Under the baton of the talented Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra performs Richard Strauss' Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony), Op.64. Recorded at Gothenburg Concert Hall, on September 13, 2018.
An Alpine Symphony, Op.64, German Eine Alpensinfonie, symphonic poem by German composer Richard Strauss that musically re-creates a day's mountain climb in the Bavarian Alps. It premiered on October 28, 1915.
At the time he composed this piece, Strauss was living in the southern Bavarian town of Garmisch (now Garmisch-Partenkirchen), at the foot of Germany's highest peak, the Zugspitze. As a young teenager, he and a group of friends had set out before dawn to climb a mountain, reached the summit five hours later, and been driven back down the mountain by a tremendous thunderstorm. Strauss recounted the experience in a letter, noting that, once he was near a piano, he had improvised a musical version of the experience. For his mature work, Strauss designated an ensemble of well more than 100 performers, including an abundance of brass and percussion, as well as such instruments as organ, wind machine, celesta, and two sets of timpani.
Although Strauss called his work a symphony, it bears none of the characteristics of that form. Instead of the standard four movements, An Alpine Symphony is written in one uninterrupted flow of music (roughly 45 minutes in performance length), portraying distinct episodes on the climb. It begins in the hours before sunrise, which are painted in dark and sombre tones. After the brassy emergence of the Sun, the climbers set forth to a rhythmic, rising theme; phrases of this theme recur throughout the work. Horns and clarinets, perhaps representing hunters and birds, carry them into the forest, where they pass by a brook and a waterfall. The mists rising from that cascade conjure up images of Alpine fairies. Leaving the forest, the climbers ascend to a sunny flower-filled Alpine meadow and then to a mountain pasture, where shepherds call to one another. The clangor of cowbells is heard.
The adventure takes an ominous turn when the climbers become lost in a thicket and then must traverse a glacier and a perilous precipice before they reach the summit. Here a grand trombone fanfare and rich orchestral passages create the effect of a glorious panorama revealed. But clouds cover the Sun, and darkness and turmoil prevail as a tremendous thunderstorm breaks overhead.
The adventurers scramble down the mountain, their descent represented by falling intervals, an inversion of the rising theme heard during the ascent. Each of the previous sights – the glacier, the pasture, the waterfall – passes by in reverse order as the climbers hasten down the slopes. By the time they arrive at the mountain's base, the Sun is setting. The storm has passed, night has come, and they are enfolded in the darkness. Musically and dramatically, Strauss brings the listener full circle.
Source: Betsy Schwarm (britannica.com)
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
♪ Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony), Op.64 (1911-1915)
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Santtu-Matias Rouvali
Gothenburg Concert Hall, September 13, 2018
Hailed by The Guardian as "the latest sit-up-and-listen talent to emerge from the great Finnish conducting tradition", the 2018-2019 season will see Santtu-Matias Rouvali (b. 1985) continuing his positions as Chief Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony and Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, alongside his longstanding Chief Conductor-ship with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra close to his home in Finland.
Rouvali has regular relationships with several orchestras across Europe, including the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. As well as making his debut with the Münchner Philharmoniker this season, he also returns to North America for concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Following a very successful Nordic tour with Hélène Grimaud last season, the Gothenburg Symphony is back on the road in February 2019 for a tour hitting major centres in Germany and Austria with pianist Alice Sara Ott, and percussionist Martin Grubinger who premieres a new percussion concert by Daníel Bjarnason. Rouvali looks forward to other ambitious touring projects with his orchestras in the future, including appearances in North America and Japan.
In addition to the extensive tour, Rouvali's season in Gothenburg opens with Strauss' Alpine Symphony accompanied by Víkingur Ólafsson Mozart Piano Concerto No.24, and he looks forward to collaborations with Janine Jansen, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Baiba Skride throughout the rest of the season.
As another cornerstone to his tenure in Gothenburg, he is adding his mark to the Orchestra's impressive recording legacy. In partnership with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and violinist Baiba Skride, a recording featuring concertos from Bernstein, Korngold and Rozsa is released in autumn 2018. This continues his great collaboration with Baiba Skride following their hugely successful recording of Nielsen and Sibelius' violin concertos with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in summer 2015.
Rouvali has been Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra since 2013. Highlights of the tenure so far include a Sibelius symphony cycle in autumn 2015, and the Orchestra's first tour to Japan in spring 2017 where they were accompanied by an exhibition of original Moomin drawings by Tove Jansson to mark the opening of the new museum at the Tampere Hall. He opens the 2018-2019 season with a Beethoven programme with pianist Javier Perianes.
Alongside an extremely busy symphonic conducting career, as Chief Conductor in Tampere he has conducted Verdi's La forza del destino and most recently world premiere of Olli Kortekangas's My Brother's Keeper (Veljeni vartija) with Tampere Opera in spring 2018.
Santtu-Matias Rouvali – All the posts
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra – All the posts