All music by Wolfgang Amadé MOZART
“Ch’io mi scordi di te… Non temer, amato bene” K.505
“Abendempfindung an Laura,” K.523
Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K.49
Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K.385 “Haffner”
I. Allegro con spirito (6’)*
“Oh, temerario Arbace!...Per quel paterno,” K.73d/79
Symphony No. 35
II. Andante (5’)*
Il rè pastore, K.208: “L’amerò, sarò costante”
Symphony No. 35
III. Menuetto – Trio (3’)*
“Great” Mass in C minor, K427: III- “Laudamus te”
Symphony No. 35
IV. Finale: Presto (4’)*
Program subject to change.
*Indicates approximate performance duration.
Music of Wolfgang Amadé Mozart
(b. Salzburg, 1756 / d. Vienna, 1791)
In Mozart’s day, concerts were much different than the codified rituals we have become so used to today. Concerts were as much social events as they were music performances. Not only that, the notion that a multi-movement work, such as a concerto or a symphony, would be performed in its entirety, one movement after another with (absolutely!) no applause between movements – that was unheard of.
Tonight’s concert is an amalgamation of new and old. The first half will proceed in pretty much the way it’s typically done today, with two concert arias followed by a complete, uninterrupted performance of the Piano Concerto No. 24
. In the second half, the “Haffner” Symphony
will be presented in its entirety; but in between each of its movements will be other arias featuring tonight’s soprano soloist, Shannon Mercer. This is very much how music would have been presented at concerts Mozart himself would have led.
The “Scena” “Ch’io mi scordi di te … Non temer, amato bene,”
which Mozart wrote as a farewell gift for his friend, soprano Nancy Storace, is a stand-alone piece set to words which were used as a “substitute” scene for a performance of Mozart’s opera Idomeneo
. In a production put on by earnest amateurs, Mozart rewrote a scene from Idomeneo
, with a recitative that began with the words “Non più tutto ascolta,” followed by an aria with the words, “Non temer, amato bene.” Written for tenor Baron Pulini, this inserted work, with a violin obliggato part, was catalogued as K.490. The words stayed with Mozart, however, and for Storace’s going away present, he rewrote – and many scholars feel improved upon – the scene. This time, Mozart began the recitative at the words, “Ch’io mi scordi di te,” and wrote an extended solo accompaniment for piano, rather than for violin. “Few works of art combine such personal expression with such mastery – the intimacy of a letter with the highest grandeur of form,” wrote Alfred Einstein of K.505 in his biography of Mozart.
“Abendempfindung an Laura,”
is an art song for voice and piano. Its title translates as “Evening Sentiment, for Laura,” and was listed by Mozart as having been completed June 24, 1787. Based on a text by Joachim Heinrich Campe, the poetry is very much of the kind favoured by composers of Mozart’s time – the protagonist foresees his own death, and hopes that his passing will be mourned by friends. But the music to which these words are set anticipates the “lieder” (“art song”) writing of the impending 19th century, being through-composed, and set to piano accompaniment dominated by arpeggiated chords which stop dramatically at key moments in the text.
The concert aria “Oh, temerario Arbace!...Per quel paterno,”
is a scene from Artaserse
, a drama by Metastasio. While Mozart did not write an opera to the text, over 40 composers have. It is thought that Mozart composed the brief excerpt for a private concert given at the Milan home of an Austrian statesman, Count Firmian, who had given help to Mozart in the past. In the scene for which Mozart wrote his aria, Artabano is called upon to pass judgment on his son Arbace for the murder of Serse - a murder for which Artabano is in fact guilty. Arbace will not give up his father, which consequently condemns him to death. The orchestra acts almost as a Greek chorus, commenting dramatically on the haunting text.
Il rè pastore
(“The Shepherd King”) was an opera Mozart wrote in only six weeks at the age of 19. Set during the time of Alexander the Great, the opera’s protagonist, Aminta, is unaware of his royal bloodline, having been raised as a simple shepherd. The part was written for a castrato (young boys with gifted singing voices would be castrated before puberty to preserve their pure, high register singing range), and in the aria “L’amerò, sarò costante,” Aminta sings of his devotion to Elisa. The aria was written with a part for a solo violin, with both violin (Eric Buchmann) and voice set against muted strings.
Mozart began writing a grand, large-scale mass for his wife, Constanze, as a promise to her. But as there was little chance of having the work actually performed, or of making any money from it, it was left incomplete. He finished the Kyrie, Gloria, and most of the Credo, and drafts of the Sanctus and the Benedictus, but that is all. But what there is certainly earns the works its title as the “Great” Mass in C minor
. The “Laudamus te” is the second part of the larger Gloria.
While contemporaries and childhood friends, Mozart and the younger Sigmund Haffner were from two different worlds. Mozart was famous as the son of prominent violinist and music teacher Leopold – it was known that the boy was fabulously gifted, but was thought of as a “performer,” a showman. The Haffners were among the wealthiest and most respected and influential of Salzburg’s citizens.
Mozart wrote the “Haffner” Serenade
in 1776, to celebrate the impending marriage of his boyhood friend’s sister to a local shipping agent. In 1782, he was once again asked to provide a serenade (“serenade,” as understood in Mozart’s place and time, was generally a light entertainment of more than one movement, intended for a specific occasion) for the Haffner family, this time to mark Sigmund the younger’s elevation to the nobility. He complied, sending the piece off one movement at a time. In its serenade form, this work included a march (suitable for the occasion) and two minuets.
