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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
  • ZH Zankel Hall
  • SA/PS Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
  • REW Resnick Education Wing
  • WRH Weill Recital Hall

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Friday, April 13, 2018 8 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
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Andris Nelsons by Marco Borggreve
A gaunt man in homemade armor tilts at a windmill, battles a flock of sheep, and dreams of love. Yo-Yo Ma’s cello takes on the “role” of the hapless Don Quixote in Strauss’s magnificent tone poem. The tale’s escapades are presented in brilliant orchestral colors, including that flock of combative sheep bleating with fluttering brass. Before the Don saddles his aged, wayward steed, there’s the sturm und drang of a youthful Mozart symphony and a new work by Jörg Widmann.

Part of: Orchestral Masterworks

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is also performing April 11 and April 12.


Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, Music Director and Conductor
Steven Ansell, Viola
Yo-Yo Ma, Cello


MOZART Symphony No. 23
JÖRG WIDMANN Partita: Five Reminiscences for Orchestra (NY Premiere)
R. STRAUSS Don Quixote

Pre-Concert Talk

Pre-concert talk starts at 7:00 PM in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage with Paul Berry, Adjunct Associate Professor of Music History, Yale University.

At a Glance

In this concert, Andris Nelsons leads the New York premiere of esteemed German composer Jörg Widmann’s Partita, co-commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and given its world and American premieres last month in Leipzig and Boston, respectively. As its title and subtitle—“Five Reminiscences”—suggest, Widmann’s rich, wide-ranging work is a kind of conversation with music history, referencing composers and styles significant to Leipzig and to the BSO. Opening the concert is Mozart’s brief, seldom-heard Symphony No. 23, written in 1773 at Salzburg when he was just 17, and which maintains the continuous, fast-slow-fast pattern of the Italian opera overture that was precursor to the genre of symphony. Mr. Nelsons has chosen this work because of the sweet, second-movement oboe theme, a close cousin to Strauss’s “Dulcinea” oboe melody in his Don Quixote, which concludes the program.

Strauss’s Don Quixote is one of a string of orchestral tone poems––also including Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche––with which he made his reputation in the 1880s and 1890s as one of the day’s most progressive and skilled composers. In Don Quixote, Strauss makes the unusual choice of calling for solo cello and viola to represent Don Quixote and his sidekick, Sancho Panza. After a substantial introduction and then the main theme itself, there follow 10 variations and an epilogue evoking the knight’s death. The variations depict scenes from Cervantes’s famous novel, among them Quixote’s tilt at the windmills, his infatuation with Dulcinea, fights with magicians and evil armies, and a whimsical flight through the air. Perhaps the greatest musical illustrator of all time, Strauss evokes each episode with typically brilliant tone-painting to suggest horses galloping; wind howling; a wild, rushing river; the chanting of a group of monks; and the threatening bleats of a flock of sheep.

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