Angela Cheng, piano
Andrea Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Symphony Nova Scotia
Murray Schafer: Adieu, Robert Schumann
Clara Wieck Schumann: Piano Concerto
Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 3, “Rhenish”
Robert and Clara Schumann were music’s original power couple – beloved, accomplished, and notorious for their scandalous, tragic, and inspirational love story. It was only thanks to Clara’s wholehearted support that Robert’s masterful music – like the rich, rhythmic “Rhenish” Symphony – achieved worldwide fame, but it was at the expense of her own virtuosic works, which remain forgotten today. To that end, in this long-overdue concert, Symphony Nova Scotia welcomes award-winning Canadian pianist Angela Cheng to the stage – and together, we salute Clara’s brilliance with our first-ever performance of her gracious, delightful Piano Concerto.
About the Music
R. Murray Schafer (b. 1933)
Adieu, Robert Schumann
Premiered: 1978, Ottawa
Duration: 19 minutes
Adieu, Robert Schumann was commissioned by CBC, and first performed by mezzo-soprano Maureen Forrester and the National Arts Centre Orchestra with conductor Mario Bernardi in 1978. The composition is a monodrama, an 18th-century genre which is like opera, but with only one singer.
Adieu is concerned with the last days of Robert Schumann, from the time of his first hallucinations until his death in the Endenich asylum in 1856. The narrator is his wife, Clara Schumann, and the text consists of selections from her diaries, freely adapted. Passages of many of Schumann’s own compositions are incorporated into the total work, in particular, sections of several of his Lieder, as well as fragments from the piano pieces Carnival and Kreisleriana.
Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
Piano Concerto in A minor
Duration: 22 minutes
Clara Schumann was a German musician and composer, and is regarded as one of the most distinguished pianists and composers of the Romantic era. She exerted her influence over a 61-year concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital and composing a body of work that includes piano concertos, chamber works, and choral pieces. She was married to composer Robert Schumann, and together they encouraged and maintained a close relationship with Johannes Brahms. She was the first to perform publicly any work by Brahms, notably the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. She was also an influential piano educator at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. Read more at Wikipedia.org.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Symphony No. 3, “The Rhenish”
Premiered: 1851, Düsseldorf
Duration: 31 minutes
In 1850, Schumann and his family moved to Düsseldorf on the Rhine to take up the position of conductor of the orchestra and chorus. He received a warm welcome, but it turned out that his musical talents did not include conducting. Nevertheless, during the first while in his new position, he was intensely, tempestuously active as a composer. One of the major works he produced was his last symphony, the “Rhenish” (confusingly numbered as his third, because an earlier work was published afterwards).
Schumann contemplated giving each movement in Symphony No. 3 an explanatory title, but decided against it, although it seems the fourth movement was inspired by the great cathedral in Cologne and the ceremony when the archbishop was made a cardinal. He said only: “I wanted elements of popular music to predominate.” The music is closer to the optimistic, simple works of his younger years than his later attempts at academic correctness.
About the Artists
Jean-Michel Malouf, conductor
An accomplished trombonist, Jean-Michel Malouf began his studies in conducting with Raffi Armenian in 2005. His remarkable precision, sensitivity, and natural leadership quickly earned him the opportunity to participate in numerous projects. From 2015 to 2017, Jean-Michel was Conductor in Residence with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.
In recent years, he has been invited to collaborate with numerous organizations, such as the Orchestre Métropolitain, Les Violons du Roy, the Opéra de Nancy (France), the Opéra de Montréal, the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, and the London Symphony Orchestra. He was also Musical Director of Diane Dufresne’s last concert in France at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
Always very active with the new generation, he is Musical Director of the major ensembles at Camp musical Père Lindsay (Québec) and the Interprovincial Music Camp in Parry Sound (Ontario).
Since the fall of 2016, Jean-Michel has been Artistic and Musical Director of the Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (Québec).
Angela Cheng, piano
Consistently praised for her brilliant technique, tonal beauty, and superb musicianship, Canadian pianist Angela Cheng is one of her country’s national treasures. In addition to regular guest appearances with virtually every orchestra in Canada, she has performed with the symphonies of Alabama, Annapolis, Colorado, Flint, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Saint Louis, San Diego, Syracuse, and Utah, as well as the philharmonic orchestras of Buffalo, Louisiana, London, Minas Gerais/Brazil, and Israel. In June 2016, she returned to Virtuosi Concerts Winnipeg as “Poet of the Piano,” in celebration of their 25th anniversary season.
Angela has made several recordings for CBC, including discs of Mozart and Shostakovich concertos, as well as a CD of four Spanish concertos with Hans Graf and the Calgary Philharmonic. Most recently, an all-Chopin recital CD was released by Universal Music Canada.
Angela has been Gold Medalist of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Masters Competition, as well as the first Canadian to win the prestigious Montreal International Piano Competition.
Andrea Ludwig, mezzo-soprano
Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, JUNO-nominated and Dora Award-winning mezzo-soprano Andrea Ludwig is an artist of tremendous depth and versatility. Andrea has appeared with the Canadian Opera Company in numerous roles, including Nireno in Handel’s Julius Caesar, the Second Niece in Britten’s Peter Grimes, Flora in The Turn of the Screw, Moira in Paul Ruder’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and Liesgen in Bach’s Coffee Cantata. Very much in demand for contemporary opera, Andrea has been involved in many of Tapestry New Opera’s projects, including their Liblab and Opera Briefs, as well as newly premiered operas Shelter, Oksana G, and most recently The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring.
Andrea’s commitment to concert performance remains a strong focus. She has appeared with Symphony Nova Scotia, Symphony New Brunswick, Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), Kindred Spirits Orchestra, Against the Grain Theatre, Toronto Masque Theatre, Soundstreams, and The TSO Chamber Soloists. Recent recordings include the ECMA-nominated Schubert Orchestrations with Symphony Nova Scotia, Responsio by Peter Anthony Togni, Galicians II with The Ukrainian Art Song Project, and the ATMA Label recording of Ana Sokolovic’s Sirens.
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