Fascinating Conference and Concert from Oviedo, Spain

INTERNATIONAL  CONFERENCE: SYMPHONISM IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY EUROPE

Organized by:Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini, Lucca; Research Group ERASMUSH, University of Oviedo (Oviedo, Spain)

in collaboration with:

Ad Parnassum. A Journal of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Instrumental Music

Oviedo, Edificio Histórico de la Universidad de Oviedo

10-12 May 2018

Oviedo, Spain is a medium-sized city of some 240,000 persons, the capital of the Principality of Asturias, located in the north-western corner of the country, just inland from the Bay of Biscay. Its relative obscurity conceals a rich history and a vibrant cultural life, as well as a thriving range of intellectual activities organized around Oviedo University, host of the above conference. “Symphonism in Nineteenth-Century Europe” features participants from approximately forty institutions around the world, all gathered together to discuss, analyze, and celebrate Western music’s most important orchestral genre.

The program features a diverse range of papers, led off by keynote addresses from the university’s Ramón Sobrino, who provided illuminating insights into the evolution of symphonic concerts in Madrid between 1866 and 1903, and German scholar Christian Speck of the Universität Koblenz-Landau, whose thoughtful discussion of “The Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphonies” revealed that there’s always something new to discover in even the best-known classics.

Day One of the conference offered an eclectic mix of topics. Participants had the opportunity to hear about Spanish composers, from “The Queen of Etruria, First Female Spanish Composer of Symphonies (ca. 1820)” courtesy of Ana Lombardía (Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales, Madrid), to the symphonies of conductor Francisco Javier Gibert as seen by Victoriano J. Perez Mancilla of the Universidad de Granada. Andrew Deruchie flew in all the way from the University of Otago in New Zealand to present a provocative discussion on Albéric Magnard’s Third Symphony, while Swiss Scholar Dominik Kreuzer (Universität Zurich) considered that work alongside many others in his highly original and detailed consideration of “Imaginary Chorales in the French Symphonic Finale.”

Aside from the various papers presented, there was also an absolutely first class concert of baroque music featuring Ottavio Dantone at the harpsichord, leading his Accademia Bizantina. Ideally placed in the small hall of the imposing Auditorio Príncipe Felipe, Dantone presented eight concertos and other orchestral pieces by Venetian composers Vivaldi, Albinoni, Marcello, Platti, Galuppi, and the ever-popular Anonymous. Each work had something interesting to reveal, from a slow movement of surprising expressive depth in Albinoni’s  four-part Sinfonia in F major, to the witty chromatic scales in the finale of Platti’s Harpsichord Concerto in A major, to Vivaldi’s surprising overture to the opera Dorilla in Tempe (not Arizona, in case you were wondering), which concludes with the opening ritornello of “Spring” from The Four Seasons. It was, by any measure, a very full, stimulating, and enjoyable first day of the conference, with much more to come.

David Hurwitz

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