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Witness the première of Canadian composer Kati Agócs’ Sesquie, titled A Hero’s Welcome: Sesquie for Canada’s 150th, co-commissioned by the TSO and Prince Edward Island Symphony.
Pre-concert chat with Tom Allen at 7:15pm.
- Kati Agócs: A Hero’s Welcome: Sesquie for Canada’s 150th [2']
- Sibelius: Suite from The Tempest [15']
- Magnus Lindberg: Accused: Three Interrogations for Soprano and Orchestra (North American Première/TSO Co-commission) [25']
- Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” [40']
Program NotesA series of portraits of country life, the “Pastoral” Symphony expressed Beethoven’s deep, lifelong love of nature, which he considered essential to his mental and physical health. (He did important creative work while tramping through woods and fields.) It is a genial piece—spacious, relaxed, euphonious, lyrical—yet it was radical enough to influence programme music for generations. Beethoven described the work as “more the expression of feeling than painting”—more allusive than descriptive. Still, it conjures up some very particular associations; in fact, the five movements, with their evocative titles, form a coherent cycle that seems to convey a visitor’s impressions of the country over the course of a day. The lazy opening bars suggest arrival—open vistas, fresh country air in the early morning—while the gently settling closing bars suggest departure, distance, twilight. The first movement evokes the country in a general way, and Beethoven draws on certain conventions of pastoral music (the “horn key” F major, bagpipe- or hurdy-gurdy-like drones in the bass). The leisurely, “Scene by the Brook” is more specific: undulating string figures evoke the murmur of flowing water, and little woodwind solos near the end evoke the songs of birds—nightingale (flute), quail (oboe), cuckoo (clarinet). The last three movements, played without a break, form a little drama in which peasants play music and dance, endure a storm, and give thanks when the weather clears. The third movement charmingly parodies Austrian folk dancing and the efforts of a hapless village band. The storm movement is a masterpiece of programme music: distant thunder (cellos and basses), the first droplets of rain (staccato violins and violas), then a torrent that Beethoven depicts unforgettably, with timpani strokes, slashing violin figures, and a shrieking piccolo conjuring up (respectively) thunder, lightning, and wind. As the storm subsides—we can hear sunlight breaking through receding clouds—the pastoral mood of the first movement returns, albeit in a more rustic and dancelike vein. An alpine “piping” motif (clarinet, then horn) evolves into a gentle “shepherds’ song” that is ultimately a prayer to God. Near the end, the strings briefly transform the song, appropriately, into a tender hymn. (Duration approximately 40 minutes.)
- Hannu Lintuconductor
- Anu Komsisoprano