Titan

Masterworks 6

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March 17, 2017

Friday | 8:00 pm | Neel PAC
Tickets from $33 | Seat Layout

March 18, 2017

Saturday | 8:00 pm | Van Wezel
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March 19, 2017

Sunday | 2:30 pm | Van Wezel
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Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear "the Paganini of the trumpet,” Sergei Nakariakov, perform on the flugelhorn. You’ll be awed at the reinvented sound of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme as arranged and performed by Nakariakov. The exuberance of Bernstein’s Candide Overture makes a unique pairing to the majesty of Mahler’s massive Symphony No.1, called the "Titan."

PROGRAM

Leonard Bernstein (1918 -1990)

At once composer, conductor, performer, and educator, Leonard Bernstein was immersed in every aspect of music—and his belief in its power and importance was entirely sincere. One of his most profound statements has particular resonance today: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” The operetta Candide was in part born of this impulse. In 1953, Bernstein’s friend Lillian Hellman shared with him the parallel she saw between the Inquisition and the actions of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and proposed that they adapt Voltaire’s 1758 novella Candide—a satire of the Catholic Inquisition, among other things—for the stage. They began work immediately, and by the time of the work’s premiere in 1956, many people had contributed to its lyrics, including poet Richard Wilbur, John Latouche, Dorothy Parker, Stephen Sondheim, John Wells, and Bernstein himself. After its premiere at the Martin Beck Theater in New York on December 1, 1956, Candide received mixed reviews. The music was declared too sophisticated for musical theater, its libretto too heavy-handed.

Labeled a “comic operetta” by its creators, Candide tells the story of the naive youth Candide and his sassy sweetheart Cunégonde. Taught by his tutor Dr. Pangloss that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds,” Candide is sorely tested by a number of disasters—and eventually adjusts his world view. One of Bernstein’s most frequently performed compositions, the Overture to Candide combines music written afresh for the work with several memorable tunes:

Battle Music

Oh, Happy We

Glitter and Be Gay

The overture’s combination of straightforward, intensely lyrical tunes with complex rhythms and textures is a perfect illustration of the appeal of Bernstein’s music.

Program notes are written by Jennifer Glagov. jmglagov@gmail.com.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 -1893)
Sergei Nakariakov (b. 1977)

When Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother in December 1876 to say he was writing a concert piece for cello and orchestra in the manner of Haydn, he could not possibly have imagined what was about to happen. In March of 1877 (as described in the Masterworks 4 program note), he received a love letter from a former student, Antonina Miliukhova, who proclaimed that she would end her life if her beloved Tchaikovsky did not agree to meet her. While Tchaikovsky himself did not remember her, he married her shortly thereafter—most likely in an attempt to disavow his homosexuality. The marriage did not go well. Within a few months, Tchaikovsky had thrown himself into the river in an attempted suicide. None of this tumult is evident in the graceful and elegant Variations on a Rococo Theme, however, which was given its premiere in November 1877.

From the very start of the piece, Tchaikovsky creates an elegant musical world that belies his personal turmoil. The opening theme recalls Classical composers like Mozart and Haydn while the variations add an undeniably Romantic flair—particularly in the virtuosity of the solo instrument.

This difficulty is perhaps made more palpable in Sergei Nakariakov’s arrangement for flugelhorn, a brass instrument sometimes described as halfway between the trumpet and the french horn. In performing this work on an instrument other than the one for which the Variations were intended, Nakariakov exposes the ways the composer pushes the boundaries of the solo instrument’s capabilities.

Program notes are written by Jennifer Glagov. jmglagov@gmail.com.

Gustav Mahler (1860 -1911)

A series of false starts marked the start of Gustav Mahler’s career as a composer. Although he knew he wanted to write music by the time he was eighteen, he decided conducting was perhaps the more prudent choice. Not until 1888, when he was 27 years old, did he begin composing the work that ultimately became his first symphony. He was confident in the work’s success; as he later wrote, “I imagined naively that it was childishly simple, that it would please immediately, and that I was going to be able to live comfortably on the royalties I would earn.” Mahler quickly learned that it wasn’t so simple. After trying in vain to have his “Symphonic Poem in Two Parts” (as it was first called) premiered in Prague, Munich, Dresden, and Leipzig, Mahler finally conducted its debut himself in November 1889 in Budapest, where he was then director of the Hungarian Opera. Critics and audience members alike were unimpressed. Mahler completely revised the piece, unveiling it four years later in Hamburg as Titan: A Tone Poem in the Form of a Symphony. By its Berlin performance in 1896, the work was simply known as Symphony No. 1—and when Mahler jettisoned the program, he also excised the work’s original second movement, entitled “Blumine” (Flowers).

