Welcome to La Fenice
This is not (just) a CD for me; it represents the essence of everything that takes place when I create music. There is the fortune of my being able to live music. There is the quintessence of my good luck, as if it were contained inside a precious casket. There is every shade of the magic that is in what I do. Perhaps, it is for this very reason that I like the term that is used to mean CD in English: album. Because the word album can have many different meanings. Imagine the photo album of yesteryear, the one that told the story of an event, or of a family, or of a person. So, deep down I understand better why CDs should be called albums. Not in their most superficial meaning as a mere collection of pieces of music, but because they contain history, profound sentiments, time, lost or changed locations: and our eyes travel inside those photos that are contained within these albums.
Music gives us even the possibility to travel through time, to find ourselves hundreds of years away, in places seen through the eyes of a woman or a man of that era, who gives this to another human being, living in the present. And somehow CDs, much more than concerts, enable us to take part in that journey, in that very moment in which it begins. In fact, it contains absolutely everything. Precisely because it is not (just) a CD: this is a concert, and therefore, it means attending that concert, somehow. It is a place, it is a story composed of many stories.
I live music as a responsibility and, for me, the choice of a concert programme is also part of that responsibility. Therefore, how did this experience that you are now holding in your hands all start? With my friends of La Fenice Philharmonic Orchestra in Venice who, approximately a year before the concert that you are about to listen to – or that you have already listened to – came to see me saying “We want to work with you and we’ll do our utmost to do so“. They succeeded, even if during that first meeting, I still didn’t know whether I would have been able to conduct an entire programme. About six months later, we met again in a hotel in Mestre and they told me they were ready; I replied that I didn’t know if I was ready yet, but I would have worked with them in any case.
As always, I believe it is essential to ask others what they would like to do together with me. And their request was based on this principle: Symphony No.4 Op.90 by Mendelssohn, called the “Italian”, as well as something that I had composed. So, I thought about it and I proposed Bach, Bosso and Mendelssohn. A strange combination, don’t you think? Whereas, without Mendelssohn, Bach would have been forgotten: after his death, for many reasons, his scores were either lost or forgotten. However, Felix adored Bach, he was an example for him and a forefather exactly as Beethoven was: in addition to playing, conducting and composing extraordinary music, our Felix was also part of the only choir that, at that time still sang Bach. This very activity gave him access to the St. Matthew Passion score, that he then reconstructed and which upon its first performance achieved so much acclaim that it led to Bach’s scores being put into circulation once again. In addition to this, Mendelssohn is like a brother for Bosso. His use and research into new timbres are a point of reference for me: he is a man who has been influenced by great changes, basically it is he who contributed in a decisive way to the development of Romanticism by still managing to forge classical compositions out of the rules.
From Mendelssohn we move straight on to the “Esoconcerto,” the first concerto for violin and orchestra that I wrote, based on the three principles of creation and the three principles of the concerto, the representation of an initiatory path: the one pursued by every creator of art.
There are several things hidden in the “Esoconcerto.” I’m going to reveal two of them to you. One is my beloved Bach, and his love for Vivaldi’s concertos written for violin. The other is that within “Esoconcerto” there is a tribute to a concerto that has revolutionised the history of concertos for violin: the Violin Concerto in E minor Op.64…by Mendelssohn! Therefore, as if by magic, the latest arrival acts as a bridge between the other two. Basically, it is so, because we performers are, above all, bridges, between yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I have mentioned Vivaldi and Bach’s love for his music: and Vivaldi was from Venice. So, I chose the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by Bach that is one of the most Vivaldi-style concertos he has written, and together with my orchestra friends, I have worked to achieve a sound that can link the ancient to the modernity of the instruments we play, respecting the resonance and bow strokes used in Bach’s days while maintaining that sense of experimental research that is ever present in these concertos. There is also another amusing little anecdote, on Bach’s passion for Vivaldi. Bach copied so many things about the Venetian to the extent that he transcribed a very famous adagio for organ, then as now, the adagio of a concerto for oboe, but of course…come on…the one by the “Anonymous Venetian!” It was a pity that Bach was mistaken, and that, that concerto wasn’t by Vivaldi but by Alessandro Marcello! So, I decided to create an improvisation on the Bachian transcription, as a cadence in the adagio. To pay tribute to the city that hosted me but also to smile, to think of Bach and how much he wanted to be Venetian.
