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Pictures at an Exhibition

7:30PM, Saturday, May 3, 2014
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
35 - 22nd Street East, Saskatoon, SK S7K 0C8
$18 – $60
iCalendar export

Gyro Productions Masters Series

Ticket prices

Masters Series Ticket Prices

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $49.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $39.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $44.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z $34.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $28.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $18.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle   $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $10.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $10.00

* Price for child under 15 accompanied by a paying adult. Limit of 2 children per adult. Not valid for Grand Circle. Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

 

 

Maestro Victor Sawa conductor

Samuel Milner violin

Repertoire

Respighi Trittico Botticelliano
Bruch
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, op. 26
Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition

For more information on the repertoire, see Concert Notes below.

About the concert

Samuel Milner, 2009 winner, Saskatchewan Concerto Competition, joins the orchestra to perform Bruch’s popular violin concerto, one of the most beautiful written for the instrument. Respighi’s Trittico Botticelliano, inspired by Boticelli’s paintings, transforms the artist’s work into bird song and dances. Then the symphony thrills with Mussorgsky’s musical virtual museum tour, Pictures at an Exhibition, the grandest of all orchestral showpieces.

Concert notes

Close Me

Music and composers

Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)

Trittico Botticelliano

Ottorino Respighi began composing “Three Botticelli Pictures” in March of 1927. A student of history as well as a composer, Respighi was inspired by three paintings by Sandro Botticelli, which now hang in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. Respighi dedicated “Trittico Botticelliano” to his American patron, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. It premiered at the Vienna Konzerthaus in September 1927 with Respighi conducting.

In Botticelli’s “Allegory of Spring” (c. 1480), commissioned by the Medici family, figures from Greek mythology move about a flower-strewn lawn beneath low branches. “Adoration of the Magi” (c. 1475) depicts Cosimo de’ Medici and his sons as Magi come to worship at the Nativity. “The Birth of Venus,” also commissioned by the Medicis, is arguably one of the most famous paintings in history. Naked Venus stands atop her seashell with the ocean behind her.

Respighi used Gregorian chant, old church modes, and other ancient compositional techniques to depict these paintings. In “Adoration of the Magi,” where the bassoon, oboe, and flute represent the three Magi, a beautiful bassoon solo begins the ancient Latin antiphon used for Vespers the week before Christmas: “O Come, Emmanuel.”

Respighi not only invokes Boticelli’s images but also imagines the narrative behind them. Though no birds can be seen in Botticelli’s “Spring,” Respighi’s birdcalls evoke images of the season’s return. In the opening of “The Birth of Venus,” the strings intimate ever-moving waves as Venus begins to emerge from the sea.

Program notes prepared by Joan Savage, Violin Section, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. © 2014

Max Bruch (1838-1920)

Violin Concerto in G minor, No. 1, Op. 26

Max Bruch, teacher, conductor, and composer, began composing at age 11 and completed his first symphony at 14. One of the most popular of the Romantic violin concertos, his “Violin Concerto No. 1” premiered in April 1866 with Bruch conducting. With the help of one of the leading violin virtuosos of his day, Joseph Joachim (who also assisted Johannes Brahms in the composition of his violin concerto), Bruch revised the work and Joachim premiered the revised concerto in Bremen on January 7, 1868. Joachim wrote, “The Germans have four violin concertos…. The richest, the most seductive was written by Max Bruch.”

The prolific output of this composer, who was respected and successful in his day, includes other works for violin, symphonies, symphonic dances, and more. Some say his greatest works were his choral compositions, but today he is mostly remembered for this concerto. Its success over his other works irritated him. He wrote, “Fifty years hence, Brahms will loom up as one of the supremely gifted composers of all time, while I will be remembered chiefly for having written my G minor violin concerto.”

The first movement, “Prelude,” folds into the beautiful second movement where soaring melodies span the range of the violin. The exuberant “Finale,” with its gypsy fiddle elements, brings this work to an exciting close.

Program notes prepared by Joan Savage, Violin Section, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. © 2014

Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)

Pictures at an Exhibition

When Modest Mussorgsky’s close friend, Victor Hartmann, died of an aneurysm at age 39, their mutual friend Vladimir Stasov arranged an exhibition of Hartmann’s works. Hartmann had been an architect, stage designer, and artist. The exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg in early 1874 displayed about 400 of Hartmann’s paintings and sketches.

