Nico Muhly

“Material in E-flat” from Drones and Violin

Michael Tippett

A Lament from Divertimento on “Sellinger’s Round”

Bryce Dessner

Tenebre for String Ensemble and Pre-recorded Track

Erkki-Sven Tüür

Action-Passion-Illusion for String Orchestra

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Franz Joseph Haydn

Symphony No. 88

When the principal second violinist of the Esterházy Orchestra, Johann Tost, made plans to start a music distribution enterprise in Paris, Haydn offered him two new symphonies plus a dozen string quartets to resell. Tost, alas, was a bit of a scoundrel; he tried to pass off a symphony by Adalbert Gyrowetz as a third work by Haydn, and he was later implicated in a scheme to pirate, behind the composer’s back, Haydn’s manuscripts held in the Esterházy collection.

The Symphony No. 88 exhibits grandeur and breadth to match the preceding “Paris” symphonies. As in most of Haydn’s late symphonies, a slow introduction sets the stage; here, the dotted rhythms (a short-long pattern) of the opening chords suggest the character of French overtures from an earlier era. In the Allegro body of the movement, the violins begin with a figure suggestive of hunting horns, establishing material that lends the movement an al fresco air.

The Largo second movement, constructed as a theme with variations, holds the biggest surprise of this symphony. The opening statement, featuring solo oboe and cello, establishes a chamber-music intimacy. Then, forty measures into the movement, a fortissimo entrance by the entire ensemble adds the piercing force of two trumpets and timpani, whose absence in the first movement makes this point of arrival all the more thrilling.

The Menuetto also holds back a surprise. To complement the boisterous dance music of the main section, the contrasting trio introduces a rustic, droning texture, which supports exotic melodies in unusual modes. Closing the symphony on a high note, the finale hardly ceases its bouncing eighth-note pulse, and even its minor-key episodes exude buoyant charm.

Aaron Grad ©2012

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Violin Concerto No. 5

Pekka Kuusisto, director and violin

About This Program

The extraordinary Finnish violinist and newest SPCO Artistic Partner Pekka Kuusisto leads a program that spans centuries, continents and musical genres. Soulful string works by Sir Michael Tippett, Nico Muhly, and Bryce Dessner (from the American indie-rock band The National) are interlaced within the driving, pulse pounding rhythms of Action-Passion-Illusion, a piece by contemporary Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür. In the second half, the musicians return to the core classical repertoire of Mozart and Haydn, but through the fresh and contemporary interpretive lens of Kuusisto.


SPCO concerts are made possible by audience contributions.


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