STM, privileged partner
This concert is presented by CIBC Asset Management

KENT NAGANO & BEETHOVEN'S VIOLIN CONCERTO

Maison symphonique de Montréal
Ticket Prices
$42* to $200*
Concert dates
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - 7:00 PM Done
Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 10:30 AM Done
Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 8:00 PM Done
Artists
Kent Nagano, conductorchef d’orchestre
Alina Ibragimova, violinviolon

Presentation of the concert

Nodaira, Ouverture de fête pour Montréal (world premiere – OSM commission) (approx. 6 min.)
Rossini, Semiramide, Overture (approx. 12 min.)
Rossini, La boutique fantasque, Suite (arr. O. Respighi) (approx. 21 min.)
Beethoven, Violin Concerto in D major, op. 61 (approx. 46 min.)

An especially inspired score based on the play by Voltaire, Semiramide is the last opera written by Rossini in Italy before he settled in Paris. Rising star Alina Ibragimova performs the Beethoven Violin Concerto, while Kent Nagano, in a world premiere, conducts a work by Ichiro Nodaira.

 

Kent Nagano’s long-standing association with the Japanese composer Ichiro Nodaira bears fruit at this concert with the world premiere of his Ouverture de fête pour Montréal, written especially for this city. The concert continues with a substantial Rossini overture (not the opening work on the program!), then more music by Rossini originally composed for piano but dressed up in orchestral colors by the master orchestrator Ottorino Respighi, of Pines and Fountains of Rome fame. Crowning the evening’s offerings is Beethoven’s magisterial Violin Concerto, universally regarded as one of the greatest ever written.

 

ICHIRO NODAÏRA

Born in Tokyo, May 5, 1953 – Now living in Tokyo 

Ouverture de fête pour Montréal

World premiere - OSM commission

Ichiro Nodaira’s musical studies took place equally in Japan (master’s degree from Tokyo National University of the Arts) and France (Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique and IRCAM). He undertook additional studies with Franco Donatoni, György Ligeti, and Brian Ferneyhough. In addition to his activity as a composer, Nodaira is also a highly accomplished pianist, in which capacity he has premiered many works by composers from Japan and elsewhere. Among his recordings are the complete works for piano by Tōru Takemitsu, the 32 sonatas of Beethoven, and Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier on piano, harpsichord and organ at the Concert Hall in Shizuoka City, where he has been Artistic Director since 2005 (located just south of Tokyo in the region of Japan’s most famous landmark, Mt. Fuji).

Nodaira teaches composition at his alma mater in Tokyo. In 2007 he was guest composer at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. His catalogue consists of more than 80 compositions, mostly for orchestra and chamber ensemble. Kent Nagano has conducted works by Nodaira on previous occasions, including his Piano Concerto (Berkeley, California, 2003) and his first opera, Madrugada (Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Germany, 2005). In 2002, at the suggestion of Kent Nagano, Nodaira arranged Bach’s Art of Fugue for orchestra, in which form Kent Nagano led the premiere with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.

Nodaira wrote his Ouverture de fête pour Montréal on commission from the OSM. The work’s opening and closing passages are made up of fanfares, with the entire brass and percussion sections indulging in the celebratory spirit. Woodwinds and strings enter gradually, with the string section eventually assuming prominence. The Japanese element makes its appearance in the central section, where two traditional songs, “Zui Zui Zukkorobashi” (a children’s counting song) and the ever-popular “Sakura, sakura” (Cherry blossoms), are presented in fragmented form and harmonized in new ways. Interspersed with the song fragments are bouts of percussion imitating Japanese drumming. The Overture ends with more rollicking fanfares and an exuberant flourish from the full orchestra.

