NATIONAL ORCHESTRA OF SPAIN

Christian TETZLAFF, violin

David AFKHAM, chief conductor

Obertura “Pollença”. Absolute premiere.
Antoni Parera Fons (1943, Manacor)
Work commissioned by the Spanish National Orchestra and Choir.

Concerto for violin and orchestra in E minor, op. 64
F. Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

I. Allegro molto appassionato (E minor)
II. Andante (C major)
III. Allegretto non troppo – Allegro molto vivace (E major)

Symphony no. 3 in A minor, op. 56 “Scotish”
F. Mendelssohn

PROGRAM NOTES

Bàrbara Duran Bordoy

Musicologist and writer

The beauty of proportion: Mendelssohn and Parera Fons

Today’s programme should not be taken lightly. The period, social context and compositional style of the two composers programmed, Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and Parera Fons (1943), are totally different. Still, they share similar elements in their compositional conception: a love of formal balance and an unusual internal luminosity. These two elements allow them to be included precisely in a classical tradition of art, understood as that which shows a fine balance between the Apollonian side of music, that of measured proportions and clear structures, and the more Dionysian character that displays vitality and expressiveness.

In an interview a few years ago, Parera Fons explained that folk music, which belongs to the oral tradition, forms part of his own musical universe unconsciously. “Melodies that are kept in the memory, as if locked away in a drawer, but one day they return unexpectedly.” In this work commissioned by the OCNE (world première at this edition of the Festival de Pollença 2022), he opens his personal drawer and pulls out the melody of the Cavallets de Pollença, the one that Baltasar Samper picked up one day around 1924; and this is one of the tunes that immediately anchors the town’s music memory. The Overture begins with a somewhat mysterious introduction, where the trumpets initiate a piece with historical overtones. Without conjuring up any specific memories, a soundscape is drawn that mixes different melodic motifs that prepare the entry for a lively and playful dance. This scenery is rounded off by the horns’ introduction, which unfolds a certain solemnity, with small linking motifs provided by the woodwind and string section. A feature of this opening is the presence of a very energetic rhythmic base. In conjunction with the metrical shifts that delimit the formal sections, this pushes the Overture into a spinning wheel of exuberant vitality. In any case, Parera Fons seems to remember the tunes as an element that becomes the basis for the elaboration of this material almost in the form of a variation and adds all the details that his creativity suggests, transforming the old contributions into a contemporary work rather than direct imitations of Pollença’s repertoire. Therefore, this work is based on elements of traditional music that in no way condition the harmonies or melodic treatments used by Parera Fons but rather constitute the tool that allows him to work creatively towards a stylistic fusion, in the end, is full of modernity.

If an instrumental vocal can synthesise the gateway to Romanticism, perhaps it is the solo violin that opens Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E minor. A lyricism, but also a kind of life-giving gravitas that transforms into a passionate, intimate, expressive and musically free voice, where the seeds of full Romanticism can be found. In the first half, the violin exhibits a tireless melody; its prominence does not prevent the orchestra from playing the role of interlocutor: at certain moments, the violin descends to the low register to place the orchestra in the foreground. The placement of the virtuosic cadenza, just before the re-exposition and not at the end, is also noteworthy.

The opening piece of the second half is tender and will reappear after the mid-section, whereas the third half is opened by a short brass introduction, followed by a rampant, virtuosic and unstoppable piece. It is reassuring to know that the technical details of this composition were painstakingly worked out over seven years with Mendelssohn’s violinist friend Ferdinand David, who followed the compositional process from 1838 until its première in Leipzig in 1845. This long gestation, combined with extraordinary expressive power, makes this violin concerto one of the most spectacular in musical history.

Symphony no. 3 in A minor op. 53 “Scottish Symphony” followed a similar path. In 1829, following the educational guidelines laid down for men of wealthy families of the time, Mendelssohn set out on a journey of global “discovery,” which took him from his home to London and Edinburgh. The famous visit to the cave of Fingal was the basis for the composition of the Overture The Hebrides. It is obvious that this trip struck a chord in Mendelssohn’s soul, for even then, he began to think about the creation of a symphony. A trip to the ruins of Holyrood Palace Chapel made him connect with Scotland’s historical past and the memory of Queen Mary. That evening he wrote home, describing the visit and the composition of some twelve bars that would be the opening twin of the Andante. The violins begin with a voice that gradually leads to a dark and melancholy theme with personality. Its conclusion leads to an Allegro ma un poco agitato, which gradually opens out into a dramatic and suggestive character. In brief, the brass calls illuminate the strings, in brief, counterpoint figures. The clarinet is the first to bring out a motif that undoubtedly harks back to Scottish folk rhythms.

The second movement, Vivace non troppo, exhibits a light-hearted theme that awakens the whole orchestra and seems to contrast with the third movement, Adagio. This movement is reminiscent of mysterious Scotland, the Scotland of legends; a delicate air gives way to powerful homophony. Without abandoning the epic and grandiose tone, the repertoire is combined with small sections full of lyricism. The fourth movement, Allegro vivacissimo, is headed by a magnificent and solemn theme, somewhat like a victory march. Although the Scottish Symphony does not contain a closed descriptive agenda, one cannot help thinking of a clear reference to Scotland’s historic past.

