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

SINFONIA TORONTO
NURHAN ARMAN Conductor
ANTONIO DI CRISTOFANO Pianist 

The Program
KA NIN Strings Together 
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 

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



ABOUT THE MUSIC

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467
Chamber version by Ignaz Lachner (1807-1895)

Early in 1785, Leopold Mozart traveled to Vienna to check up on his already famous son, newly married (against his father’s wishes) to Constanze Weber and at the peak of his popularity as a pianist and composer. Leopold reached Vienna on February 10, the same day Wolfgang entered a new piano concerto, in D minor, in his catalog, although when he arrived at one o’clock in the afternoon, as he wrote home to Wolfgang’s sister, Nannerl, “the copyist was still copying . . . and your brother did not even have time to play through the Rondo.” Wolfgang premiered the work at a concert that night. Leopold knew his son’s life was hectic, and that he was giving concerts at a frantic pace—the previous March, Wolfgang had written of playing twenty-two concerts in thirty-eight days (“I don’t think that in this way I can possibly get out of practice,” he quipped). But nothing had quite prepared him for the multitasking of nonstop socializing, performing, and composing that he would witness during the next ten weeks.

Even a long and brutal cold spell, with heavy snowfall and temperatures so low that several people froze to death, didn’t curtail Wolfgang’s performing schedule (Leopold watched in amazement as his son’s piano was carted out of the house to a concert nearly every other day). Their calendar was so packed with social engagements that Wolfgang and Constanze, like heads of state, were forced to accept different invitations for the same night.

Shortly after Leopold’s arrival, the Mozarts hosted an evening of chamber music, including performances of three of Mozart’s new quartets dedicated to Haydn, attended by Haydn himself, who told Leopold that “your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name,” a tribute Leopold would proudly repeat verbatim in the months ahead. During the day, Wolfgang maintained his teaching schedule, with a steady stream of pupils showing up at the Mozarts’ lavish, though disorderly lodgings. (Leopold eventually warmed to Constanze, but he never thought she was a good housekeeper.)

Somehow, throughout this period, Mozart also managed to compose, with astonishing fluency and brilliance, as if the distractions of daily life stimulated rather than inconvenienced him. During Leopold’s first four weeks in Vienna, Wolfgang wrote this new piano concerto—in C major—hard on the heels of the D minor concerto. These two works, so close in time yet so different in substance and character, are among the glories of his output, and with them, Mozart seems to have created a new kind of concerto, more symphonic and closely argued than before. Leopold was in the audience for the premiere of this concerto, on March 10 (the day after Mozart entered it in his catalog), and, although it was well received, Leopold characteristically reported that Wolfgang took in 559 gulden, with little to say about the music itself. 

There’s a density of material in the opening movement of the C major concerto that mirrors the round-the-clock frenzy of Mozart’s life at the time, except that the music is perfectly poised and masterfully organized. The entire movement is very broadly conceived; more than any of Mozart’s earlier concertos, it has the majesty and vastness of his grandest symphonies. The solo piano doesn’t enter boldly, with music the orchestra has already introduced, but hesitantly, ushered in by oboe, bassoon, and flute. The piano writing throughout is unusually inventive, rich in fancy figuration and aggressive in its dialogue with the orchestra. The development section focuses mostly on secondary material, because Mozart has already explored his main themes from so many different angles.

If the first movement is symphonic in scope, the second, in F major, is operatic, although there’s no single aria of Mozart’s that encompasses such an extraordinary range of emotions or explores so fearlessly the expressive world that lies beyond words. (It completely upstaged Bo Widerberg’s pretty art-house film, Elvira Madigan, in the 1960s, at the same time winning countless new admirers for Mozart—and tempting concert and record promoters to include the name of the movie’s heroine as if it were Mozart’s subtitle.) This is one of Mozart’s most profound and endlessly revealing works. In one seemingly unbroken arc, the piano traces a melody that floats over a quiet, pulsating accompaniment—rising and circling, plummeting just once, like a great soprano voice, from high C to low A. (Later, the accompaniment stops for a single breathtaking moment, as if, by its silence, to call attention to a modulation to A-flat major.)

After such time-stopping music, the finale is, almost of necessity, a return to simpler, earthier pleasures. Like an operatic finale, it summarily dismisses recent difficulties and revelations. But it spares nothing in the way of spirit and wit, and, in the end, it stands as an ideal counterpart to the brilliance and beauty of what had come before.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) Sinfonia No. 7 for Strings in D minor
Felix Mendelssohn was truly a golden child, blessed with brains and prodigious talent, and a near-ideal environment in which to cultivate them. His grandfather, Moses Mendelssohn, had risen from poverty to become an esteemed Enlightenment philosopher; his father, Abraham, was one of Germany's leading bankers and had made the family fortune. Both Felix's parents were highly educated people, determined that their offspring would realize their full potential.

