This ambitious program presents two era-defining works: Schubert’s last completed symphony, “The Great” C Major, which ushered in the new Romantic era, in bold contrast to Bartók’s starkly modern Second Violin Concerto, featuring ESO Concertmaster Robert Uchida. YYYY/MM/DD
Schubert’s “Great” Symphony
Enmax Hall, Winspear Centre
Rune Bergmann, conductor (pictured)
Robert Uchida, violin
This ambitious program presents two era-defining works: Schubert’s last completed symphony, “The Great” C Major, which ushered in the new Romantic era, in bold contrast to Bartók’s starkly modern Second Violin Concerto, featuring ESO Concertmaster Robert Uchida.
Schubert – Symphony No. 7 “The Great”
Bartók – Violin Concerto No. 2
Buhr – Akasha (Sky)
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 the Upper Circle (Third Level) Lobby, free to all ticket holders.
$79 Dress Circle (A)
$69 Terrace (B)
$59 Orchestra (C)
$39 Upper Circle (D)
$29 Gallery (E)
Tickets subject to applicable service charges.
Violin Concerto No. 2 (36’)*
Symphony No. 7 in C major, D944 “Great” (55’)*
*indicates approximate performance duration
Program subject to change
(b. Winnipeg, 1954)
First performed: May 1989 in Toronto
Last ESO performance: May 2012
Program note by the composer:
“Akasha” is the Sanskrit word for “space” – the fifth element after earth, air, fire, and water – but the word “akasha” is sometimes translated more poetically as “sky.” This short work is very gentle, with a steady, quiet rhythm played by the strings and glockenspiel, and a floating chorale in the brass, which gradually rises to a pivotal climax with the woodwinds scurrying up and around in the background.
Akasha was commissioned by the CBC for a premiere performance by the Toronto Symphony under Mario Bernardi in May 1989.
Violin Concerto No. 2
(b. Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary, 1881 / d. New York, 1945)
First performance: March 23, 1939 in Amsterdam
Last ESO performance: June 2008
The piano was Bartók’s instrument, but throughout his career, his relationships with a number of important Hungarian violinists kept that instrument at the core of his music. What we now know as his Second Violin Concerto (the first was an early work not published until after Bartók’s death) came about as a result of Bartók’s friendship with Zoltán Székely, violinist with the renowned Hungarian String Quartet. It was Székely who urged Bartók to compose a “proper concerto,” and not the set of variations the composer offered to write. In the end, Bartók teased his friend, they both won. Székely got a three-movement concerto written within classical strictures. But the second movement is a set of variations, while the finale is a long variation on material from the opening movement.
“Bartók has reached new heights and has managed to solve all the problems, has fused all aspects together to form a new work,” went a promising review of the work’s premiere, published in the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant on March 24, 1939. “But we must hear the work often. With so masterful an interpretation as Székely has played and Mengelberg has conducted, we hope the foundation is laid for the work to be played many times.”
The opening movement was originally marked “tempo di verbunkos,” referring to a Hungarian dance form. There is a folk-like gait, set to a 4/4 metre. The violin takes charge early on, dictating each new mood, answered or punctuated by the orchestra. These moods run from haunting to giddy and playful. The cadenza is a frenetic one, leading to a surprisingly rhapsodic coda. The second movement’s set of variations pairs the violin with lighter textures: high woodwinds, harp and celeste. The dreamlike nature of the movement is interrupted by the fourth variation, but the movement ends in quiet repose. The finale returns to the opening movement’s sense of contrasts of both mood and colour, but here it is altogether more robust and vibrant, its ending a burst of joy.
Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D 944 “The Great”
(b. Vienna, 1797 / d. Vienna, 1828)
The symphony was rehearsed with the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in 1827, but not performed in Schubert’s lifetime. It premiered publicly on March 21, 1839 in Leipzig.
Last ESO performance: November 2008
Numbering aside (and ESO Music Director William Eddins has strong, not uncompelling reasons for calling this Symphony No. 7), the “Great” C Major Symphony of Franz Schubert is one of those musical “near misses” that we almost never heard.
No matter which number it is assigned, it is a fitting symphony to be the last complete one he wrote. Its gestation took place at a dark time in Schubert’s life. He had contracted the syphilis which would claim him (at only 31 years old), and he wrote to a friend of his desire that each night he went to bed would be his last. Yet that same letter spoke much more optimistically of new pieces he was working on, including a grand symphony. We know now that this was the work that would become the “Great” C Major.
Yet Schubert’s self-doubt continued to assail him, for even after completing the work, he held onto it, and did not publish it. The score remained with his older brother Ferdinand until Robert Schumann, who had been a friend and supporter of Franz Schubert, discovered it. Schumann brought it to Mendelssohn, who conducted the work’s premiere – although with substantial cuts. This was more than common at the time, and the massive scope, and the sheer physical demands of the string writing, had many passing on this last, great discovery from Schubert’s oeuvre.
