Toronto Symphony Orchestra & Gimeno

100th Anniversary Tour, feat. María Dueñas

2023-02-11 20:00 2023-02-11 22:00 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Toronto Symphony Orchestra & Gimeno

https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/31876

In-person event

Any time the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) returns to Southam Hall is cause for celebration, and under the direction of new Music Director Gustavo Gimeno, this concert, in the TSO’s 100th year, is no exception. Acclaimed for his artistic dexterity and for the enormous energy he brings to the podium and draws from the orchestra, conductor Gimeno is rightly one of the most sought-after conductors working today.  The concert opens with Montreal composer Samy Moussa’s...

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Southam Hall,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
Saturday, February 11, 2023
8 PM EST

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Program

Last updated: February 8, 2023

SAMY MOUSSA Symphony No. 2* (20 min)

ÉDOUARD LALO Symphonie espagnole for violin  and orchestra, Op. 21 (31 min)

I. Allegro non troppo
II. Scherzando: Allegro molto
III. Intermezzo: Allegretto non troppo
IV. Andante
V. Rondo: Allegro

INTERMISSION 


SERGEI PROKOFIEV (comp. Gustavo Gimeno) Suite from Romeo and Juliet (43 min) 

I. Montagues and Capulets (Suite No. 2 – No. 1)
II. The Child Juliet (Suite No. 2 – No. 2)
III. Dance (Suite No. 2No. 4)
IV. Masques (Suite No. 1 – No. 5)
V. Romeo and Juliet Balcony Scene (Suite No. 1 – No. 6)
VI. Death of Tybalt (Suite No. 1 – No. 7)
VII. Romeo and Juliet Before Parting (Suite No. 2 – No. 5)
VIII. Romeo at the Grave of Juliet (Suite No. 2 – No. 7)
IX. The Death of Juliet (Suite No. 3 – No. 6)

*Commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Note from TSO Chief Executive Officer

Welcome: It is always a pleasure to welcome a Southam Hall audience to a Toronto Symphony Orchestra performance, this year doubly so, because your own NAC Orchestra is taking the stage at the same time on our home stage at Roy Thomson Hall (RTH). So, this exchange is truly reciprocal. At RTH our audience will hear the program you heard February 9 and 10. You will be listening to the program our audience heard on February 8 and 9. But while our audiences will be renewing their acquaintance with Alexander Shelley, who has led the NAC Orchestra into Toronto since 2016, you will be hearing a Gustavo Gimeno–led TSO for the very first time!  

Orchestras necessarily take on the dynamic colouration of their home halls and take that unique sound with them on the road. As well, over time, when the chemistry is right, their personalities come to reflect the relationship between the orchestra and its Music Director—and here too, both audiences are in for a treat. 

Tonight’s program includes Canadian composer Samy Moussa’s Symphony No. 2 (a TSO Commission), virtuosic Spanish violinist María Dueñas playing Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole, and Gimeno’s own compilation of a suite from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet. You will be hearing a newly commissioned work from a dynamic and endlessly inventive Canadian composer whose international star is on the rise; a beloved violin classic in the hands of an extraordinary, and extraordinarily young, soloist making her Canadian debut; and an opportunity to hear a masterpiece of the orchestral canon with fresh ears. 

From here we head on to Carnegie Hall for the 21st time since 1968, and then to Symphony Center, Chicago (on Valentine’s Day), for the first time in our orchestra’s 100-year history. So, thank you for joining us here tonight.

Mark Williams
Chief Executive Officer, TSO

Repertoire

SAMY MOUSSA

Symphony No. 2 (TSO Commission)

The world premiere, this past May, of Samy Moussa’sSymphony No. 2 wasone of thehigh points of his year-long 2020–21 residency as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s first Spotlight Artist—an appointment that provided unprecedented access to the Orchestra’s artistic resources. “One interesting thing about the piece is the instrumentation,” the Montreal-born, Berlin-based Moussa said at the time. “The TSO allowed me anything I wanted for the commission, which was wonderful, both for things I wanted to do and wanted not to do. As well, composing for the TSO, whatever I had in mind I knew they could do. And this was liberating for me.” 

