NEC Chamber Orchestra + Donald Palma: Mourning
Haydn’s taut, tense and expressive 44th symphony paved the way for a new direction in symphonic writing. Two hundred years later, Weinberg’s 7th symphony, under a neo-classical guise, presents an enigmatic portrait of this prolific composer’s trials and tribulations.
From Donald Palma: "How to begin again after eighteen months of silence? A question that many of us considered as we chose repertoire for our opening concerts. To my mind it had to be Haydn, and it could only be his 44th Symphony. What to pair it with? I chose Weinberg’s deeply personal 7th Symphony. Both works challenge the musicians to dig deep into themselves and provide the opportunity take the audience on a real, perhaps much needed, journey."
This performance is open to in-person audiences, and can also be viewed below via livestream.
View livestream from Jordan Hall:
- NEC Chamber Orchestra
- Donald Palma, artistic director
Franz Joseph Haydn | Symphony No. 44 in E Minor, Hob. 1:44 "Trauer-Symphonie"
Allegro con brio
Menuet: Allegretto, canon in diapason
Haydn composed his 44th Symphony during the era of “Sturm und Drang” (Storm and Stress) when the arts sought to heighten expression by exploring tension and emotionality. Haydn brilliantly captured the spirit of the movement in his first attempt, this E minor symphony, composed for his small orchestra at the Esterhazy Court in 1771. From the very opening unison, Haydn creates a new kind of energy that points to the future. The work is commonly referred to as the “Trauer” (Mourning) Symphony because Haydn expressed the wish that the lovely, muted E major Adagio be played at his funeral. The Symphony with its intense outer movements and emotional gravitas, is one of Haydn’s great masterpieces.
Mieczysław Weinberg | Symphony No. 7, op. 81
Allegro - Adagio sostenuto
Allegro - Adagio sostenuto
Mieczław (Moisey) Weinberg was a child of the Warsaw Ghetto. At the age of 12, he entered the Warsaw Conservatory, where he studied piano and began composing. With the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, Weinberg fled (on foot) to Minsk. He was to lose both parents and a sister in the Holocaust. In Minsk he studied composition for two years before relocating in Tashkent. There he married the daughter of the legendary Jewish actor and director Solomon Mikhoels. In Tashkent he also met Shostakovich, with whom he formed a close lifelong friendship. Weinberg wrote, “It was as if I had been born anew….Although I took no lessons from him, Dimitri Shostakovich was the first person to whom I would show each of my new works.” After the war, Weinberg and Shostakovich moved to Moscow, where they became next-door neighbors. In 1948, Weinberg’s father-in-law, Mikhoels, was notoriously murdered by Stalin’s operatives and Weinberg was black-listed by Stalin’s regime. He was arrested in 1953 and his execution was delayed through the intervention of Shostakovich. Stalin died a month later and Weinberg was eventually released after 11 weeks in prison.
Weinberg was extremely prolific with over 150 opus numbers, including 25 symphonies, seven operas, and a vast amount of chamber music. About his musical style, one biographer wrote:
“Weinberg’s compositional style is influenced by Shostakovoch, Prokofiev, Myaskovsky, Bartok and Mahler; his works are often based on a program, largely autobiographical in nature and they reflect on the fate of the composer and of humanity in general. His compositions are programmatic in nature with an occasional use of Slavic and Jewish materials. His music has an absolute, even abstract, quality, where similar themes assume a variety of characterizations in given environments.”
According to Boston Globe writer Jeremy Eichler’s eloquent 2014 article on Weinberg, “the composer never saw himself as a victim, though along the way Weinberg did come to feel that it was, in his own words, “impossible to repay the debt” he had incurred through the simple fact of his own survival. He seemed to compose music almost penitentially—he once called it “creative hard labor”—to atone, to memorialize, to find sense in a world where there was none to be found.”
The Seventh Symphony was composed in 1964 for the great Russian violist and conductor Rudolf Barshai and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra.
Angela Sin Ying Chan
Tong Chen ‡‡
Youngji Choi **‡
Isabelle Ai Durrenberger
Boxianzi Vivian Ling *
Lisa Sung ‡
Santiago Vazquez-Loredo *
Claire Deokyong Kim
Soobin Kong *
Bennet Huang ‡
Double symbol for principal 2nd violin
Kip Zimmerman *
So Jeong Kim
Tasha Shapiro *
Chenyang Alice Xu