Thursday evening the Eugene Symphony performed Tchaikovsky’s the Pathétique – Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74 – at the Hult Center. The Russian title means “passionate” or “emotional”, not “arousing pity”. Completed in 1893, the Pathétique is Tchaikovsky’s final symphony and he conducted its première performance that year in Saint Petersburg.
“In retrospect the Pathétique is a reflection and culmination of the composer’s depression and deeply discordant life. Tchaikovsky reportedly proclaimed the Pathétique his finest achievement. He died in 1893, nine days after the symphony’s première. It is said he drank a glass of unboiled water at the height of an epidemic of cholera and later succumbed to an agonizing death. If Tchaikovsky took his own life, why? Was it because of a tepid reaction to the first performance of Pathétique, which Tchaikovsky conducted with his usual nervousness. Acclaim for nearly all his works was at first elusive and invariably grew swiftly.”
Danail Rachev is the music director and conductor of the Eugene Symphony, a title previously held by Marin Alsop, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and Giancarlo Guerrero. Rachev is in his third season with the symphony. The season’s remaining guest performances include Grammy winning pianist Emanuel Ax playing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, violinist Midori playing Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop, and pianist Adam Golka playing Liszt Piano Concerto. I was traveling and missed part of the 2011-2012 season including Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, Beethoven’s Eroica, John Adams’s On the Transmigration of Souls, and Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, featuring special guest Tom Brokaw.
Andrew Balio, Thursday’s guest soloist, delivered a brilliant performance of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto. Balio has been the Baltimore Symphony’s principal trumpet since 2001. His prior orchestral appointments include Principal Trumpet of the Israel Philharmonic, the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico, the Boston Philharmonic, and guest soloist with The Bergen Philharmonic of Norway. Balio, a native of Wisconsin, made his solo début with the Milwaukee Symphony at the age fifteen.
“As a soloist, Mr. Balio has appeared throughout Europe, South America, Japan, and the United States. This past year he gave solo performances in Russia, Italy, and Brazil. This coming year he will première a concerto being written for him by Sergey Yevtushenko, a Russian composer, conductor, and music producer, at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. As a teacher, Mr. Balio taught master classes regularly in Russia and Italy, the Conservatorio Nacional of Mexico and in Brazil, Chile, Scandinavia, Israel, Japan, and the United States. He has recorded for the Sony, RCA, Angel, Phillips, and Teldec labels. In 2006, he founded Futuresymphony.org, an online think tank to examine innovative ways of making symphony orchestras financially viable while preserving their artistic mission.”
The concert began with a fascinating piece by popular Argentinean composer Ovaldo Golijov entitled Sidereus. The title comes from a book by Galileo entitled Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger) which has “the results of Galileo’s early observations of the Moon, the stars, and the moons of Jupiter”. The Eugene symphony’s performance of Pathétique was extraordinary and the audience gave them a standing ovation!