3 & 30.KENT NAGANO CELEBRATES THE GREAT CHORUSES OF WAGNER AND VERDI
Maison symphonique de Montréal
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Kent Nagano, conductor
The OSM Chorus
Maurice Boyer, OSM chorus master
Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg [The Master-Singers of Nuremberg], “Prelude” (9 min.)
Wagner, Tannhäuser, “Freudig begrüssen wir die edle Halle” (8 min.)
Wagner, Die Walküre [The Valkyrie], Prelude “Ride of the Valkyries” (5 min.)
Verdi, La traviata, “Prelude” (4 min.)
Verdi, Nabucco, “Va, pensiero” (5 min.)
Verdi, Aïda, “Gloria all’ Egitto” (7 min.)
Video excerpt from the Berliner Philharmoniker and Daniel Barenboim
Wagner and Verdi inhabited very different musical universes when they were alive, but today we embrace them both as masters of their own brands of Romanticism. Both are best known for their operas, and this program highlights the grandeur, emotion, and flowing melodies of their operatic overtures and choruses.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg showcases Wagner’s joyful and humorous side. The bright, optimistic Prelude begins with a march and a fanfare, then anticipates the song that young Walther uses to win the Meistersinger contest and the hand of his beloved Eva. Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg is about another singing contest or Sängerkrieg, but unlike Die Meistersinger, the opera’s main themes are flesh and spirit, sin and redemption. “Freudig begrüßen” is sung by the guests of the contest in greeting to their host, the Landgrave of Wartburg. Drawn from Die Walküre, the second opera in the Ring cycle, “The Ride of the Valkyries” is some of Wagner’s most famous music. Valkyries are figures in Norse mythology who decide which soldiers will die in battle and which will live. Here, they prepare to take fallen heroes to the afterlife.
The ravishing melodies and simple but effective orchestration of the La Traviata Prelude are quintessential Verdi. The ominous opening music foreshadows the end of the opera and Violetta’s death; next comes the warm, passionate theme of Violetta and Alfredo’s love duet. A light, dancing countermelody added to this theme leads cleverly into the opening party scene. “Va, pensiero,” from Verdi’s early opera Nabucco, was famously sung at the composer’s funeral procession in the streets of Milan. Also known as the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, it evokes longing for the homeland during the Biblical period of Babylonian exile. Aida, meanwhile, has been a cornerstone of the opera repertoire since its 1871 premiere in Cairo. “Gloria all’ Egitto,” a victory chorus for returning Egyptian soldiers, gives this concert a glorious finish.
© Ariadne Lih, 2018
Kent Nagano has established an international reputation as one of the most insightful and visionary interpreters of both the operatic and symphonic repertoire. He is Music Director of the OSM since 2006. Maestro Nagano was General Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich from 2006 to 2013. He became Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in 2013. Since 2015, he has been General Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Hamburg State Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra. Born in California, Kent Nagano spent his early professional years in Boston, working in the opera house and as Assistant Conductor to Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He was Music Director of the Opéra national de Lyon (1988-1998), Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra (1991-2000), Associate Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (1990-1998) and Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (2000-2006) and remains their Honorary Conductor. Kent Nagano was also the first Music Director of the Los Angeles Opera (2003-2006). As a much sought-after guest conductor, Maestro Nagano has worked with the Berlin, New York and Vienna Philharmonics, Chicago Symphony, Dresden Staatskapelle and Leipzig Gewandhaus, and at leading opera houses including the Opéra national de Paris, Berlin State Opera, Metropolitan Opera and Semperoper Dresden. He has won two Grammy awards for his recording of Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and for Busoni’s Doktor Faust, recorded with the Opéra national de Lyon, among other awards. Maestro Nagano was named Commander of the Ordre de Montréal, Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, Companion of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec, and he was decorated with the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal.
Recent recordings with the OSM: A Quiet Place (Decca, 2018); Danse macabre (Decca, 2016); L’Aiglon (Decca, 2015); Saint-Saëns, Moussa, Saariaho: Symphony and New Works for Organ and Orchestra (Analekta, 2015); Complete Violin Concertos of Saint-Saëns (Analekta, 2015).
Recent tours with the OSM: Krakow and Salzburg (2018); United States (March 2016); China and Japan (October 2014); Europe (March 2014); and South America (April-May 2013).
Maurice Boyer is a versatile conductor who works with equal fluency in both the choral and orchestral settings. An associate professor of music at Concordia University Chicago, he is also artistic director of Aestas Consort, music director of the American Kantorei, and associate conductor of the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest. He has served as assistant conductor to Maestro John Nelson in Paris, Boston and Wheaton, as well as assistant chorus master to Andrew Megill for the OSM’s recent performance of Krzysztof Penderecki’s St Luke Passion conducted by Maestro Kent Nagano. He has also prepared works by Handel for Jane Glover. He holds a doctorate in orchestral conducting (University of Maryland), a master of music in choral conducting and a bachelor music in sacred music (Westminster Choir College). A pianist and singer by training, he began his musical studies in Aix-en-Provence, France, where he lived until the age of eighteen.
Andrew Megill’s work can be heard in numerous recordings and has also been featured in broadcasts by Public Radio International and the BBC.
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