The next year, Mozart revised the serenade into symphonic form. He dropped one of the minuets and the opening march, and in this new guise, the symphony premiered to public acclaim on March 29, 1783. True to its roots, the “Haffner” Symphony is lighter in mood than if it had been written as a symphony from the outset. The opening material serves as the basis for nearly everything that follows in the first movement – note particularly the leaping octaves and rhythmic interplay. The elegant Andante is decidedly different in mood: it is elegant, elaborate and genteel.
More contrast follows with the middle movement, where a joyful minuet is matched against a courtly trio. Mozart himself had provided instructions that the vigorous finale should “go as fast as possible,” which surely would have raised the newly-ennobled eyebrows of his boyhood friend, but makes for a perfect, rousing closer to the symphony.
Program notes © 2012 by D.T. Baker
William Eddins, conductor
Now in his eighth season as Music Director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, William Eddins has a captivating energy, a magnetic stage presence, and an adventurous musical curiosity that continues to propel the orchestra to unique, new and exciting achievements. His commitment to the entire spectrum of the ESO audience brings him to the podium for performances in every subscription series, as well as for a wide variety of galas and specials.
A distinguished and versatile pianist, Bill was bitten by the conducting bug while in his sophomore year at the Eastman School of Music. In 1989, he began conducting studies at the University of Southern California with Daniel Lewis, and Assistant Conductorships with both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony (the latter under the leadership of Daniel Barenboim) followed.
Bill has many non-musical hobbies including cooking, eating, discussing food and planning dinner parties. He is also quite fond of biking, tennis, reading and pinball. He recently complete building a state-of-the-art recording studio at his home in Minneapolis, where he lives with his wife Jen (a clarinetist), and their sons Raef and Riley.
While conducting has been his principal pursuit, he continues to perform as pianist, organist and harpsichordist. He has conducted the ESO from the keyboard on many occasions, and in 2007, joined then-ESO concertmaster Martin Riseley and cellist Yo-Yo Ma in Brahms' Piano Trio No. 1 at a gala concert celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Winspear Centre. In 2008, he conducted Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess for Opéra de Lyon, leading to repeat performances in Lyon, London and at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2010. Other international highlights include a 2009 tour of South Africa, where Bill conducted three gala concerts with soprano Renée Fleming and the kwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. On May 8, 2012, Bill made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting the ESO at a memorable concert featuring four Canadian soloists, and music by three Canadian composers alongside Martinů's rarely-performed Symphony No. 1.
Shannon Mercer, soprano
With a soprano voice often described as luminous and dazzling, Canadian Shannon Mercer is equally praised for her acting ability and stage presence. During 2012-13, Ms. Mercer sings Bach’s B minor Mass
with the National Symphony of Mexico and the Vancouver Chamber Choir. She offers Messiah
with the Calgary Philharmonic and Seattle Symphony. Other presenters include Ottawa Choral Society, Early Music Vancouver, and several concerts with Les Violons du Roy.
Ms. Mercer’s 2011-2012 season began with JUNO partners Ensemble Caprice in a concert performance of Salsa Baroque. She then joined the Toronto Symphony on an educational tour. She appeared in Montréal several times throughout the season. Engagements in the U.S. included a tour with Les Voix Baroques, Mercury Baroque in Houston, Pacific Musicworks, the Utah Symphony Orchestra, and with Tragicomedia in Boston and New York. An avid concert and recital artist, recent engagements include performances at Carnegie Hall in New York and Luc Beauséjour’s Clavecin en Concert. She debuted at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. Her award-winning discography includes Salsa Baroque
with Ensemble Caprice (Analekta) and the Prix Opus nominated O Viva Rosa
(Analekta). Other recordings include Wales - The Land of Song
, the 2009 JUNO-winning Gloria!: Vivaldi’s Angels
, JUNO-nominated Bach and the Liturgical Year
, and Marin Marais’s Sémélé
(Glossa). An alumnus of San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Summer Program, Shannon Mercer began her career as a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Program. A Career Development Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and the 2004 Bernard Diamant Prize allowed Shannon an extended period of study in Vienna. She also received the Virginia Parker Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Career Development Award. A native of Ottawa, Shannon Mercer now resides in Toronto.
Ms. Mercer last appeared with the ESO in December 2007.
Eric Buchmann, violin
Eric Buchmann studied violin at the Conservatoire de Montréal and at the Université de Montréal where he earned a Bachelor of Music and a DESS degree. In 2001, he moved to Los Angeles to continue his studies at the University of Southern California. Two years later he joined the New World Symphony in Miami Beach where he played under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas and many other music directors from all over the world. His violin teachers include Sonia Jelinkova, Vladimir Landsman, Jean-François Rivest, William Preucil and Martin Chalifour.
Eric Buchmann joined the first violins section of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 2006 and was appointed Assistant Concertmaster following auditions in 2009. Eric performs occasionally with the ESO as a soloist and is also a member of the Alberta Baroque Ensemble under the direction of Paul Schieman.
When not playing with the orchestra in Edmonton, you can find him with his family in Montreal or Switzerland. Traveling is one of his passions.