March 06, 2017

Replay: Thomas Wilkins Conducts Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony

Guest conductor Thomas Wilkins leads the Grant Park Orchestra in an international program that transports listeners from Vienna to the Middle East, culminating with Mendelssohn's cheerful Italian Symphony.

Recorded on July 30, 2016 at the Harris Theater in Chicago, IL. Music Production by Chris Willis.

Mendelssohn Italian Symphony

Harris Theater for Music and Dance
Saturday, July 30, 2016


Grant Park Orchestra
Thomas Wilkins, Guest Conductor


Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture
Marquez: Danzon No. 2
Lehar: Gold and Silver Waltzes
Daugherty: Desi
Saint-Saëns: Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila
Offenbach: La Vie Parisienne
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4, Italian

Program Notes

Mendelssohn cast his “Italian” Symphony in the traditional four movements. The opening movement takes an exuberant, leaping melody initiated by the violins as its principal subject and a quieter, playful strain led by the clarinets as its subsidiary theme. The intricately contrapuntal development section is largely based on a precise, staccato theme of darker emotional hue but also refers to motives from the main theme. A full recapitulation of the exposition’s materials ensues before the movement ends with a coda that recalls the staccato theme from the development. The Andante may have been inspired by a religious procession that Mendelssohn saw in the streets of Naples. The third movement is in the form of a minuet/scherzo whose central trio utilizes the burnished sonorities of bassoons and horns. The finale turns to a tempestuous minor key for an exuberant dance modeled on a whirling saltarello that Mendelssohn heard in Rome.

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