Utah Symphony Concludes the 2018-19 Masterworks Series with Mahler’s Spellbinding First Symphony, Led by Thierry Fischer May 24 and 25
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (May 10, 2019) – The final concert weekend of the Utah Symphony’s 2018-19 Masterworks Series brings Mahler’s iconic Symphony No. 1 “Titan” to Abravanel Hall. With its ethereal opening chords and deftly intertwined folk tunes, this is the piece that launched the Utah Symphony’s current acclaimed series of new commercial recordings four years ago. Audiences will hear this soaring work alongside both Haydn’s Symphony No. 9 and the more recent satiric chamber piece Moz-Art à la Haydn by 20th century Eastern European composer Alfred Schnittke. Utah Symphony musicians Kathryn Eberle and Claude Halter provide the dueling violin foreground to this witty and delightful play on themes by both Mozart and Haydn. Performances are May 24 and 25 at 7:30 PM.
“Closing our Masterworks season with this rich combination of musical voices shows the versatility and the brilliance of the Utah Symphony ensemble, Music Director Thierry Fisher said.
The third movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 contain a musical reference of the recognized children’s nursery rhyme, “Frère Jacques,” adapted into a funeral march. “Starting with sounds of nature, followed by Austrian popular literature and the legendary ‘Frère Jacques,’ ending with one of the most stupefying, monstrous sound effects an orchestra can produce, and a peak of dramas and triumphs, Mahler’s first symphony truly reflects the eclecticism and creativity of our 2018-19 season,” said Maestro Fischer.
Violin soloist Kathryn Eberle is the Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony. Previously Ms. Eberle was a violinist with the St. Louis Symphony and served as Guest Concertmaster with the Richmond and Omaha Symphonies. She served extensively as Concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra, including the ensemble’s tour of China as well as performances in Avery Fisher, Alice Tully, and Carnegie Halls. Her most recent featured appearance was in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.
Originally from Paris, France, Claude Halter has been Principal Second Violin of the Utah Symphony since 2011. Prior to this, he was acting Assistant Concertmaster of the Vancouver Symphony and a member of the New World Symphony. Mr. Halter is also a proud founding member of the Fremont String Quartet. When not rehearsing or performing, he enjoys exploring Utah’s unique landscape and opportunities with his wife, Utah Symphony cellist Anne Lee.
Starting with the tenure of Maestro Maurice Abravanel in the late 1940s, Mahler’s intensely moving symphonies have been a signature of the Utah Symphony. Maestro Fischer’s 2015 recording of Symphony No. 1 with the orchestra received overwhelming critical acclaim. “Washington Post” said “the orchestra can be proud of this performance, with its brisk tempos and transparency in recording sound.” “Classics Today” cheered that “Fischer leads a singularly appealing performance of this perennially fresh and engaging music… very impressive… beautifully paced.” “Gramophone” called it “breezy, forward looking… the orchestra acquits itself with distinction.”
Musically, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 was revolutionary when it premiered, fusing the structure of a classical symphony with the imagination of a tone poem. With a supporting narrative that echoes Berliotz’s Symphonie fantastique, each movement assumes a sweeping new musical direction. The symphony opens with the sublime sounds of nature and then moves through a series of folk dances, a funeral march, a powerful outburst of alarm from the brass (“simply the cry of a deeply wounded heart,” according to Mahler), and finally concludes with a rich, transcendent joy. The emotional journey for an audience stirs the soul, exploring the depths of the human heart.
Haydn’s Symphony No. 9 was composed over 120 years prior. It too shares in a balance of joyful energy and calm serenity, with memorable accents from a horn trio and an evocative oboe solo. Haydn composed a staggering 104 symphonies in his lifetime. In Symphony No. 9, audiences can still hear the earnest joy of a young newly-married Haydn, at a time before he would befriend the young Mozart, begin to tutor Beethoven, and definitively shape the sound of the classical era through their music and his own.
Alfred Schnittke’s Moz-Art à la Haydn creates a delightful satire of the formalities from the classical period through a series of kaleidoscopic variations inspired by an unfinished humorous sketch by Mozart, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, and Haydn’s Farewell Symphony. Dueling violins lead this homage, which celebrates the best of the classical era, the joy of musical discovery, and the wonder that greets audiences of every generation when they first encounter a fresh musical voice. Schnittke, who moved to Moscow at the age of 24 in the late 1950s, continued to create well after the fall of Communism until a stroke in 1994 limited his musical output. This is the first time it will be performed for Utah Symphony audiences.