GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

March 24, 2010

One symphony, two endings

Cape Ann Symphony to perform unique piece

Cape Ann audiences will be the second group of listeners to hear a newly discovered work by Felix Mendelssohn at a special concert of the Cape Ann Symphony on Sunday afternoon.

The program, "Undiscovered Mendelssohn," will feature not one, but two guest pianists — Kiyoshi Tamagawa and Jun Toguchi.

"This is the second known performance of 'Fantasy and Variations for Two Pianos and Orchestra' since its discovery in 2003," said conductor Yoichi Udagawa.

"This is an exciting opportunity to play a work that no one has heard. It's also rare to have two pianists playing with an orchestra," Udagawa said. "We are delighted to share this with Cape Ann."

In another twist, the audience will be asked which of two endings they like best before the identity of the composer is revealed.

This piece was actually written in 1833 by both Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and Ignaz Moscheles, a friend, piano virtuoso and fellow composer.

This creation was born of necessity and friendship of sorts when Moscheles fell ill and was about to cancel the premiere of a new composition at the Philharmonic Society in London. But when Mendelssohn arrived in London to prepare for his own concert, he persuaded Moscheles not to cancel the performances and instead the two collaborated to write a set of variations on the popular Gypsy March from the opera "La Preziosa" by Carl Maria von Weber.

"In that day, classical musicians were not only performers, but composers," said Udagawa. "So when they gave concerts, they sometimes wrote pieces for the concerts.

"That's what Moscheles was doing," he added, "but then he got sick and he hadn't written anything."

After Mendelssohn arrived in London, each musician wrote a part and put it together — and the show did go on. In fact, the two pianists performed their work several times to welcoming audiences. The original manuscripts remained with Moscheles, who published an arrangement for two pianos without an orchestra in 1834.

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