Showcase Sep-Nov 2014 - page 33

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SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2014 MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA
andante sostenuto.
Over a muted bass line and plaintive
thirds piped by the flutes, the cello initiates a dialogue
with the oboe, which responds at the distance of a
single measure, weaving a canonic texture. The mood is
melancholy and tender, as the music flows over the gently
rocking motion of the siciliano rhythm, creating a pastoral
atmosphere. After considerable variation of the tune,
a broad crescendo in the cello carries the rhetoric to a
passionate climax before the tranquil close.
molto allegro ed appassionato.
The finale ranges through
many moods, starting from strong orchestral statements
affirmed by the cello. The themes are ample, and the
most provocative episode of the rondo-like movement
appears after a dramatic pause. The cello intones a
dirge-like strain cast over a stark ground bass; the hollow
bass pattern is repeated five times. The expression grows
vehement, building to a stricken orchestral cry before the
cello’s commanding voice rings out. So dramatic is this
episode that it is tempting to relate it to the horrors of the
war that Barber and his generation had just experienced.
Some have said that Barber discarded his original
third movement and wrote this version on the day that
Hiroshima was bombed, August 6, 1945. When the tempo
picks up, the dialogue between soloist and orchestra
resumes, full of animation and with spurts of playfulness.
But there is a full reprise of the mournful interlude, again
evoking dry-eyed grief, after which a short, passionate
cadenza keeps the music moving forward. A solo trumpet
interacts with the cello in still another miniature cadenza
before the music drives to a spirited finish.
Instrumentation:
2 flutes, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets
(1 doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 2 horns,
3 trumpets, timpani, snare drum and strings
Excerpted from a program note by
Mary Ann Feldman
.
Gustav Mahler
Born:
July 7, 1860, Kalischt, Bohemia
Died:
May 18, 1911, Vienna
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection
n August 1886, the 26-year-old Mahler was appointed
second conductor at the theater in Leipzig. He soon
made the acquaintance of Baron Carl von Weber,
Barber from the outset collaborated with Garbousova.
Before she wrote anything, she played through her entire
repertoire for him, he taking note of what she did best on the
instrument. For instance, her penchant for the high registers
was subsequently exploited in the finale of the concerto.
Progress was slow and methodical, but they stayed in close
communication and made changes up to the last minute.
‘a wow of a cello concerto’
By September 28, 1945, when Barber was discharged
from the Army, the concerto was finished. He had
completed one of the finest cello concertos of the
century, one that stands up well alongside the cello
works of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Composer Gian
Carlo Menotti, Barber’s partner, enthused: “Sam has
just finished a wow of a cello concerto which will
make the cellist’s hair stand.” He wasn’t exaggerating:
Barber’s Opus 22 is one of the most difficult works in
the repertoire. Cellist Leonard Rose, who performed it
under Leonard Bernstein in the ’60s, called it the hardest
concerto he ever tackled.
the music
The premiere, played by Garbousova with the Boston
Symphony on April 5, 1946, elicted plenty of kudos,
including from that most fastidious of critics, composer Virgil
Thomson, then writing for the New York
Herald Tribune
:
It is full of thought about musical expression
in general and about the possibility for musical
expression of the violoncello in particular. It is full
of ingenious orchestral devices for accompanying
the instrument without drowning it. And it is
full of reasonably good tunes….The working up
of these into a richly romantic, well-sustained
structure is musical, masterful, thoughtful and not
without a certain Brahms-like grandeur….
allegro moderato.
The concerto opens with an orchestral
exposition in the classical vein. The first movement
springs from a brisk motif, strongly syncopated and
evoking breeziness; the jaunty rhythmic idea depends
on only three notes but commands lots of attention,
especially when it turns up elsewhere. But the principal
subject is lyrical—an expressive strain given out by a
flute and the English horn. Once the main thoughts have
been established, the soloist delivers a soliloquy, entering
cadenza-like over a backdrop of sustained harmonies.
Then a flowing, long-limbed theme is heard, focused
initially on the cello; its seriousness is diluted by a playful
episode. The material, shared by soloist and orchestra,
is expansive and continuous. Before the close, a sizable
cadenza ranges through various moods until the main
theme is reprised in the clear tones of the solo oboe.
sept
26, 27, 28
Program Notes
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