Mussorgsky, wanting to pay tribute to his friend and preserve his memory, composed “Pictures from an Exhibition – A Remembrance of Viktor Hartmann” for solo piano in June 1874. He wrote to Stasov “My ‘Hartmann’ is boiling…. Sounds and ideas fill the air, and I can barely scribble them down fast enough.”

“Pictures” is now perhaps Mussorgsky’s most famous piano composition, though we do not know for sure if it was ever performed during his lifetime. Rimsky-Korsakov edited the piece and it was first published five years after Mussorgsky’s death. Though more than twenty-four composers have arranged this piece for orchestra, from Mikhail Tushmalov to Sir Henry Wood and Leopold Stokowski, Maurice Ravel’s arrangement, done in 1922, is the version we hear most often today.

The work takes the listener on a tour of Hartmann’s memorial exhibition. Only about 100 of Hartmann’s sketches and drawings survive and of those, only six that directly inspired Mussorgsky’s composition have been certainly identified.

The opening “Promenade” leads the listener into the exhibit and walks them between pictures, the mood of the melody changing as it recurs in order to reflect the artwork just seen or anticipate the next picture approached.

“Gnomus” was reportedly a sketch of a gnome-shaped nutcracker. “Old Castle,” one of the many works Hartmann painted as he travelled Europe, was a watercolour of a troubadour outside an old French castle. Ravel’s orchestration gives the troubadour’s song, which was influenced by Russian folk music, to the alto saxophone. “Tuileries” reportedly depicted the famous garden of Tuileries near the Louvre in Paris, complete with “a swarm of children and nurses.”

Hartmann visited Poland with his Polish wife, and “Bydlo” (cattle) was a sketch of a large-wheeled cart drawn by oxen. In Ravel’s orchestration, the movement begins softly then grows louder as the ox-cart rumbles closer. Ravel gave this folk tune to the tuba, to be played in its highest register.

“Ballet of Chicks in their Shells” came from a Hartmann sketch for canary chick costumes for the ballet “Trilby” produced at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1870. Mussorgsky owned the two sketches for “Samuel Goldberg and Schmuÿle.” Each sketch portrays a Jewish man, one rich, one poor, that Hartmann sketched on a visit to the Jewish ghetto in Poland in 1868.

In “The Market-place at Limoges,” women gossip at a market in central France. Mussorgsky wrote in the margin of the score: “Great news! M. de Puissangeout has just recovered his cow . . . Mme de Remboursac has just acquired a beautiful new set of teeth, while M. de Pantaleon’s nose, which is in his way, is as much as ever the color of a peony.”

The “Catacombs” sketch shows Hartman and his friend being shown around the Paris catacombs by lantern light. Behind them looms a pile of skulls. For the second section of this movement, “Cum Mortis in Lingua Mortua” (with the dead in a dead language), Mussorgsky transforms the “Promenade” into a mournful procession. He wrote in the manuscript, “The creative spirit of the dead Hartman leads me to the skulls and invokes them; the skulls begin to glow softly from within.”

Hartmann’s sketch of a clock with chickens’ legs incorporated into its base inspired “The Hut on Fowl’s Legs.” Mussorgsky subtitled the movement “Baba Yaga” and extrapolated from Hartmann’s clock the sometimes-terrifying witch of Russian fairy tales who flies about in a mortar and lives in a hut that walks on chickens’ legs.

Hartmann won the design competition for new entrance to Kiev to commemorate Tsar Alexander II’s escape from an assassination attempt. Due to a lack of funds, the gate was never built but Hartmann’s sketch, with its chapel and cupolas, became the inspiration for “The Great Gate of Kiev.” The second theme of this movement is based not on the folk tunes that infiltrate so much of Mussorgsky’s music but on a baptismal hymn from Russian Orthodox chant. Perhaps it is fitting that the last movement of a work memorializing a friend who died before much of his envisioned work had been accomplished is remembered in the haunting melodies and majesty of a work inspired by a gate that was never built.

Program notes prepared by Joan Savage, Violin Section, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. © 2014

 
 

 

Ticket prices

Masters Series Ticket Prices

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $49.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $39.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $44.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z $34.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle  $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $28.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $18.00

Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.

Grand Circle   $60.00

Main Floor, Rows H–S & 2nd Balcony  $10.00

Main Floor, Rows A-G & T-Z  $10.00

* Price for child under 15 accompanied by a paying adult. Limit of 2 children per adult. Not valid for Grand Circle. Prices quoted INCLUDE TCU Place service charges and taxes.