Mend VC intro

February 15 – Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
February 16 – Friday at 11:00 a.m.*
February 16 – Friday at 8:00 p.m.
February 17 – Saturday at 8:00 p.m.

Introducing the Concert

Melody, Form & Substance

This weekend’s concerts feature two symphonies from the Classical era and one of the Romantic era’s most-popular violin concertos. All three works, written in minor keys, demonstrate the craft and artistry of their composers — and the fact that music in a minor mode can be filled with energy and delight.

Opening this week’s evening concerts is a symphony by Henri-Joseph Rigel, a lesser-known composer of the 18th century. Born in Germany a decade before Mozart, Rigel spent much of his career in Paris writing Italian-styled instrumental and operatic works. His three-movement Symphony No. 4, from around 1774, ably demonstrates his abilities — featuring pleasing lines, pulse, and form.

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto was written especially for his friend Ferdinand David. It represents one of the first great violin concertos in which the soloist was directly involved in helping to shape the music itself. Composer and violinist had known each other since childhood, and worked together professionally throughout Mendelssohn’s life. The resulting concerto sparkles and shines, showcasing the composer’s great melodic gift as well as his craft in choicefully varying from norms in form and content. Guest violinist Isabelle Faust is our soloist this week.

To end the program, guest conductor Bernard Labadie has chosen one of Mozart’s great final trio of symphonies from 1788. We don’t really know why Mozart wrote these three big symphonies (Nos. 39, 40, and 41) — though this always-practical (and often financially troubled) composer surely had prospects for a performance in which he might gain a share of ticket revenue. Like many of Mozart’s ideas for advancing himself, there is little evidence of a successful outcome (or income) in this case. But what he did advance that summer, without question, is the shape and style of what a symphony could be, creating three shining examples at the pinnacle of his own musical powers. This weekend, we hear the middle sibling of the three.

—Eric Sellen