Music Director Notes: Spheres of Revolution Jan 2016
Music Director Dick Pittman writes:
It’s particularly exciting to be working with the winner of this year’s Young Artist Competition, Nathaniel Abreu, who’ll be performing the Kabalevsky Cello Concerto No. 1. Nathaniel is an extraordinary talent. He’s not only technically brilliant and virtuosic, but he plays with great emotional expression. He really feels what he plays and the astonishing maturity and imagination of his interpretation of the music is supported by a technique that projects every fascinating nuance of his expressiveness. His performance is compellingly fascinating.
It’s deeply satisfying for the orchestra and me to be performing Beethoven’s Eroica. This masterpiece was inspired by Beethoven’s idolization of Napoleon but then Beethoven angrily crossed out the dedication to Napoleon in the score after Napoleon’s invasion of Austria. Each movement of the Eroica is an absolute marvel and a complete universe within itself. There is an inevitability about each note and, even for Beethoven, a heaven-sent inspiration of musical discourse. The first movement sweeps one along with wonderful lyricism and drama. The famous Funeral March second movement is a fascinatingly symphonic variation on the unforgettable opening theme. The scherzo is another perfect conception with the brilliant trio featuring the three French Horns playing a thrilling hunting call. The fourth movement is a long set of variations on a simple folk-like theme with some with a“flashback” to the Funeral March.
The Polish composer, Witold Lutoslawski, was one of the world’s greatest composers of the last half of the 20th century. I’ve placed his early Symphonic Variations, written in 1938, on the program because of the fact that Beethoven’s second and fourth movements are also “symphonic” (in every sense of the word ) variations. Lutoslawski starts his piece with a very simple “theme” in the flute (another similarity to Beethoven’s fourth movement). Lutoslawki’s orchestra is a larger and more colorful 20th century orchestra with more winds, brass, percussion and harp, celesta and piano than Beethoven’s 1803 orchestra. Lutoslawski’s makes wonderful use of the color of the various instruments and sections of the orchestra. Many moments use small groups of instruments like chamber music, but the overall effect is a gradual build-up of intensity that sweeps the listener (and the orchestra) along to the end.
Richard Pittman, Music Director