DALLAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Fabio Luisi, conductor
James Ehnes, violin
BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 1, Op. 138
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93
Beethoven and Mendelssohn are a match made in heaven in this joyful program. “Supreme virtuoso” (The Daily Telegraph) James Ehnes performs Mendelssohn’s beloved romantic masterpiece, and Beethoven reveals a genially inventive side with his Symphony No. 8.
BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture No. 1, Op. 138
Leonore Overture No. 1, Op. 138
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Beethoven weighed and discarded many potential projects for the lyric stage, but he completed only one opera. He unveiled it in 1805 under the title Leonore and transformed it by fits and starts into the piece known as Fidelio. Following the French Revolution, theatrical plots involving political oppression, daring rescues, and the triumph of humanitarianism grew popular in many European countries. Beethoven pounced on the opportunity to set this libretto about a wife (Leonore) who disguises herself as a boy (“Fidelio”), gets a job in the jail where her husband (Florestan) is a political prisoner, and frees him with much derring-do.
Leonore was poorly received at its 1805 premiere, and its run ended after three performances. Beethoven revised the piece for productions in 1806 and 1814 (when it was renamed Fidelio). Each version sported a different overture, and Beethoven composed yet another for a performance planned for Prague in 1807 that failed to take place. That is the piece performed here—the so-called Leonore Overture No. 1. It was played in a private try-out by the orchestra of Beethoven’s patron Prince Lobkowitz, but it was apparently deemed to be “too light” to be useful. It was published a decade after the composer’s death under the deceptively late, posthumous opus number of 138.
The least frequently played of the four, the Leonore Overture No. 1 deserves more performances than it gets. Like the familiar Leonore Overtures No. 2 and No. 3, it previews music from the opera itself. But where those two practically serve as a précis for the principal plot, the Leonore Overture No. 1 limits its foreshadowing to a quotation from the aria Florestan sings in his cell. This is a tight, dramatic piece, less extensively worked-out than its more famous companions but a fiery curtain-raiser all the same.
MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844)
FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809-47)
Felix Mendelssohn first met the violinist Ferdinand David in 1825, and the two became fast friends. They were frequent partners in chamber music, and when Mendelssohn settled in Leipzig to become conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, in 1835, he promptly appointed David concertmaster of that ensemble—a position he retained for the rest of his life. When Mendelssohn founded the Leipzig Conservatory, in 1843, David was one of the first musicians named to the faculty.
In March 1845, David played the premiere of Mendelssohn’s enduringly popular E-minor Violin Concerto, which the composer had developed over many years. “I’d like to do a violin concerto for you for next winter,” he had written to David in 1838. “One in E minor is running through my head, and the opening of it will not leave me in peace.” Curiously, ensuing sketches reveal that it was a piano concerto, rather than a violin concerto, that started taking form, one that matched the eventual violin concerto in both key and structure. By the time Mendelssohn focused definitively on the composition, in 1844, it had evolved with certainty into a violin concerto. He consulted closely with his soloist, mostly about technical issues but in some cases concerning general matters of structure and balance—and he took David’s suggestions to heart.
Mendelssohn was fond of dovetailing the separate movements of his large-scale pieces, a device he had used to great effect in the two piano concertos of his maturity. He maintained that preference in this last of his orchestral works, such that the three movements connect into a single overarching span. Subtle mirroring of tonal architecture and fleeting reminiscences of earlier themes at key moments of transition help invest a sense of the organic and inevitable in this most Classical of the great Romantic violin concertos.
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93
Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93 (1811-12)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
On several occasions Beethoven sketched a pair of works concurrently or presented pairs of them together on a program, tacitly inviting listeners to hear one in the context of the other. Each of his symphonies addresses its own musical issues—posing and solving specific conceptual problems—but when we consider these symphonic pairs as dyads we may decide that he truly intended them as studies in contrast. Before he completed his Seventh Symphony, Beethoven was already sketching his Eighth, which he completed in the fall of 1812. Where the Seventh is large-scaled and luxurious, the Eighth is compact. Each of its movements is significantly shorter than the corresponding movement of the Seventh. It is as if Beethoven let his fantasy run free in the Seventh but then, turning to a new page of his sketchbook, applied the brakes and reined himself in as much as possible when plotting his Eighth. Placed in the context of political history, the Seventh invites being heard as reflecting the Beethoven’s emotions when the tide turned against Napoleon, about whom the composer had held great hope and with whose imperialistic machinations he grew deeply disenchanted. The jovial Eighth is a blithe joyride in comparison.
In its externals, the Eighth Symphony seems to retreat to an earlier time, and we may be tempted to wonder if Beethoven is picking up where he left off way back in his Second Symphony. But Beethoven never really turned back in his music. We will be closer to the truth imagining him conceiving something that, in its way, is as vast as the immediately preceding symphonies—and then editing it down to its essentials, packaging it as tightly as possible, and ending up with what looks at first glance like a Classical symphony, and a particularly good-spirited one at that.
