Göteborgs Konserthus Spring Concert

Warming, dazzling and wonderfully surprising with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Sir John Eliot Gardiner conductor and Gwyneth Wentink harp.

Concert length: 1 h 20 min Scene: Stora salen
370-530 SEK Student 185-265 SEK

Welcome the spring with the Gothenburg Symphony, with music that is like the first rays of sunshine in the month of May – warming, dazzling and wonderfully surprising.

The concert opens with Argentinian composer Ginastera’s sparkling sparkling harp concerto with Gwyneth Wentink as soloist. Sibelius’ soaring, vibrant Fifth Symphony then blossoms in its full glory, all under the direction of British legend Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

British Sir John Eliot Gardiner is one of the most noted conductors of our time. Above all, he has made himself known as a great Bach interpreter. Gardiner has visited Sweden several times before, including at the Nobel Prize concert. This will be his first performance with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.



Get to know the classical pieces.


In Greek mythology, Boreas was the icy north wind. The Boreads were his wind-borne sons. Towards the end of his life, Rameau wrote this "lyrical tragedy to music" about how an ancient queen is forced to marry one of the Boreads and is carried away to be tormented under the north wind. Thankfully, good forces come to the rescue. The suite's most popular piece describes how Apollo and an entire army of gods and gentler winds step in to save love (Entrée pour les Muses, les Zéphyres, les Saisons, les Heures et les Arts). But we hear no heavy footsteps through the snowdrifts. Almost floating, the gods seem to stride across the timbers of the small theater stage, extending an inviting gesture and grasping each other's warming hands. The opera was not performed until 1770, a few years after Rameau's death. In 1982 it was performed for the first time in our time under arrangements by the baroque expert Sir John Eliot Gardiner and has been assembled into an orchestral suite. In May, we ought to think that King Bore has gone away with winter a long time ago.

Alberto Ginastera was born in Buenos Aires in Argentina and became faithful to the city for most of his career. From the age of seven he played the piano and at twelve he entered the Williams Conservatory. In the second half of the 1930s, he studied at the National Conservatory and quickly established himself as his country's leading composer. Only for a few years in the mid-1940s did he leave South America to study in the United States with the help of a Guggenheim scholarship. But he also later came to keep close contact with American music institutions. South American legends, rhythms and melodies are extensively represented in his many operas, cantatas and orchestral works. As early as 1956, the harpist in the Philadelphia Orchestra, Edna Phillips, asked Ginastera to write a harp concerto for her, but despite generous nudges, she received nothing more than fragmentary sketches. It was only when the celebrated harpist Nicanor Zabaleta heard about the project and traveled to Buenos Aires to fire on the composer on the spot that the work began to take shape. The reasons for Ginastera's delay may have been several: there was political unrest in Argentina after Peron's leadership during which Ginastera lost his positions in music life and Ginastera had many other irons in the fire in the form of both an opera and a piano concerto. In the end it was Zabaleta who was given the honor to premiere the concert together with the orchestra in Philadelphia under the direction of Eugene Ormandy in 1965, just over nine years after the commission. Three years later, the concert underwent a revision before the composer was completely satisfied. The concerto is written in three movements, but it is a harp concerto that does not care at all about the angelic associations one can get from harp playing. Right from the start, the strongly rhythmic elements and a colorful instrumentation from an orchestra that contains a rather abundant percussion dominate. The solo part requires virtuosity from the first theme and the soloist produces both subtle nail glissandi and tapping on the body of the instrument. The first movement is held in sonata form with a powerful first theme contrasted by a lyrical and delicately instrumented second theme. The second movement begins with a fugato in the strings before the harp gently enters. The feelings are subtle in a way that can lead the mind to the quiet magic of the jungle. An elaborate cadenza leads into a wild dance where the harp takes the lead to the orchestra's powerful responses and percussive bursts. An orgy emerges in effective variations in timbre, tempo and rhythm. STIG JACOBSSON

Compared to the Fourth Symphony, Sibelius's Fifth Symphony is colorful and vibrant, heroic and accessible. But equally it required more work than the brooding and introverted four. No other work caused him so much trouble. The first time he mentioned the new symphony in his diary was in 1912, and in 1915 the first version was performed. But when you finally got to see this version again, the differences turned out to be sky-high. In the first version, it had four sets, and was not nearly as dense and loaded. Sibelius failed to convey his message, and therefore withdrew the music for revision. The following year, a second version was performed but the composer was still not satisfied. He reworked it once more, and it wasn't until 1919 that he completed the definitive score. "Walked in the cold spring sun. Had a violent impression of Symphony No. 5. The new one!" "Saw today (April 21, 1915) ten before eleven 16 swans. One of the greatest impressions of my life! ... The sound of the same woodwind type as the cranes, but without tremolo. The swans are closer to the trumpet although the sarrusophone sound is clear. Nature mystery and life's woe! Fifth the symphony's final theme." The first movement consists of two parts. The first of these begins with a true pastoral idyll, with signal horn motifs and responding woodwinds. Throughout this part the experience of nature is strong, but in the second part of the movement the music takes on a more scherzo-like character. In the slow movement, the idyllic returns, this time with a graceful, almost rococo elegance. "In the background wander the ever-changing cloud formations of the clarinets, bassoons and horns." The finale's main theme shines through an impressionistic shimmer of strings, which contrasts with the swan theme of the trumpets. And then the doomed, severely isolated chords that end this architectural masterpiece. STIG JACOBSSON

Wednesday 17 May 2023: The event ends at approx. 20.50


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.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner is one of the world's most prominent interpreters of classical music, and has long been a prominent figure in contemporary musical life. His work as artistic director of the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists and the Orchester Révolutionnaire et Romantique has made him a pioneer in historically informed performance. As a regular guest in the world's leading symphony orchestras, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Gardiner conducts repertoire from the 17th to the 20th century. He was awarded the Concertgebouw Prize in January 2016. Gardiner has an extensive catalog of award-winning recordings with his own ensembles and leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic on major labels. His many recording awards include two Grammys and he has received more Gramophone Awards than any other living artist. During the 21st century, the Monteverdi ensembles performed the famous Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, which toured some of Europe's most famous concert halls and churches. Gardiner is an authority on Johann Sebastian Bach and in 2013 his biography Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach was published. Among many honours, Gardiner was awarded a knighthood in 1998 for services to music. This will be Gardiner's first appearance with the Gothenburg Symphony.

Gwyneth Wentink, born in the Netherlands in 1981, is an internationally acclaimed harpist who works in many genres. She is a director at State of the United Arts, a think tank and performance art platform. The group recently toured with the performance In Code, an audiovisual performance of Terry Riley's "In C" for harp, electronics and images. As a harpist, Wentink has performed on the world's most prestigious stages such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Royal Albert Hall and Royal Opera Hall in London and Konzerthaus in Berlin. Composers who have written works for Gwyneth Wentink include Theo Loevendie, Marius Flothuis and Terry Riley. Wentink holds a position as solo harpist in the Orchestra Revolutionaire et Romantique and the English Baroque Soloists under the direction of Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Renowned for his versatility, Wentink introduced the harp to classical Indian music and regularly performs with greats such as Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia. Wentink has won numerous awards, including the Dutch Music Award, the Israel Harp Competition and the Young Concert Artists Audition in New York.

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