Overture Magazine - 2018-19 Season BSO_Overture_JanFeb_19 | Page 34
ELGAR CELLO CONCERTO
Seoul, Czech and Rotterdam philharmonic
orchestras; the Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra; Aspen Festival Orchestra;
Frankfurt Radio Orchestra; and l’Orchestre
de Paris. He has appeared with acclaimed
conductors such as Valery Gergiev,
Giancarlo Guerrero, Jakub Hrůša, Ton
Koopman, Pavel Kogen, Neeme Järvi and
Leonard Slatkin. He is Artist-in-Residence
with the Malta Philharmonic and recently
toured the U.K., China and Hong Kong
with the Z.E.N. Piano Trio with colleagues
Zhou Zhang and Esther Yoo, which also
released a debut recording on Deutsche
Grammophon in 2017.
Hakhnazaryan has received scholarships
from the Rostropovich Foundation and the
Russian Performing Arts Fund and awards
including First Prize in the 2006 Aram
Khachaturian International Competition,
First Place in the 2006 Johansen
International Competition for Young String
Players and First Prize in the 2008 Young
Concert Artists International Auditions.
Hakhnazaryan was born in Yerevan,
Armenia into a family of musicians.
Mentored by the late Rostropovich,
Hakhnazaryan received an Artist Diploma
from the New England Conservatory
of Music in 2011, where he studied with
Lawrence Lesser. Prior to this he studied at
the Moscow Conservatory and at the Sayat-
Nova School of Music. Hakhnazaryan plays
the 1707 Joseph Guarneri cello and F.X.
Tourte and Benoit Rolland bows.
1906, he had already used this title for two
sets of piano pieces.
A slow and painstaking worker, Debussy
had particular trouble with Images, which
took him from 1906 to 1912 to complete.
Its three constituent pieces were written and
premiered separately. Each is an evocation
of a different country: “Gigues” of England,
the longer three-movement “Ibéria” of Spain
and “Rondes de printemps” of France.
Debussy’s French musical image,
“Rondes de printemps” (“Spring Rounds”)
is the most delicate and subtle of the three,
its palette a wash of clear pastel colors. Its
rhythms are complex, yet always supple
and buoyant. The musical fabric is woven
from a French nursery song “Nous n’irons
plus au bois” (“We won’t go to the woods
anymore”) that Debussy loved and had used
in two earlier pieces. We hear it first in the
oboe, but it is soon passed to flute and other
winds and in various guises continues to be
present throughout much of the movement.
It lends a naive joy to this very sophisticated
paean to spring.
Instrumentation: Three flutes including piccolo,
two oboes, English horn, three clarinets, three
bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, timpani,
percussion, two harps, celesta and strings.
CELLO CONCERTO IN E MINOR
Sir Edward Elgar
Born in Broadheath, England, June 2, 1857;
died in Worcester, England, February 23, 1934
Narek Haknahzaryan last appeared with
the BSO in October 2017, performing
Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations,
Nicholas Hersh, conductor.
About the Concert
“RONDES DE PRINTEMPS” FROM IMAGES
Born in St. Germain-en-laye, France, August
22, 1862; died in Paris, France, March 25, 1918
Many of Claude Debussy’s closest friends
were visual artists rather than musicians,
and he possessed an ear for color that rivaled
their visual sensitivity. He easily sensed
correspondences between the two art forms.
When he began his orchestral Images in
OV E R T U R E / BSOmusic.org
One of the masterpieces of the cello
literature, Sir Edward Elgar’s Cello
Concerto is also a powerful, poignant
farewell to an era irretrievably destroyed by
World War I. Its creator was a true product
of the late-Victorian and Edwardian ages
who needed the cushioned security of pre-
war England in order to flourish as an artist.
The war’s wanton slaughter horrified and
depressed Elgar. He mourned the innocence
of an earlier England. “Everything good
& nice & clean & fresh & sweet is far
away—never to return,” he wrote in 1917
to his friend Alice Stuart-Wortley. And
yet out of his despair came a final quartet
of masterpieces, including three chamber
works and the Cello Concerto. The
concerto, with its mournful, elegiac quality,
seems like a very personal war requiem, and
Elgar marked it with the enigmatic words
What Elgar couldn’t know as he
completed the work on August 3, 1919
was that “R.I.P.” would soon apply to his
beloved wife of 30 years and even to his
career as a composer. Five months after the
work’s premiere that October, Alice Elgar
was dead. She had been his indispensable
prop: supporting him with intelligent
criticism, pushing him back into his study
when he lost heart over a composition and
even ruling his score paper for him. After
her death, Elgar’s creative life was over,
though he lived on for another 14 years.
He wrote nothing of consequence after the
Masterfully drawing on the cello’s power
to speak with an almost human voice, the
Concerto expresses all of Elgar’s regret and
nostalgia for his lost past. Although he
wrote the work for a fairly large orchestra,
Elgar contrived to use this ensemble in such
a spare and subtle way that the cello is nearly
always in the foreground.
The concerto begins with a grand
rhetorical gesture from the soloist: a sweep
of chords suggesting the opening of a bardic
tale. Then the violas launch a wandering
theme that is quickly passed to the soloist
and eventually the entire orchestra. The
mood and key brighten somewhat from
E minor to E major in the movement’s
pastoral middle section.
The second movement, a scherzo
predominantly in G major, is a challenge to
the nimble fingers of the soloist. He begins
with a recitative passage of agitated repeated
notes, punctuated by pizzicato snaps.
Eventually he flings himself into a flurry
of sixteenth notes; these are periodically
interrupted by a bold downward-upward
leaping phrase. Abruptly, the movement
bursts like a balloon with a pizzicato pop.
Although brief, the third movement
in B-flat major is the emotional heart
of the work. Here the soloist pours out
a magnificent, long-lined lament, while
the orchestra is reduced to woodwinds
and strings to throw the spotlight on the
cello’s song. Upward leaps of an octave in
the soloist’s melody gradually slip to leaps