Göteborgs Konserthus The Mighty Sound of Organ and Orchestra

Experience the sounds of the magnificent Concert Hall organ with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conductor Christoph Eschenbach and organist Christian Schmitt.

Concert length: 2 h incl. intermission Scene: Stora salen
370-530 SEK Student 185-265 SEK

Organist Christian Schmitt handles the cheeky organ part in Poulenc’s concerto with the same skill as in Barber’s Toccata Festiva – masterfully. In Poulenc’s self-assured and cheeky Organ Concerto, he allows the magnificent sounds to play freely, in an equally serious and derisory manner, in the very style of the French composer himself. Poulenc’s contemporary colleague, the American composer Samuel Barber, is known for his romantic sensitivity, but in his Toccata Festiva for Organ and Orchestra he also displays a cheerful and high-spirited side to his music, which rushes forward in pure exhilaration.

This evening’s programme also includes Bruckner’s Symphony No. 1, in which it is possible to discern the familiar characteristics, with chords and reverberations, which remind us of the composer’s earlier career as an organist. His first symphony was in actual fact his third (the previous two were called No. 0 and No. 00!), and it is truly a genuine Bruckner, lighter in step than his later heavier compositions, and a reminder that the composer was once a young man. Even in his earliest symphonies it is possible to discern the familiar characteristics that would gain clearer contours with the passing years.

This sound feast is led with the confident hand of Christoph Eschenbach, former first guest conductor at the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

Listen

Get to know the classic works.

 

Introduction to the concert

Take a seat in the Great Hall one hour before the concert begins and learn more about the music you will soon experience! You will get the stories behind the music, knowledge of the composers and own reflections about the classical pieces. The introduction last for about 30 minutes, it is free and free seating in the hall. Warm welcome!

Programme

Samuel Barber (1910–1981) Toccata Festiva, Op. 36 Samuel Barber was a man who humbly won everyone’s hearts and numerous distinctions. At only 28 years old, he was appointed professor of composition at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he had studied just a few years before. By then, he had already won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize two years in a row, which he would win twice more; he also won the American Rome Prize and a Guggenheim Scholarship. He received an honorary doctorate from Harvard and served as vice president of the International Music Council, a UNESCO body. As a composer, he has often been viewed as a traditionalist, but he was absolutely faithful to his ideals. In 1960, Mrs. Mary Curtis Zimbalist commissioned a new piece from him for organ and orchestra. It was intended for the newly built Aeolian-Skinner organ at the Philadelphia Academy of Music, and he was eager to show off the capacity of the organ. He began working on it at his countryside home, Capricorn, near Mount Kisco (NY), and finished it on a trip to Munich in MahlerMay. He begins the music with an enticing rush, introduced by the full orchestra (Allegro con brio), which receives a response from the organ. A lyrical second theme evolves into a chorale, which leads the piece to an affirmative response. Just before the conclusion, Barber added a lengthy cadenza for the organ’s pedals only, which is a true test of mastery for the soloist. Stig Jacobsson

Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) Organ Concerto Andante · Allegro giocoso · Andante moderato · Allegro molto agitato · Très calme, lent · Largo In the summer of 1938, Francis Poulenc composed his original organ concerto, a synthesis of joy and gravity, of intellectualism and sensitivity, of surreal dreams and religious ecstasy. In the 1920s, Poulenc belonged to the influential group of Parisian composers known as Les Six (The Six). Reacting against the old Romantic tradition, they presented fresh, often sarcastically entertaining music instead. Poulenc often combined charming superficiality with pensive religiosity in his music, and his organ concerto is an example of this. It is composed in one movement, but has six short and contrasting sections. The piece begins with a sonorous organ recitative, accompanied by timpani and pizzicato in the double basses – and the rest of the strings soon follow. An interlude on the organ leads to the light and breezy second passage, in which the strings carry the main theme while the organ presents scale runs. The music reaches a peak and then leads into the longest section, Andante moderato, in which a well-designed counterpoint culminates in several dense, intense chords. We are quickly swept up in a restless Allegro. Poulenc noted the simple organ melody that follows here as “very soft and clear”. In the concluding Largo, the soloist returns with the recitative from the introduction. The premiere of the concerto was performed by Maurice Duruflé in 1941. Stig Jacobsson

Intermission 25 min

Anton Bruckner (1824–1896) Symphony No. 1 in C-minor Allegro - Adagio - Scherzo: Lebhaft - Finale: Bewegt, feurig Anton Bruckner actually composed two symphonies before labelling his symphony in C-minor number 1. First he composed a symphony in F-minor, which is now usually referred to as the Study Symphony, or No. 00; this was followed by a symphony in D-minor, which is usually called No. 0. Some researchers say that No. 0 was actually composed after No. 1; he may have actually worked on several major pieces at once. Although it might be difficult to detect the great Bruckner in these early works, in the first numbered symphony he found many of the traits that would ultimately distinguish this magnificent composer. Specifically, this grandiose piece has a run-time of approximately 45 minutes. Bruckner called his first symphony “das kecke Beserl”, which means something akin to “the saucy maid” – words that capture in a nutshell the relaxed, cheerful nature of the introduction, and the courageous force of the scherzo movement. The outer movements are both faster than usual in Bruckner’s coming symphonies, and the finale’s stormy vitality might explain why the composer was surprised later in life to find the works of his youth so bold and daring. But a great deal of what would become typical Bruckner characteristics can also be found here: his incredibly sensitive work with keys and their development; his method of slowly building up energy to a major eruption; the chorale of the conclusion, which becomes a display of horns; and finally, the considerable length of the work. It is a magnificent symphony that was highly regarded by both the era’s leading musical oracle, pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein, as well as conductor Hans von Bülow. But like most of Bruckner’s symphonies, Number 1 also underwent numerous more or less extensive edits. He began composing in 1865 and presented an original version in Linz the following year. Meanwhile, the most commonly heard versions were created in 1877 and 1891. Stig Jacobsson

Participants

The Gothenburg Symphony, called "one of the world's most formidable orchestras" by the Guardian, has toured the USA, Europe, Japan and the Far East and performed at major music centres and festivals throughout the world. Chief conductor is Santtu-Matias Rouvali who started his tenure in 2017. Barbara Hannigan and Christoph Eschenbach are principal guest conductors since 2019. Already at the orchestra's very first years, the great Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar was appointed principal conductor, contributing strongly to the Nordic profile of the orchestra by inviting his colleagues Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius to conduct their own works. Subsequent holders of the post include Sergiu Comissiona, Sixten Ehrling and Charles Dutoit. During Neeme Järvi's tenure (1982-2004), the orchestra became a major international force. In 1997 it was appointed the National Orchestra of Sweden. During his celebrated tenure as music director (2007-2012), Gustavo Dudamel took the Orchestra to major music centres and festivals in Europe, making acclaimed appearances at BBC Proms and Vienna Musikverein. The list of prominent guest conductors has included Wilhelm Furtwängler, Pierre Monteux, Herbert von Karajan, Myung-Whun Chung, Herbert Blomstedt and Sir Simon Rattle. The orchestra also runs extensive concert projects for children, and regularly releases digital live concerts free on gsoplay.se. The orchestra has been involved in many prestigious recording projects, the latest one the complete Sibelius Symphonies with Santtu-Matias Rouvali for Alpha Classics. Earlier, the orchestra has issued over 100 recordings on BIS, Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, Farao Classics and several other labels. The Gothenburg Symphony is owned by the Region Västra Götaland.

Christoph Eschenbach conductor

Christian Schmitt orgel

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