April 20, 2012 in Features

Casual conclusion

Nakahara-led Symphony caps Casual Classics season with ‘Schubert’s Facebook’
Donivan Johnson Correspondent
 

Resident Conductor Morihiko Nakahara
(Full-size photo)

If you go

Spokane Symphony Orchestra

“Schubert’s Facebook”

When: 8 p.m. today

Where: Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave.

Cost: $10-$30, available through the Fox box office, (509) 624-1200, www.spokanesymphony.org or via TicketsWest, (800) 325-SEAT.

Resident Conductor Morihiko Nakahara will lead the Spokane Symphony Orchestra in the final Casual Classics concert of this season featuring music by Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann.

The audience is encouraged to have their mobile phones ready to participate in the Facebook portion of the program. The first two Casual Concerts featuring Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were very successful and offered the audience and performers an evening of fun.

Today’s performance centers on Franz Schubert, who wrote nearly 1,000 works during his all-too-brief 31 years. He composed his “Overture in Italian Style in D Major” because of the great popularity of Italian music in Vienna. The influence of Gioachino Rossini’s operas was profound. Schubert even quotes a melody from a Rossini aria in this work as well as his own Overture to “Rosamunde.” Mendelssohn was responsible for reviving the music of Schubert and premiered Schubert’s Ninth Symphony in Leipzig. “The Fair Melusina” is one of seven free-standing overtures that Mendelssohn composed depicting some extramusical idea. The most popular is undoubtedly “The Hebrides.” These overtures were forerunners to the tone-poems by Franz Liszt and others.

According to a medieval myth, Melusina was a water sprite who was cursed and turned into a serpent from the waist down on Saturdays. The opening musical gesture, created by Mendelssohn, imitates the flowing sound of water, a technique subsequently taken over by Richard Wagner and numerous composers to this day.

It was Schumann who helped discover Schubert’s unknown Ninth Symphony and sent it to Mendelssohn. Overture, Scherzo and Finale in E Major was composed in 1841 when Schumann was 31. He originally thought of it as his second symphony; he then labeled it suite, then sinfonietta before deciding on its final title. It basically is a symphony without a slow movement.

The concert will come back to Schubert with Symphony No. 4 in C Minor “Tragic,” which was composed in 1816 when Schubert was 19 years old. We don’t really know why he added “Tragic” to the title; it is one of two symphonies he wrote in a minor key – the other being Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, commonly known as the “Unfinished Symphony.

The symphony has four movements: Adagio molto – Allegro vivace; Andante in A flat Major’ Menuetto. Allegro vivace – trio in E flat Major; Allegro in C Major. Except for the “trio” in movement three, the movements of this work are in the identical keys as their counterparts in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The slow introduction to the first movement is modeled after “The Representation of Chaos” overture to “The Creation” oratorio by Josef Haydn.

Donivan Johnson was the first individual inducted as a Friend of Music into the International Music Fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota by the Spokane Alumnae Chapter in 2010.

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