And the things he didn’t want? “For one thing, no trombones,” he said. “For two reasons: to break the habit of relying on particular instruments for a certain kind of power, and, because I am working on a trombone concerto next, so I wanted to allow myself to crave the trombone for that!” 

Other choices flowed from that. Trumpets are replaced with flugelhorns; and a euphonium has been added to the usual roster of symphonic instruments. As he explained: “I had the unique opportunity to create a new brass section sound. Unlike trumpets and trombones, flugelhorns have a conical bore; euphonium and tuba are conical bore instruments too. And for percussion I also wanted a grouped sound, so only pitched instruments—no bass drum, castanets, cymbals or gongs. Instead, marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, crotales, glockenspiel. That was very important for my aesthetic of the piece.

The 20-minute score is divided into three movements, Moussa said, but the music never stops except for a very small moment near the end. “Watch for the chorale in the brass at the start. It comes back frequently, and of course at the end.” 

His use of the word “watch” is illuminating, speaking to his awareness of how live symphonic music speaks to the eyes as well as the ears. “The euphonium is beautiful, in sound, shape and position—the little tuba and the big tuba side by side, in a chorus of eight instruments from the same conical brass family. And when strings and brass interact like a double chorus, it’s aural but also visual, which is both beautiful and informative.”

Moussa’s distinctiveness as a composer is marked by bold approaches to harmony and timbre coupled with a seemingly boundless refusal to repeat himself, resulting in a stream of ever-changing and uniquely vivid sound worlds, and a succession of commissions by such wide-ranging presenters and ensembles as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Orchestresymphonique de Montréal, and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. 

His catalogue of published compositions (40 at last count) ranges from opera and oratorio to solo works for accordion, piano, and cello. Among these compositions are a dozen pieces for orchestra alone, and a further five for orchestra and soloist. Works underway in his composition diary include commissions for the Wiener Philharmoniker and for the Dutch National Opera & Ballet. (As for the aforementioned concerto for trombone and orchestra, it is scheduled for an April 14, 2023 première with the Orchestre national de Lyon, with rgen van Rijen, trombone, and Gemma New, conductor.)

Moussa is an accomplished conductor, and his current engagements include the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Opera, Haydn Orchestra (Bolzano), and Les Violons du Roy.

Program note by David S. Perlman

Édouard Lalo

Symphonie espagnole for violin and orchestra, Op. 21

I. Allegro non troppo
II. Scherzando: Allegro molto
III. Intermezzo: Allegretto non troppo
IV. Andante
V. Rondo: Allegro

Édouard Lalo belongs to a group of composers who, for better or worse, are widely known by a single work—in his case, the spectacular showpiece for violin and orchestra that you will hear at this concert.

His talent found favour only in the final 25 years of his life, due most of all to French musical tastes of the day which favoured lightness and grace over depth and seriousness, and preferred vocal music, especially opera, over the purely instrumental kind. He was greeted with indifference for so long that he actually gave up composing for almost ten years during the 1860s and early 1870s.

Inspiration to resume came largely from violinist Pablo de Sarasate, Spanish-born but a resident of Paris since the age of 11. In 1874, Lalo, who could trace his own Spanish ancestry back to the 15th century, composed his Violin Concerto in F major for Sarasate, after which they immediately began work together, this time on the Symphonie espagnole, which Sarasate premiered in Paris and then subsequently toured, establishing the composer’s reputation abroad for the first time.

The Symphonie espagnole was an instant success, credited with launching a trend in French works that pay tribute to Spain: Bizet’s opera Carmen (which debuted less than a month later); Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole, Alborada del gracioso, and Boléro; and Debussy’s Ibéria.

