PROGRAM INFORMATION

 

John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists

Saturday, April 9, 2022
2:30 PM
Bing Concert Hall


Artist


The English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
Kati Debretzeni, violin
Fanny Paccoud, viola

View the full roster here.


Program


FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 103 in E-flat ("Drumroll") (1795)
           Adagio - Allegro  con spirito
           Andante più tosto allegretto
           Menuet
           Finale: Allegro con spirito   
      

        

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)
Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat, for violin and orchestra, K. 364 (1779)
           Allegro maestoso
           Andante
           Presto

     

INTERMISSION

 

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 39 in E-flat, K. 543 (1788)
           Adagio - Allegro
           Andante con moto
           Menuetto: Allegretto
           Allegro

 

 

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PROGRAM SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Please be considerate of others and turn off all phones, pagers, and watch alarms. Photography and recording of any kind are not permitted. Thank you.

HEALTH AND SAFETY: Masks are no longer required for indoor performances but are strongly recommended.


Program Notes


JOSEPH HAYDN
Born in Rohrau, Lower Austria, March 31, 1732; died in Vienna, May 31, 1809
Symphony No. 103, in E-flat (‘Drumroll’) (1795)         

Throughout the 1780s, when Haydn’s reputation had spread widely throughout Europe, he received several invitations to travel to London, the musically vibrant British capital. But his duties as court music director to Prince Nicolaus Esterházy were demanding and his presence was needed year-round for concerts in Eisenstadt and Vienna and for an opera season at the newly built opera house on a palatial estate at nearby Esterháza. Indeed, for almost three decades Haydn barely travelled beyond the 50-mile triangle that contained court life. The death of the prince in September 1790 and the overnight dismissal of all but a handful of musicians by his successor left the celebrated composer with a substantial pension and the freedom to look for work elsewhere. Several invitations arrived, the most enticing of which came in person from the London-based, German-born impresario and violinist Johann Peter Salomon.  Haydn was to be composer-in-residence for two concert seasons and to write an opera for London’s King’s Theater. From the moment he set foot on English soil, Haydn became the toast of the city—and beyond. A return visit, 1794-5, continued the stimulating effect of a happy professional and personal life in London, rejuvenating his creative powers for several years to come.

Haydn wrote a total of twelve symphonies for the large, well-educated London audience at the Hanover Square Rooms. These are now referred to collectively as the London symphonies, and they show the celebrated London visitor at the top of his game. The penultimate one, No. 103, draws our attention from the outset. Its opening drumroll (that brought the nickname in the 19th century) comes without dynamic marking, leaving it to the conductor to approach by stealth or by force. Either way, the following 39 bars of somber, ambiguous tonality confirm Haydn’s intention of preparing us for the unexpected. This introduction is intricately connected to the main Allegro movement that follows, with the only similar precedent being set by Mozart in the E-flat symphony that will be performed later this afternoon. The feeling for the unexpected that Haydn generates happens throughout the symphony, as the critic for The Morning Chronicle reported: "Another new Overture [i.e. symphony] by the fertile and enchanting Haydn was performed, which as usual, had strokes of genius, both in air and harmony. The Introduction excited the deepest attention, the Allegro charmed, the Andante was encored, the Minuet, especially the Trio, was playful and sweet and the last movement was equal, if not superior, to the preceding."


WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)
Born in Salzburg, Austria, January 27, 1756; died in Vienna, December 5, 1791
Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat, for violin, viola and orchestra, K. 364 (1779)

Paris was the hub of the sinfonia concertante, a distinctive musical form that combines the display of the concerto by two or more soloists with the discussion of the symphony. Mozart, writing in distant Salzburg, however, was its greatest exponent, and K. 364 is his crowning achievement in the form. The piece was only published 11 years after his death and the manuscript has disappeared (except for a fragment of one of the cadenzas which was discovered a few years ago). We don’t know why he wrote the work or whether it was performed at all in his lifetime. 

Mozart is believed to have written the piece in the summer or early fall of 1779. This was shortly after returning from an unsuccessful search for work in Paris via Mannheim. Mozart had hopes of carving out a niche in a musical center where a composer could command not only a living income for his work, but also find respect as an artist and not as a court servant. His lack of success on this 18-month trip, together with the unexpected death of his mother who accompanied him to the French capital, appears to have had a marked effect on the music he wrote after returning to Salzburg. Here, humbled and working again on menial tasks at a court that had little time for a 23-year-old composer with ambitions and attitude, Mozart’s music took on a new seriousness of purpose and maturity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Sinfonia Concertante. By combining the resources of instrumental color and those of contrapuntal imitation, Mozart at once elevates the medium to a height it never achieved elsewhere in Europe.

