Matthias Pintscher leads Webern, Strauss, and Mendelssohn, with principal oboe Philippe Tondre
Join us on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1 and Monday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2 as The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert brings you the Oboe Concerto by Richard Strauss, the Symphony No. 3 by Felix Mendelssohn, and an early work by Anton Webern. Guest conductor Matthias Pintscher makes his debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra.
The concert opens with a lush Romantic work from an unexpected source: Webern, who is best known as a disciple of Arnold Schoenberg. After embracing Schoenberg’s modernism with a minimalist fervor, Webern produced masterworks of the 12-tone method of composition. But at age 20, he was still an ardent Romantic. His tone poem Im Sommerwind (“In the Summer Wind”) evokes the glories of the countryside in summer, with rich harmonies and sweeping orchestral gestures. Only a few months later, he began lessons with Schoenberg, and soon rejected the aesthetic this early tone poem so beautifully embodies.
The Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal oboe since 2020, Philippe Tondre, is featured in Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto. This work was prompted by an unlikely encounter, just after the Second World War, between Strauss and a young American soldier and oboist named John DeLancie. Paying a respectful visit to the composer, DeLancie spoke of his love for the oboe writing in Strauss’ orchestral works, and asked whether he had ever considered writing an oboe concerto. The answer was “no,” but a seed was planted. Strauss began work on his Oboe Concerto in D major soon afterward. For his part, DeLancie returned to the United States and joined The Philadelphia Orchestra, eventually becoming principal oboe. Many years later he would play the Strauss concerto with his Philadelphia colleagues, as would his successor, Richard Woodhams. In today’s concert, Tondre carries on the tradition.
This concert concludes with the Symphony No. 3 in A minor by Felix Mendelssohn, known as his “Scottish” Symphony. In 1829 Mendelssohn embarked on a five-year tour of Europe — not just a concert tour, but the kind of grand tourist experience common among young gentlemen of his era. Such an adventure was considered a kind of intellectual and cultural finishing. Mendelssohn, already an experienced and accomplished performer and composer at age 20, had access to some of Europe’s leading musicians and cultural figures, and he took full advantage.
He began his tour in England, giving several successful concerts in the process. A summer trip to Scotland, intended as a vacation from his busy London schedule, left a deep impression. The country’s mountains, caves, and castles inspired Mendelssohn, and he wrote to his parents that he had found, as he put it, “the beginning of my Scottish symphony.” But Mendelssohn was soon off to the next stops on his grand tour, and his ideas for a “Scottish symphony” had to wait. Indeed, he didn’t return to the subject matter for more than a decade, finally completing the work in 1842 and dedicating it to Queen Victoria, whom he met that year.
Webern: Im Sommerwind
R. Strauss: Oboe Concerto in D major
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 in A minor
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Philippe Tondre, oboe
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).