On Sunday, March 10th from 2 to 4 PM, WRTI 90.1 comes to you LIVE from the broadcast booth at Verizon Hall for The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert. The Fabulous Philadelphians will play works by Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Schubert. Listen again on March 11th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2.
Pianist Jan Lisiecki is soloist. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts. WRTI's Gregg Whiteside is host. Join us on the radio at 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org and on the WRTI mobile App.
Featured are a first Philadelphia Orchestra performance of the overture to a Haydn opera that tells the tale of two sisters who are stranded for thirteen years on a deserted island after a storm at sea; the first piano concerto by the 20 year-old Felix Mendelssohn – played by Jan Lisiecki, the 23-year-old Canadian pianist who has won acclaim for his extraordinary interpretive maturity, distinctive sound, and poetic sensibility.
And after intermission, you'll hear the one symphony Franz Schubert felt was fully mature and intended for the public, meant to be judged in comparison with Beethoven, the lone, living symphonic composer of real consequence for him. Read detailed program notes from the concert.
The concert begins with the overture to (Franz) Joseph Haydn’s tenth opera, L'isola disabitata (The Deserted Island), written for the Eszterházy court, and most known for its dramatic Sturm und Drang overture. Though the rest of the opera didn’t even see print until H. C. Robbins Landon's 1976 edition, L’isola disabitata is actually enjoying something of a major revival today, thanks to the 2007 edition used at the Young Artists production in the Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House, London.
One would hardly guess, given their disappearance from the repertory, but Haydn wrote many operas. They served a specific purpose: to please his employer in a private theater. Haydn acknowledged they were not well suited beyond that, especially in the light of Mozart’s magnificent achievements. But even if Haydn’s operas did not fare well with the general public, sections of them enjoyed another life as he recast them for use in his symphonies or performed them in concert. The overture to L’isola disabitata proved to be a popular success in Haydn’s time.
Felix Mendelssohn composed the G minor Piano Concerto while on a visit to Munich, where his frequent companion was Delphine von Schauroth, the daughter of a baroness. Felix dedicated the work to Delphine, with whom he seemed to be quite taken, but he assured his sister Fanny that he didn’t really love her. (But then Mendelssohn didn't quite love his wife Cécile, either, when they were wed in 1837. Passion and joy developed later, reversing the more common conjugal pattern.) Mendelssohn played the premiere of his first concerto himself in Munich in 1831, and often thereafter, with great success far and wide. Yet it was a performance by Franz Liszt, in Paris, that made the work truly famous.
Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki, only 23 himself, performs the work Sunday afternoon, and his interpretive maturity, refined technique, and distinctive sound, give him a musical voice that belies his age. In 2017 he received the ECHO Klassik and the JUNO Awards for his fourth recording for Deutsche Grammophon, and his new DG album features both Mendelssohn concertos and selected solo works.
Franz Schubert would be amazed to learn that he has come to be regarded as a great symphonist, and astounded that he is discussed (and buried) beside his idol Beethoven, the most influential, if not the greatest, symphonist of them all. His 9th Symphony (“The Great”) wasn’t even performed until ten years after his death. It was Schubert’s brother Ferdinand, with whom he had lived in his final months, who sold many of Schubert's manuscripts to publishers and thus fueled a posthumous reputation that had eluded Schubert during his short, impoverished and largely unnoticed life.
But it was Robert Schumann who, visiting Ferdinand and looking over these manuscripts, discovered Franz's C-Major 9th Symphony, and brought it to the attention of his friend Felix Mendelssohn – by then the celebrated conductor of the great Leipzig Gewandhausorchester – and Mendelssohn gave it its first performance. Perhaps the most ecstatic praise was the very first the symphony received, a remarkably discerning essay by Schumann himself, after hearing that premiere performance: "Here we have, besides masterly power over the musical technicalities of composition, life in all its phases, color in exquisite gradations, the minutest accuracy and fitness of expression," that he likened to a thick romantic novel that for the very best reasons can never end.
During intermission, you'll hear Susan Lewis speak with Jan Lisiecki.
This should be a fantastic concert, and if you are unable to be at the Kimmel Center on Sunday, I’ll be in the booth at Verizon Hall to bring it to you live, as it happens, from 2 to 4 PM on WRTI 90.1, and streaming worldwide at wrti.org!
Haydn: Overture to L’isola disabitata (First Philadelphia Orchestra performance)
Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25
Jan Lisiecki, piano
Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944 ("Great")
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, and on the WRTI mobile app! Listen again on Mondays at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2.