When the young American cellist Alisa Weilerstein first appeared with Orpheus in 2010, her genius was beyond question—a quality the MacArthur Foundation confirmed the next year when they awarded her a Fellowship (a.k.a. “genius grant”) and declared her “a consummate performer, combining technical precision with impassioned musicianship.” While Schumann’s Cello Concerto is the product of a brilliant composer on the brink of insanity, bright talents found their voices early in Mendelssohn’s refreshing Nocturno for winds, Webern’s aphoristic Five Movements for strings, and Schubert’s elegant symphonic salute to the powerful influences of Rossini, Haydn and Mozart.
MENDELSSOHN: NOCTURNO FOR WINDS
SCHUMANN: CONCERTO FOR CELLO
WEBERN: FIVE MOVEMENTS FOR STRINGS
SCHUBERT: SYMPHONY NO. 6
About the Artists
More upcoming performances
January 7 | 5:30PM
Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center
New York, NY
January 15 | 7:00PM
January 16 | 2:00PM
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
West Palm Beach, FL
January 19 | 7:30PM
Thomasville Center for the Arts
January 20 | 8:00PM
The Schwartz Center for the Arts
Orpheus Insight | Ronnie Bauch, violin
Whenever Orpheus performs one of Schubert’s symphonies, I am always reminded of the fact that none of these works were published or performed publicly during Schubert’s brief lifetime, and that so much of the music that we revere today was ignored, dismissed or consigned to the trash heap of history by an unknowing or fickle public. While the Sixth was actually the first of Schubert’s symphonies to receive a documented public performance, just a few months after his death, it was not performed again until the 1870s, nearly half a century later.
If Beethoven, as the first real entrepreneur musician, can be considered to be the “patron saint” of Orpheus, then Schubert must be considered the “spiritual angel” of the group: the greatest songwriter in history whose life and music foreshadowed the lyrical and Bohemian spirit of the 1960s that so inspired our founding members. It was no accident that one of the group’s signature pieces from the very beginning was Schubert’s expressive and poetic Symphony No. 5.
While Schubert’s Fifth Symphony is Mozartean in scope, the Sixth clearly embraces the ethos of late Haydn and Beethoven, along with a little Rossini, who was the rage in Vienna at the time. The Haydn and Beethoven influences, for example, grace the first movement, especially in the grand opening and the wind chorus that ushers in the Allegro. While the theme of the second movement is pure Schubert, there are definite hints of the “Italian” style in the both the orchestration and accompaniment figures. The scherzo, one of Schubert’s finest, is pure Beethoven. The witty and energetic finale seems to unify all of these elements and at the same time presages Schubert’s later work in in the same key of C major, his monumental Ninth Symphony. Shortly after the completion of the Sixth Symphony, Schubert began work on two other symphonies that he abandoned before completion. One of these, his Eighth—now exceedingly popular and known as the “Unfinished”—will appear on an Orpheus program for the first time in our 45-year history, during the 2017-18 season.