Thursday, April 14, 2011

Byron and Schiller

Well, you may have been wondering why I haven’t posted about our upcoming Beethoven 9th concert. I am wondering too. But what more can be said about it that most people, nay, most AMERICANS don’t already know? That the last movement alone has a huge chorus (in this case the Knoxville Choral Society), and four vocal soloists (Katherine Altobello, mezzo-soprano; Emily Douglass, soprano; Jonathon Subìa, tenor; Benjamin LeClaire, bass)? That the lyrics to this finale are based on an 18th-century poem by Schiller? That the scherzo uses the tympani as a melodic instrument in the theme? That the third movement is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written? I love playing music that sells itself. However, it doesn’t play itself and I have been shedding riffs all week so that I don’t fall flat on my face tonight or tomorrow.

The Beethoven is paired with a work which received its premiere in November of 2010, William Bolcom’s Prometheus. Conceived and commissioned as a companion piece to Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy (a work scored for chorus, piano and orchestra), it draws its lyrics from the poem of the same name by Lord Byron. Jeffrey Beigel’s piano playing is, as always, amazing, and if you like a large battery of percussion instruments, then this is the piece for you. Bolcom’s works have been performed by the KSO in the past; the Chamber Orchestra played his Commedia in February of 1990, and his charming Three Rags for String Orchestra November of 1995.

While the program notes on Prometheus are available on the KSO’s website, the LA Times review of the world premiere of this work a mere five months ago can be found here:

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