BSO Concert Hall


SCHUBERT - Symphony No.8 'Unfinished'
TCHAIKOVSKY - Variations on a Rococo Theme
MENDELSSOHN - Symphony No.5 'Reformation'

Kirill Karabits - Conductor
Johannes Moser - Cello

No-one really knows why Schubert never finished his B minor symphony. With numerous other aborted fragments it may well have been that he was growing dissatisfied with symphonic form as he had been practicing it and was striving for something on a far larger scale, something to compare with the dramatic energy and scope shown by Beethoven. But with these two most perfect movements, Schubert ushered in the age of the Romantic symphony – the variety and immediacy of the themes suffusing the work are breath-taking. It is powerful, satisfying music; perhaps it was left unfinished because it could not, need not be finished. With its graceful main theme and resourceful invention, the Rococo Variations remains one of Tchaikovsky's most popular pieces.

It is a work characterised by carefree charm, grace and the indomitable spirit of his idol, Mozart, filtered through his Russian and Romantic sensibilities. The ‘Reformation’ Symphony was premiered under the title “Symphony to celebrate the Church Revolution”. It received mixed reviews and was performed only once more in Mendelssohn’s lifetime which probably explains its posthumous publication. It opens with a stately introduction, built upon a fragment of music from the 18th century Lutheran liturgy of Saxony known as the ‘Dresden Amen’. Given Mendelssohn’s interest in programme music it is not unreasonable to conclude that the storminess of this music represents the ecclesiastical conflicts in the Church during the Reformation.

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