 

GIOACHINO ROSSINI

Gioachino Rossini Born in Pesaro, February 29, 1792 – Died in Passy (a suburb of Paris), November 13, 1868

Semiramide, Overture

Late in 1822, at the age of 30, Rossini began his last opera for the Italian stage before moving on to Paris, where he ended his career. His remarkable powers for near-legendary speed and facility were borne out once again in Semiramide (five syllables, accent on the third) – a mere 31 days were required to create this immense, four-hour opera. Like La gazza ladra, La scala di seta, Le siège de Corinthe and several others, Semiramide stays in the public consciousness principally through performances of its overture in the concert hall. The music gives little indication of the tragic and bloody story that follows. The overture, one of Rossini’s longest, begins with one of those famous crescendos that earned the composer his nickname “Signor Crescendo.” Following the beautiful horn quartet comes the main Allegro section, beginning with a skittish, almost elfin theme in the violins.

 

GIOACHINO ROSSINI

Born in Pesaro, February 29, 1792 – Died in Paris, November 13, 1868

OTTORINO RESPIGHI

Born in Bologna, July 9, 1879 – Died in Rome, April 18, 1936

La boutique fantasque, Suite

At the grand old age of 36, Rossini retired from his hugely successful career as a composer of operas – nearly 40 in all, ending with William Tell in Paris. He lived out the remaining four decades of his life in comfort and style on the outskirts of Paris, where he wined and dined with the artistes, the literati, and of course the greatest musicians of the day (even Wagner was once a guest). For his celebrated soirées, Rossini casually composed numerous short pieces, nearly 200 of them – songs, piano numbers and works for various small ensembles of voice(s) and instruments. Collectively they are known as Péchés de vieillesse (Sins of Old Age), of which one group of piano pieces Rossini called Petits riens (Little Nothings). These “little nothings” constitute the quite substantial Boutique fantasque.

Rossini’s little nothings lay mostly forgotten until 1919, when the great impresario of the Ballets russes, Serge Diaghilev, spotted them and asked the leading Italian composer of the day, Ottorino Respighi, to put together a ballet score for him, to be choreographed by Leonide Massine. Massine also conceived the idea of using an old German story about an enchanted toy shop for the scenario.

Sets and costumes were designed by the famous French painter André Derain. The premiere at the Alhambra Theater in London on June 5, 1919 was a huge success, and the ballet has remained popular ever since, in both the theater and the concert hall. The Suite consists of eight numbers and contains about half the music from the complete, forty-minute score.

 

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

Born in Bonn, December 16, 1770 – Died in Vienna, March 26, 1827

Violin Concerto in D major, op. 61

Beethoven’s only contribution to the repertory of violin concertos proved to be a landmark. Not only was it longer and more complex than any previous work of its kind, but in symphonic thought and expansiveness it eclipsed all predecessors. It is still considered one of the most exalted of all concertos for any instrument; its only peer in the pantheon of violin concertos is the Brahms concerto (also in D major). It dates from 1806, the year Beethoven worked on or completed such other masterpieces as the Fourth Symphony, the Fourth Piano Concerto, the three “Rasumovsky Quartets,” the first revision of Fidelio and the 32 Variations in C minor for piano. As was common in that era, Beethoven wrote for a specific soloist, the virtuoso Franz Clement (1780-1842). The deeply lyrical quality of this concerto, the finesse of its phrases and its poetry all reflect the attributes of Clement’s playing, which according to contemporary accounts was marked by perfect intonation, suppleness of bow control, “gracefulness and tenderness of expression” and “indescribable delicacy, neatness and elegance.”

Five soft beats on the timpani usher in the concerto. These even, repeated notes become one of the movement’s great unifying devices, occurring in many contexts and moods. The inner tension of this movement is heightened by the contrast of this five-beat throb and the gracious lyricism of its melodies. The two principal themes are both, as it happens, introduced by a woodwind group, both are built exclusively on scale patterns of D major, and both are sublimely lyrical and reposed in spirit.

The Larghetto is one of Beethoven’s most sublimely beautiful, hymn-like slow movements. Little “happens” here in the traditional sense; a mood of deep peace, contemplation and introspection prevails while three themes, all in G major, weave their way through a series of free-form variations.

A brief cadenza leads directly into the rollicking Finale – rondo with a memorable recurring principal theme, numerous horn flourishes suggestive of the hunt, and many humorous touches.

 

© Robert Markow

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