This concert features two Symphonies composed in Vienna that encompass the Romantic era. Mozart’s Jupiter symphony looks forward to the Romantic age. Its size and its emotional and structural complexity strain at the bounds of the Classical style. On the other end, Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony is a culmination of the Romantic style: a vast, densely-plotted and emotionally-charged spiritual journey. The two works are also linked by their keys: Mozart’s symphony is in the strong and brilliant key of C major, the same key that Bruckner’s symphony attains from a solemn opening in C minor.
Mozart’s last symphony is full of surprises. Three bold chords begin it with the force of a demand. The gentle, almost teasing response of its second theme makes a full contrast. Mozart develops these ideas into a masterpiece of form that sounds like a wonderfully illuminating conversation. The slow movement has a sense of drama under its gorgeous surface, countered by the good- natured energy of the following minuet. The final movement is an intellectual tour-de-force blending sonata form with fugal writing into a triumphant whole.
Bruckner was an acknowledged success when he wrote his Eighth Symphony; the world was ready for his epic symphonies and he had mastered the intricate forms he required for the spiritual states he was trying to describe or provoke. His music’s inexhaustible wealth of themes create a thrilling journey from one mood to another. Yet even at its most active it also has a paradoxical sense of stillness, almost ecstasy: one listens with a dream-like sense that everything is caught up in one sublime moment.