Concert Season – Strauss, Vaughan Williams’ Tallis Fantasia, and Grieg’s Holberg Suite

Strauss, Vaughan Williams’ Tallis Fantasia, and Grieg’s Holberg Suite

Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 8:00pm
Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall

The orchestra’s 10th Anniversary Season continues with its second Carnegie concert featuring double string orchestra. The program includes Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen. Music Director Salvatore Di Vittorio also world premieres his Preludio Sentimentale.

Salvatore Di Vittorio, conductor

Tickets through Carnegie Hall

Tickets through Chamber Orchestra of NY

GRIEG, Holberg Suite
DI VITTORIO, Preludio Sentimentale [World Premiere]
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Intermission (20 minutes)
R. STRAUSS, Metamorphosen

Concert duration, including intermission: 93 minutes.

PROGRAM NOTES [With video or audio links]



DETAILS: Edvard Grieg (Bergen, 1843 – Bergen, 1907; Norwegian)

HIGHLIGHTS: Grieg is Norway’s most famous composer. He is best remembered for his Piano Concerto in A Minor, Peer Gynt (the incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s play), Lyric Pieces for piano, and Holberg Suite. A nationalist composer, Grieg’s music was influenced by Norwegian folksong, though his Scottish family origins may also contribute to his musical language and style.


YEAR/DURATION: 1884; 21 minutes

HISTORICAL NOTES: Grieg’s very popular Holberg Suite was initially composed for the piano, and orchestrated for string orchestra one year later. The suite includes an introduction and four subsequent dances in the ‘olden’ or Baroque/Classical style. In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Danish-Norwegian playwright and humanist Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754), Grieg desired to capture the sounds of music during Holberg’s time. The resulting work is a profound testament to Grieg’s musical genius, a rich, beautiful music, full of bold lyricism and provocative string writing, with high spirited, lively rhythms. Many composers have been influenced by Grieg’s Holberg Suite in particular, such as Ottorino Respighi. Respighi also composed his Suite for strings of 1902 in the ‘olden style’ based directly on the Holberg Suite, as an homage to Grieg.




DETAILS: Salvatore Di Vittorio (Palermo, 1967; Italian)

HIGHLIGHTS: Di Vittorio’s compositional output includes three overtures, four program symphonies, an opera, and numerous other orchestral works – some including voices and/or chorus.


YEAR/DURATION: 2017; 7 minutes

HISTORICAL NOTES: The music of the Preludio Sentimentale was derived primarily from the first movement Preludio of Di Vittorio’s Sinfonia No. 1 for strings (1999) – the composer’s first mature, published orchestral work. Di Vittorio had originally conceived this music in two formats, a string symphony and a single-movement work. The Preludio’s tempo in the symphony was marked ‘Largo, con sentimento’, and thus inspired the title of this single-movement version.




DETAILS: Ralph Vaughan Williams (Down Ampney, 1872 – London, 1958; English) HIGHLIGHTS: Vaughan Williams composed symphonies, operas, chamber and choral music, as well as film scores. Some of his most renowned titles include: Serenade for Music, A Sea Symphony, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Fantasia on Greensleeves, and The Lark Ascending.


YEAR/DURATION: 1910; 15 minutes

HISTORICAL NOTES: Vaughan Williams conducted the world premiere of the Thomas Tallis Fantasia on September of 1910 at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester Cathedral. The theme is borrowed from English Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis’ ‘Third Mode Melody’. The string orchestration not only involves double string orchestra, allowing much usage of musical echoes, but includes an additional string quartet. It also engages an Elizabethian fantasy style whereby the theme is heard three times throughout the course of the work, as the music develops towards the final climactic point.



DETAILS: Richard Strauss (Munich, 1864 – Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 1949; German) HIGHLIGHTS: Strauss is revered for his tone poems (or symphonic poems), a further development of said works by Franz Liszt. Strauss’ most important tone poems include: Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, and Thus Spake Zarathustra.


YEAR/DURATION: 1945; 26 minutes

HISTORICAL NOTES: Metamorphosen is scored for 23 strings, and is perhaps one of Richard Strauss’ most serious, reflective late orchestral works, a technical masterpiece to be sure. Strauss dedicated the work to the Basler Kammerorchester and Collegium Musicum Zurich, which premiered the work under conductor Paul Sacher. There are references to Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, among other works. As a whole the composition highlights Strauss’ rich sonorities and orchestration, as well as his talent for Bachian counterpoint.