Fauré, Satie and Ravel are quintessential French impressionists, composers who with a stroke of the pen create images, scenes and vignettes of emotion with the broad palate of the orchestra. Satie’s Gymnopédies shine serenely like the morning sun off a summer lake. French pianist, Philippe Bianconi performs Ravel’s Concerto in G, jazz inspired with one of the most beautiful middle movements of any concerto, and Fauré’s elegant Ballade. The orchestra completes this sonically stunning program with Hindemith’s Symphony “Mathis der Maler,” an evocative homage to painter Matthias Grünewald.
This month, we are featuring a special artistic presentation during the performance of Hindemiths’ Mathis der Maler. Thanks to the creative efforts of our Music Director, Max Bragado-Darman, we will be bringing you a virtual visit to the Unterlinden Museum in the Alsace region of France to see Hindemith’s inspiration for this music on the large screen.
The Isenheim Altarpiece sits alongside the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as one of art history’s greatest religious works. Sculpted by Niclaus of Haguenau and painted by Matthias Grünewald in 1512–1516, it was created for the altar at the Monastary of St. Anthony in Isenheim (near modern-day Colmar, France). The monastic order specialized in treating sufferers of the plague and as such, Matthias Grünewald took a novel approach in the depiction of religious subjects. Departing from the commonly idealized visions of Christ at Calvary, Grünewald painted Christ as a plague sufferer himself, and the other subjects as profoundly flawed human creatures. This radical approach to religious iconography as well as the fine artistry itself inspired generations of religious painters who followed.
The artwork is so captivating that it caught the attention of composer Paul Hindemith who, having received a commission for an opera, began a musical sketch inspired by images from the Isenheim Altarpiece. The elements of this musical sketch became his Symphony “Mathis der Maler” (“Matthew the Painter”) and later were used as the orchestral accompaniment to the opera about the painter.
"I have been playing piano since my childhood and, to this day, I am still fascinated by the creative journeys it takes me on." ~Wayne Gratz