In its earliest guise as a “symphonic poem,” the symphony was structured in two parts—the first three movements, representing spring, daydreams, and a wedding procession, and the final two, a funeral procession and the progression to spiritual victory. As Titan, the division into two parts was retained, but Mahler added descriptive titles and extensive programs describing the metaphorical content of each movement. Why did Mahler ultimately strip away these extra-musical associations? The work’s evolution—from Symphonic Poem, to Titan, and finally to the generic First Symphony—illustrates the myriad attitudes towards “program music” in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The 1890s were the time of Richard Strauss’s rich tone poems Till Eulenspiegel, Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Quixote, and Ein Heldenleben, and in abandoning the idea of a program Mahler created a certain distance between himself and his colleague. At the same time, the extra-musical ideas that served as the symphony’s inspiration were very much in evidence, and Mahler struggled to resolve the contradiction.

Musically, Mahler’s First Symphony holds within it ambivalence towards the idea of program music. As he once mused, “To write a symphony is, for me, to construct a world,” and indeed, the First Symphony’s distinctive soundscape suggests a story more than the generic conventions that the term “symphony” suggests. Mahler draws much of its musical material from his Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), both quoting—especially the first and second—and using them as thematic material in the symphony.

The first movement, Langsam Schleppend (Slow and dragging), unfolds as if evoking dawn itself, weaving cuckoo calls and distant fanfares into its pastoral musical landscape.

Mahler takes the movement’s principal theme from the second Song of a Wayfarer, Ging heut’ Morgen übers Feld (I Went Out This Morning Through the Fields), echoing its original connection to “spring.”

A hearty Austrian Ländler, full of yodels and foot stomping, takes over in the ensuing Kräftig bewegt (Strongly moving), gradually giving way to a wistful Trio that conjures feelings of nostalgia and longing.

A woodcut depicting animals carrying a hunter to his grave inspires the ironic third movement, Feierlich und gemessen (Solemnly and measured). As the centerpiece of this funeral march, Mahler famously uses the French folk song Frère Jacques, which first appears—in the minor mode—as a lugubrious double bass solo. The tawdry Viennese cabaret music that dominates the Trio adds to the sardonic mood.

The final movement of the First Symphony--Stürmisch bewegt (Stormy)—begins with what Mahler originally called “the sudden outburst of a wounded heart.”

After this intense, tumultuous opening, including a strident march derived from the first movement, the music gives way to a richly lyrical melody that recalls the thematic material of the omitted “Blumine.”

A transformative fanfare points the way to the symphony’s final triumphant conclusion.

Program notes are written by Jennifer Glagov. jmglagov@gmail.com.

Classical Conversations

March 16, 2017 | 10:30 am | David Cohen Hall

Tickets & Info
The Sarasota Orchestra Friends invite you to join host Phillip Gainsley for Classical Conversations Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 10:30 am in David Cohen Hall. These concert previews are an opportunity to learn about Masterworks concerts from informed hosts who provide intriguing and helpful insights to the music.

Tickets for Classical Conversations are $12 at the door. Light refreshments, sponsored by Hotel Indigo, are served at 10:00 am, with the program beginning at 10:30 am.

Sponsors

Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation

Masterworks Season Title Sponsor

Gerri Aaron

Music Director Title Sponsor

Carol and Morton Siegler

Bernstein Overture Sponsors

Jeremy and Cynthia Guiles

Soloist Sponsors

Ernie Kretzmer

Mahler Symphony Sponsor

Producing Sponsors

Edie Winston in loving memory of Herb Winston
Charlotte and Charles Perret
Ronald and Geri Yonover Foundation

Fergeson Skipper

Corporate Sponsor Saturday Night

Media Sponsor

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Reviews

Written byHerald Tribune

 There's no doubt, audiences are thrilled by the Sarasota Orchestra's new music director, Anu Tali. She's brought an intense energy from the orchestra in previous performances and we found this yet again in a downright thrill ride of an encounter...  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Literally gripping the arms of my seat, I was not the only one propelled on this rollercoaster of delightful music.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Every section and soloist within the orchestra played their role with strength and beauty; every tree proud and tall. Tali served as an excellent guide leading the forces with assured confidence. The overall sound was lush and, yes, intense just where it needed to be.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 The Sarasota Orchestra was brimming with bubbling energy...  

Written byHerald Tribune

 A lifetime of musical moments, cinematic in scope, gave every section of the orchestra a leading role at one time or another. Chief among them was the virtuosic solo of concertmaster Daniel Jordan.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 It was a thrill ride resulting in an explosion of audience enthusiasm.  

Written byHerald Tribune

 Tali conveyed a clear vision for the dramatic outline of this symphony, carefully pacing the darker, searching character of the music with pastoral conversations among voices in the orchestra.  

Written byThe Observer

 If you haven’t seen Tali yet, this will be a great introduction to the skyrocketing conductor who’s quickly becoming a household name around the world. You’ll see why we feel we’re lucky to have her here.  

Written byThe Observer

 Andrew Lane, the Orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, knows how to program a winning event and this concert had something for everyone. It also brought in a whole new audience that seemed dazzled by the performances.  

Written byThe Observer

 The Sarasota Orchestra played a program this past weekend filled with so much color, it was like visiting the Louvre.  

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