Showcase Sommerfest 2014 - page 32

Mozart and Rachmaninoff
july 18
chaikovsky based his work on three separate themes,
each meant to portray one of the forces in the play.
the friar, the families, the lovers
The chorale-like opening passage suggests the pivotal
figure of Friar Laurence, alone in his cell. At the
, the music leaps ahead with a dark and thrusting
idea that reflects the violent struggles between the
Montague and Capulet families. And this in turn gives
way to the most famous part of this composition, the
soaring love music of the young Romeo and Juliet
themselves. The themes develop in a sonata form-like
structure: they alternate, collide, contrast, and finally
drive to the great cataclysm of the end.
Though it was inspired by Shakespeare’s tale,
and Juliet
isn’t bound by the need for exact musical
depiction. This may explain Tchaikovsky’s curious
choice of subtitle: he called this an “Overture-Fantasy
after Shakespeare.” The music drives to a shattering
climax, falls back to remember the lovers one last time,
and ends dramatically.
After the first performance, in Moscow on March 16,
1870, Tchaikovsky revised the work several times
before he reached a final version in 1880.
Romeo and
soon became a popular favorite, so much so that
when Tchaikovsky toured the United States in 1891
conducting his own music,
Romeo and Juliet
was on
every program.
Program note by
Eric Bromberger
was Mozart’s big project in the spring of
1786, but the composer repeatedly interrupted
himself to dash off several additional works,
including his Piano Concerto No. 23. He entered it
into his catalogue on March 2 and presumably played it
in Vienna soon after.
The first movement, music of lovely and touching
gallantry, is the essence of Mozartian reticence and
. Its second chord, darkened by an unexpected
G natural in the second violins, already suggests the
sadness that will cast fleeting shadows throughout the
Concerto and altogether dominate its slow movement. It
is both fascinating and delightful the way Mozart scores
the two main themes. He begins both with strings alone.
He continues the first with an answering phrase just for
winds, punctuated twice by forceful string chords, and
that leads to the first passage for full orchestra. In the new
theme he proceeds more subtly: a bassoon joins the violins
nine measures into the melody and, as though encouraged
by that, the flute appears in mid-phrase, with horns and
clarinets arriving just in time to reinforce the cadence. The
beginning of the development is spliced neatly into the
end of the exposition; the real activity is in the woodwinds,
and the piano accompanies with bright figurations. The
recapitulation brings new distribution of material between
solo and orchestra. Tonight Michael McHale performs
his own cadenza; afterward comes a buoyant coda whose
close is tongue-in-cheek matter-of-fact.
Slow movements in minor keys are surprisingly
uncommon in Mozart, master of melancholy in music,
and this one is in fact the last he writes. An
marking is rare, too, and this movement is an altogether
special transformation of the lilting
style. The
exquisite dissonances heard in the orchestra’s first
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
May 7, 1840, Votkinsk, Russia
November 6, 1893, St. Petersburg
Romeo and Juliet,
Wolfgang Amadè Mozart
January 27, 1756, Salzburg
December 5, 1791, Vienna
Concerto No. 23 in A major for Piano
and Orchestra, K. 488
1...,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31 33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,...52
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