Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Indigo Girls and Bach: Something for Everyone

Well, it seems to be snowing. What is it about snow and our Side-By-Side concerts!? I hope it’s just a flurry, because tonight at 7:00, the KSO core strings will team up with the Bearden High School Orchestra strings. Under the capable hands of Katie Middleton they’ve been working hard at a Mozart Divertimento, a Vaughan Williams arrangement of Rhosymedre, and a Dittersdorf Sinfonia Concertante. (You may remember Dittersdorf from an early August post entitled Composers with Funny Names). The Dittersdorf work will have as soloists violist Parker Jones and bassist Kaleb Keller. The KSO strings only will be featured in the final two movements of Holst’s St. Paul Suite.

Looking ahead to the weekend, the Indigo Girls are coming to town Saturday night! I CAN’T WAIT to play Galileo, Closer to Fine, Ghost, and a whole host of other Americana songs that have made this Decatur, Georgia duo an enduring and endearing force on the American Folk scene. If you missed them at Farragut High back in 1998, well, they’ll be at the Civic Auditorium Saturday at 8:00.

Next week brings the Brandenburg-athon, and both Thursday and Friday night’s Masterworks concerts at the Tennessee Theatre will begin with Leopold Stokowski’s timeless arrangements of two solo works of Bach’s, the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565, and the Chaconne movement from Partita No. 2 in D Minor for solo violin, BWV 1004. Leopold Stokowski was the conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1912 to 1941; surely this is the “Leopold” they had in mind in that episode of Bugs Bunny with the orchestra and the tenor with the shrinking head... It should be known that Friday, March 21 IS J. S. BACH'S BIRTHDAY. The Brandenburg concerti will be arrayed as such: Thursday, 4, 3 and 1; Friday, 5, 6 and 2. Here are some identifying features of each.

#4: We just performed this at the Bijou Theatre; there are two flute soloists and a violin solo. Word on the street is that they sound great!
#3: Depending on how you look at it, this work has either no soloists or nothing but soloists. It is one-on-a-part. Each section plays mostly the same notes with occasional outbursts of cascading three-part harmonies or cadential roulades. The second movement, which is sometimes skipped, consists of two chords and some violin improvisation.
#1: A pair of horns and three oboes are the kingpins of #1. It is the only Brandenburg with 4 movements. The second movement Adagio is drop-dead gorgeous.
#5: This was also recently done at the Bijou by the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra. There is a jaw-dropping virtuoso harpsichord cadenza  in the first movement, played again by Michael Unger. (Mr. Unger will be playing the harpsichord on ALL SIX Brandenburgs). The second movement Affetuoso is a mere trio of solo flute, violin and harpsichord.
#6: This is the most minimalist of the Brandenburgs, with just a pair of violas, a pair of violas da gamba, solo bass, cello, and harpsichord. The viola da gamba is an ancient precursor to the cello that is rarely heard in concert these days. Its similarity to the cello allows the cello to be an acceptable- and more audible- substitute. The first movement has a lot of cool echo effects, and the opening of the last movement was the Minnesota Public Radio jingle for years and years. You will recognize it if you have ever heard the beginning of Prairie Home Companion. 
#2: Soloists for this one are flute, oboe, and trumpet. There are some wicked high passages for the trumpet.

Well it seems to have stopped snowing. I know if I waited long enough it would. Now maybe Old Man Winter will leave us in peace so we can get on with our lives.

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