Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sinfonia Concert No. 3

Jorge Villavicencio Grossman - Pasiphae

This 21st century composition used the language of soundscapes. Based on the composer's interpretation of a Jackson Pollack painting, I was at first unimpressed with the piece, its rhythmic language being simple when compare with the building chords and dynamics. But, as it was ground into my skull through repetitious rehearsals, I finally came to enjoy it, in at least a passive sense. Yet I will never consider it a masterwork.

Ralph Vaughn Williams - The Lark Ascending

This sonorous piece for solo violin is perhaps one of the most hauntingly beautiful in the entire repertoire. Every time I listen to the violin, my mind just floats away, just like the lark of the title taking flight. Adele Anthony played the part of the graceful bird, winding her way up in the sky, propelled by the movements of the string orchestra.

Edvard Grieg - Orchestra Songs

Jennifer Root, soprano, filled the tent with the sounds of three beautiful Norwegian songs. Grieg has always had an affinity for the lyricism of the human voice, writing nearly 180 songs that are now celebrated anthems. I sat on the edge of my seat in pure wonder.

Edvarg Grieg - Peer Gynt (Complete)

It is not everyday that an audience gets to hear the entire music composed for the play. People are familiar with the famous pieces "The Hall of the Mountain King," "Anitra's Dance," and "Morning Mood." The suites have been vastly popular with audiences, but it was not until 1988 that the complete score was prepared and published for concert use. While German and English translations are now available, the Aspen Festival chose to go back the original Norwegian texts. Combining the forces of a full orchestra, a choir and a 6-member cast of opera singers was not an easy management task, but in the end it was one of the best performances of the summer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sinfonia Concert No. 2

Prokofiev - Overture on Hebrew Themes

A wonderful Jewish clezmer tune, played tunefully on clarinet and echoed in the bassoon, settled over a churning lyric in the strings that emulated a street music box. This little piece, originally written for small chamber ensemble, provided a dash of humor to the audience wrapped in a classical music idiom.

Saint-Saens - Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor

One of the most fiery showpieces a violinist can have their arsenal, the student soloist took the helm of the orchestra and make them follow his bow through the work. Andrew Wan made the audience anguish over the slow movement, then gasp and rise to their feet.

Schumann- Symphony No. 2 in C Major

I have never been impressed with the symphonic writings of Robert Schumann. I have always thought of them as labored, lacking any decisive themes and leaving in more yawns than awe. But after watching Michael Stern work the orchestra hard to master every passage, I have a much greater appreciation for the work. I may even listen to it again...