Fabio Luisi (conductor) is a maestro of major international standing.
James Ehnes has established himself as one of the most sought-after violinists on the international stage. Gifted with a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Ehnes is a favorite guest of many of the world’s most respected conductors
Fabio Luisi (conductor) is a maestro of major international standing. He launched his tenure as Louise W. & Edmund J. Kahn Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the start of the 2020/21 season, and his contract was recently extended through the 28/29 season. He is also Principal Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. He led the Zurich Opera for nine years and served for six seasons as Principal Guest Conductor of The Metropolitan Opera. His live recording of Wagner’s Siegfried and Gðtterdämmerung with The Met won a 2012 Grammy Award.
Photo: Sylvia Elzafon
James Ehnes has established himself as one of the most sought-after violinists on the international stage. Gifted with a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Ehnes is a favourite guest of many of the world’s most respected conductors including Ashkenazy, Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Denève, Elder, Ivan Fischer, Gardner, Paavo Järvi, Mena, Noseda, Robertson and Runnicles. Ehnes’s long list of orchestras includes, amongst others, the Boston, Chicago, London, NHK and Vienna Symphony Orchestras, the Los Angeles, New York, Munich and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras, and the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Philharmonia and DSO Berlin orchestras.
Recent and future orchestral highlights include the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall with Noseda, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig with Shelley, Orchestre National de France with Gardner, San Francisco Symphony with Janowski, Frankfurt Radio Symphony with Orozco-Estrada, Hong Kong Philharmonic with van Zweden and Gothenburg Symphony with Nagano, as well as his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lincoln Center in spring 2019 and a residency with the Minnesota Orchestra throughout 2017/18. In 2017, Ehnes premiered the Aaron-Jay Kernis Violin Concerto with the Toronto, Seattle and Dallas Symphony Orchestras, and gave further performances of the piece with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Ehnes was awarded the 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Instrumentalist category.
Alongside his concerto work, James Ehnes maintains a busy recital schedule. He performs regularly at the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Center Chicago, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Ravinia, Montreux, Chaise-Dieu, the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg, Verbier Festival, Festival de Pâques in Aix, and in 2009 he made a sensational debut at the Salzburg Festival performing the Paganini Caprices. In 2016, Ehnes undertook a cross-Canada recital tour, performing in each of the country’s provinces and territories, to celebrate his 40th birthday.
As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with leading artists such as Andsnes, Capucon, Lortie, Lugansky, Yo-Yo Ma, Tamestit, Vogler and Yuja Wang. In 2010, he formally established the Ehnes Quartet, with whom he has performed in Europe at venues including the Wigmore Hall, Auditorium du Louvre in Paris and Théâtre du Jeu de Paume in Aix, amongst others. Ehnes is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society.
Ehnes has an extensive discography and has won many awards for his recordings including a Gramophone Award for his live recording of the Elgar Concerto with Sir Andrew Davis and the Philharmonia Orchestra. His recording of the Korngold, Barber and Walton violin concertos won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Instrumental Soloist Performance’ and a JUNO award for ‘Best Classical Album of the Year’. His recording of the Paganini Caprices earned him universal praise, with Diapason writing of the disc, “Ehnes confirms the predictions of Erick Friedman, eminent student of Heifetz: ‘there is only one like him born every hundred years’.” Ehnes’s recent recording of the Bartók Concerti was nominated for a Gramophone Award in the Concerto category. Recent releases include sonatas by Beethoven, Debussy, Elgar and Respighi, and concertos by Britten, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Walton, as well as the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Manze, which was released in October 2017 (Onyx Classics).
Ehnes began violin studies at the age of four, became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin aged nine, made his orchestral debut with Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal aged 13 and graduated from The Juilliard School in 1997, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2010 was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
James Ehnes plays the “Marsick” Stradivarius of 1715.
Photo: Benjamin Ealovega
Dvořák draws on the striking vitality of Slavic folklore and lyricism for this spirited concerto, perfectly paired with the sublime struggle and transcendence of Beethoven’s "Eroica" Symphony, heralding the Romantic era.
Mozart’s last completed major work truly makes the instrument sing, especially in the hands of Philadelphia’s renowned principal clarinetist. Mendelssohn’s musical postcard of his travels through Italy is widely beloved and considered one of the best examples of his genius.
Where are the orchestra concert performances held?
Bravo! Vail orchestral concerts take place at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (GRFA) located at 530 S. Frontage Rd E Vail, CO 81657
What time do performances begin?
Concerts start promptly at 6:00PM (except for the movie screening which starts at 7:30PM). The GRFA lobby opens 90 minutes prior and gates open 60 minutes prior to performances. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get into the venue. Latecomers will be escorted by ushers at an appropriate interval.
Where do I park?
