ESTONIAN NATIONAL OPERA SYMPHONY CONCERT
March 7, 2024 in the Estonia Concert Hall. Inetrmission order.
Conductor: Arvo Volmer
Soloist: Kristel Pärtna (soprano)
Estonian National Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Estonian National Opera Orchestra conducted by Arvo Volmer will perform all symphonies by Jean Sibelius within the series of Estonian National Opera symphony concerts.
Gabriel Fauré Suite “Pélleas et Mélisande”, Op. 80
The musicality of Maurice Maeterlinck’s play “Pelléas et Mélisande” inspired Gabriel Fauré to compose his incidental music (1898), Claude Debussy his famous opera (1902) and Arnold Schönberg his symphonic poem (1903). In 1898, Fauré accepted a commission to write incidental music for the play’s first English language production in London. The composer worked under a great time constraint, recycling previously written music and asking his student, Charles Koechlin to provide the orchestrations for the small theatre ensemble. Later Fauré returned to the music and provided his own orchestrations for the concert suite (1912), adding his famous “Sicilienne”, which may have been conceived for the incidental music of Moliére’s “Le Bourgeois gentilhomme”.
Fauré’s music is elegant, serene, and magical, reflecting the emotional, atmospheric and symbolist approach of the drama.
Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 6 may be his most enigmatic symphony. It doesn’t offer the kind of heroic and triumphant journey we experience in the Second and Fifth Symphonies, or the strange, brooding darkness of the Fourth. Instead, it drifts through a soundscape which is shimmering, austere, and mysterious. “The Sixth Symphony always reminds me of the scent of the first snow,” said Sibelius. The music is full of sheen, bright colours as high strings blend with flutes, and occasionally harp as if sunlight was glinting off of freshly fallen snow. Through a sense of shivering mystery, there are bursts of joy, but there are also moments of darkness which pop up suddenly, without any warning.
Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) was born in Paris. He became widely known while still a young man and his fame was promoted by cooperation with the Ballets Russes and Sergei Diaghilev. French musicologist Claude Rostand has characterised Francis Poulenc as a composer who is equally inhabited by a monk and a dandy in love, a peasant and a gentle rascal, stressing the creative versatility of the composer. His works often combined seriousness and a true Parisian style evoking memories of a Parisian music hall.
Poulenc wrote the Stabat Mater in response to the death of his friend, theatre artist Christian Bérard. He considered writing a Requiem, but, after returning to the shrine of the Black Virgin of Rocamadour, he chose instead the more human text of the Stabat Mater, a 13th century poem depicting the sorrow of Mary as she stands at the foot of the Cross. Poulenc’s Stabat Mater premiered in 1951 at the Strasbourg Festival.
The Stabat Mater is primarily a serious and pious work. However, the composer breaks character in a few movements, making the work speak personally, spiritually, but in a worldly cloak. Of the Stabat Mater, the composer wrote, “I think I have three good religious works. May they spare a few days of purgatory, if I do narrowly avoid going to hell.”