Saturday Evening Allegro Series

Anthony Ross, cello | Photo ©Joel Larsen

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies No. 2 & 5

About This Concert:

Our star principal cellist, Anthony Ross, steps into the Tchaikovsky Marathon spotlight to spin one gorgeous melody after another in the Rococo Variations, in between performances of two Tchaikovsky symphonies in one night.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Osmo Vänskä, conductor
  • Anthony Ross, cello

TCHAIKOVSKY
Symphony No. 2
Variations on a Rococo Theme
Symphony No. 5

Fun Facts:

  • The inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 came from his sister’s butler, who sang Ukrainian folksongs around the house while Tchaikovsky worked.
  • Tchaikovsky’s Rococo theme doesn’t come from the Rococo era (late-18th century), but his own imagination inspired by his hero Mozart, and is followed by eight variations, each more ornate and beautiful than the one before.
  • The word rococo comes from the French word rocaille, which means rock-and-shell garden ornamentation; the style created intricate and whimsical shell-like curves in statues, architecture and design of all kinds.
  • Ten years had passed since Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony when–full of doubt–he started work on his Fifth. After its premiere he said, “I have come to the conclusion that it is a failure.” Today it is his most often-performed symphony.
Louis Lortie, piano | Photo © Elias

Wagner, Liszt and Schumann

About This Concert:

Wagner’s beautiful chamber work Siegfried Idyll, Liszt’s glittering Piano Concerto No. 1 and the soaring Symphony No. 2 by Schumann.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Markus Stenz, conductor
  • Louis Lortie, piano

WAGNER
Siegfried Idyll

LISZT
Piano Concerto No. 1

SCHUMANN
Symphony No. 2

Fun Facts:

  • Richard Wagner surprised his wife at Christmas long ago with Siegfried Idyll, and her standards were awfully high, as she was also the daughter of Franz Liszt.
  • Of course the piano is the most important instrument in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, but the tiny solo triangle comes in a surprisingly close second.
  • Canada’s Louis Lortie knows his Liszt, and his recent Liszt recording won a “Ten Best” citation from The New Yorker.
  • Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 was a triumph against all odds, written while the composer weathered debilitating mental-health challenges and a constant ringing in his ears.

 

Andrew Litton, conductor | Photo © Greg Helgeson

Andrew Litton and the Minnesota Chorale: Bernstein and Walton

About This Concert:

A huge success at its 1930s premiere and beloved by orchestras and choirs since, Belshazzar’s Feast tells the ancient Hebrew story of lamentation and liberation.

  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Andrew Litton, conductor
  • Christopher Maltman, baritone
  • Minnesota Chorale

BERNSTEIN
Fancy Free
Chichester Psalms

WALTON
Belshazzar's Feast

Fun Facts:

  • Leonard Bernstein, linked so strongly to Manhattan by his Broadway successes and his years leading the New York Philharmonic, was born 100 years ago—outside Boston.
  • Bernstein’s Fancy Free is a ballet set in WWII-era New York, the comic story of three sailors on leave and looking for love.
  • Belshazzar’s Feast sets Hebrew scripture about the overthrow of Babylonia’s King Belshazzar to sweeping music.
  • The British Broadcasting Corporation commissioned Walton in 1929 to create a “small-scale” choral work, but instead he wrote Belshazzar’s Feast for a chorus and orchestra so large they couldn’t fit into BBC studios.
  • Sir Thomas Beecham conducted the premiere, and as he saw the work-in-progress getting larger and larger he said, “My dear boy, because no one will ever hear this piece again, why not throw in a couple of brass bands?”
  • After the huge success of its 1931 premiere, Belshazzar’s Feast became one of the most popular oratorios of the 20th century.
  • Since his last performance at Orchestra Hall in 2008, Christopher Maltman returns with the Minnesota Chorale.

It takes a larger-than-life talent to bring William Walton’s sweeping oratorio Belshazzar’s Feast to life, and Andrew Litton is just that talent–with a Grammy-winning® recording to prove it. Litton joins us in spring to lead this inspirational setting from the Hebrew scriptures about the liberation of the Jewish people.


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