Mendelssohn and Parera Fons, the two protagonists of today’s programme, draw their inspiration from popular music: Mendelssohn indirectly references Scottish ballads and dances with inspired melodic and rhythmic design; Parera Fons draws on Pollença’s folk dancing to capture the elusive essence of the people’s identity. Beyond that, however, a common trait between the two creators could be described as a simple, natural elegance, a beautiful proportion between all the elements that make up their musical productions.

SPANISH NATIONAL ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR

La Orquesta Nacional de España fue fundada en 1937, durante la Guerra Civil española, y se relanzó definitivamente en 1942. Desde entonces desarrolla una ininterrumpida e intensa labor concertística, con una amplia temporada en Madrid – desde el año 1988 tiene su sede en el Auditorio Nacional de Música-, participa en los principales festivales españoles y realiza giras por España así como por diversos países de Europa, América y Asia.

Ahora, con más de ochenta años de historia, la Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España –juntos desde 1971- se encuentran en una nueva etapa desde que en 2019 se nombrara al maestro David Afkham como director titular y artístico de la agrupación y a Félix Palomero como director técnico, en la que la búsqueda continua de la excelencia artística, la modernización y la apertura son los criterios básicos sobre los que se asienta su actividad.

La Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España, que ha sabido consolidar el carácter innovador de su programación –gracias a la inclusión de nuevos formatos en anteriores temporadas– y su capacidad para generar nuevas audiencias, se convierte en una orquesta de referencia indiscutible de nuestro país. Entre sus objetivos figura el de situarse también como una orquesta de referencia en Europa a medio plazo.

Con anterioridad al maestro Afkham, el podio de la Orquesta Nacional de España ha sido ocupado de manera estable por Bartolomé Pérez Casas, Ataúlfo Argenta, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos -quién más veces ha dirigido a la agrupación-, Antoni Ros-Marbà, Aldo Ceccato, Jesús López Cobos y Josep Pons. Como directores invitados, la Orquesta Nacional ha contado con maestros de la talla de Sergiu Celibidache, Igor Markevitch, Rafael Kubelik, Zubin Mehta, Yuri Temirkanov, Gustavo Dudamel, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph Eschenbach o Juanjo Mena. Del mismo modo, la orquesta ha colaborado con los más destacados solistas vocales e instrumentales de la segunda mitad del siglo XX.

Así mismo, las dos instituciones apuestan claramente por favorecer la igualdad en el acceso a la música y la cultura; por ello siguen desarrollando numerosas actividades basadas no sólo en el ámbito socioeducativo (Pintasonic, En Familia y conciertos escolares) sino con la colaboración social en diversos colectivos con necesidades específicas. La Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España es una unidad de producción dependiente del Instituto Nacional de las Artes Escénicas y de la Música (INAEM), Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte.

DAVID AFKHAM, chief conductor

David Afkham, born in Freiburg (Germany) in 1983, has been Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España since September 2019, following his tenure as Principal Conductor of this institution since 2014. Over the years, he has performed ambitious programmes such as Schönberg’s Gurrelieder, Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Brahms’ Requiem, Haydn’s The Creation, as well as semi-staged performances of The Flying Dutchman, Elektra, St Matthew Passion, Bluebeard’s Castle and Tristan and Isolde.

David Afkham began studying piano and violin at the age of six in his hometown. At fifteen, he enrolled at the University of Music in Freiburg to continue his studies in piano, music theory and conducting, which he furthered at the Liszt School of Music in Weimar. David Afkham was the first recipient of the Bernard Haitink scholarship for young talents and assisted the conductor in numerous projects, including symphonic cycles with the Chicago Symphony, the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam and the London Symphony Orchestra. He won first prize in the 2008 Donatella Flicken Conducting Competition in London and was the first recipient of the Nestlé Young Conductors Award and the Salzburg Festival in 2010. He was assistant conductor of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester from 2009 to 2012.

David Afkham is also a regular guest conductor with some of the world’s leading orchestras and opera houses and has earned a reputation as one of the most sought-after German conductors in recent years. Projects for the 21/22 season include collaborations with the Minnesota and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras in the United States, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Europe.

CHRISTIAN TETZLAFF, violin

Concerts with Christian Tetzlaff often become an existential experience for both performer and audience.

2021/2022 season highlights include concerts with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, NDR Radiophilharmonie and NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestre. In autumn 2021 he toured with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin with conductor Christoph Eschenbach and will be soloist in the Haydn2032 project with the Kammerorchester Basel under Giovanni Antonini. He will also give several duo recitals with pianists Lars Vogt and Leif Ove Andsnes.

Tetzlaff is a regular guest at major institutions such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic and London’s Wigmore Hall. Tetzlaff has appeared with orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Concertgebouworkest and major London orchestras. He has worked with conductors such as Celibidache, Haitink, Maazel and Masur, and more recently with Barbara Hannigan, Christoph von Dohnányi, Paavo Järvi, Vladimir Jurowski, Andris Nelsons, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Organitza i patrocina

Amb el suport de

Col·laboren

Mitjà de comunicació oficial

Membre de l’Associació espanyola de Festivals de Música Clàssica

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Oficina del Festival de Pollença

Convent de Sant Domingo

C/. de Pere J. Cànaves Salas, s/n

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T.(+34) 971 899 323

Horari oficina

De dimarts a dissabte de 10.00 a 13.30h

Dijous de 16.30 a 19.00

Per a reservar i comprar entrades el mateix dia del concert, de 20.30 a 22.00h