As for the work’s title, the original version had four movements, one more than the typical form of a 19th-century concerto, which was one of the reasons Lalo chose to call it a symphony, rather than a concerto or a suite. “Artistically, a title means nothing, but commercially, a tainted, discredited title is never a good thing,” he wryly observed. “I kept the title because it conveyed my thought—that is to say, a violin solo soaring above the rigid form of an old symphony—and because it was less dull than those proposed to me.”

The first movement is the most substantial and traditionally symphonic of the four original movements (the Intermezzo was added later). A brief orchestral introduction sets up the first entry of the soloist. The rhythm of a fiery Spanish dance then establishes itself. The second theme brings a taste of melancholy without slowing the music down at all.

The second movement is a lively, playful, almost waltz-like scherzo, in which the spicy flavour of Spanish folk style becomes stronger. The delicate orchestral textures include pizzicato (plucked) strings, cleverly imitating the sound of a Spanish guitar.

The intermezzo that follows in this performance of the work was, curiously, left out of most concert performances for 60 years. (The earliest reference we have found is a 1933 Victor recording of Yehudi Menuhin, then 17 years old, including it in a recording with the Paris Symphony under Georges Enesco.) Its re-inclusion doubtless does further injury to the “rigid symphonic form” Lalo was pushing against, but, in the right soloist’s hands, provides a compelling narrative bridge between the playful scherzo and the movements that follow.

The fourth movement opens with a serious, almost hymn-like theme in the orchestra, which the soloist takes up and carries forward with ever-increasing passion, before a relaxing calmness is reasserted by the end of the movement. In the finale that follows, the full virtuosic flair of the piece is unleashed—slowly at first, but ultimately outdoing the previous movements for catchy tunes, lavish colour, wit, spectacular solo fiddling, and sheer, joyful energy.
 

Program note by Don Anderson

Sergei Prokofiev

Suite from Romeo and Juliet (compiled G. Gimeno)

I. Montagues and Capulets (Suite No. 2 – No. 1)
II. The Child Juliet (Suite No. 2 – No. 2)
III. Dance (Suite No. 2 – No. 4)
IV. Masques (Suite No. 1 – No. 5)
V. Romeo and Juliet Balcony Scene (Suite No. 1 – No. 6)
VI. Death of Tybalt (Suite No. 1 – No. 7)
VII. Romeo and Juliet Before Parting (Suite No. 2 – No. 5)
VIII. Romeo at the Grave of Juliet (Suite No. 2 – No. 7)
IX. The Death of Juliet (Suite No. 3 – No. 6)

It’s probably safe to say that the plays of William Shakespeare have inspired more music than any other body of literature, and none more so than Romeo and Juliet, his poignant story of the star-crossed lovers of old Verona, first staged during the 1590s. Over the following centuries, at least 60 other composers have written music directly inspired by the play. 

A handful of these settings still receive regular performances, including Vincenzo Bellini’s opera I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues, 1830); Charles Gounod’s five-act Roméo et Juliette (1867); and Hector Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette (1839), a “dramatic symphony” that alternates vocal segments based on Émile Deschamps’s French translation of the play, with orchestral movements. Thirty years after Berlioz, a young Tchaikovsky side-stepped the thorny question of how to set Shakespeare’s words to music by creating a strictly orchestral setting, evoking the play’s basic emotions without attempting a direct, descriptive narrative. 

Tchaikovsky’s three great ballet scores—Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcrackercame later, inspiring many latter-day Soviet practitioners, none devoting more effort to the task than Sergei Prokofiev. Early examples such as The Buffoon (1915) and The Steel Step (1927) are cold, motor-driven exercises in conscious modernity. With The Prodigal Son (1929), he began moving toward a warmer approach, and, in 1934, the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Company (later renamed the Kirov, then the Mariinsky) commissioned him to compose a ballet based on Romeo and Juliet

Prokofiev decided to make it a full evening project on a scale to match Tchaikovsky, and he and the company’s director, Sergei Radlov, spent months working on the scenario, including, at one point, attempting to give it a happy ending. “In the last act, Romeo comes a minute too soon, finds Juliet alive and everything ends well,” Prokofiev wrote. “The reasons for this particular bit of barbarism were purely choreographic: live people can dance, but the dying can hardly be expected to dance in bed.”

