Showcase Sep-Nov 2014 - page 62

leather passage for the soloist before the music finally
settles down to a more temperate and lighthearted theme,
also initiated by the soloist, in the concerto’s home key of
D-flat major. A contrasting idea, somewhat introspective
and dour, is presented by the darker-colored instruments
of the orchestra. The
Andante assai
passage maintains the
position of the traditional slow movement, but is rather too
short to fulfill this role. It is more of an episode, consisting
of a single, long-breathed lyrical idea shared by orchestra
and soloist in turn. The exhilarating
Allegro scherzando
pits piano against orchestra in a thrilling display of athletic
prowess, motoric energy and witty interplay of ideas. For
the cadenza, the piano re-engages the principal theme
of the opening movement, and the concerto comes to a
resplendent close with the grandly soaring subject in D-flat
major with which it opened.
Instrumentation:
solo piano with orchestra comprising
2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons,
contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones,
tuba, timpani, bells and strings
Igor Stravinsky
Born:
June 17, 1882, Oranienbaum, near St. Petersburg
Died:
April 6, 1971, New York City
Divertimento: Symphonic Suite from
The Fairy’s Kiss
t
is entirely appropriate that this Russian program
open with Tchaikovsky and close with Stravinsky, for
since childhood, Stravinsky had been a fond admirer of
Tchaikovsky’s music. So when the dancer Ida Rubinstein
approached him in 1927 for a ballet for her new company,
he responded eagerly to the suggestion that he compose
something inspired by the music of his compatriot. The
fee offered was $7,500, a princely sum in those days.
(Rubinstein in the following year also commissioned
Ravel’s
Boléro
and in 1933 Stravinsky’s
Perséphone
.)
Both the subject and the scenario were for Stravinsky to
choose, and for these he went to the world of fairy tales,
just as Tchaikovsky had for his
Snow Maiden
music.
For his musical source material, Stravinsky decided upon
an assemblage of Tchaikovsky’s piano and vocal pieces
and wove them together with a deft compositional hand.
by more difficult writing, a zippy tune that suggests to
some listeners a child’s toy shop and to others the American
ditty “What Shall We Do with the Drunken Soldier?” The
two styles alternate and even combine at times throughout
the movement, always with prankish good humor and
ebullient effect. The slow movement simmers down for a
sweetly sentimental interlude. Without pause comes the
vivacious finale, whose most notable feature is its second
theme set to a lopsided rhythmic pattern in 7/8 meter.
Instrumentation:
solo piano with orchestra comprising
2 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns,
timpani, tenor drum and strings
Sergei Prokofiev
Born:
April 23, 1891, Sontzovka, near Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine
Died:
March 5, 1953, Moscow
Concerto No. 1 in D-flat major for Piano and
Orchestra, Opus 10
ergei Prokofiev showed his talents early. He was
composing before he was six, he had produced
an opera by 12, and for his application to the St.
Petersburg Conservatory, at 13, he submitted four operas,
two sonatas, a symphony and several piano works. During
his teens he studied with such luminaries as Glière,
Rimsky-Korsakov, Liadov and Tcherepnin. As a pianist he
was no less sensational. He appeared as soloist in his own
First Piano Concerto when he was 21 (July 25, 1912, in
Moscow) and less than two years later played the same
work, in place of the traditional classical concerto, for his
final examination at the St. Petersburg Conservatory before
a panel of 20 judges, each of whom had the published
score in his hands. Prokofiev considered it his first “more-
or-less mature composition,” and it became his first
published work.
the music
The concerto is a cross between a single-movement work
in several sections and a compressed concerto, its three
movements played without pause. A grandly soaring
theme for piano and orchestra in unison opens the work,
returns at the concerto’s midpoint and again at the very
end, providing a set of structural pillars. The tremendously
exuberant opening material is followed by a hell-for-
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MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA SHOWCASE
Program Notes
nov
6, 7, 8
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1...,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61 63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,...92
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