In July of 1829, throughout his first journey to Britain, the 20-year-old Felix Mendelssohn launched into a strolling tour of Scotland together with his buddy, Karl Klingemann. After visiting the ruined abbey at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Mendelssohn wrote in a letter to his household,
Within the deep twilight we went right this moment to the palace the place Queen Mary lived and liked…The chapel under is now roofless. Grass and ivy thrive there and on the damaged altar the place Mary was topped Queen of Scotland. All the pieces is ruined, decayed, and the clear heavens pour in. I feel I’ve discovered there the start of my “Scottish” Symphony.
Quickly after the go to, Mendelssohn sketched what would develop into the primary sixteen measures of his Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56. It’s music which evokes a dismal, mysterious, and poetic panorama. A somber melody emerges within the oboes and divided violas, accompanied by horns, bassoons, and clarinets. That is the seed out of which all the Symphony develops, and its motivic imprint might be heard within the succeeding actions. Moments later, the violins enter with a bleak windswept line which drifts, for a second, as a single unaccompanied strand. As this line weaves its approach ahead, it pulls us deeper right into a vivid, creating drama. The Allegro un poco agitato is each stormy and spirited. The exposition’s second theme arrives as a singing line within the clarinet, whereas a motivic fragment of the primary theme develops relentlessly within the strings. Hear rigorously, and you’ll hear how intently this primary theme is expounded to the ascending line which opens the “Holyrood” theme from the introduction. Within the coda part, tempestuous chromatic traces rise and fall. The ultimate bars deliver a return of the haunting “Holyrood” theme.
In a preface to the rating, Mendelssohn wrote, “The actions of this symphony should observe each other instantly, and should not be separated by the customary lengthy pauses.” The second motion, a glowing scherzo, appears to emerge out of the fog. It’s a boisterous, jubilant dance, infused with the “Scotch snap” rhythm. Primarily based on the pentatonic scale, the melody comprises echoes of Scottish folks music.
The third motion (Adagio) is an intimate music with out phrases. The shimmering first theme alternates with a solemn, stately march, punctuated with army fanfares. Some listeners hear this music as a lament for Mary Queen of Scots, though there isn’t any proof that Mendelssohn had any programmatic associations in thoughts. The ultimate assertion of the melody begins with a hushed clarinet duet, accompanied by the distant rumble of battle drums within the timpani.
Initially, Mendelssohn gave the Finale the marking, Allegro Guerriero (“quick and warlike”). That is the music of journey and romanticized battle. The event part erupts with vigorous counterpoint. But, steadily the vitality and ahead movement dissipate. The beforehand spirited melody turns into a lamenting assertion which is handed from the clarinet to the bassoon, accompanied by a primeval drone. Out of silence, a transcendent new theme emerges. Starting in the dead of night, decrease voices, it quickly grows right into a triumphant, celebratory hymn. Misty, veiled A minor is remodeled into vibrant A serious. The “Scottish” Symphony concludes as a declaration of pleasure and celebration.
I. Andante con moto – Allegro un poco agitato – Assai animato:
II. Vivace non troppo:
IV. Allegro maestoso assai – Allegro maestoso assai:
5 Nice Recordings
- Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 53, “Scottish,” Andrew Litton, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra Chandos.internet
- Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1958 recording)
- Peter Maag and the London Symphony Orchestra (1960 recording)
- Leonard Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic (1979 recording)
- Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra (2020 live performance recording)
Featured Picture: “Inverlochy Fort” (1857), Horatio McCulloch
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