Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rain... and Spain!

It’s Masterworks time, or at least it will be this Thursday and Friday, and a Spanish accent will be in evidence. The works chosen offer an interesting contrast in composers’ viewpoints; two 19th-century works by “outlanders,”  and three early 20th-century works by native Spaniards. Although all of the works have Spanish rhythms and themes, the 20th-century works benefit from having much more liberal and liberated harmonic and coloristic palettes. Which is saying something, considering that Rimsky-Korsakov literally wrote the book on orchestration, and every orchestral composer since then knows it well.

I love playing the Three Cornered Hat Suite by Manuel de Falla. There are two such suites, and either one of them is just fine with me. I like the way this particular dance suite just floats in breezily in the violins, introducing The Neighbors, then The Miller, and finally a wildly capricious Jota. (A Jota is an Aragonaise, as was the opening movement of the Sarasate Carmen Fantasy from last month’s concerts. The "J" in "Jota" is pronounced like the Ch in Channukah).

We are lucky to have guitar soloist Ana Vidovic with us. She is a bright star in the guitar sky, and a guitar soloist is a rare thing in our orchestra, maybe 3 in the last 27 years, as far as I can recall. The Concierto de Aranjuez (pronounced “are on ways,” but the “s” in “ways” is pronounced with a lisp) she is performing is by Joaquin Rodrigo, a composer who should have showed up on my composer longevity post from January 30th. He lived 97 years, all the more remarkable considering he was blind from age 3.

Chabrier’s España is a light-hearted favorite to close out the first half or start the second half, I’m not sure which. Then we will hear from another guy named Joaquin, Turina, that is, in his Danzas Fantasticas. I found out the other night that there is a cello solo near the end. Surprise! This video of an orchestra of guitars and lutes will probably help me find the right atmosphere.

We’ll finish with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, a masterpiece of orchestration and a wonderful musical journey. Every instrument on stage has at least one fine moment in the sun, and the lines between orchestral and chamber music are blurred thanks to “R-K’s” mastery of “downshifting” musical textures.

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