FREE concert parking is available at the Vail Parking Structure (241 South Frontage Road East, Vail) and the Lionshead Parking Structure (395 South Frontage Road West, Vail). A Town of Vail Special Event express bus provides continuous service from both parking structures to the GRFA before and after concerts. Limited $10 parking is available at Ford Park by the Tennis Center (500 South Frontage Rd). Additional $10 parking is available at the Vail Athletic/Soccer Field lot.
WALKING DIRECTIONS FROM THE VAIL VILLAGE PARKING STRUCTURE:
Via Gore Creek Trail: 15-minute scenic walk
1. Exit the parking garage by following the Pedestrian Exit signs towards “Vail Village” / “Golden Peak”
2. Turn left out of the parking garage onto East Meadow Drive and head east
3. At the end of the road turn right on Vail Valley Drive and cross the road
4. Turn left on the walking path before the bridge, following the street signs towards "Ford Park"
5. Continuing east, follow the walking path along Gore Creek until reaching the GRFA
Via Frontage Road: 15-minute walk
1. From the top level of the parking garage, exit onto the South Frontage Road
2. Turn right and follow the sidewalk east along the south side of the frontage road
3. Cross East Meadow Drive and continue east along the sidewalk
4. Turn right after passing The Wren at Vail on the right
5. Continue down the path down to the GRFA
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last 2 hours including intermission. Please call the box office 877.812.5700 for exact running times.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets, passes, and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
1. Online: bravovail.org
2. By phone: 877.812.5700
3. In person: Bravo! Vail 2271 N Frontage Rd W Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
Bravo! Vail accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. There is a $2 fee per ticket. Tickets are delivered by mail or email, or may be picked up at Will Call.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9AM to 4PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700.
The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater box office is open from 11AM until concert start time (5PM on days with no concerts) during the Festival. Tickets for upcoming performances may be purchased on-site at the GRFA before concerts and during intermission.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up at the Box Office located to the right of the main GRFA entrance lobby. The Box Office is open 11AM to concert start time during the Festival.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Discounts for groups of 15 or more are available for select concerts. Please call 970.827.4316 for more information.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
While our standard policy is that tickets are non-refundable, we understand the necessity to be flexible in these unprecedented times. Should you need to change your plans to attend a concert this summer, we ask that you consider donating the value of your tickets to help support Bravo! Vail's ongoing mission of enriching people’s lives through the power of music. If you prefer a refund rather than donating the value of your tickets, please contact the box office.
If we are forced to cancel an event in its entirety, you will have the option to donate the value of your tickets to help support Bravo's mission, place the value of your tickets on account for future use, or receive a refund.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3PM on the day of the performance or allow extra time to request new tickets at the Will Call window.
Where are seating options for people with disabilities?
Per the American Disability Act (ADA), the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is accessible to individuals with disabilities. ADA seating is available in Section 1 Row L and Section 4 Row O in all reserved seating zones and prices (Premium Aisle, Premium, Reserved, and Saver). A limited number of ADA General Admission Lawn seats are available for sale behind Section 2. You must have a designated ADA lawn seat ticket to sit in this area. By purchasing an ADA seat, you are stating that you require an ADA seat. If purchased fraudulently, you may be subject to relocation. If you need assistance purchasing ADA seating, please call the Box Office at 877.812.5700.
What if it rains?
Concerts take place rain or shine. The GRFA is an open-air venue. Refunds are not given due to weather unless a concert is canceled in its entirety with no performance rescheduled.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts. Please be prepared for rain and cooler temperatures.
What should I bring to the concert?
If you will be on the lawn, a blanket, sunglasses, and a hat are recommended. If rain is predicted, please bring appropriate rain gear. Food, commercially sealed non-alcoholic beverages, low-profile lawn chairs, and umbrellas are permitted at concerts. All backpacks, bags, purses, picnic baskets, and coolers will be checked upon entry.
The following articles are not allowed at the venue: cameras, audio/video recording devices, standard-height lawn chairs, baby strollers, alcoholic beverages, firearms, pets, smoking, skateboards, bicycles, scooters, and skates.
What food and beverages are available for purchase at the GRFA?
Concessions are offered for purchase inside the venue. Menu items include snacks, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. A full bar is also available. All major credit cards and cash are accepted for payment. If you have a pavilion seat, please eat prior to the concert or at intermission.
Are lawn chairs available to rent?
What are some general rules of concert etiquette?
Please allow time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to not disrupt musicians and other patrons. Please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the performance. In the pavilion seating, we recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission. Parental supervision is required for all children attending Bravo! Vail concerts.
What else should I know?
Vail’s high elevation requires adequate hydration and sun protection. Visitors from lower elevations may experience altitude sickness.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Check with the GRFA box office for lost items at intermission or call 970.748.8497.
What if I still have questions?
Please contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9AM–4PM (and Sat–Sun 10AM-4PM during the Festival).
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