Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summer Reading List, Part 2

Where were we, I guess it was January! Personally, the bulk of next season's uncharted (by me) territory will be trod by the end of January. After that, the repertoire tends to be more familiar and includes some more of my all-time favorites. On the 21st and 22nd at the Tennessee Theatre, our guest conductor, Aram Demirjian, will lead the orchestra in an eclectic program that begins with music of John Adams and Gyorgy Ligeti. My favorite violin concerto, the Bruch, will follow, spotlighting violinist Philippe Quint, and what better way to get you over the January blues than Beethoven's radiant 7th Symphony? The 2nd movement Allegretto is as perfect a piece of music as has ever been written; if you have seen The Fall, Mr. Holland's Opus, The Darjeeling Limited, or The King's Speech, then you've heard it and know what I am talking about. There are probably three dozen movies all told that have sampled it.

Another eclectic Masterworks concert comes along on February, 18th and 19th, this time with guest conductor Eckart Preu. The repertoire comes from Spain-via-Weimar (Strauss' Don Juan), Verona-via-Moscow (Prokofiev's Suite from the Romeo and Juliet ballet), and..... Seymour!? Yessiree, Heritage High graduate Jennifer Higdon's blue cathedral is the most-performed orchestral work written in the last 25 years. In the classical realm people say “Higdon” as they would “Strauss” or “Mozart,” especially now that she has won a Pulitzer Prize for her Violin Concerto. Anyway, the wingspan of this repertoire will have us burning the midnight oil, for sure.

Mention the words “Brahms Sextet,” around string players, and they will coo. Both of his sextets are lush and captivating earlier works of his that set the bar out of reach for their genre. Gabe Lefkowitz and Friends performed the B-flat sextet in March of 2014, and will complete the cycle on April 6th and 7th at the Knoxville Museum of Art with the G Major Sextet. Coooo.... Gabe will return to the spotlight on the April 24th Chamber Classics concert, soloing on the Mozart G Major concerto. This concert, directed by Resident Conductor James Fellenbaum, will conclude with Dvorak's Serenade for Strings. As radiant as the Beethoven 7th but on a smaller scale, you can practically smell the kolaches during the 2nd movement Tempo di Valse.

By May, we will mostly likely have chosen a new Music Director.  Many things will be learned and revealed about the candidates, and I am really looking forward to the process.  The final Masterworks concert on May 12th and 13th will again be led by James Fellenbaum, and will feature Beethoven's longest (and IMHO, best) overture, the Leonore No. 3, with its cockamamie violin outburst and offstage trumpet call.  The concert (and the season) will end with a suite from Wagner's monumental Ring Cycle, music which always pushes the envelope on orchestral achievement.  It's fitting that maestro Fellenbaum gets the last word in on this season, a reward for his tireless, quality work piloting the orchestra between Music Directors, and for his capable and tactful handling of every duty with which the KSO has entrusted him in during his tenure here. We look forward to his continuing presence on the podium and in the community. Way to go, Jim!

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