless flutist of the highest caliber–and its the perfect way for us to showcase her remarkable playing!
Contradances WoO. 14 – Ludwig van Beethoven
Departures, Concerto for Flute – Christos Hatzis*
Symphony No. 3 in E flat Major, Op. 55 – Ludwig van Beethoven
Flutist Sarah Yunji Moon is recognized for her intense, commanding performances, delivered with virtuosity and technical assurance. Sarah’s dedication in promoting and performing new music has led her to creating innovative concert programs, and focusing on communicating with her audience. As an active chamber and orchestral musician, Sarah regularly performs with Ontario Philharmonic and National Academy Orchestra. Sarah held the principal Flute position with Symphony Nova Scotia for two seasons from 2008-2010. She is the founder of the Rosedale Winds, a group dedicated to performing the hidden gems of contemporary woodwind quintet repertoire. She frequently performs with the Thin Edge New Music Collective. As a soloist, she has performed concertos with numerous orchestras in North America and Asia such as the Seoul Philharmonic and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Moon has been chosen to tour Eastern Canada for six weeks giving recitals of contemporary Flute repertoire as part of Jeunesses Musicales’ 2014-2015 concert season. Broadening her interest into academic studies and research, Sarah is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Musical Arts degree at the University of Toronto. Sarah holds Master’s of Music degree in Contemporary Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University.
Sarah has been the Principal Flutist for the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra since 2016, is a member of Mistral 5, and teaches at the University of Saskatchewan Department of Music.
Departures – Hatzis*
First performed at the 2011 Japan Flute Convention, Departures is quickly gaining acclaim among flutists as an exciting new flute concerto. Since its premiere, notable flutists Susan Hoeppner (Canada) and Patrick Gallois (Finland) have presented performances in Mexico and Greece respectively. The work’s appeal is driven by Hatzis’ unique and eclectic style, which brings in elements of traditional Japanese folk music, blues and burlesque music. Departures is a standout work that makes for a unique contribution to the repertory of contemporary flute concerti.
Symphony 3, Eroica – Beethoven
I. Allegro con brio
The first movement, in 3/4 time, is in sonata form, with typical performances between 12 and 18 minutes long depending on interpretation and whether the exposition repeat is played. Unlike the longer introductions in Beethoven’s first two symphonies, the movement opens with two large E♭ major chords, played by the whole orchestra, that establish the tonality of the movement.
The conductor Kenneth Woods has noted that the opening movement of Eroica has been inspired by and modeled on Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, and shares many attributes of that earlier symphony which predates this one by a decade and a half.
Main theme of the first movement
The exposition begins with the cellos introducing the first theme. By the fifth bar of the melody (m. 7), a chromatic note (C♯) is introduced, thus introducing the harmonic tension of the work. The melody is finished by the first violins, with a syncopated series of Gs (which forms a tritone with C♯ of the cellos). The first theme is then played again by the various instruments.
The modulation to the dominant key of B♭ appears early (mm. 42–44). In the traditional analysis, this is followed by three (or in some views, two) transitional subjects that significantly expand the scale of the exposition – a lyrical downward motif (mm. 45–56), an upward scale motif (mm. 57–64), and a section beginning with rapid downward patterns in the violins (mm. 65–82). This eventually leads to a lyrical second theme (m. 83) that arrives “unusually late.” After this, the second half of the exposition eventually builds to a loud melody (m. 109) that draws upon the earlier downward motif (m. 113). The climactic moment of the exposition arrives when the music is interrupted by six consecutive sforzando chords (mm. 128–131). Later, and following the concluding chords of the exposition (mm. 144–148), the main theme returns in a brief codetta (m. 148) that transitions into the repeat / development.
An alternative analysis holds that the second theme begins earlier at m. 45 with the downward motif. In this view, the traditional harmonic progression of the exposition ends at m. 82, with the new lyrical theme at m. 83 beginning an extension. This pattern would be consistent with that found later in the development, in which the climactic moment leads to a new lyrical theme that launches an extended section. Moreover, the downward motif theme (m. 45) is developed significantly in the next section while the lyrical theme (m. 83) does not appear. Commenters have also observed that the sonata form and orchestration transitions would be fully preserved by cutting the second half of the exposition (m. 83–143). However, others have observed that form and orchestration would also fully preserved if the second and third transitional passages were cut instead (mm. 57–82), consistent with the traditional analysis.
