Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D 200
Sinfonia Domestica, Op. 53, TrV 158
For 18 years, Franz Welser-Möst has shaped an unmistakable sound culture as Musical Director of the Cleveland Orchestra. Under his leadership, the orchestra has been repeatedly praised by international critics for its musical excellence. Through innovative projects and co-operations, young audiences have been continuously approached and consulted and, as a result of these initiatives, 20% of all Cleveland Orchestra concertgoers are now under 25 years old. Welser-Möst has brought numerous world premieres and opera productions to Severance Hall. In addition to orchestral residencies in the USA, Europe and China, he and the Cleveland Orchestra are regular guests at all the major international festivals.
As a guest conductor, Franz Welser-Möst enjoys a particularly close and productive artistic partnership with the Vienna Philharmonic. He has twice appeared on the podium for their celebrated New Yearʼs Concert, and regularly conducts the orchestra in subscription concerts at the Vienna Musikverein, as well as on tours in Japan, China, Australia and the USA. Welser-Möst and the Vienna Philharmonic have also performed together at historical memorial concerts in Sarajevo and Versailles.
Franz Welser-Möst is also a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival where he has set new standards in interpretation as an opera conductor with recent performances including Rusalka, Der Rosenkavalier, Fidelio, Die Liebe der Danae, Aribert Reimannʼs opera Lear and Richard Straussʼ Salome, with which he made festival history in 2018. Due to the incredible success of the production, Salome will be brought back to the festival program in 2019, as Rosenkavalier was after its first summer performances with Welser-Möst at the Festival in 2014.
Franz Welser-Möst has been the recipient of a number of major honours and awards. He is Honorary Member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, winner of the Vienna Philharmonicʼs Honorary Ring and has been awarded the Kilenyi Medal of the Bruckner Society of America as well as the Kennedy Center Gold Medal in the Arts.
His discography is extensive, with numerous CDs and DVDs having been awarded major international prizes. Recent recordings with the Cleveland Orchestra have included the symphonies of Johannes Brahms and Anton Bruckner. His Salzburg opera productions, including Rosenkavalier, which was awarded a number of international prizes, have been released internationally on DVD by Unitel.
Richard Strauss was active at the time of a great boom of avant-garde music, but he was not part of it. He mostly followed the tradition, masterfully developing it, although in many compositions he tried to employ at least some of the means of expression of the new era. As the last one from the Tristan generation of the late German Romantics, he obviously tended to orchestral scores with impressive, brilliant effects. Strauss used his unique imagination and sense of drama in topics addressing the audience more directly than his prematurely deceased contemporary Gustav Mahler in his universally human and spiritually conceived symphonic concepts. Strauss did not avoid showiness, which was inherent in his nature, and made quite an impact on listeners. His music is both intoxicating and passionate, dynamic and exciting, as well as humorous and comic. However, Strauss’s considerable self-esteem, bordering occasionally on exhibitionism, has been greatly instrumental in some of his tone poems.
Strauss’s extensive one-movement orchestral composition Symphonia Domestica (Sinfonia domestica) came into being between 1902 and 1903. While in his preceding tone poem A Hero’s Life (Ein Heldenleben) Strauss presented himself as a proud, courageous and strong-minded artist who was able to come to terms with all of life’s problems as well as his adversaries, in Symphonia Domestica he produced a musical image of the idyllic atmosphere of his family circle, in which all the artistic challenges of his Berlin period were overshadowed by the happiness with “my dear wife and our son”.
This unambiguously autobiographic work presents a series of lyrical scenes describing one day in the life of the Strauss household. Its four movements are connected into one continuous flow of music. The opening passages introduce the main protagonists. The husband is depicted as dignified, sometimes grumpy and arrogant, but basically goodhearted and kind. The lively and talkative wife is beautiful and graceful at the same time. The child plays, his parents play with him; then the child is put to bed. After the mutual manifestation of marital love in a great love scene in Adagio, there comes the morning. The child awakes, the parents have a morning quarrel, and the symphony ends in a fortissimo conclusion, celebrating family life. It shall be noted that Strauss uses rather disproportionate means of expression given the intimacy of this programmatic piece, extravagantly instrumented for more than a hundred-member orchestra (including quadruple woodwind, four saxophones, eight French horns, etc.), contrasting the simple, almost banal musical program and its monumental rendition. Nevertheless, thanks to his genius, Richard Strauss has kept the symphony in good taste (the child’s world is expressed by an oboe d’amore in a playful, classically simple melody) and created an image of clear outlines with clear arrangement. The final apotheosis of the epilogue with double fugue and immense gradation seems unfitting for the whimsical intimacy of the whole. However, it is characteristic of Strauss’s unique artistic nature.
Franz Schubert wished to become a symphony composer and worked towards his goal with real tenacity. He wrote remarkable early symphonies which show his enormous creative talent. He composed his first symphony at the age of sixteen, and it was followed by two other symphonies two years later. The symphonies are of course influenced by the Viennese Classical period, but they are inventive and spontaneous. Schubert learned the art of symphonic structure and clear arrangement of musical ideas from the classical models of Haydn and Mozart, while taking the novel orchestral sound from Rossini. Beethoven was an unattainable giant for Schubert – although the two composers lived in the same city until the end of their days, they did not come together in the least. Schubert was much younger and his personality and musical style were in stark contrast to those of Beethoven: Schubert drew from suburban folk music, from pubs and the bustle and hustle of the city, and he had the Viennese intonation in his blood. In his compositions he cultivated it, gave it the right accent and expressed its characteristic features.
Symphony No. 3 in D major is a typical work of this kind. Started in May, it was finished in June 1815. It is structured as a classical symphony, including the slow introduction Adagio maestoso, but it has been inspired by fresh Viennese sources and stimuli. The new Romantic style is particularly apparent in the choice of themes: for example, the secondary theme of the first movement is characterized by the typically Schubertian insouciance, and the same applies to the joyful Allegretto of the second movement. The third movement is entitled Menuetto, but it consists of a rather frolicking folk dance, in which a bagpipe can be heard. The finale – six-minute tarantella – whirls by at breakneck speed up to a final explosion. Schubert at the age of eighteen left a distinct imprint of his unique personality in this symphony.
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