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Between two great symphonies--Beethoven's Second and Sibelius' Fifth--is sandwiched a new violin concerto by Hill in this week's Friday Afternoon-Saturday Evening series at Symphony Hall. It should be a well-balanced and interesting program.
An authority on French music, Edward B. Hill was born in Cambridge in 1872, studied under Paine, Chadwick, and Widor, and is now a professor of music here at Harvard. Since he first wrote his concerto for the violin in 1903 it has been revised, and, like most of his works, is pleasant and traditional in form. It is being played this week end to great advantage by Ruth Posselt, the local girl who has made good.
Beethoven's Second Symphony in D major begins the program. It was written at a time when the composer was undergoing physical and mental suffering in Heiligenstadt, where he had been sent because of his deafness. The first movement is full of outbursts and sudden silences in marked contract with the moral elevation of the second. The scherzo and finale show Beethoven's mischief and humor, racing as they do to a strange and noisy conclusion.
Simplicity is the earmark of Sibelius's fifth symphony which concludes the program. Written in 1914 at a time when the world was still accustomed to flowery orchestration and full, high-sounding instrumentation, this symphony is the reverse, gaining effects through elimination rather than overcrowding. Yet his style is ever free in its movement, fitting into the classical forms, yet not restricted by them. The bustling introduction of the fourth movement, and the pianissimo before the glory of the end makes an overwhelming effect. Lawrence Gilman has said, "The finale is the crown of the work, and in many ways the most nobly imagined and nobly eloquent page that Sibelius has given us."
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