The development section (m. 154), like the rest of the movement, is characterized by harmonic and rhythmic tension from dissonant chords and long passages of syncopated rhythm. Following various thematic explorations and counterpoint, the music eventually breaks into a 32-bar passage (mm. 248–279) of sforzando chords including both 2-beat and 3-beat downward patterns, culminating in crashing dissonant forte chords (mm. 276–279). Commenters have stated that this “outburst of rage … forms the kernel of the whole movement,” and Beethoven reportedly got out in his beat when conducting the orchestra in Christmas 1804, forcing the confused players to stop and go back.
Rather than leading to the recapitulation at this point, a new theme in E minor is then introduced instead (mm. 284). This eventually leads to a near-doubling of the development’s length, in like proportion to the exposition. The introduction of a new theme in the development broke with the classical tradition that the development section works only with previously existing thematic material.
At the end of the development, one horn famously appears to come in early with the main theme in E♭ (mm. 394–395), while the strings continue playing the dominant chord. In the 19th century, this was thought to be a mistake; some conductors assumed the horn notes were written in the tenor clef (B♭–D–B♭–F) while others altered the second violin harmony to G (chord of the tonic), an error that eventually appeared in an early printed version.
Recapitulation and coda
The recapitulation section features a sudden excursion to F major early on before eventually returning to a more typical form. The movement concludes in a long coda that reintroduces the new theme first presented in the development section.
II. Marcia funebre – Adagio assai
The second movement is a funeral march in the ternary form (A–B–A) that is typical of 18th-century funeral marches, albeit one that is “large and amply developed” and in which the principal theme has the functions of a refrain as in rondo form. Musically, the thematic solemnity of the second movement has lent itself for use as a funeral march, proper. The movement is between 14 and 18 minutes long.
The opening A-section in C minor begins with the march theme in the strings, then in the winds. A second theme (m. 17) in the relative major (E♭) quickly returns to minor tonality, and these materials are developed throughout the rest of the section. This eventually gives way to a brief B-section in C major (m. 69) “for what may be called the Trio of the March,” which Beethoven unusually calls attention to by marking “Maggiore” (major) in the score.
At this point, the traditional “bounds of ceremonial propriety” would normally indicate a da capo return to the A theme. However, the first theme in C minor (m. 105) begins modulating in the sixth bar (m. 110), leading to a fugue in F minor (m. 114) based on an inversion of the original second theme. The first theme reappears briefly in G minor in the strings (m. 154), followed by a stormy development passage (“a shocking fortissimo plunge”). A full re-statement of the first theme in the original key then begins in the oboe (m. 173).
The coda (m. 209) begins with a marching motif in the strings that was earlier heard in the major section (at mm. 78, 100) and eventually ends with a final soft statement of the main theme (m. 238) that “crumbles into short phrases interspersed with silences.”
III. Allegro vivace
The theme first appears pianissimo in the dominant key of B♭ (mm. 7, 21), then piano in the secondary dominant key of F (m. 41), then a pianissimo restart in B♭ (m. 73), and finally a full fortissimo statement in the tonic key of E♭ (m. 93). Later, a downward arpeggio motif with sforzandos on the second beat is played twice in unison, first by the strings (mm. 115–119) and then by the full orchestra (mm. 123–127). This is followed by a syncopated motif characterized by descending fourths (m. 143), leading to the repeat.
The trio section features three horns, the first time this had appeared in the symphonic tradition. The scherzo is then repeated in shortened form, except that very notably the second occurrence of the downward unison motif is changed to duple time (mm. 381–384). The movement ends with a coda (m. 423) – with Beethoven marking the word in the score which was unusual for him – that quickly builds from pianissimo to fortissimo, encapsulating the pattern of the whole movement.
IV. Allegro molto
The fourth movement is a set of variations on a theme. It lasts between 10 and 14 minutes long. The theme was previously used by Beethoven in earlier compositions and arguably forms the basis for the first three movements of the symphony as well (see Thematic Origins below).
The theme of the fourth movement with its bass line
In the symphony proper, the thematic variations are structured like the piano variations of Opus 35: the bass line of the theme first appears and then is subjected to a series of strophic variations that lead to the full appearance of the theme proper. After a fugal treatment of the main theme the orchestra pauses on the dominant of the home key, and the theme is further developed in a new section marked Poco andante. The symphony ends with a presto coda which recalls the opening of the fourth movement and ends in a flurry of sforzandos.