Gábor Sipos (violin) • Conductor: Gérard Korsten
Carl Reinecke: King Manfred – Overture
John Paul Corigliano: The Red Violin
Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 2 in C major
Music and the sweeping power of creation have the ability to lead us out of heart-wrenching pain and the gravest of illnesses challenging the body and soul. This concert, conducted by South Africa-born Gérard Korsten, will demonstrate as much.
Although the German composer Carl Reinecke wrote a plethora of pieces, and was active in almost every genre one can think of, his works are rarely performed and none of his operas are staged anymore. His romantic comic opera of five acts, telling the story of King Manfred of Sicily, the child of Friedrich II born out of wedlock, has not been able to escape this fate, either. It is worth listening to the overture of the piece, extraordinarily popular in Reinecke’s time, to see if one can detect traces of the influence of Schumann, one of the composer’s masters.
The concert continues with a painful story. The Oscar-winning music of the 1998 mystery drama film The Red Violin will be performed by Gábor Sipos, a winner of the Sándor Végh Competition: “There is a master violin maker, who mixes into his instrument’s varnish the blood of his late wife, who died while giving birth; this is how he pays tribute to her. I found the story gripping. The baby did not survive, either. This is a terrible, desperate act; the efforts of a man who loses his family in a matter of seconds, and then tries to immortalise his loved ones in another world through a violin. The music is beautiful and full of tension.”
Schumann was in a particularly difficult situation when he composed his Symphony No. 2. He was struggling with depression, dizziness, tinnitus and pain in his limbs. The combative and rebellious first movement of the piece reflects his fight against the illness taking over his body. Bach, Haydn and Beethoven are also present in the piece, but by the end of the symphony, Schumann redefines himself and his language as a composer, and sweeps aside all the pain, for creative energy to ultimately win out.