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Early geniuses Mozart, Elgar, Mendelssohn show up in San Diego

An adolescent transfigured by Italy

Mendelssohn wrote 13 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14.
Mendelssohn wrote 13 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14.

The San Diego Symphony continued their run of string serenade live streams on Friday, April 29. In February the symphony string section performed Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. In March is was Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings and April was Edward Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.

Before Elgar’s serenade was yet another piece by Mozart. The theme of the concert was Early Genius,” so Mozart's inclusion was no surprise, but as I’ve mentioned before, Mozart is receiving a feature spot in the symphony’s live streams.

Music director Rafael Payare gets it. Perhaps that is an oversimplification, but placing Mozart as a foundational element of the symphony will yield benefits for ensemble and audience moving forward.

The piece by Mozart was his Divertimento in F Major. Mozart wrote it at the age of 16 after a trip to Italy. He returned to Salzburg, an adolescent transfigured by Italy, and whipped out several compositions for strings. This divertimento is one of the compositions written with the heat of the Italian fire.

I couldn’t be happier with the inclusion of Elgar’s Serenade for Strings. Elgar is, in my opinion, an underperformed composer.

At about 12 minutes, Elgar’s Serenade for Strings is a briefer affair than either Tchaikovsky’s or Dvorak’s but it is no less charming. The limited scope of Elgar’s composition keeps it from being listed in the first tier of string compositions but it is a worthy musical experience and I was happy to hear it.

Elgar’s Serenade for Strings bears the opus number 20 as it was published in 1892. This would make it a mature work by a 34-year-old Elgar, yet it is in the Early Genius concert.

The general consensus is that Elgar had re-worked an earlier piece of music he had written before formally choosing to become a composer. Elgar’s Serenade for Strings is probably his earliest composition that has survived.

The performance by the San Diego Symphony strings was beautiful. Everything was in place. The phrasing was accurate and the intonation spot on. However, it lacked the sparkle and perfection the strings and Maestro Payare exhibited in the Tchaikovsky and Dvorak.

The final Early Genius was, of course, Mendelssohn. The symphony strings performed his String Symphony No. 12. Mendelssohn wrote 13 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14. This piece fits well with the Mozart that started the concert in regards to age but the tone of this music is serious.

Mendelssohn starts with a stern pronouncement, which could have come from the mouth of Beethoven, and then proceeds to an exercise in counterpoint a la Bach. He returns to this counterpoint in the final movement before ending with a flourish.

The quality of playing and performance in these three most recent live streams has been more than impressive. Once the doors to the concert hall are flung open I believe we will be treated to a transformed San Diego Symphony, the likes of which we’ve not heard before.

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Mendelssohn wrote 13 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14.
Mendelssohn wrote 13 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14.

The San Diego Symphony continued their run of string serenade live streams on Friday, April 29. In February the symphony string section performed Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. In March is was Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings and April was Edward Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.

Before Elgar’s serenade was yet another piece by Mozart. The theme of the concert was Early Genius,” so Mozart's inclusion was no surprise, but as I’ve mentioned before, Mozart is receiving a feature spot in the symphony’s live streams.

Music director Rafael Payare gets it. Perhaps that is an oversimplification, but placing Mozart as a foundational element of the symphony will yield benefits for ensemble and audience moving forward.

The piece by Mozart was his Divertimento in F Major. Mozart wrote it at the age of 16 after a trip to Italy. He returned to Salzburg, an adolescent transfigured by Italy, and whipped out several compositions for strings. This divertimento is one of the compositions written with the heat of the Italian fire.

I couldn’t be happier with the inclusion of Elgar’s Serenade for Strings. Elgar is, in my opinion, an underperformed composer.

At about 12 minutes, Elgar’s Serenade for Strings is a briefer affair than either Tchaikovsky’s or Dvorak’s but it is no less charming. The limited scope of Elgar’s composition keeps it from being listed in the first tier of string compositions but it is a worthy musical experience and I was happy to hear it.

Elgar’s Serenade for Strings bears the opus number 20 as it was published in 1892. This would make it a mature work by a 34-year-old Elgar, yet it is in the Early Genius concert.

The general consensus is that Elgar had re-worked an earlier piece of music he had written before formally choosing to become a composer. Elgar’s Serenade for Strings is probably his earliest composition that has survived.

The performance by the San Diego Symphony strings was beautiful. Everything was in place. The phrasing was accurate and the intonation spot on. However, it lacked the sparkle and perfection the strings and Maestro Payare exhibited in the Tchaikovsky and Dvorak.

The final Early Genius was, of course, Mendelssohn. The symphony strings performed his String Symphony No. 12. Mendelssohn wrote 13 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14. This piece fits well with the Mozart that started the concert in regards to age but the tone of this music is serious.

Mendelssohn starts with a stern pronouncement, which could have come from the mouth of Beethoven, and then proceeds to an exercise in counterpoint a la Bach. He returns to this counterpoint in the final movement before ending with a flourish.

The quality of playing and performance in these three most recent live streams has been more than impressive. Once the doors to the concert hall are flung open I believe we will be treated to a transformed San Diego Symphony, the likes of which we’ve not heard before.

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