MORLOT CONDUCTS RACHMANINOV’S SYMPHONIC DANCES
FOR RELEASE Thursday, September 22, 2011
Program Also Includes Bass-Baritone Nathan Berg Performing Mahler’s Hauntingly Beautiful Kindertotenlieder
Seattle, WA – The Seattle Symphony and Music Director Ludovic Morlot will perform Rachmaninov’s dynamic final composition — Symphonic Dances, Op. 45 — in two performances on October 6 and 8. The program also features Canadian bass-baritone Nathan Berg performing Mahler’s poignant song cycle Kindertotenlieder (“Songs on the Death of Children”), and the Orchestra will perform Liszt’s symphonic poem Von der wiege bis zum Grabe (“From the Cradle to the Grave”). Performances of this Wyckoff Masterworks Season concert will take place on Thursday, October 6, at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, October 8, at 8 p.m in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium at Benaroya Hall. Tickets are available from $17 to $110.
The Seattle Symphony will present Pre-concert Talks one hour prior to each performance in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium at Benaroya Hall. These pre-concert talks are free with ticket purchase. Jill Becker, Seattle Symphony’s Public Relations Manager, will give a presentation titled “Musical Musings on Mortality.”
Wyckoff Masterworks Season concerts are part of the Seattle Symphony’s new Family Connections program, which offers free companion tickets for up to two children between the ages of 8 and 18, when accompanied by a paying adult. Companion tickets are available by phone or in person through the Seattle Symphony Ticket Office in Benaroya Hall, beginning three weeks prior to the concert.
Franz Liszt contributed several important innovations to the art of composition. Perhaps most influential was his development of program music, the practice of basing both the broad form and particular details of a piece on a poetic or dramatic premise. In the final of his 13 symphonic poems, Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (“From the Cradle to the Grave”) Liszt gives musical representation to the whole course of a life, from infancy through adult striving to final rest, with a decidedly optimistic view of death as the beginning of a new life.
Kindertotenlieder — the title is best translated “Songs on the Death of Children” — derives its texts from the German poet Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866), whose grief at the deaths of his two young offspring prompted an outpouring of nearly a hundred elegiac poems. Gustav Mahler, a father to two young girls himself, composed music for five of these poems over the course of four years (a fact abhorrent to his wife, who feared he would tempt fate). Whether he did in fact tempt fate, or simply fell victim to extraordinary misfortune, Mahler lost his elder daughter to scarlet fever in 1907, an event that makes Kindertotenlieder perhaps the most explicitly autobiographical and tragic of all Mahler’s works.
Composed in 1940, Symphonic Dances proved to be Sergey Rachmaninov’s last work, and the music suggests a new direction the composer might have pursued had fate granted him more time. In contrast to the lush harmonies and sweeping melodic lines that characterize his earlier style (a sound made famous by his popular piano concertos), this composition offers a more modern sound of leaner textures, sharper harmonies and more concise motifs. Particularly noteworthy is the inclusion of quotations from the Dies irae, an ecclesiastical chant for the dead, which the composer adopted as a personal motto, quoting it in a number of his compositions.
Ludovic Morlot is now in his inaugural season as Seattle Symphony’s Music Director. At 37, he has quickly established a reputation as one of the leading conductors of his generation. In September 2012, he assumes a second post as Chief Conductor of Belgium’s La Monnaie/De Munt, one of the most prestigious opera houses in Europe.
Past season highlights include engagements with the New York Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony, both of which he conducts regularly. He has worked with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and The Cleveland Orchestra, among others. Last season, Morlot made his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias at Opéra National de Lyon and Opéra Comique in Paris. Committed to music education, he led the Netherlands Youth Orchestra on tour in January 2010, which included a concert in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. This season, he leads the Boston Symphony in two weeks of subscription concerts followed by a West Coast tour that includes performances in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He will also conduct the Orchestre National de France for the first time.
Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London and then at the Royal College of Music as a recipient of the Norman del Mar Conducting Fellowship. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2007 in recognition of his significant contribution to music. Morlot, his wife Ghizlane and their two children reside in Seattle.
The Boston Globe writes, “Berg’s is a “first-class voice.” Last season, Berg portrayed the magician Zoroastro in Handel's Orlando, a new production presented by Opéra de Lille, Opéra de Dijon and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, under the baton of Emmanuelle Haim. He made return appearances at l'Opéra National de Paris in a new production of Handel's Giulio Cesare as Achille, and at Edmonton Opera for his role debut as Scarpia in Verdi’s Tosca. Berg also performed Dvorák's Te Deum with the Cleveland Orchestra, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, and Verdi’s Requiem with the Oregon Bach Festival.
Berg's discography includes Handel's Messiah and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas (harmonia mundi); Mozart's Requiem, Rameau's Zoroastre and Handel's Theodora with Les Arts Florissants (Erato); songs by Othmar Schoeck with both the English Chamber Orchestra (Novalis) and with Julius Drake (Jecklin); Mendelssohn songs and duets with Sophie Daneman and Eugene Asti (Hyperion); Dvorák's Stabat Mater with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony and Bach's Mass in B Minor with Boston Baroque.
Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, the Grammy-nominated and Juno Award-winning Berg completed a majority of his musical studies in Canada, the U.S. and France, finishing up at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he studied with Vera Rozsa and won the Gold Medal for Singers. He won prizes at the Royal Over-Seas League, Peter Pears, Kathleen Ferrier and Walther Gruner Lieder competitions.
About the Seattle Symphony
The Seattle Symphony, now presenting its 109th season, has gained international prominence with more than 140 recordings, twelve GRAMMY® nominations and two Emmys. The 2011–2012 Season is the inaugural year for Music Director Ludovic Morlot, who was appointed to the position in 2010. The Seattle Symphony performs in one of the world’s finest concert venues – the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle – and is recognized for its innovative programming, devotion to the classics, and extensive recording catalog. From September through July, the Symphony is heard live by more than 315,000 people.
Tickets from $17 to $110 can be purchased by calling the Seattle Symphony Ticket Office at
(206) 215-4747 or (866) 833-4747 outside the local calling area, faxing the Symphony at (206) 215-4748, ordering online, or visiting the Seattle Symphony Ticket Office in Benaroya Hall at Third Avenue and Union Street, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
WYCKOFF MASTERWORKS SEASON
RACHMANINOV'S SYMPHONIC DANCES
Thursday, October 6, 2011, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 8, 2011, at 8 p.m.
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Nathan Berg, baritone
Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe (“From the Cradle to the Grave”) Symphonic Poem No. 13
The Struggle for Existence—
To the Grave: Cradle of the Future Life
Kindertotenlieder (“Songs on the Death of Children”)
Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n (“Now the sun will rise as brightly”
Nun seh' ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flamen (“Now I see well why with such dark flames”)
Wenn dein Mütterlein (“When your mother steps into the doorway”)
Oft denk' ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen! (“Often I think that they have only stepped out”)
In diesem Wetter (“In this weather”)
Nathan Berg, baritone
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45
Andante con moto (Tempo di valse)
Lento assai—Allegro vivace
Thursday’s concert is sponsored by American Express.
Pre-concert Talks one hour prior to each performance
Speaker: Jill Becker, Seattle Symphony Public Relations Manager
Title: “Musical Musings on Mortality”