The project’s path to fruition was fraught. Newly installed company management at the Kirov had doubts about Shakespeare as ballet, and withdrew from the project. Prokofiev then struck a deal to have it staged by Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and completed the score, in five months’ worth of inspired effort ending in September 1935, only to have the Bolshoi directors also dismiss it as “unsuitable for dancing.” 

Undaunted (and in hope of having a calling card to rekindle interest in the full ballet), Prokofiev arranged from it a set of ten piano transcriptions and two orchestral suites (a third followed in 1946). These were warmly received, leading to a partially successful staging of the complete work in 1938 in Brno, Czechoslovakia. A year later, the Kirov agreed to mount the first production within the Soviet Union, but the saga was not over. The Kirov’s star choreographer, Leonid Lavrovsky, visited Prokofiev, listened as the composer played through the entire score at the piano, liked what he heard immensely, but suggested changes—which Prokofiev, at first, flatly refused to consider. Then the company’s dancers and musicians, accustomed to virtually plotless divertissements set to loud, unsophisticated music, rebelled. Two weeks before the scheduled premiere, they met and voted to cancel the production, “to avoid a scandal,” in their words. 

Despite these and further complications, the production’s debut on January 11, 1940, was a triumph, with the music instantly hailed as a masterpiece. As Lavrovsky described it: “Prokofiev developed and elaborated the principles of symphonism in ballet music. He was one of the first Soviet composers to bring to the ballet stage genuine human emotions and full-blooded musical images. The boldness of his musical treatment, the clear-cut characterizations, the diversity and intricacy of the rhythms, the unorthodoxy of the harmonies—all these elements serve to turn the performance into a dramatic entity.”

For each of the three individual suites that Prokofiev compiled while the full ballet was in limbo, he cherry-picked movements from the full ballet score, with concert logic taking precedence over dramatic sense. This performance draws on all three suites, thereby re-establishing the narrative throughline and emotional power of the magnificent full score.

 

Program note by Don Anderson

Artists

  • Conductor Gustavo Gimeno
  • photo-8-cropped
    Violin María Dueñas
  • tso-logo
    Featuring Toronto Symphony Orchestra

TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

Gustavo Gimeno, Music Director

Violins
Jonathan Crow (concertmaster, Tom Beck Concertmaster Chair)
Mark Skazinetsky (associate concertmaster)
Marc-André Savoie (assistant concertmaster)
+Etsuko Kimura (assistant concertmaster)
Eri Kosaka (principal, second violin)
Wendy Rose (associate principal, second violin)
Atis Bankas 
Yolanda Bruno 
*Sydney Chun 
Carol Lynn Fujino 
Amanda Goodburn 
Bridget Hunt 
Amalia Joanou-Canzoneri 
*Shane Kim
Leslie Dawn Knowles
Douglas Kwon 
Luri Lee
Paul Meyer
Sergei Nikonov 
Semyon Pertsovsky
Clare Semes 
Peter Seminovs 
Jennifer Thompson 
Angelique Toews 
James Wallenberg 
Virginia Chen Wells  

Violas
Michael Casimir (principal)
Rémi Pelletier (associate principal)
Theresa Rudolph (assistant principal)
Ivan Ivanovich 
Gary Labovitz 
Diane Leung 
Charmain Louis 
Mary Carol Nugent 
Christopher Redfield
Ashley Vandiver 

Cellos
Joseph Johnson (principal, Principal Cello Chair supported by Dr. Armand Hammer)
Emmanuelle Beaulieu Bergeron (associate principal)
Winona Zelenka (assistant principal)
*Alastair Eng 
Igor Gefter 
Roberta Janzen
Song Hee Lee 
Oleksander Mycyk
Lucia Ticho

