Sunday 06 April 2025, 3pm

Roderick Dunk, Conductor
Rebecca Bottone, Soprano

MOZART Overture to Don Giovanni, K. 527

STRAUSS Four Last Songs, TrV. 296

MAHLER Symphony No. 1 in D major, ‘Titan’

Photo: Kaupo Kikkas

The arresting and ominous opening chords of Mozart’s overture to his opera Don Giovanni set the scene for the sometimes dark and tragic, but also sometimes comedic, story that ensues. After the imposing start the music bustles along leaving the audience in a more joyful mood and full of expectation.

We last welcomed soprano Rebecca Bottone to the Assembly Hall in 2022 when she delighted us with a selection of songs taken from the Viennese repertoire. On another visit, in 2015, she sang Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne. Showing a complete contrast of repertoire in today’s concert, she will sing The Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss. Aged 84 and living in Switzerland at the end of World War II, although he was becoming increasingly feeble, he was still composing. He had in mind his wife Pauline, a famous singer, when he composed The Four Last Songs and the settings contain soaring melodies over a full orchestra.

Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 nicknamed ‘The Titan’ closes the RTWSO’S 2024/25 season. The symphony’s first performance was not a great success. Mahler himself was conducting and he made several subsequent revisions. Lasting less than an hour, it is his optimistic take on Nature, much as Beethoven had realised in his Pastoral Symphony. Listen out for cuckoo calls, other bird song and peasants’ dances. Many of the symphony’s themes return in the last movement which ends in a typical Mahlerian blaze of glory.