An experience to treasure
Johannes Brahms's brilliant Symphony No. 1 will be the centrepiece of the SSO's fifth concert of the season on Saturday, March 30.
An experience to treasure? Definitely, and especially so for principal conductor William Rowson, who cherishes the composition and will be conducting it in its entirety for the first time.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity," he says. "It's been on my calendar all year. Knowing I get to conduct the Brahms First Symphony is really a dream."
Mr. Rowson is also eager to present Sharon Wei, "a fantastic
violist," as soloist performing Max Bruch's Romance for Viola and Orchestra. "[It] is such a treat because it comes from the Romantic era of music where all of our great masterpieces come from."
The concert will open with the overture from Der Freischutz (The Hunter), by Carl Maria von Weber. "When they go to the Wolf's Glen, the music paints a picture of this really spooky place," says Mr. Rowson. "It's just an absolutely marvelous example of early German romantic opera."
Back to Brahms, Mr. Rowson describes the "complex emotion" evident in the composer's work, some of it possibly arising from his relationship with Clara Schumann and Robert Schumann, her husband, about which there has been "endless speculation."
"Those kind of very human but complicated emotions are prevalent
all over Brahms, often multiple layers of these emotions at the same time," Mr. Rowson points out. "He does that ... more than any other composer that I can think of, and it's part of the exciting challenge of interpreting the music and performing it."
Brahms's First Symphony "has a sort of tumultuous first movement, a beautiful, beautiful second movement, a charming third movement, and the finale begins with this fantastic sort of mysterious introduction, the result of which is the famous first tune from the symphony that everyone remembers.
"It's got an absolutely barn-burner C major blazing ending. It features big solos for the French horn [and violin].
"There are many, many profound things you could say about the First Symphony of Brahms. It's a magnum opus!"
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 30, in Avondale United Church, 194 Avondale Avenue, Stratford.
Tickets are available at Fanfare Books and Blowes Stationery in Stratford and at Lyric Flowers in St. Marys, as well as online and at the door. Adult: $40; student: $10. Children under 12 are admitted free.