Double Basses
Jeffrey Beecher (principal)
Michael Chiarello (associate principal)
Theodore Chan
Timothy Dawson
Chas Elliott
*David Longenecker

Flutes
Kelly Zimba Lukić (principal, Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee Principal Flute Chair)
Julie Ranti (associate principal)
Leonie Wall
Camille Watts

Piccolo
Camille Watts

Oboes
*Sarah Jeffrey (principal)
Alex Liedtke (associate principal)
Cary Ebli
*Hugo Lee

English Horn
Cary Ebli

Clarinets
Eric Abramovitz (principal, Sheryl L. and David W. Kerr Principal Clarinet Chair)
Miles Jaques (acting associate principal)
Joseph Orlowski

Bass Clarinet
Miles Jaques

Bassoons
Michael Sweeney (principal)
+Darren Hicks (associate principal)
Samuel Banks
Fraser Jackson

Contrabassoon
Fraser Jackson

Horns
Neil Deland (principal)
Christopher Gongos (associate principal)
Audrey Good
Nicholas Hartman
*Gabriel Radford

Trumpets
Andrew McCandless (principal, Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee Principal Trumpet Chair)
*Steven Woomert (associate principal)
*James Gardiner
James Spragg

Trombones
Gordon Wolfe (principal)
*Vanessa Fralick (associate principal)

Bass Trombone
+Jeffrey Hall

Tuba
Mark Tetreault (principal)

Timpani
David Kent (principal)
Joseph Kelly (assistant principal)

Percussions
Charles Settle (principal)
Joseph Kelly

Harp
Heidi Elise Bearcroft (principal)

Librarians
Christopher Reiche Boucher (principal)
Andrew Harper (substitute librarian)
Sandra Pearson (substitute librarian)  

Personnel Manager
David Kent
+On leave
*Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra alumni 

Conductor Laureate
Sir Andrew Davis

Conductor Emeritus
Peter Oundjian

Principal Pops Conductor
Steven Reineke

Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador
Daniel Bartholomew- Poyser

RBC Resident Conductor
Trevor Wilson

TSYO Conductor
Simon Rivard  (generously supported by the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee)

Composer Advisor
Gary Kulesha

RBC Affiliate Composer
Alison Yun-Fei Jiang

Music Director
Gustavo Gimeno 

Chair, Board of Directors
Catherine Beck

Chief Executive Officer
Mark Williams 

Co-Chairs, Honorary Governors
Robert W. Corcoran & George Lewis

Vice-President & Chief of Staff
Roberta Smith 

Vice-President, Artistic Planning
Loie Fallis 

Senior Director of Education & Community Engagement
Nicole Balm

Vice-President & General Manager
Dawn Cattapan

Chief Development Officer
Robert Dixon

Vice-President of Marketing & Communications
Patrick O’Herron 

Chief Financial Officer
Ziyad Mansour

TSO.CA
@TorontoSymphony

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The TSO acknowledges Mary Beck as the Musicians’ Patron in perpetuity for her generous and longstanding support.

Canada Council for the Arts
Ontario Arts Council
Toronto Arts Council
Government of Canada
Government of Ontario

Gustavo Gimeno's appearances are generously supported by
Susan Brenninkmeyer in memory of Hans Brenninkmeyer.

We thank all of our Donors and Benefactors including our Music Director’s Circle, Maestro’s Club Donors, Corporate and Foundation Partners, and many individual donors, whose generous support provides a critically important base of funding for our work.

We acknowledge that Toronto, our home for the past century, lies within the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit River, the Anishinaabe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples, within the territory governed by the Dish With One Spoon treaty into which we have been invited in the spirit of peace, friendship, and respect. As we celebrate 100 years of community-building and sharing the healing power of art, we are grateful to live and make music on this land.