Symphony No. 44 in E Minor Hob I/44
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major K 218
Symphony No. 4 in D Minor op. 120
Yu-Chien Benny Tseng
Taiwanese violinist Yu-Chien (Benny) Tseng is rapidly building an international reputation as an emerging young soloist of enormous promise praised for his “grace, poise, and blistering virtuosity.”
A student of Aaron Rosand and Ida Kavafian at the Curtis Institute of Music, Tseng is the 1st prizewinner at the Singapore International Violin Competitions and the Sarasate Violin Competition in Pamplona, Spain. In July 2015, he was awarded the 2nd prize at the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Yu-Chien Tseng is already developing a promising career as a soloist, having played with such orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Belgium, Taipei Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra and the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie. In 2015 Tseng performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 at the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition’s gala concert in Moscow with the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. At the gala concert in St. Petersburg he performed the Tchaikovsky’s Violin concerto. He also performed under Gergiev at the Gergiev’s festival in Mikkeli, Finland and performed both the Tchaikovsky and Brahms concertos with Valery Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic on their tour of Taiwan in November 2015. Yu-Chien Tseng has given recitals in Taiwan, Spain, Belgium, China and the United States. His debut recording (2012) is an album of French violin sonatas (Franck, Ravel and Debussy) on the Fuga Libera Label.
He plays the Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu 1732 Ex “Castelbarco-Tarisio,” on loan from the Chi-Mei Culture Foundation, Taiwan.
Hailed by Musical America for the depth and sincerity of his musicality, the Singaporean conductor Kahchun Wong came to international attention as winner of the Mahler Competition in May 2016, following in the footsteps of Gustavo Dudamel, who immediately appointed him as a Conducting Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the 2016/2017 season. Following a remarkable last-minute debut with the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra in October 2016, he was appointed as its next Chief Conductor from the 2018/2019 season.
Highlights in 2017/2018 season include European debuts with the Czech Philharmonic, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Orchestre Capitole du Toulouse, Staatskapelle Weimar, Staatsphilharmonie Rhineland-Pfalz, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Teatro lirico Giuseppe Verdi di Trieste and Orquestra de València, Asian debuts with the Tokyo Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony, Kanagawa Philharmonic, National Symphony of Taiwan and Shenzhen Symphony, as well as re-invitations to the Bamberg Symphony, China Philharmonic, George Enescu Philharmonic, Kunming Symphony, Shanghai Symphony and Singapore Symphony. Together with the Nuremberg Symphony, he will embark on an extensive tour of China in December 2017, and in summer 2018, lead Klassik Open Air, the largest European outdoor festival of classical music.
A protégé of the late Kurt Masur, Wong had the privilege of sharing the podium together with him in his last years on multiple occasions. He has also assisted Gustavo Dudamel and Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as Valery Gergiev and Yannick Nezet-Seguin with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. In January 2018, he will travel with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra on its North American tour.
Wong began musical studies on the cornet at the age of 7. After serving as a military musician in the Singapore Armed Forces for two years, he studied composition at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore and conducting at the Hanns-Eisler Musikhochschule in Berlin. He has studied with Bernard Haitink twice at the Lucerne Easter Festival, Robert Spano at the Aspen Music Festival and Gustav Meier at the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music, where he was a recipient of the Bruno Walter Conducting Scholarship.
Symphony No. 44 in E Minor “Mourning”, Hob. I/44 (Trauersinfonie) was composed in 1771, when Joseph Haydn was in the employ of the princely court of Esterházy. During the 1770s he dedicated himself there to creating symphonies, which he linked intellectually with the pre-Romantic Sturm und Drang movement. This manifested itself in his favouring of minor keys, more contrasting dynamics, rhythmic urgency and use of baroque counterpoint. We find most of these devices in the Symphony No. 44, including the opening motif of the first movement, Allegro con brio; the canon at the octave in the middle section of the second movement, Menuet and Trio; the graceful, quiet Adagio of the third movement; and the stormy Finale of the concluding movement. All movements are written in the home key of E Minor except for the middle section of the Menuet and the third movement, which are written in the parallel key of E Major. The symphony may have earned its sobriquet from Haydn himself, who asked for its slow movement to be played at his funeral. In the end, this did not happen, and Requiem by the composer’s younger friend, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was performed at Haydn’s grand funeral.
Mozart’s violin concertos were created in 1773–1775 in Salzburg. In all of them, the composer respected the Vivaldian three-movement model as a basis, brought together Italian and French music for the violin, and, in doing so, also confirmed the great popularity of works for the violin at the time.
It is possible that Mozart originally conceived Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 4 in D Major, K. 218 for himself; we only know that he later adapted it for the concertmaster, director and violinist at the court in Salzburg, Antonio Brunetti (1744–1786). The concerto opens with “military” fanfares played by the orchestra in unison, answered by the solo violin in a very high register. Here we hear subtle nuances of dynamics, delicate surprises and charming echoes. In the lyrical slow movement, the composer develops a graceful dialogue between the solo instrument, whose part tends to unfold in the lower register, and the orchestra. The concluding Rondeau brings two contrasting themes, Andante grazioso and the jaunty Allegro ma non troppo, Italianate in temperament. There are technically difficult passages, gallantry associated with the dance, irresistible Mozartian sense of humour, and a French dance, musette, with a folk melody originating probably from Strasbourg.
In December 1839 Robert Schumann described to his beloved Clara the experience of listening to Franz Schubert’s Symphony in C Major “The Great”: “I was utterly happy, with nothing left to wish for except that you were my wife and I could write such symphonies myself.” Soon his dreams would start to be fulfilled: he married Clara in September 1840 and early in the next year, he devoted himself to symphonic composition. Like his colleagues, Schuman too had to find a way of stepping out of Beethoven’s and Schubert’s shadows and imbuing the symphonic form with new philosophical trends of his time. One of Schumann’s earliest responses to this question was his Symphony in D Minor, a radical and formally complicated work, which the composer called a symphonic fantasy, as it flows without pauses between the movements.
The early version of the work was first heard in December 1841 in Leipzig. It failed with the audience, and ten years later Schumann reworked it entirely, this time achieving success. In this symphony, the composer employs a small amount of musical material, which he varies and interweaves with itself. The cantabile theme of the introduction later reappears as the second subject of the Romanze (second movement); the first theme of the lively (Lebhaft) section of the first movement is used as a frame for the Scherzo (third movement), and also returns in the final movement; the third theme – fanfares – of the first movement is heard in woodwinds supported by brass and timpani, and then returns as the first subject of the Finale.
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