Riccardo Muti
Mercadante, Schubert

Napoli, Teatro Mercadante | 26 March 2021 | at 8:00 PM

Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini
conductor Riccardo Muti

Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870)
Sinfonia Spagnola da “I due Figaro”

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Sinfonia n. 9 in do maggiore “La grande” D 944
Andante. Allegro ma non troppo
Andante con moto
Scherzo. Allegro vivace. Trio
Allegro vivace

in collaboration with Ravenna Festival and RMMUSIC

If it had not been for the recovery Riccardo Muti wished for and curated ten years ago in Salzburg and Ravenna, the final act of an articulated project of rediscovery of the Neapolitan School, I due Figaro Mercadante composed in 1826 for Madrid (where it was staged only in 1835) would have remained hidden among the documents of Madrid’s library. And yet it is “a score of great workmanship and charm, as it is evident – Muti himself explains – in the overture which soon became an independent concert piece and shows the composer’s knowledge of the Spanish musical culture”. On the other hand, Muti continues, “when we talk about Naples we cannot disregard the Spanish influence, and vice versa. This Sinfonia is a series of truly distinctive dancing tempos, starting with the Fandango, followed by a Bolero, then a Tirana tempo and a Cachucha one, an irresistible sequence…but behind the typical colour there is more, starting for the Mozartian references”. Speaking of which, we cannot overlook that the complicated plot is a kind of sequel of Beaumarchais’s Le mariage de Figaroand while we cannot speak of a “Romantic” opera, it is in the folds of such works we can get a glimpse of the route leading, for instance, to Verdi.
Those were complex and most plentiful years: the same years when Franz Schubert, in Vienna, composed his last symphonic page in a completely different expressive mood. “The Great” – so called to distinguish it from the other Symphony in C major, “The Little” – was probably composed between 1825 and 1828, and it is an opera which, owing to the lack of understanding it faced even before a public performance, could have been lost forever. It was indeed Schumann who found it again, ten years later, in 1839, among many manuscripts in the house of Franz’s brother, Ferdinand Schubert, and immediately presented it to Mendelssohn. The latter was, at the time, the director of the Gewandhaus in Lipsia and he enthusiastically decided to conduct it. The success was not immediate, probably because of the symphony’s new features: the magnificent proportions and the large orchestra, a new distribution of the melodic and rhythmic elements, and a formal concept which unravels in a cyclic development – turning the meagre motif performed by the horns in the opening. But the intuition of the masterpiece features in Schumann’s words: “In this symphony, it is hidden something more of a simple melody and the feelings of joy and pain music has already expressed many times in a hundred ways; it rather leads us to a region where we can remember we have been before […]. Besides a masterly musical technique, here is life in all its fibers from the colourful to the finest nuance, there is meaning everywhere, the acutest expression of the particular and, above all, the Romanticism we already know from other Schubert’s works”.

Members of the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini