Alexei Volodin Plays Rachmaninoff 3
*Please silence your phone & turn down the brightness*
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Symphony No. 41 in C major, “Jupiter”
Menuetto e Trio: Allegretto
– Intermission –
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943): Concerto No. 3 for piano and orchestra in D minor,
Allegro ma non tanto
Finale: Alla breve
Presenting Patrons: Curt & Cathy Vossen
Daniel Raiskin, conductor
Known for cultivating a broad repertoire and looking beyond the mainstream for his strikingly conceived programmes, Daniel Raiskin has been the music director for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra since the 2018/19 season.
Daniel grew up in St. Petersburg, the son of a prominent musicologist, where he attended the celebrated conservatory in his native city. He continued his studies in Amsterdam and Freiburg, first focusing on the viola but was later inspired to take up the conductor’s baton. He studied with maestri such as Mariss Jansons, Neeme Järvi, Milan Horvat, Woldemar Nelson and Jorma Panula.
Along with the WSO, Daniel was appointed Chief Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra in 2020/21, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016/17.
Some recent and upcoming guest engagements include the Warsaw and Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestras, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife, Russian National Orchestra, Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra, Residentie Orchestra (Hague Philharmonic, NL), Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, Munich Symphony Orchestra and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.
During the 2021/22 season, Daniel took the Slovak Philharmonic and participated in a successful residency at the InClassica Festival in Dubai, where they shared the stage with Rudolf Buchbinder, Gil Shaham, Daniel Hope and Andreas Ottensamer. The Philharmonic also toured Germany and Austria this past spring (2022) under Daniel’s leadership.
Alexei Volodin, piano
Acclaimed for his highly sensitive touch and technical brilliance, Alexei Volodin possesses an extraordinarily diverse repertoire from Beethoven and Brahms through Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev to Scriabin, Shchedrin and Medtner.
Previous seasons have included performances with Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, The Mariinsky Orchestra, Antwerp, BBC and NHK symphony orchestras and NCPA Orchestra China, as well as tours with SWR Symphonieorchester, Russian National Orchestra and Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Volodin regularly appears in recitals and has performed in venues including Wiener Konzerthaus, Barcelona’s Palau de la Música, Mariinsky Theatre, Paris’ Philharmonie, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Tonhalle Zürich and Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional de Música. This season he appears in the International Piano Series at the Southbank Centre, Wigmore Hall and the Meesterpianisten Series at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, as well as recitals in Bratislava, Ostrava, Den Haag, Oxford and Winnipeg.
An active chamber musician, he has a long-standing collaboration with the Borodin Quartet. In 19/20, they joined trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov for performances at the Southbank Centre and Istanbul Music Festival. Previous chamber partners include Janine Jansen, Julian Rachlin, Mischa Maisky and Sol Gabetta, as well as the Modigliani Quartet, Cuarteto Casals and Cremona Quartet.
A regular artist at festivals, Volodin has performed at Kaposvár International Chamber Music Festival, Festival Les nuits du Château de la Moutte, Variations Musicales de Tannay, Bad Kissingen Sommer Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron, Les Rencontres Musicales d’Évian, Festival La Folle Journée, The White Nights Festival in St Petersburg, St. Magnus International Festival and the Moscow Easter Festival.
Volodin’s latest album with the Mariinsky label was Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 4, conducted by Gergiev. Recording for Challenge Classics, Volodin’s disc of solo Rachmaninoff works was released in 2013. He also recorded a solo album of Schumann, Ravel and Scriabin, and his earlier Chopin disc won a Choc de Classica and was awarded five stars by Diapason.
Born in 1977 in Leningrad, Alexei Volodin studied at Moscow’s Gnessin Academy and later with Eliso Virsaladze at the Moscow Conservatoire. In 2001, he continued his studies at the International Piano Academy Lake Como and gained international recognition following his victory at the International Géza Anda Competition in Zürich in 2003.
Alexei Volodin is an exclusive Steinway artist.