Mozart was an excellent viola player as well as violinist and he treats the two instruments equally throughout the work, focusing on the interplay between the two. He instructs the viola player to tune the instrument up a semitone, giving a brighter sound, the option of more open strings and the ability to stand out clearly from the orchestral violas. He includes cadenzas for both instruments in the first and second movements, structuring them as logical extensions of the musical material, rather than as display pieces designed to showcase virtuosity alone. On the repeats, he often gives phrases to the viola that he earlier gives to the violin. Mozart produces magnificent sonorities from what was then his standard Salzburg orchestra of oboes, horns and strings and incorporates many of the latest orchestral techniques he had heard in Mannheim. 

The opening Allegro is the most extensive of the three movements. Rich in thematic invention, it displays the splendor and spaciousness that Mozart likes to draw out of the festive key of E-flat major. The dramatic opening, with its long-held E-flat emerging radiantly out of the orchestral chords, is one of the great solo openings in a concerto. Elsewhere, the solo instruments enter in dialogue, play in thirds, sixths, or tenths and share a continuously evolving dialogue that exploits their difference in tone color. In the C minor slow movement that follows, the music becomes less galant and Mozart sounds a more personal and introspective note. There is nothing in the solo violin concertos that can compare with the deeply felt pathos of this movement. Its profundity points the way forward to the great minor-key slow movements of the piano concertos that Mozart was to write in Vienna in the 1780s. In contrast, the finale is a carefree movement which reveals Mozart’s knack for combining the expected with the unexpected.


WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART 
Born in Salzburg, Austria, January 27, 1756; died in Vienna, December 5, 1791
Symphony No. 39, in E-flat, K. 543 (1788)

While we don’t know the reason why, in the remarkably short period of six weeks, Mozart composed a trilogy of late symphonies—today’s in E-flat, the great G minor and the Jupiter—we do know that when not composing to commission, Mozart composed out of necessity. Never one to go on country walks with the hope that a melody would drop out of the sky, he likely wrote these three masterpieces either for a series of subscription concerts that he hoped to put on in Vienna in 1788 or for his fruitless search for patronage and a permanent position during a tour of leading German cities the following year. After several years of declining work and popularity in Vienna, he certainly needed the money. But he continued to be active and give concerts in his quest for financial stability. So, although it used to be said that Mozart never heard his three great final symphonies played, this is unlikely to be true.  

The E-flat symphony, dated June 26, 1788 in Mozart’s catalog, is the least known of the three and one of a small handful of orchestral works by Mozart without a pair of oboes. In their place he includes the newer clarinets which, together with the symphony’s warm, even solemn home key of E-flat, adds a wistful, sometimes autumnal feeling to the music. An imposing, majestic introduction introduces a descending violin scale that is to reappear, almost note for note in the Allegro. Its biting harmonic twists and odd melodic turns foreshadow what is to come. A movement on an epic scale may be expected. Instead, Mozart gives a disarmingly concise sequence of lyrical themes, tautly developed. Remote harmonies and dark shadows cloud the slow movement which, like the opening Allegro, begins innocently enough. The courtly Minuet’s rustic trio section, based on a known ländler folk tune, reflects the influence that the clarinet-playing Stadler brothers had on their friend. The finale, with its high spirits, is often called the most Haydnesque movement that Mozart wrote. Its single theme and innovative, daring tonal structure show Mozart at his most inventive. 

 

—Program notes © 2022 Keith Horner. Comments welcomed: khnotes@sympatico.ca


About the Artists


John Eliot Gardiner
John Eliot Gardiner is revered as one of the world’s most innovative and dynamic musicians, constantly in the vanguard of enlightened interpretation and standing as a leader in contemporary musical life. His work, as founder and artistic director of the Monteverdi Choir (MC), English Baroque Soloists (EBS), and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR), has marked him out as a key figure both in the early music revival and as a pioneer of historically informed performances.

As a regular guest of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Gardiner conducts repertoire from the 17th to the 20th centuries. He was awarded the Concertgebouw Prize in January 2016.

The extent of Gardiner’s repertoire is illustrated in the extensive catalogue of award-winning recordings with his own ensembles and leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic on major labels (including Decca, Philips, Erato, and 30 recordings for Deutsche Grammophon), as wide-ranging as Mozart, Schumann, Berlioz, Elgar and Kurt Weill, in addition to works by Renaissance and Baroque composers. His many recording accolades include two GRAMMY awards and he has received more Gramophone Awards than any other living artist.

Gardiner has also conducted opera productions; at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, at the Vienna State Opera and at Teatro alla Scala, Milan. From 1983 to 1988 he was artistic director of Opéra de Lyon, where he founded its new orchestra.

