Friday next week, the Tokyo Sinfonia will bring to the concert stage for the first time another truly great addition to the repertoire for string orchestra. The Schubert Serenade continues of our innovative series of Symphonies for Strings. We wish to salute Apagard, our newest Gold Sponsor, for joining with us in this exciting project, for which the world of music is eternally grateful.
Schubert’s life was virtually as incandescent and as brief as Mozart’s. Think of Schubert as a shy, introverted, short, pudgy, reluctant schoolteacher. He took refuge from the world, alone at the piano hour after hour, writing down the music that flowed in an unending stream into his imagination. His inspiration was a circle of friends who regularly met to make music together. For these Schubertiads, he wrote hundreds of works for intimate formations — songs, piano music, and chamber music. From the Schubertiads comes our opening work, a Grand Heroic March for piano-four hands. It caught the attention of Franz Liszt, who arranged for full orchestra. We will perform it scored for the 19 strings of the Tokyo Sinfonia.
Schubert’s most powerful, poignant and often-performed Death and the Maiden quartet similarly caught the attention of Gustav Mahler, who made indications in his copy of the score suggesting performance by full strings. Mahler didn’t complete the task, but his initial efforts inspired others after him to do so, including the short, pudgy, shy, introverted maestro (it means teacher) of the Tokyo Sinfonia. Death and the Maiden sounds wonderful for full strings, and the great success of this arrangement led in turn to the entire project of symphonies for strings.
Among Schubert’s most sublime music is the string quintet in C major which he wrote much later, for Schubert, at age 31, two months before he died. Incredibly beautiful though they may be, few have actually heard this or any other string quintet in concert. Calling for an extra player, special rehearsals and additional expense, these wonderful works suffer neglect totally unjustified by their uncommon depth of expression. Our feature work will be Schubert’s Symphony for Strings in C major, based on the string quintet, especially arranged for the 19 strings of the Tokyo Sinfonia.
Our audiences have loved the Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Dvorak, Mendelssohn and Mozart symphonies for strings which we have premiered and recorded in this series to date. You will love this one too. In addition to the infectious charm of Schubert’s music, we have the joy of playing this wonderful programme in the splendid acoustics of Ginza’s Oji Hall, where the Tokyo Sinfonia is heard at its best. Do join us. Come with a friend, or friends, and share the pleasure.