MASTERWORKS by James Manishen
Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
b. Salzburg / January 27, 1756
d. Vienna / December 5, 1791
Last WSO Performance: 2013; Alexander Mickelthwate
Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony represents one of the most profound anomalies in music history if one is to examine the personal circumstances of its creator.
In 1788 Mozart’s finances were in deep disarray owing to his poor money management and mounting debts. A promising position as court composer to Emperor Joseph II failed to materialize, Mozart’s students dwindled to two, Viennese audiences met his opera Don Giovanni with indifference, and he could not entice enough subscribers to produce his own concerts. His wife Constanze was ill from stress and constant pregnancy, and on June 29, their fourth child and only daughter, Theresia, died at the age of six months. But from all this came Mozart’s three greatest symphonies, composed in the summer of 1788 within six weeks: No. 39, No. 40 and No. 41, the so-called “Jupiter.”
It is unknown why he composed them, for there are no records of premieres at a time when they were associated with specific occasions. There is no record of the first performance in Mozart’s lifetime.
The title “Jupiter” did not originate from Mozart but is thought to have come from the impresario Salomon or publisher John Baptist Cramer, who presented a London concert in 1821. No matter what, the work’s grandness of scope, the perfection of form and stunning technical accomplishment evoke its Olympian nickname.
The symphony starts with a rising motive similar to what Mozart used in his Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor. But where that work showed the motive in a mysterious light, the motive is positive and forceful in the symphony. Several melodies emerge in the first movement, and most lovely is its closing tune – an Italian aria Mozart had written a few months earlier.
The second movement, Andante cantabile, is stately, with a beautiful interplay between strings and winds. No less dignified is the Menuetto third movement, whose trio has some subtle humour in the way it begins with the end of the menuet proper.
The finale is a real tour de force and is one of the greatest contrapuntal displays in music. The four-note theme was actually used in the second movement of Mozart’s First Symphony, composed at age eight. (Did Mozart have a premonition No. 41 would be his last symphony, making for a telling musical bookend)? Ingenious combinations of melodies occur throughout the movement, the best saved for the coda, where Mozart lays out the five main tunes of the movement played simultaneously in breathtaking fashion!
Did Mozart need his intense creative outlet at a time of profound personal angst? Were there uncharted occasions he was writing for? Or did he have a premonition that the genesis of works was to be intended as unanswered questions, for which composer Robert Schumann perceptively wrote, “There are things in the world about which nothing can be said, as Mozart’s C major Symphony, much of Shakespeare, and pages of Beethoven.”
Piano Concerto No. 3
b. Oneg, Russia / April 1, 1873
d. Los Angeles, CA USA / March 28, 1943
First performance: November 28, 1909 in New York, conducted by Walter Damrosch with the composer as soloist
Last WSO performance: 2013; Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor; André Laplante, piano
Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto is a technical and emotional Everest for the soloist, the benchmark work of its kind for the super-virtuoso to earn their stripes. American pianist Gary Graffman bemoaned not learning it as a student when he was “still too young to know fear.” Likewise, the work’s dedicatee Józef Hofmann, a pianist of staggering abilities himself, never performed it in public, saying that it “wasn’t for” him, though those who knew him suspected Hofmann, more an auditory learner, didn’t want to undertake to study the complex score.
Rachmaninoff composed the third of his four piano concertos for a 30-concert American tour during the 1909/1910 season. As of the most formidable pianists of his time, the tour was designed to introduce Rachmaninoff’s playing and music to the American public. As a result, the third became one of his most requested works throughout his life.
English pianist Stephen Hough compares the Third to the even more famous Second Concerto, which he describes as more the work of a composer rather than a pianist. Rachmaninoff had yet begun to tour as a performer as he was doing at the time he composed No. 3. Hough relates, “you can hear from the orchestration and piano-writing how much more experience he had. The orchestration in No. 3 is thinner; you can hear the piano much more easily than in the Second.”