Recent achievements with the Monteverdi ensembles include the RPS award winning Monteverdi 450 project in 2017, a reprise of the 2000’s famous Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, which toured to some of Europe’s most famous concert halls and churches in 2018, a five-year exploration of Berlioz’s major works to mark the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death, and a landmark performance of Verdi’s Requiem at London’s Westminster Cathedral in aid of Cancer Research UK. In 2019 Gardiner conducted new productions of Handel’s Semele and Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini, and gave his debut performances in Colombia, Russia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. The beginning of 2020 saw Gardiner conduct the ORR in three Beethoven symphony cycles as part of the Beethoven 250 anniversary celebrations, with concerts at Barcelona’s Palau de la Música, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and the Harris Theatre in Chicago. So far in 2021 he has conducted a live streamed performance of Bach’s St. John Passion from Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre and performed at several of Europe’s most prestigious music festivals, including his 60th appearance at the BBC Proms.

An authority on the music of J. S. Bach, Gardiner’s book, Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach, was published in October 2013 by Allen Lane, leading to the Prix des Muses award (Singer-Polignac). Among numerous awards in recognition of his work, John Eliot Gardiner holds several honorary doctorates. He was awarded a knighthood for his services to music in the 1998 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.


Kati Debretzeni
Born in Transylvania, Kati studied the violin with Ora Shiran in Israel and the Baroque violin with Catherine Mackintosh and Walter Reiter at the Royal College of Music in London.

Since the year 2000 she has led the English Baroque Soloists under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner, and her playing can be heard on their recordings of the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage (SDG). In 2008 she was appointed as one of the leaders of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, with whom she has often appeared as soloist, directing and leading the orchestra in performances in the U.K., Europe, and the U.S.

Kati has recorded numerous chamber music CDs with the ensembles Florilegium (Chanel Classics), Ricordo (Linn Records), and most recently Trio Goya (Chandos). Additionally, she features as soloist on two versions of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, one with the European Brandenburg Ensemble under Trevor Pinnock (Avie Records—Gramophone Award 2008), and the other with the English Baroque Soloists (SDG).

Over the last few years, Kati has been invited to direct various ensembles in Israel, Canada, Norway, Poland, Iceland, and the U.K. She currently teaches the Baroque and Classical violin at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague.


Fanny Paccoud
After receiving her diploma from the Strasbourg Conservatory, Fanny Paccoud concentrated initially on chamber music and new music. Since 1999 she has formed a duo with the pianist Michel Gaechter, exploring a rich repertoire from Mozart to Schoenberg. She has taken part in many premières and recordings, including Gérard Pesson’s Forever Valley, Pascal Dusapins’s Momo, Claudio Gabriele’s Ai confine dell’ oscurità, Veillée and Georges Aperghis’ Le Petit Chaperon Rouge.

Aside from chamber music and contemporary music, Fanny pursues research into early music interpretation on original instruments. She is a member—playing violin and viola—of the Concert Spirituel (Hervé Niquet), the English Baroque Soloists and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (John Eliot Gardiner), the Concert Brisé (William Dongois), Les Ambassadeurs (Alexis Kossenko), Pygmalion (Raphaël Pichon), the Amarillis ensemble, with whom she travels the world, taking part in numerous recordings.

In 2002 she founded the Anpapié string trio with violinist Alice Piérot and cellist Elena Andreyev, which is devoted specifically to Classical repertoire (2011 recording of the trios of Hyacinth Jadin for the ‘La Courroie’ label).


The English Baroque Soloists
Founded in 1978 by John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists seeks to challenge preconceptions of 200 years of music ranging from Monteverdi to Mozart and Haydn. Equally at home in chamber, symphonic, and operatic performances, their distinctively warm and incisive playing is instantly recognizable. One of the world’s leading period instrument orchestras, the ensemble has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious venues including the Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Sydney Opera House.

In 2021, the ensemble performed its first live streamed concert, Bach’s St. John Passion, filmed in Oxford’s historic Sheldonian Theatre and streamed on Deutsche Grammophon’s online platform "DG Stage." It also gave critically acclaimed performances of Handel and Bach at two of Europe’s most prestigious music festivals, the BBC Proms and the Berliner Festspiele.

In 2019 the EBS made its inaugural visit to South America for the Cartagena International Music Festival and subsequently undertook a tour of Handel’s dramatic oratorio Semele with the Monteverdi Choir, visiting a series of iconic venues including Barcelona’s Palau de la Música and Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. The ensemble then gave its debut performances in Russia alongside the Monteverdi Choir with a programme of works by Monteverdi, Carissimi, Scarlatti, and Purcell, before returning to South America for further inaugural concerts in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile.

2017 saw the EBS take part in the celebrated Monteverdi 450 tour, in which they performed all three of Monteverdi’s surviving operas across Europe and in the United States, a project that was recognized by a Royal Philharmonic Society award in the Opera and Music Theatre category.

The ensemble famously took part in the iconic Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000 alongside the Monteverdi Choir, performing all of Bach’s sacred cantatas throughout Europe. The EBS has also participated in major opera productions alongside the Choir in works by Handel, Purcell, and Monteverdi and has recorded Mozart’s greatest operas for Deutsche Grammophon in the 1990s.

 

 

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