Monday, March 4, 2013

Midwinter Night's Dreams

It was very heartening to see such a full house for the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra’s all-Baroque concert at the Bijou yesterday! Warm music is a beautiful way to beat the winter blahhs, and it was clear that many patrons agreed. Gabe Lefkowitz’s Bach E-Major Concerto was exquisite. His encores were also by Bach; the Andante from the A minor Violin Sonata, and the Prelude and Fugue from the G Minor Sonata. We are so lucky to have a concertmaster who can just emit music like this with seemingly little effort (although I know for a fact that a boatload of work goes into his performances). The Handel Fireworks music was just as warm as its title suggested, with a full complement of winds, INCLUDING contrabassoon! To hear notes lower than the string bass can play coming out of a wind instrument is still a marvel to me even after all these years of orchestra playing, and Cora Nappo is our resident contra guru, playing notes that are often felt more than heard.

In a week where we will mostly be prepping for shows next week and next month, it is nice to have next season’s repertoire announcement- or should I say “annunciation?”- at hand to build dreams on. The 2013-14 season has some nice surprises, for me anyway. Many works that have not been played in a long while, if ever, will be making appearances on Knoxville’s stages. Right off the bat in September, overtures by Reznicek and Wagner will bookend Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and Kodaly’s Hary Janos Suite; you’d have to go back to the 1995-96 season to find the Beethoven programmed, and the 1987-88 season for the Kodaly. Other long lost works sprinkled throughout the season include Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, Barber’s perky Overture to The School for Scandal, Ernest Bloch’s majestic Sacred Service, and Sibelius’ 5th Symphony (I have never played any of the Sibelius symphonies outside of the first two, although he wrote 7). The concerto on the May Masterworks concert is the woefully under-performed Beethoven 4th Piano Concerto, a work bursting with tunes that demand to be hummed on the way out the door of the theatre. There will also be a whole lorry-load of amazing chamber music on the Concertmaster Series and the Principal Quartet’s concert in April.

“So what are we working on this week?” you might ask. Well, since you’ve asked so nicely, I’ll tell you. The final Concertmaster Series instalment (March 13 and 14 at Remedy Coffee) will feature Mendelssohn’s pristine Octet. Just getting eight busy string players to agree on a rehearsal time is cause for celebration, but we will aim to more than do justice to the magnificence of Mendelssohn’s opus. The Scientific Symphony Young People’s Concerts that we performed in October will travel to Greeneville’s Niswonger Performing Arts Center next Tuesday, and the strings will travel to Blackberry Farm in Walland Sunday night for a special evening of string orchestra classics.

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