Always a devoted family man, Rachmaninoff dreaded leaving his family back in Russia for his tour. Rachmaninoff would play and conduct his works on this first visit to America, made more palatable by the prospect that he was not only to be well paid but might find an American-made automobile he much wanted. A new piano concerto would be the core work during the tour.
Rachmaninoff’s schedule didn’t allow him to begin his Third Piano Concerto until June 1909. Arriving at his country retreat of Ivanovka north of the Black Sea, he worked feverishly on the score all summer, completing it in December when he returned to Moscow. Even as one of history’s greatest pianists, Rachmaninoff needed and didn’t have the time to get the daunting solo part into his fingers before leaving for the United States. So he took a silent practice keyboard and tapped away at it during the ocean crossing.
The Third Piano Concerto was a tremendous success everywhere he went. So when he was forced to leave Russia eight years later, losing his estate to the Revolution, he settled in the United States for good. Rachmaninoff’s annual cross-country tours made him a musical institution for the next two decades.
The Third Piano Concerto was constantly requested, though popularized more in the 1930s by the composer’s great friend Vladimir Horowitz, who would go on to record it three times and whose staggering technique Rachmaninoff deferred to by suggesting more “ownership” of the work than Rachmaninoff himself! And, of course, there is the 1996 movie Shine which brought the piece further into the mainstream as a triumph of will.
As in much of Rachmaninoff’s music, one finds underpinnings of Russian Orthodox Church chants among the dazzling pianistic happenings. The music’s mercurial flow, melancholic personality and exploration of seemingly every sonorous possibility for the piano are no less bonded to a subtle yet overall solid formal outline. It is one of the hallmarks in the piano concerto literature for the master performer and never fails to generate a feeling of an unforgettable event.
WHAT ELSE WAS GOING ON IN 1788, when Mozart composed the "Jupiter" Symphony?
- String Quartets 57-62, Joseph Haydn
- Symphony No 39 & 40, W. A. Mozart
- Mary: A Fiction, Mary Wollstonecraft
- What the Master Would Not Discuss (磾嫄槧), Yuan Mei (篨嵋)
- The US Constitution is ratified
- Chinese arrive on Vancouver Island to help build a trading post
WHAT ELSE WAS GOING ON IN 1909, when Rachmaninoff composed his third concerto?
- Symphony No. 9, Gustav Mahler
- Five Pieces for Orchestra, Arnold Schoenberg
- The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
- Anne of Avonlea, L. M. Montgomery
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed
Gwen Hoebig, Concertmaster
The Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté Memorial Chair, endowed by the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation
Karl Stobbe, Associate Concertmaster
Hong Tian Jia
Jeremy Buzash (guest)
Chris Anstey, Principal
Elation Pauls, Assistant Principal
Momoko Matsumura **
Trevor Kirczenow (guest)
Erica Sloos (guest)
Elise Lavallée, Acting Principal
Dmytro Kreshchenskyi, Acting Assistant Principal**
John Sellick (guest)
Yuri Hooker, Principal
Emma Quackenbush, Acting Assistant Principal
Grace An **
Samuel Nadurak **
Gabriella Oliveira (guest)
Meredith Johnson, Principal
Tara Pivniak (guest)
Jan Kocman, Principal
Supported by Gordon & Audrey Fogg
Beverly Wang, Principal
Aleh Remeau (guest)
Yevhenii Yeromenko (guest)
Micah Heilbrunn, Principal
Graham Lord (guest)
Kathryn Brooks, Principal *
Mark Kreshchenskyi, Acting Principal **
Elizabeth Mee **
Patricia Evans, Principal
Ken MacDonald, Associate Principal
The Hilda Schelberger Memorial Chair
Chris Fensom, Principal
Paul Jeffrey, Associate Principal
The Patty Kirk Memorial Chair
Steven Dyer, Principal
Justin Gruber, Principal
Andrew Johnson, Principal
Brendan Thompson (guest)
Richard Turner, Principal
Endowed by W.H. & S.E. Loewen
* On Leave
** 1 year appointment