Sunday, September 28, 2014

Giuseppe Sinopoli conducts Unfinished and Italian

   Romantic symphony was not as much popular as in 18th century, but it was powered by completely different idea of music piece. The evolution of symphony in classicism was the transition from idea of universal construction without qualities to the medium carrying the universal truth. In romantic era this form became a container for more specific contents. In first half of 19th century, before symphonic poem was invented, symphony was the best vehicle for composer ideas. Allowing themselves to be carried away with emotional reactions, composers portrayed different states of mind and even narrative components in program symphony. What is interesting, later in post-romantic music idealistic striving for universality of symphony will return with redoubled strength.
   The two of perfectly romantic symphonies are Symphony No. 8 in B Minor D 759 “Unfinished” by Franz Schubert and Symphony No. 4 in A Major, op. 90 “Italian” by Felix Mendelssohn. Each one could serve as apotheosis of extreme feelings – on one side is awareness of inevitable death and on the other unbridled joy of life. It’s worth to mention in romantic era these emotions were not distant, sometimes even not separated. And it is perfect opportunity to hear interpretation of these two works presented by conductor who has the chance to commented musical structures and his idea of rendering these works of romantic music. The artist was Giuseppe Sinopoli and was recorded with Philharmonia Orchestra for Deutsche Gremmophon in 1983. The album was published next year. On enclosed inlay was published the conductor’s essay and cover featured Johann Heinrich Schilbach’s watercolor.

Giuseppe Sinopoli conducts Schubert and Mendelssohn (1984)

   In essay Dream and memory in Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ Sinopoli focuses on esthetic meanings and structural significant features of this famous symphony. Giving some concepts how one can find a deeper message in symphonic music, he concludes: “The musical meaning seems […] to be guaranteed by what Adorno calls ‘an ontology of form’ that can function as a stabilizer of ‘epic tendencies’. And yet it is not so much a question of guarantees and reductive stabilizations of the musical meaning by the form (which would once again imply a classicistic interpretative reading of the symphony) as of a fixing or immobilization of the form by that Inhalt (content) that visit it. The magical consequence of this encounter is the sound of the symphony, which is wholly Schubertian and wholly individual”. Accordingly to this opinion, Sinopoli interpreted ‘Unfinished’ Symphony from whole new perspective. Sound and rhythmic patterns occur to be meaningful; he is decoding melodic as narrative motives by following strictly dynamics and tempos.
   With no essay, the same method could be adopted to Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’ Symphony. Sound qualities, articulations, tempos and dynamics show opposite side of romantic soul. Even calm mood and praying reminiscences of Andante con moto (composed in D Minor) are unable to change the impression of rejoicing ubiquitous in this symphony. The moderate drama of development part is nothing more than contrast to show the joy, serenity and light of the A-major work. Dramatic lineaments of finale Saltarello in minor key (A minor) show how effective contrasts can be. The two symphonies are clearly the pair of oppositions, even if joy is not as emotionally clear as grief and mourning, understand as “the cultic celebration of loss (…) of some good”, as Sinopoli defines it in his essay. This rendition can be breaking point for anyone who is willing to understand romantic symphony and this is worth the four and a brighter half on the five-star scale.

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