Friday, April 13, 2012

Coming to Disney Hall: Sublime Schubert

LA Phil, Eschenbach, Goerne Perform Music's Lyric Master

By Rodney Punt

Next week, an extraordinary musical series, aptly named Sublime Schubert, comes to Disney Hall, courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

One of the world’s leading singers, German baritone Matthias Goerne, collaborates with conductor/pianist Christoph Eschenbach, the LA Phil and its chamber musicians in performances of some of Franz Schubert’s greatest masterworks: two song cycles, two chamber pieces, his most ambitious symphony, and seven rarely performed orchestrated versions of his songs.

Franz Schubert, the shy, short-statured composer of little fame outside of his circle of friends in Vienna during his lifetime, was the early nineteenth century’s lyric miracle of music. His influence, after his tragically early death in 1828 at age 31, became an increasingly major force in the musical zeitgeist of Europe for the rest of the century and beyond, even as his works, many of them major masterpieces, only trickled out of their hiding places in dribbles and drabs for decades after the composer’s death.

The two main schools of Central European musical life both claimed Schubert as a source of inspiration. "Classical romantics" like Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Dvorák were the first to seize the torch, actively discovering, giving first performances, and preparing his works for collected editions. Just as passionately, "progressives" like Franz Liszt, Hector Berlioz, and even Richard Wagner learned much from him; the first two making instrumental arrangements of Schubert’s works for wider performance. The works of later composers like Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler bear clear traces of Schubert’s romantic sensibilities and compositional techniques.

The LA Phil’s Sublime Schubert starts with a Colburn Celebrity Recital performance featuring Goerne, joined by pianist Eschenbach in Schubert’s first great song cycle, Die schöne Müllerin, on Monday, April 16, at 8 pm. Schubert composed the songs of the love-struck miller boy while recovering in hospital from an illness that would claim his life only half a dozen years later. The songs are individually lovely but their cumulative unity made a dramatic impact never before encountered in music.

Tuesday, April 17, at 8 pm, offers a Chamber Music Society performance of the composer’s String Quartet No. 13 (“Rosamunde”), D. 804, and his Quintet in C major for two violins, viola and two cellos, D. 956. The quartet contains one of Schubert's most meltingly charming tunes, while the quintet's profoundly gentle strains are Schubert's valedictory in chamber music. Many musicians value the Quintet as their favorite piece of music.

Goerne and Eschenbach return for a second Colburn Celebrity Recital, Wednesday, April 18, at 8 pm, performing what is widely acknowledged as the greatest song cycle in music, Winterreise. The bitter songs of a rejected lover affected Schubert like none he had composed before. His friends were baffled by their somberness, but Schubert told them he valued these songs over all his others and someday they would come to love them too. And he was right.

Sublime Schubert concludes with a weekend of concerts with Goerne and the LA Phil led by Eschenbach, Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, at 8 pm, as well as Sunday, April 22, at 2 pm.

On this extraordinary program are the following orchestrated Schubert songs: “An Silvia,” D. 891 (anonymous orchestration); “Memnon,” D. 541 (orch. Johannes Brahms); “Gruppe aus dem Tartarus,” D. 583 (orch. Max Reger); “Der Wegweiser,” D. 911, No. 20 (from Winterreise) (orch. Anton Webern); “Im Abendrot,” D. 799 (orch. Max Reger); “Tränenregen,” D. 795, No. 10 (from Die schöne Müllerin) (orch. Anton Webern); and “Erlkönig,” D. 328 (orch. Max Reger).

The program concludes with the composer’s propulsive Symphony No. 9 “The Great” in C major. Discovered in the dusty bins of Schubert's brother Ferdinand by the young Robert Schumann, the awestruck composer wrote to Mendelssohn of its "heavenly length" and the latter gave its world premiere in Leipzig in 1839. Its popularity soon grew and its influence can be found in Bruckner, Dvorák and many other composers.

The Sublime Schubert series is a rare opportunity to hear, in a one-week sweep, some of the most lyrically beautiful music ever composed, performed by today's top proponents of Schubert's works.

Don't miss this major event. Ticket information is below.

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WHO: LA PHIL, MATTHIAS GOERNE, baritone, CHRISTOPH ESCHENBACH, piano/conductor

WHEN: Monday, April 16 – Sunday, April 22, 2012

WHERE: WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

TICKETS:
Subscriptions and single tickets for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2011/12 season at Walt Disney Concert Hall currently available. To purchase, visit LAPhil.com, the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office or any Ticketmaster outlet.

To order by phone with credit card, call the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office at 323.850.2000, or Ticketmaster at 800.745.3000. For more information, call 323.850.2000.

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See LA Opus on Facebook. Rodney Punt can be contacted at Rodney@artspacifica.net

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