Home >> Tickets >> 2016/2017 ESO Season >> Saturday Masters Applause >> Chopin Piano Concerto No.2


Starting 10am today all tickets will be $24 for 24hrs! Come meet our new Chief Conductor, Alexander Prior.

In 2015, Charles Richard-Hamelin became the first Canadian laureate in the 88-year history of Poland's Chopin Piano Competition, taking home the Silver Medal. Hear his award-winning interpretation of Chopin alongside Carl Nielsen's dazzling symphony and Clemont Pépin's tuneful variations, conducted by the dynamic Alexander Prior.

Featured Repertoire
Chopin – Piano Concerto No. 2
Nielsen – Symphony No. 2 “The Four Temperaments”
Pépin – Variations symphoniques

Additional Activities
Arrive early for Symphony Prelude, an in-depth presentation about musical works to help make the most of your concert experience, starting at 7 pm in Enmax Hall (Main Performance Chamber), free to all ticket holders.

Ticket Information

$79 Dress Circle (A)
$69 Terrace (B)
$59 Orchestra (C)
$39 Upper Circle (D)
$29 Gallery (E)

Tickets subject to applicable service charges.

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Artist Info

Silver medalist and laureate of the Krystian Zimerman award of the best sonata at the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2015, winner of the 2011 Prix d’Europe, Charles Richard-Hamelin is one of the most important pianists of his generation. He also won the second prize at the Montréal International Musical Competition and the third prize and special award for the best performance of a Beethoven sonata at the Seoul International Music Competition in South Korea. In April 2015, Charles was awarded the prestigious Career Development Award offered by the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto.

As a soloist, Charles has performed with various ensembles including the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Montréal Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, Korean Symphony Orchestra, and I Musici de Montréal. Originally from Lanaudière in Québec, Charles Richard-Hamelin studied with Paul Surdulescu, Sara Laimon, and Boris Berman. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in performance from McGill University in 2011 and a master’s degree from the Yale School of Music in 2013 and received full scholarships in both institutions. He is now a student of André Laplante at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal and also works on a regular basis with Jean Saulnier.  The summer of 2016 was busy for the young prodigy, as he gave solo and orchestral performances all over Canada as well as Japan, France, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Spain. He also recorded his second CD, devoted to Beethoven, Chopin and Enescu, scheduled for release this month.

This is Mr. Richard-Hamelin’s debut with the ESO.

Program Info




Variations symphoniques (14’)* (ESO premiere)



Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Opus 21 (32’)*





Symphony No. 2, Opus 16 “The Four Temperaments” (32')*


*Indicates approximate performance duration

Program subject to change

Variations symphoniques
Clermont Pépin
(b. St-Georges-de-Beauce, Québec, 1926 / d. Montréal, 2006)

First performance: 1948 in Montréal
This is the ESO premiere of the piece

Clermont Pépin wrote his Variations symphoniques in 1947 at the age of 21; it won the centennial competition at Collège Ste-Marie, Montréal the following year. At the time, three awards from CAPAC had enabled him to study at the Royal Conservatory, where his composition teacher was Arnold Walter. This, after previous instruction from, among others, Claude Champagne at the Conservatoire de Montréal, and Rosario Scalero (on scholarship at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia).

Variations symphoniques was only the second orchestral work by Pépin. His first was also a set of variations, but for string orchestra. Tonight’s work shows a remarkable facility with orchestral colours, and over the course of its roughly quarter of an hour’s length, subjects the theme heard at the outset to eight distinct variations. Pépin’s compositional style went through a substantial change following his youthful works, and following studies with, among others, Arthur Honegger.

Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op.21
Fryderyk Chopin
(b. Zelazowa Wola, 1810 / d. Paris, 1849)

First performance: March 3, 1830 in Warsaw
Last ESO performance: October 2012

Chopin composed both of his piano concertos before leaving his native Poland as a young man. They ar works of youth, and moreover, they are works influenced by the bravura pianism to which he was exposed as a youth. Chopin’s concert experiences were limited to the touring virtuosos of the day – composer/pianists such as Hummel, Moscheles, and Kalkbrenner – who toured all over Europe with their flashy, showcase concertos. So it’s no wonder that Chopin’s two youthful ventures into the concerto repertoire are in a similar vein. The concert published as the first was actually written after the work to be presented tonight; parts of the score of this concerto were misplaced, resulting in the other getting published first. Chopin performed the premiere a few days after his 20th birthday.

Certainly, the tour de force performances Chopin witnessed were not, however, the only music he heard. He was schooled on a steady diet of past masters by his teachers, including the music of Mozart and Bach. So if his first attempt at a concerto seems rather formulaic in its overall design, the melodies that can only have come from Chopin’s genius are very apparent. The Maestoso first movement, for example, features a sturdy orchestral opening, followed by the piano presenting, then rhapsodizing, on this material. With the entrance of the piano, it is clear that the soloist will be to the fore. Even in its exchanges with the orchestra, it is the piano that now presents new thematic ideas first, while the orchestra punctuates, or provides dramatic replies, to the piano’s grand and eloquent statements.

A concerto in G minor by Ignaz Moscheles provided the young Chopin the model for the Larghetto second movement. The melody is a beautiful, wistful nocturne, once again introduced in the orchestra before the piano takes over. The orchestra then provides a delicate shimmer under the piano’s graceful, delicately sparkling material. The finale is based on Polish dance forms, with a main subject having a mazurka feel, contrasted by a scherzando in a oberek (a livelier variant of the mazurka); the whole of the movement in a standard rondo design. If not quite a happy movement in its F minor home key, the Allegretto vivace is nonetheless extrovert and broad – and a taxing, rewarding showcase for the soloist.

Symphony No. 2, Op.16 “The Four Temperaments”
Carl Nielsen
(b. Nørre-Lyndelse, 1865 / d. Copenhagen, 1931)

First performance: December 1, 1902
Last ESO performance: May 1991

For Carl Nielsen, empathy was important. “The ability to identify with another personality as though from within is constantly apparent…It was a quality he identified in the operas of Mozart and which he endeavoured to emulate in his own first opera, Saul and David,” wrote David Fanning.

Needing a break from the composition of that opera, Nielsen, his wife, and some friends stopped at an inn on the island of Sjaeland. While there, Nielsen noticed a comical painting on the wall which showed depictions of the four “temperaments,” the ancient Greek concept of the four overriding personality types which were believed to be derived from the four bodily fluids Hippocrates outlined: “choleric” (irritable), “phlegmatic” (relaxed), “melancholic” (analytical, quiet), and “sanguine” (optimistic). They were comic depictions which Nielsen found extremely humorous, yet in the midst of the laughter he captured the seed of a symphony. And while there is certainly a strong strain of cheerfulness to much of the music that resulted, the four movements are no mere “caricatures in sound,” but a solidly-constructed, logically laid out work of considerable breadth and sophistication.

Symphony No. 2 “The Four Temperaments” premiered three days after the premiere of Saul and David, with Nielsen conducting. Listeners will certainly hear vividly the various personality traits in each of the movements; moreover, the music follows a pattern, with the first three movements cast in keys which take the music down by thirds (B minor in the “choleric” first movement, G Major in the “phlegmatic” second, and E-flat minor in the “melancholic” third). The final movement ends in a rousing A Major march.

Program notes © 2016 by D.T. Baker

Venue Info

Enmax Hall, Winspear Centre
#4 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, AB
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