Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony and Alban Gerhardt’s Return on January 21

The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director Larry Rachleff welcome cellist Alban Gerhardt back to The VETS for a program of Haydn’s Second Cello Concerto along with Schubert’s immortal “Unfinished” Eighth Symphony and two favorites by Richard Strauss: “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome and Der Rosenkavalier: Suite.

 TACO Classical Concert is Saturday, January 21 at 8:00pm, with an Open Rehearsal on Friday, January 20 at 5:30pm. Tickets are available starting at $15 at tickets.riphil.org or 401.248.7000.

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About Alban Gerhardt

1_credit_kaupo_kikkasFor 25 years, Alban Gerhardt has made a unique impact on audiences worldwide with his intense musicality, compelling stage presence and insatiable artistic curiosity. His gift for shedding fresh light on familiar scores, along with his appetite for investigating new repertoire from centuries past and present, truly set him apart from his peers.

Challenging expectations

Gerhardt is passionate about sharing his discoveries with audiences far beyond the concert hall. Projects have involved performances and workshops in schools and hospitals and pioneering sessions in public spaces and young offender institutions. His live performances on Germany’s main commuter routes vividly demonstrate his commitment to challenging classical music expectations.

Following early competition success, Gerhardt’s international career was launched by his debut with Berliner Philharmoniker in 1991. Orchestra collaborations since include Royal Concertgebouw, London Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, the Cleveland, the Philadelphia and Chicago symphony orchestras, and in almost every case he commits to memorizing their scores before world premiere performances. He plays a Matteo Gofriller cello dating from 1710. 

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At a glance 

SCHUBERT’S UNFINISHED
TACO Classical Concert
Saturday, January 21 at 8:00pm
The VETS, Providence

Larry Rachleff, conductor
Alban Gerhardt, cello

STRAUSS “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome
HAYDN Cello Concerto No.2
SCHUBERT Symphony No.8 (“Unfinished”)
STRAUSS Der Rosenkavalier: Suite

Open Rehearsal
Friday, January 20 at 5:30pm
The VETS, Providence
Tickets are $15, available at tickets.riphil.org or 401.248.7000

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About the concert: stories behind the music

“Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Scandal:  Oscar Wilde’s play portrayed the Bible story in which the temptress, Salome, tries to seduce the holy man, John the Baptist. When he rejects her, she has his head brought to her on a silver shield. After the King agrees to grant any wish she likes, Salome agrees to dance for him, casting aside one veil after another. Strauss saw the play in Berlin in early 1903. It took Strauss two years to complete the one-act operatic score.

Cello Concerto No.2 in D major (H. VIIB.2)
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Publicity stunt? Haydn, or not? For over a century that was the raging issue about the D major Cello Concerto. During the early 20th century, the controversy helped to make this concerto one of Haydn’s most popular works. The virtuosic solo part also made the Haydn attribution suspect, as it went beyond the norms of 18th-century classic concertos. Finally, in 1953 the autographed manuscript came to light in Vienna, establishing the date of composition as 1783 and confirming that the famous work was indeed by Haydn.

Hear this: Particularly charming is the duet between cello solo and violins in the second theme. Later the cello plays all the themes with elaborate embellishments. Some high notes imitate the sound of a flute.

Symphony No.8 in B minor (“Unfinished”)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Why is it unfinished?  The misconception that Schubert died before he had the opportunity to complete it simply does not square with the facts, since he finished the two movements six years before his death. He left several instrumental works unfinished. This same year, 1822, Schubert’s serious, and ultimately fatal, illness was diagnosed as syphilis. Confusion and emotional distress surely influenced his creative affairs at the time.

Hear this: The two completed movements are tight-knit and emotionally taut. A dark opening idea in the low strings leads quickly to the song-like wistful first theme in the woodwinds. The second theme — one of Schubert’s most memorable — is introduced in a bright key. The serenity of the second movement’s opening theme provides a release from the tension and melancholy of the first movement. Soon, however, the wistful lament of the clarinet’s theme tinges the movement with sadness.

Der Rosenkavalier: Suite
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

New territory: The Earl of Harewood described Der Rosenkavalier as “a masterpiece of pastiche, an evocation of an unrealistic, fairy-story Vienna of long ago, a brilliant tour-de-force.” For Strauss, the stylistic approach was different from anything he had tried in his orchestral or operatic works up to that time: a sort of amalgamation of Mozart and Wagner.

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About the Orchestra

2016-2017 is the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra’s 72nd season and Music Director Larry Rachleff’s 21st with the Orchestra. The season’s eight-concert Saturday TACO Classical Series features world-renowned guest artists. The four-concert Friday AMICA Rush Hour Series offers an earlier start time and shorter program with full performances of select repertoire from Saturday. This March the Orchestra is joined by the stunning pianist, Lang Lang for a Gala Celebration.

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