Sunday, July 13, 2014

2014-2015 Masterworks Series Part 2

In our last episode we looked at the first four Masterworks concerts, up to the January pair. February's (19th and 20th) pair will consist of a single work, Dvorak's Stabat Mater. This will be a new one for me, I believe, although the Knoxville Choral Society performed a Dvorak choral work at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church many, many years ago that may have been this. Dvorak's rich musical language is perfectly suited to this very touching text.

On March 19th and 20th we will welcome Maestro James Feddeck to the podium and pianist Conrad Tao to the footlights. Mr. Tao will be performing Mozart's Piano Concerto in C, K. 503. It is always nice to hear some of the less-frequently performed Mozart Concerti, such as the A Major concerto we performed this past January. The Mozart will be bookended by Rossini's iconic Overture to William Tell and Mendelssohn's Third Symphony, the Scottish. This concert is bookmarked in my mind because of the gigantic cello solo and tender cello quintet that open the Rossini. Ascending arpeggios in the solo cello part are supposed to represent a sunrise. I have always wondered, with five such arpeggios, what kind of solar system this opera must have been composed for, to have five suns rising every morning! It must be a hot place. Later on in the work comes an English Horn solo, which has been quoted in countless Bugs Bunny cartoons, and the famous “galop” (aka “the Lone Ranger”) closes the work.

The April concerts will start off with a bang. Bedrich Smetana's Overture to The Bartered Bride is a relentlessly exciting work that helped earn Smetana the title (in the Czech Republic, at least) of the father of Czech music, over and above (and slightly before) even such a force as Dvorak. Pianist Antti Siirala will then perform Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 1, and guest conductor Vladimir Kulenovic will wrap things up with Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, Pastoral. I probably don't have to say this, but I will anyway: this is not the Pastoral Symphony from Handel's Messiah, which at the hands of lesser choral conductors becomes the musical equivalent of Sominex. Au contraire, this is Beethoven's “slice-of-life” symphony, with arguably the most amazing storm scene in the repertoire. It seems fitting to perform this bucolic work in April, which happens to be National Straw Hat Month, National Garden Month, and Grange Month.

All of this is leading up to Lucas Richman's final concert with us on May 14 and 15. This eclectic concert will be jam-packed with goodness, starting with Beethoven's powerful Egmont Overture. Concertmaster Gabe Lefkowitz will then be the soloist in the Tchaikowsky Violin Concerto, with the famous first movement after which everyone always claps. The second half of the concert will feature the Adagio (slow movement) from Mahler's Symphony No. 10, and Ravel's dazzling La Valse.

I Can't Wait! All concerts are at the Tennessee Theatre and start at 7:30.

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