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Min Chung at the Maggio: February 23 and 24, 2024

Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th, February 2024 at 8 pm, in the Mehta Hall, maestro Min Chung at the helm of the Maggio Orchestra and Choir in a choral symphony concert with music by Brahms and Mendelssohn.

Florence, February 21st, 2024 – A few days after the two concerts led by Hankyeol Yoon, the Maggio Musicale Winter Season offers the next choral symphonic concert and a new debut: on February Friday 23dr and Saturday 24th the maestro Min Chung, leading the Maggio Orchestra and Choir, for a concert featuring Rhapsody n. 53 and the Gesang der Parzen (Song of the Fates) by Johannes Brahms and the famous Symphony no. 3, the Scottish, by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Solo voice in the Brahms’s Rhapsody is one of the talents attending the Maggio Academy, contralto Danbi Lee
The master of the Maggio Choir is Lorenzo Fratini.

While we are waiting for Vitali Alekseenok's next debut in Maggio scheduled for March 29th, another concert and another debut not far from the one that took place with Hankyeol Yoon's concert - welcomed with great warmth by the public and the press - which also marked his debut in Italy, in a program that has seen and will see - in addition to the concerts held by the main conductor Daniele Gatti - four young conductors of great perspective and talent, with a brilliant career and successes at an international level, starring on the podium of the Zubin Mehta hall. Master Min Chung, son of Myung-Whun Chung, trained in Paris where he studied double bass, violin and piano; during his career he has already led important ensembles such as the RAI National Symphony Orchestra, the Wiener Kammerorchester, the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and the Tokyo Philharmonic. Speaking about the concerts on Friday and Saturday, maestro Chung said he was thrilled to be on the podium of the Maggio for the first time: “Being for the first time, in the course of my career, on the podium of the Teatro del Maggio leading a Such a prestigious orchestra is truly a great emotion and a great honor. I am also happy for the work we are doing together with Danbi Lee of the Accademia del Maggio, protagonist during Brahms' Rhapsody; he is truly a talent of great perspective."

It is also the first time I have tackled the two compositions by Johannes Brahms; coming into contact with them, they were a real discovery for me, their study allowed me to appreciate them greatly and be fascinated by them. The concerts then close with Felix Mendelssohn's Scozzese: this composition has always struck me, as has Mendelssohn's Italian: he was a truly extraordinary composer, just as his ability to come into contact with the culture of the places he visited during his life, and this can be understood from this symphony which absolutely perfectly manages to translate the Scottish spirit into music."

Therefore, opening the evening is Rhapsody n. 53 for contralto, male choir and orchestra by Johannes Brahms, written in 1869 following the marriage of Julia, one of the daughters of Robert and Clara Schumann: the content of the piece is based on a fragment of the Harzreise im Winter (Winter Journey to the Harz ) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe's text also had an autobiographical and above all existential content, in which Brahms was fully reflected.

Another composition by Brahms follows the first piece of the night, the Gesang der Parzen (Song of the Fates) op. 89, composed by the author around the middle of 1882: also in this case the literary source was a work by Goethe, namely the verses that close the fourth act of Iphigenia in Tauris, and Brahms was probably inspired by the admiration he had for dramatic actress Charlotte Welter, a great protagonist of Goethe's drama.

The show ends with one of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy's best-known compositions, Symphony no. 3 in A minor op. 56, the famous Scottish: it was inspired while Mendelssohn was in Scotland during a trip but it was completed over ten years later, at the dawn of 1841, it was dedicated to Queen Victoria and was presented to the public for the first time in Leipzig in March 1842.

The concert:

Rhapsody op. 53 for contralto, male choir and orchestra
The Rhapsody for contralto, male choir and orchestra op. 53 was composed by Brahms in the summer of 1869. The chosen text is taken from a poem by Goethe entitled Harzeise im Winter (Winter Journey to the Harz) which describes the loneliness of a misanthrope disappointed by love. The only balm capable of soothing the embittered and hardened heart of man is music, which is invoked as divine comfort. Although the division into three sections brings it closer to the structure of an opera scene, the Rhapsody is instead characterized by sober, clear writing, far from any frills. The dark and solemn tone of the orchestra that opens the initial section prepares the field for the entry of the solo voice into the recitative. The unstable rhythm and the dramatic incisions of the contralto give sound form to the man's desperation in the central section, while in the final part the final invocation of the contralto, supported by the male voices of the choir, opens into a more relaxed and intense song. The first performer of the Rhapsody was the famous singer Pauline Garcia Viardot, who performed it in Jena on 3 March 1870.

Gesang der Parzen op. 89 (Song of the Fates) for choir and orchestra
In the summer retreat of Ischl, Gesang der Parzen op. saw the light in 1882. 89, Brahms' last work for choir and orchestra. The composer once again chose his beloved Goethe, whose lyrics had enriched his copious vocal production over the years. The episode chosen for The Song of the Fates is taken from the fourth act of Iphigenia in Tauris and is particularly similar to the theme of inescapable destiny already experienced years earlier in the Schicksalslied. In Goethe's tragedy Iphigenia recalls in a monologue the song of the Fates, a mysterious warning not to want to equal or challenge the gods, who capriciously decide the fate of men. And the contrast between suffering humanity and victim of an immutable destiny and the seraphic detachment of the divinities becomes marked in the musical transposition. The opening is iconic in the threatening pace of the orchestra; the colors chosen by Brahms are dark, among the lower timbres of the orchestra those of the tuba and contrabassoon also stand out, while the male and female voices, often opposing, move mainly in homophony, giving the song an ancient aura.

Symphony no. 3 in A minor op. 56, Scottish
In July 1829 Felix Mendelssohn visited Scotland during his first stay on British soil. The then twenty-year-old musician was particularly struck by those landscapes and by the visit to the ruins of the chapel where Mary Stuart was crowned; at that moment a first musical idea made its way into his mind which would later give life to the Symphony in A minor op. 56, known as the 'Scottish'. However, more than ten years passed from that initial flash and Mendelssohn was only able to take up the project of the Symphony in A minor again in 1841. Performed in Leipzig on 3 March of the following year, the 'Scottish' symphony ' stands as a work of full stylistic maturity of the composer, being also his last symphonic work despite the publication number differing from the chronology. The four traditional movements follow one another here without interruption, framed by an introduction and an epilogue. At the opening it is a melancholy and evocative Andante that projects the listener into the emotional climate of the symphony, where Mendelssohn alternates epic and lyrical moments with the usual grace and elegance of writing. The melodic invention is more inspired than ever; just think of the motif entrusted to the clarinet that opens the second movement, modeled on a traditional folkloric scale, to the nostalgic singing of the violins accompanied by the pizzicato of the strings in the third movement, up to the very lively and heroic theme of the finale.