Dalia Stasevska conducts Sibelius, and Wayne Marshall performs an organ concerto by Poulenc
Join us on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1 and Monday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2 as The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert brings you an encore presentation of Poulenc’s Organ Concerto, Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5, and a recent work by Swedish composer Andrea Tarrodi. Guest conductor Dalia Stasevska makes her debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra.
The concert opens with Liguria, a tone poem by Andrea Tarrodi inspired by Italy’s northwest coast. When she visited this craggy region in 2011, the composer became captivated by a string of colorful fishing villages connected by paths along the coastline, east of the Ligurian capital Genoa. The dramatic geography of the area, with steep slopes from the surrounding hills meeting the water, also sparked her imagination. Liguria opens with swells of orchestral sound evoking ocean waves crashing on the coast, and unfolds as a musical walking tour in five connected sections, each a portrait of a different village.
British organist Wayne Marshall is featured in the dramatic Concerto in G minor for organ, strings, and timpani by Francis Poulenc. The French composer’s output is characterized by two seemingly contradictory forces: a melodious and sparkling wit, and a sincere spiritual bent. The latter emerged after the sudden death of a friend jolted Poulenc into a reexamination of his life. Soon he was on a religious pilgrimage, a profound mystical experience that left a permanent mark. Many of Poulenc’s works from this point showed a new seriousness.
He dubbed his Organ Concerto, written soon after his pilgrimage, a “grave and austere” work appropriate for performance in a church. Typically for Poulenc, it also has breezy and witty passages. Overall the concerto draws on a remarkable variety of styles from many centuries. There are modal chantlike themes with a medieval air, passages reminiscent of Bach’s fantasies for the organ, Neo-Classical elements that evoke Stravinsky, and grand Romantic gestures as well. An acclaimed and imaginative improviser, Wayne Marshall expands Poulenc’s short cadenza into a full-blown extemporization in this performance.
Jean Sibelius endured many struggles while composing his Fifth Symphony. At the time, he was already revered in his native Finland for having brought international attention to the territory’s quest for independence from Russia, and this symphony was commissioned by the Finnish government to be premiered on the composer’s 50th birthday, which had been declared a holiday. In addition to the pressure of producing a work that would justify such an occasion, the composer also endured much personal suffering as he composed, including health problems and a traumatic flight from Russian troops.
But the symphony was completed on schedule, and Sibelius himself conducted the premiere in December 1915. Almost immediately afterward, he withdrew the Fifth and significantly revised it. In 1916, he conducted the work in its new form. Again, he was unhappy with the result. Another major revision followed. After leading the third version in concert in 1919, even the self-critical Sibelius could find nothing more he wanted to change. And all his labors paid off: The Fifth Symphony has since become one of the most popular of all the symphonies in the repertoire.
Poulenc: Organ Concerto in g minor
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Dalia Stasevska, conductor
Wayne Marshall, organ
WRTI PRODUCTION TEAM:
Melinda Whiting: Host
Alex Ariff: Senior Producer
Susan Lewis: Consulting Producer
Joseph Patti: Broadcast Engineer
Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts every Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your smart speaker. Listen again on Mondays at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2. Listen for up to two weeks after broadcast on WRTI Replay, accessible from the WRTI homepage (look for Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert On Demand).