Saturday, December 7, 2019 8 pm -  Glenn Gould Studio  250 Front St. West


The Program
KA NIN Salt and Vinegar 
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 21 
BURGE Port Milford Suite Toronto premiere
MENDELSSOHN String Symphony No. 7 

1 hour and 30 minutes plus an intermission

What's interesting about this concert
~ One of Mozart's most popular works 
~ Two Canadian jewels shine next to immortal classics
~ A popular Italian virtuoso returns 

Online ticket sales for this concert have closed. Tickets will be available at the door from 7 pm to 7:55 pm.

To see the seating chart please click here.   During checkout please indicate your seating preferences in the  special requests area. 

Adult ticket: $42  
Senior (60+) ticket: $35 
Student ticket: $15


Salt and Vinegar                                                                         Chan Ka Nin  (1949 -    )
Notes by Chan Ka Nin:

Since the last hundred and fifty years or so, Oriental cuisine has been introduced to all corners of the globe. In this work the composer pays tribute to the pioneers who brought their cultures overseas. By naming his composition Salt and Vinegar, the composer, on the one hand, draws attention to the popularity of Asian food, and on the other, signifies the tongue-in-cheek meaning of the Cantonese phrase “adding salt and vinegar” - meaning adding oil to the fire when retelling an event. 

In this composition, the musical ingredients of two tonal areas of D and G are introduced separately and then mixed, resulting a new flavour - very much akin to the process of cooking. The note E serves as a pivot tone that blends the two keys together. A Cantonese Hakka folksong is used as the cook sings to himself while he enjoys his creation. The translation of the text is as follows:

Rainy day, rainy day / Rain falls all around me / Without an umbrella my clothes are wet / I am also without any hat / Poor me!

A happy occasion could be a combination of good food and spicy conversations; this piece serves as a celebration of good tastes and a memory of good times.

Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467   Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  (1756-1791)

In early 1785 Mozart had just married Constanze Weber, over his father Leopold’s objections.  Leopold arrived in Vienna to inspect the new household on February 10 and heard Wolfgang premiere his new concerto in D minor that night. He eventually warmed to Costanze, and expressed amazement as he witnessed 10 weeks of what would now be called multitasking, as his son participated in a constant round of social events, performed concerts almost every other day, taught a steady stream of students and kept composing non-stop. 

Wolfgang wrote this concerto soon after the D minor, during the first month of Leopold’s visit.  These concertos, so close in time yet so different, mark a new stage in music history. Both are more symphonic and densely structured than any before. This one’s March 10 premiere was warmly received, but Leopold’s letter home was typical: he noted Wolfgang’s fee but hardly mentioned the actual music. 

The first movement has all the majesty of Mozart’s greatest symphonies and a newly independent approach to the piano solo. Instead of entering with a repeat of the theme just played by the orchestra, the piano comes in hesitantly, before growing bolder in dialogue with the tutti, an effect heightened by its tentative entry.

The second movement is operatic, reaching beyond the symphonic expressiveness of the first and surpassing any single aria in Mozart’s operas with its extraordinary range of emotion. Used in the movie Elvira Madigan, in the 1960’s this movement won many new lovers for Mozart’s music and ever since has caused promoters and record companies to add the movie’s name as if it were Mozart’s own subtitle. A poignant melody flows in an almost unbroken arc, interrupted just twice, once for a piercing plunge from high C to low A, and again in a breathtaking moment near the end when silence stops time before a heartrending harmonic shift.

After such a magical episode, the finale must return us to earth. Like an operatic finale, it sings away the drama and despair of preceding acts with witty good cheer and builds to a conclusion worthy of the brilliance and beauty heard before.

Port Milford Suite                                                                          John Burge (1961-    )
World Premiere of the First Complete Performance                           
Notes by John Burge:

Each summer in 2016, 2017 and 2018 the Music at Port Milford Summer School String Orchestra premiered a new movement composed by John Burge.  A past Chair of the MPM Board of Directors, John donated this project as a fundraiser for MPM; each movement was commissioned by a supporter of MPM, with the funds raised going to the organization. Donors were encouraged to provide a title for their movement, producing the following design: Movement I, French Overture, commissioned by Greg and Jenny Wong Garrett; Movement II, At Water’s Edge, by Philip and Patricia Knox; and Movement III, Firefly Fugue, by Barbara E. Harris. John Burge is thrilled that Sinfonia Toronto, conducted by Nurhan Arman, is premiering the first complete performance of all three movements, as this orchestra has premiered and performed many of his works in the past.

The complete three-movement work is titled Music at Port Milford Suite.  The French Overture, as the title implies, begins with an opening that emphasizes double-dotted rhythms in a typically Baroque fashion.  Somewhat like an introduction, this section prepares for the more dance-like imitative portion that follows. At Water’s Edge is actually the name given to the commissioners’ summer residence located close to the MPM Summer School. Although there is no specific programmatic element to the second movement’s music, the gentle rocking chords in the lower strings placed at the beginning and end could easily be heard to capture the lapping of waves on a shore. The final movement Firefly Fugue has a subject that emphasizes a fast-moving neighbor-note figure that at least at the start has a kind of insect-like buzzing quality. It is quite common to observe fireflies in the evenings in rural southern Ontario, and the commissioner noted that for many students who attend the summer school, this might be their first experience with fireflies. The fugue gains a great deal of volume and intensity, especially at moments when the subject is augmented into longer rhythmic durations.

Sinfonia No. 7 for Strings in D minor                           Felix Mendelssohn  (1809-1847) 
Felix Mendelssohn was born with prodigious talent and was fortunate to grow up in an ideal environment. His grandfather had risen from poverty to become an esteemed Enlightenment philosopher; his parents were well educated and dedicated to giving Felix and his equally gifted sister Fanny every advantage.

When he was 10 Felix began composition studies with Carl Friedrich Zelter, who drilled him in Baroque counterpoint and Classical style. Felix blossomed into an even more accomplished composer than Mozart had been in his early teens. The 13 symphonies for string orchestra he wrote as assignments for Zelter between the ages of 12 and 15 show rapid progress towards adult-level mastery. The String Symphony No. 7 dates from late 1821 and early 1822, when he was still only 12 or 13, a child in appearance but already writing music with the melodic creativity and rhythmic command of an adult.

The vigorous first movement bursts forth with an energetic unison passage, followed by a soft reply that eases into a lyrical second theme, in which the two violin sections reflect each other in beautiful slow suspensions over a chatty accompaniment in the lower strings.

Mendelssohn marked his lilting second movement with the charming Italian direction amorevole, “to be played lovingly.” A duet for the two violin sections gradually expands as the other instruments join in.  The D major key is spiced with the skillful use of minor interjections and varied harmonic shadings.

The Menuetto is really a Beethoven-style scherzo with demonic touches here and there. Mendelssohn found so many ways to develop the countrapuntal and melodic potential of the Trio’s spooky upward motive that he never let the scherzo section return, resulting in an unusual AB(C) structure instead of the usual minuet ABA.

Exuberant fugal counterpoint drives an amazing finale. Mendelssohn must have loved Zelter’s counterpoint lessons and also Mozart's ‘Jupiter’ Symphony.  This finale was clearly inspired by the Jupiter's brilliant fugal passages, with a sparkling first theme that moves into the real core of the movement, a brilliantly fugal second theme and development section. Mozart was 32 when he wrote the contrapuntal glories in the “Jupiter” finale; he would not have been able to pull off what the 13-year-old Mendelssohn created here at the same age.