Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents Beethoven & Mozart: Symphony No. 6 May 7-10

Program features Hartford Chorale, Beth El Temple Chorus,
and Congregation Beth Israel Chorus

Hartford Symphony Orchestra with the Hartford Chorale
Hartford Symphony Orchestra with the Hartford Chorale

Shimmering strings, fluttering flutes and celebratory choirs will all come together for BEETHOVEN & MOZART: SYMPHONY NO. 6, the eighth concert of Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s 2014-2015 Masterworks Series on Thursday, May 7 through Sunday, May 10 in the Belding Theater at The Bushnell in Hartford.  The concerts will be conducted by HSO Music Director, Carolyn Kuan, and will feature the Hartford Chorale, the Beth El Temple Chorus, and the Congregation Beth Israel Chorus. The program will include Mozart’s Symphony No. 6 in F Major, K. 43, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F Major Op. 68, “Pastorale,” as well as Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms.  The 2014-2015 Masterworks Series is sponsored by MetLife Foundation and The Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation.

About the Program
Mozart’s Symphony No. 6 in F Major, K. 43 was probably begun before his family left Salzburg in September 1767 and completed in Vienna by the end of the year, a few weeks shy of Wolfgang’s twelfth birthday. The main theme of the Symphony’s opening Allegro, as is typical of the melodically fecund Mozart, includes three short motives: martial, delicate and bustling. Mozart’s remarkable ability to conjure musical magic from the stock gestures of his day is heard nowhere better than in the Andante, which creates sublime tonal moonlight from the Rococo conventions of muted violins, ticking pizzicato accompaniment and languid flutes (which at that time would have been played by the same instrumentalists handling the oboes in the other movements.) The thematic material is borrowed from the duet Natus cadit, atque Deus from the Latin-language opera Apollo et Hyacinthus, Mozart’s first stage work, which was premiered at Salzburg University in May 1767. The Menuetto is rather staid and formal, perhaps a reflection of the courtly manners that Mozart was required to assume for his appearances at Vienna’s noble houses. The finale, in a modified sonata form similar to that of the first movement, is built around the bounding, 6/8 theme given at the outset, with enough contrasts of texture, dynamics and harmonies to bring the movement into formal and expressive balance.

In 1964-1965, Bernstein considered several compositional projects during his year away from the rigorous duties as music director of the New York Philharmonic, including a theater piece based on Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, but it was this set of Chichester Psalms for choir and orchestra that was the principal musical offspring of that hiatus in his public career. The work was commissioned by the Very Rev. Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester Cathedral for the 1965 Southern Cathedrals Festival, in which the musicians of Chichester have participated with those of the neighboring cathedrals of Salisbury and Winchester since 1959. The musical traditions of these great cathedrals extend far back into history, to at least the time when the eminent early 17th-century keyboard artist and composer Thomas Weelkes occupied the organ bench at Chichester. The mood of the Chichester Psalms is humble and serene, unlike the powerful but despairing nature of Bernstein’s “Kaddish” Symphony of 1963, composed shortly before this work. Both use traditional texts sung in Hebrew, but the message of the Psalms is one of man’s closeness to God, rather than the one of frustration and anger and shaken faith engendered by God’s inexplicable acts as portrayed by the “Kaddish.” It is indicative that the composer chose the 23rd Psalm (“The Lord is my Shepherd”) for the second movement, the heart of the Chichester Psalms: Behold how good/And how pleasant it is/For brethren to dwell/Together in unity.

The extra-musical associations of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68, “Pastorale,” run far deeper than its imitations of nightingales and rainstorms. Actually, there are at least three layers of “meaning” here. The first and most obvious of these three is the evocation of natural noises, but this was only a point of departure for Beethoven into the second degree of reference in this work, since these woodland sounds were simply the external manifestations of what was, for him, a much deeper reality: that God was to be found in every tree, in every brook; indeed, that God and Nature are, if not the same, certainly indivisible. It was into this pantheistic philosophy that Beethoven retreated when his deafness became profound. As he grew increasingly alienated from the world of men, he sought and found refuge in Nature. He sought to voice his essential belief in the divinity of Nature in this Sixth Symphony, just as he sought in the Ninth Symphony to express another of his fundamental ideas: the hope for universal brotherhood. The second layer of meaning in this work is, in the words of Basil Lam, “not that it is merely descriptive, but, in the broadest sense, religious.” The third plane on which the “Pastoral” Symphony exists is heavily influenced by the other two. This third layer, the purely musical, reflects the stability, the calm and the sense of the infinite that Beethoven perceived in Nature. “Oh, the sweet stillness of the woods!” he wrote. The “Pastoral” Symphony, the most gentle and child-like work that Beethoven ever composed, grants us not only a deeper understanding of the great composer, but also, through his vision, a heightened awareness of ourselves and the world around us.

Calendar Listing:
Hartford Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Series
Thursday – Sunday, May 7-10, 2015
Belding Theater at The Bushnell
Thursday 7:30pm?Friday & Saturday 8pm?Sunday 3pm
Tickets starting at $38.50; $10.00 for students with ID
860-987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.org
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Hartford Chorale Richard Coffey, music director
Beth El Temple Chorus Joseph Ness, cantor and director
Congregation Beth Israel Chorus Pamela Siskin, cantor and director; Natasha Ulyanovsky, assistant musical director
Mozart Symphony No. 6 in F Major, K. 43
Bernstein Chichester Psalms
Beethoven Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op.68, “Pastorale”
Shimmering strings, fluttering flutes and celebratory choirs will all come together in this glorious celebration of nature, humanity, spirituality and renewal.

Season Sponsor: Travelers
Masterworks Series Sponsors:
MetLife Foundation and The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation
HSO programs are funded in part by the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and with support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Upcoming HSO Concerts

Hartford Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Series
Thursday – Sunday, May 28-31, 2015
Belding Theater at The Bushnell
Thursday 7:30pm?Friday & Saturday 8pm?Sunday 3pm
Tickets starting at $38.50; $10.00 for students with ID
860-987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.org
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Brian Diehl HSO principal trombone
Jamilyn Manning-White soprano
Copland Fanfare for the Common Man
World Premiere/Original Commission Fanfare for the Hartford Woman
Mackey Harvest: Concerto for Trombone
Mahler Symphony No. 4 in G Major
The finale culminates our season-long tribute to Mahler. Throughout his life and music, Gustav Mahler explored the metaphysical meanings of our lives, and this work endures as his most approachable and expressive. The program also features HSO principal trombonist Brian Diehl in a concerto based on Dionysus, the Greek god of creativity. Plus, Copland’s exultant Fanfare for the Common Man – along with a world premiere of an original commission, Fanfare for the Hartford Woman.

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