Without cuts, this is a long, measured, vast work – nearly an hour, and each movement save the slow one built upon a substantial sonata form. The symphony is also remarkably balanced: every movement is about the length of its fellows, with a first movement built up predominantly from a horn theme announced early on. The slow second movement (the only one not in sonata form), takes its measured, but syncopated, melody from A minor to A Major and back again with a mesmerizing deliberateness. The third movement is a Scherzo, an Allegro vivace in which the main Scherzo theme is itself given its own sonata form treatment, contrasted by a trio in A Major. The final movement, also Allegro vivace, is nearly 1200 measures in length – a titanic, nearly headlong rush of energy and drive.
Program notes © 2017 by D.T. Baker, except as noted
An energetic and compelling figure on the podium, Norwegian conductor Rune Bergmann (pronounced Rue-na Bairg-mahn) is a dynamic, versatile conductor with an extensive classical, romantic, operatic, and contemporary repertoire. Considered among today’s most talented young Scandinavian conductors, his elegant interpretations and reputation as an inspiring and profound musician continue to attract the attention of orchestras throughout the world.
Recently named Music Director Designate of Canada’s Calgary Philharmonic as well as Artistic Director & Chief Conductor of Poland’s Szczecin Philharmonic, Bergmann has been Artistic Director of Norway’s innovative Fjord Cadenza Festival since its inception in 2010. Additionally, he regularly conducts a wide range of distinguished orchestras and opera houses around the world, including such auspices as the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Norwegian National Opera, Mainfranken Theater Würzburg, and Philharmonie Südwestfalen, as well as the symphony orchestras of Malmö, Helsingborg, Bergen, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Trondheim, Karlskrona, and Odense, and Lisbon's Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguesa. In North America, he has guested with such orchestras as the Alabama Symphony Orchestra (where he led the world premiere of Grawemeyer Award-winning Serbian composer Djuro Zivkovic’s Psalm XIII), Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Houston Symphony Orchestras, and New Mexico Philharmonic, and the Brevard Music Festival. The 15/16 season saw Bergmann make a joint North American operatic debut at Yale Opera with innovative stage director Claudia Solti.
Upcoming highlights of Bergmann's 16/17 season include return engagements in Calgary, Lisbon and New Mexico, as well as North American debuts with the Edmonton, Hawaii, Pacific, and Toledo Symphony Orchestras and the Wroc?aw and Argovia Philharmonics in Europe. The 16/17 season also marks the beginning of Bergmann's tenure as the new Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Szczecin Philharmonic in Poland, and the continuation of his role as Principal Guest Conductor of the Kaunas City Symphony in Lithuania.
A multitalented musician who also plays trumpet, piano, and violin/viola, Rune Bergmann studied choral and orchestral conducting under Anders Eby, Jin Wang and Jorma Panula at Sweden’s Royal College of Music. He graduated with high honors from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland, where he studied conducting under Chief Conductor Emeritus of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/former principal conductor of the Vienna Radio, Finnish Radio, and Danish National symphony orchestras, Leif Segerstam. Honours include the 2010 Kjell Holm Foundation Culture Prize, the 2009 SMP Press culture award, and second prize in Helsingborg’s 2002 Nordic Conducting Competition. Maestro Bergmann’s former posts include deputy – General Musik Direktor with the Augsburger Philharmoniker and Theater Augsburg in Germany.
Enmax Hall, Winspear Centre
#4 Sir Winston Churchill Square
The Francis Winspear Centre for Music is on the corner of 102nd Avenue and 99th Street, in the heart of The Arts District in downtown Edmonton. It is readily accessible by car, Edmonton Transit (bus and LRT), and the Pedway system.
The City of Edmonton provides over 1500 convenient parking stalls within a 5-minute walk from Winspear Centre, The Citadel Theatre and Shaw Conference Centre. The Library, Canada Place and City Hall Parkades provide heated underground parking with pedway connections to the event venues. Parking is also available at on-street meters in the vicinity.
Nearly every level of the Winspear Centre is able to accommodate patrons with wheelchairs. Please advise our Box Office staff when you purchase your tickets that access to wheelchair seating will be necessary.
The Winspear Centre can provide an assistive listening device if you require one. Please visit the concierge desk in the main lobby.
Dining Near the Winspear
The Winspear Centre's downtown location is ideally situated for some of the best dining experiences Edmonton has to offer. Whether you're seeking dinner before the show or a late night treat after, you can find it at one of these restaurants located within a few blocks of the Winspear Centre.
At the Event
What to Wear
For some, an event at a world-class facility like the Winspear Centre is a great excuse to dress to the nines. But it’s hardly necessary. If that’s your style – go for it! If it’s not – hey, you paid for the ticket, so do what makes you feel comfortable. You’ll see a wide range of dress, from casual to pretty classy, depending on the kind of event it is. Business casual is probably a great middle ground for most Edmonton Symphony Orchestra concerts.
Perfume & Scents
In consideration to your fellow patrons who may have sensitivities or allergies to scented products, we ask that you use such products with great discretion. If, as a patron, you experience difficulty due to another patron’s use of fragrance, please alert our front of house staff, who will do everything possible to accommodate you.
Food & Beverage
The Winspear Centre has a number of stations in operation pre-show and during intermission. Bars, coffee bars, dessert stations and a martini bar are waiting for you. A good bet for intermission is to pre-order your drink before the show, and it will be waiting for you, so you can avoid lining up during the break.
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