How much Venice there is here, if you consider that Bosso graduated in Venice too…But here we come to how much Italy has influenced masterpieces, apart from having produced them. The “Italian” symphony is a view of Italy; its four movements are descriptions of Mendelssohn’s journey around Italy. In fact, in 1829, Mendelssohn and his wife set off on what was called the Grand Tour, a fashion that was glorified by Goethe, in simple terms, the greatest intellectual at that time. According to Goethe, you couldn’t be considered an all-round artist if you hadn’t visited Italy. Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples were the main cities to visit. And it was during this journey that Mendelssohn wrote this symphony that was subsequently performed in London in 1833, where Bosso lives now.
Notes are the final gesture of a man, of the time he lived in and of his traditions and, for performers like ourselves, they become the first gesture in order to make those who are listening to us meet him. We are intermediaries. For this very reason, in addition to musical thought, it is necessary to study the period, the composer’s ideas as well as his experiences. It is necessary to study how the instruments worked at that time to enable them to travel alongside those played today. Studying music gives us an opportunity to study everything, and with Mendelssohn and this symphony it is even simple to do so. Among the letters that he writes to his sister, among his notes, he shows us the paths to pursue in his score. He defines the first movement as the impact with the light of Italy, its frenzy, joy and complexity. The chiaroscuro of that masterpiece combining grief and hope is represented by the Andante con moto; he personally told of his astonishment after having attended a funeral in Naples and how he was struck by the lugubrious black clothes that everyone wore that then made way for that immense sunshine and hope of life that he could see all around him. While he was in Venice, he told of a poem about fairies that was written in that very city by Goethe and from which he drew inspiration to create the magical environment of the minuet in the third movement. Then he returns to the South where he saw the ritual music of the “tarantella” and created the Saltarello…All of this is within those notes, it’s all part of our studies.
Yet, although it always contains a story, music is, in itself, the most beautiful story ever: “There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” as Hamlet says to Horatio. In fact, this therefore is not (just) a CD; it is an account, a journey, a space in which you can enter, and a concert you can attend.
Then the idea of sound that you will find here, not just to listen to but also to take part in, this is a philosophy that accompanies all the recording sessions I carry out. I believe that the recording sessions are, above all, an opportunity to carry on making music and to grow. You can bring that breath from the past right up to your present. Because music is good fortune that must be shared.
For all these reasons, this is not (just) a CD. It contains too many things: the passion of seventy people, of a marvellous soloist as well as the story of each and every one of us. It contains the 18th century, the 19th century, 2004 and 2016. Every time I play, I get a new lease of life, but in this case, it is truly a rebirth.
That day I made it, thanks to all my travelling companions. Here there’s the music from which I originate as well as the one that I have created, and there is still so much to be discovered. But, not by chance, all of this took place in a theatre that has the most suitable name ever, for a magical album dedicated to the music that has the power to give a new lease of life to something every time it is played. Just as every time this album will be played, it will have the power to give a new lease of life to that rebirth.
Welcome to the most beautiful theatre in the world, welcome to La Fenice.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G major BWV 1048
(Improvised cadence on harpsichord based on the Adagio from the oboe Concerto by Alessandro Marcello transcripted by J.S.Bach
Violin Concerto No.1 “Esoconcerto”
(New version for violin, orchestra and timpani)
- Allegro molto
- Presto con fuoco
Sergej Krylov: violin / Violino
FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY
Symphony No.4 in A major Op.90 “Italian”
- Allegro vivace
- Andante con moto
- Con moto moderato
- Saltarello. Presto
Orchestra Filarmonica della Fenice
Sergej Krylov: Violin (Tracks / tracce 4-6)
Ezio Bosso, conductor / Conductor and cembalo
Recorded live on 17 October 2016 at Teatro La Fenice, Venice, Italy.