Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mendelssohn Series Ends With All-Italian Affair

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra's popular Mendelssohn 200 series comes to a close at the end of February with an all-Italian programme featuring music by Respighi as well as Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’ Symphony and Schubert’s Overture in C ‘In the Italian Style’. Guest conductor Maurizio Benini is joined by fellow Italian, soprano Maria Luigia Borsi (pictured) who performs Respighi’s Il Tramonto. The concert tours to Edinburgh (Queen’s Hall, Thursday 26 February), Glasgow (City Halls, Friday 27 February) and Aberdeen (Music Hall, Saturday 28 February).

Maurizio Benini has an established history of conducting the Orchestra in work by Italian composers, having conducted Rossini’s La Donna del Lago at the 2005 Edinburgh International Festival and Rossini’s Zelmira at the 2003 Festival, both of which were recorded for CD by Opera Rara. He is a regular guest conductor with the Metropolitan Opera of New York, Opera de Paris, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. He has made regular appearances at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro.

Soprano Maria Luigia Borsi also has a strong opera background. Winner of the 2002 Sanremo International Vocal Competition, she has since performed in Turandot, Carmen and La Traviata as well as having performed in recitals with José Carreras, Leo Nucci and Renato Bruson. With the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Maria performs Respighi’s Il Tramonto, which is based on an Italian translation of The Sunset, a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Scored for mezzo-soprano and strings, Il Tramonto tells the story of the death of two lovers. It was written in 1914 and owes much to the orchestral songs of Mahler and Strauss.

The programme also includes Schubert’s Overture in C ‘In the Italian Style’ of 100 years earlier. The work strongly reflects Rossini’s influence; it was written in 1817 shortly after Rossini’s Italian Opera Company made its first visit to Vienna. Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 4 brings the Italian-themed programme to a close. Written during the composer’s second grand tour of Europe, the ‘Italian’ Symphony pays tribute to the vivaciousness and vitality of the Italian race.


The SCO’s Mendelssohn 200 series features masterworks from the composer’s symphonic, oratorio, theatre and chamber music oeuvres. Each concert presents the composer’s music in the company of work by those who inspired him and those he himself inspired.

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