At age ten, Felix began studying composition with Carl Friedrich Zelter, a Berlin composer who drilled him thoroughly in the Baroque counterpoint of Bach and the Classical style of Haydn and Mozart. Rapidly, the youngster blossomed into an even more accomplished composer than Mozart had been at that age. A series of 13 symphonies for string orchestra, written between the ages of 12 and 15 for Zelter, shows Felix’s steady development to mastery.

We rarely get a chance to hear these delightful works. The Seventh String Symphony in D minor was composed sometime between late 1821 and early 1822 when Mendelssohn was only 12 or 13. He was still a child in appearance, not yet very tall and with long, curly dark hair reaching to his shoulders. But he was already creating music with the technical skill and assurance of an adult, and he knew how to make string instruments sing.

The vigorous first movement springs from a wild unison flurry, followed by a soft, plaintive response in violins and violas. All this energy is eased by the lyrical second theme, in which the two violin sections float against each other in beautiful slow suspensions over a pattering accompaniment.

Mendelssohn gives the lovely, lilting second movement the charming marking amorevole — “loving.” It begins as a melodious duet between the two violin sections with the other instruments gradually creeping in. Though the key is D Major, the young composer also makes strong use of the minor mode and other wonderful harmonic shadings.

Marked Menuetto, the third movement is really a Beethovenian scherzo with a hint of the demonic inspired by its D minor key. With its spooky rising motive, the Trio section is even more striking; Mendelssohn gets so caught up in its contrapuntal and harmonic possibilities, he never gets back to the scherzo.

The exuberant display of fugal counterpoint is the focus of the astonishing finale. Mendelssohn must have loved and carefully studied Mozart's “Jupiter” Symphony, for he patterns it closely on that symphony's brilliant display of fugal invention. Its dashing, effervescent principal theme is pure Mendelssohn. But it’s with the second theme, introduced by the violas, that the young composer gets to show off his fugal mastery, which also reappears in the development section. Mozart was a mature 32 when he created the contrapuntal genius of the “Jupiter” finale; at 13, he would not have been capable of pulling off what the pre-adolescent Mendelssohn achieves here.

ABOUT THE GUEST ARTIST

Pianist Antonio Di Cristofano 
completed his piano studies at the Cherubini Conservatory in Florence in 1986 and  launched a career that spans all aspects of his instrument, performing as a soloist, in chamber music, recording, teaching and adjudicating.

He has performed as a soloist throughout Italy, with orchestras including Milan’s Cantelli Orchestra, the Florence Chamber Orchestra, Lecce Symphony Orchestra, Sicily Symphony Orchestra, I Solisti Aquilani, Milano Classica Orchestra and Orchestra Sinfonica Abruzzese.

He has toured throughout the world playing concertos with the Vienna Mozart Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, North Czech Philarmonic, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bucharest Radio Orchestra, Iasi State Philarmonic, Albanian Radio-Television Orchestra, Istanbul Chamber Orchestra, Izmir Symphony Orchestra, Slovak Filharmonic, Kaerntner Sinfonieorchester, Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra and FVG Mittleuropa Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony, Sinfonia Toronto, Orquesta Sinfonica de l’Estado de Mexico, Houston University Orchestra, Lamont Symphony Orchestra, Philarmonique de Montreal and many others.

He has performed recitals and participated in festivals in Italy in Florence, Spoleto, Alessandria, Mantua, Milan, Palermo, and Brescia; in Madrid and Seville in Spain; in North America in Mexico City, Houston, Denver and Washington DC; in Turkey in Istanbul, Izmir and Adana; in Dubrovnik, Prague, Moscow, Seoul,  France, Germany, Poland, Montenegro, Shanghai, Switzerland, Albania, Israel, England, Portugal, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Belgium and Brazil.

Antonio has recorded a cd of works by Schubert and another with music by Brahms, Berg and Scriabin. He has taught at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, Shanghai Conservatory, Dubrovnik Summer Academy, Denver University, SMC Academy in Seoul, Valletta International Piano Festival, Thessaloniki Conservatory and various US universities.  He was recently appointed a Visiting Professor at the Xiamen Conservatory in China.

He is frequently invited to judge international piano competitions, and has adjudicated in Madrid, Varallo, Cantù, Osijek, Gante, Gdansk, Pordenone, Monterey and Paris, including prestigious competitions such as the Viardo, the Rachmaninov in Moscow, Iturbi in Valencia, Astana Merei and Baltic Piano Competition.