Event details

  • February 10, 2018
  • 8:00 pm
  • Bailey Performance Center
  • 770-429-2390

The Georgia Symphony Orchestra string section provides an evening of string music to stir the passions of Valentines weekend. The sounds of Mahler, Debussy, and others create the perfect atmosphere to share with someone special.

GSO Principal Harpist Julie Koenig will be featured performing Debussy's Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane.

Edward Elgar Serenade for Strings
Karl Jenkins Palladio mvt. I
Victor Herbert  Serenade mvts. III, V
Gerald Finzi Romance in E flat
Claude Debussy Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane
     Julie Koenig, Harp
Gustav Mahler Adagietto from Symphony No. 5


Saturday, February 10, 2018 8:00pm

Bailey Performance Center

The Georgia Symphony Orchestra string section provides an evening of string music to stir the passions of Valentine’s weekend. The sounds of Mahler and others create the perfect atmosphere to share with someone special.  GSO Principal Harpist Julie Koenig will be featured performing Debussy's Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane.

Self-taught as a musician, Edward Elgar (1857-1934) became the most important composer to emerge from England since the seventeenth century.  While acquiring “on the job” experience in a variety of local positions, he also composed orchestral and choral works, finally gaining recognition as a composer with his Enigma Variations of 1899 and his oratorio The Dream of Gerontius of 1900.  He was knighted by King Edward VII in 1904.  Though not as well known today as he was earlier in the century, Elgar is far from forgotten as countless generations of graduates still march and receive their diplomas to the ceremonial strains of his Pomp and Circumstance.  The Serenade for Strings in E Minor was completed in 1892, though it may have been a reworking of an earlier suite.  It is reputedly the first of Elgar’s compositions with which he himself was satisfied.  The three movements are individually attractive, though the lovely and lyrical central movement (“Larghetto”) is generally regarded as containing Elgar’s best writing, giving the clearest indication of his musical maturity.

Gerald Raphael Finzi (1901-1956) was somewhat of a recluse.  Except for a brief stint in London, where he met Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams, and where he held a position at the Royal Academy of music, he lived quietly in the countryside, devoted to his books, his apple orchard, and composition.  As a composer, his music is firmly based in the English traditions for which “pastoral” is an apt description.  Although Finzi wrote for several combinations of instruments, he is best known for his vocal music, including nine song cycles and the cantata Dies natalis, and his concertos for cello and clarinet.  Finzi’s warm Romance, for strings and solo violin, was written largely in 1928, and dedicated to pianist and conductor John Russel, his friend, neighbor and supporter.  Finzi’s website describes this piece as “Highly passionate in character and rich in its melodic invention …. characteristically open-hearted and approachable.  From the stillness of the opening, the music unfolds, reaching a peak of intensity before returning to its roots.”  

The music of Achille-Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was not so much influenced by impressionism, but by Symbolist poets (inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, among others), whose goal was to liberate verse, symbolically expressing feelings, ideas, and states of mind outside the realm of the real world.  His music is not as radical as it was initially presumed to be, and in later life Debussy refrained from descriptive titles, writing exquisitely crafted music tempered by Gallic ideals of grace and balance.  The brief movements of Debussy’s Danse Sacrée and Danse Profane, for harp and orchestra, are most often paired, but were written as two separate pieces in 1904 at the request of Pleyel, the French firm of harp makers, as demonstration pieces for its new chromatic harp.  As the title indicates, the “sacred dance” has a restrained, almost mystical, air, while the “profane dance” is a rather jaded waltz which recalls the world-weary boulevards of Paris. 

The monumental symphonies of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) helped bring to a close the orchestral development of the Romantic period, defined in its later years by works that are lengthy, complex, programmatic, and that require gigantic performance resources. Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 was composed in 1901 and 1902, mostly at his holiday cottage at Maiernigg in Austria, while the composer was recuperating from a major hemorrhage.  While the Symphony as a whole was not popular with Mahler’s audiences, the fourth movement Adagietto, described by annotator Eric Bromberger as “an island of calm in the seething tumult of the Fifth Symphony,” soon became the most frequently performed of his works.  “Mahler's markings make clear exactly what he wanted from a performance: espressivo, seelenvoll (‘soulful’), and mit innigster Empfindung (‘with the most heartfelt sentiment’). Beginning very quietly, this music is soon full of longing: its arcing, graceful melodies unfold with a bittersweet intensity, rise gradually to a soaring climax, and finally fall back to the peaceful close.”


Nicolas Slonimsky, ed., The Concise Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Music, Schirmer Books, New York, New York, 1994

Dom Michael Randel, The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England, 1996.

All About Elgar, Serenade for Strings in E minor, op 20, http://www.elgar.org/3serenad.htm

Finzi: Clarinet Concerto and other works, liner notes unaccredited, NAXOS CD DDD 8.553566.. 

Gerald Finzi: The composer’s Official Website, http://www.geraldfinzi.com/.

ALLMUSIC, Claude Debussy, Danses sacrée et profane, for chromatic harp & string orchestra, L. 103, https://www.allmusic.com/composition/danses-sacr%C3%A9e-et-profane-for-chromatic-harp-string-orchestra-l-103-mc0002390173

LA PHIL, String Symphony No. 10, Felix Mendelssohn, program notes by Grant Hiroshima, https://www.laphil.com/philpedia/music/string-symphony-no-10-felix-mendelssohn.

LA PHIL, Adagietto from Symphony No. 5, Gustav Mahler, program notes by Eric Bronberger, https://www.laphil.com/philpedia/music/adagietto-from-symphony-no-5-gustav-mahler.