Special to the Record
In the last decade of his life, Franz Schubert accumulated a sizable collection of incomplete works, but Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, more commonly known as the Unfinished Symphony, is deemed to be the composer’s pinnacle of musical achievement.
The Strathcona Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will be ending its concert season in May with a performance of the Unfinished Symphony and Edouard Lalo’s Cello Concerto in D Minor, featuring the orchestra’s music director, Helena Jung, as the cello soloist, and guest conductor, Paul Colthorpe.
In the first movement of Schubert’s symphony, audiences will recognize the ominous and haunting introduction by the cellos and basses leading to the melancholy sound of the clarinet over the sixteenth notes in the string section. The composition is a thrilling ride of melodic highs and lows and has delighted concertgoers since its performance debut in 1865.
“Although Schubert only completed two movements of the symphony, it is widely considered to be one of his greatest works,” said Jung. “Many people are drawn to the mystery of what the complete symphony might have sounded like. The symphony is characterized by its sweeping melodies, rich harmonies, and emotional depth.”
The mystery behind the Unfinished Symphony is a fascinating tale about how the manuscript was discovered many years after Schubert’s death. In 1823, Schubert passed on the symphonic sketch he had written the year before to his friend, Anselm Huttenbrenner. Even after Schubert died in 1828, Huttenbrenner kept the manuscript in his desk drawer until he finally presented it to conductor and choral composer, Johann von Herbeck, who oversaw its first performance, in Vienna in 1865.
SSO concertgoers will also be treated to a resounding cello solo performance by Jung and her presentation of Edouard Lalo’s Cello Concerto in D Minor, playing on her 1912 S.A. Deroux cello. She will be stepping away from the conductor’s podium and giving up the baton to guest conductor, Paul Colthorpe.
Paul is a well-known figure in the Comox Valley community, both as a music director of the North Island Choral Society choir and orchestra, and director of music ministries at the Comox United Church.
“Lalo’s Cello Concerto is a virtuosic and technically demanding piece that showcases the capabilities of the cello as a solo instrument,” said Jung. “The concerto features a range of technical challenges, including rapid scale passages, intricate finger work, and a Spanish Habanera theme which make it an exciting piece for both the performer and the audience.”
Tickets for the SSO’s Unfinished Symphony and Cello Concerto in D Minor can be purchased online at strathcona-symphony-orchestra.tickit.ca/, or at the door, if available. Performances are on May 27 at 7 p.m. and May 28 at 2 p.m. at the Florence Filberg Centre (411 Anderton Ave., Courtenay). Visit strathconasymphony.ca for more information.