“Summer Replay” Serves Up Mozart, Berlioz & Tchaikovsky
As summer comes to a close, we would like to thank all of our new and returning patrons for tuning in to our free, virtual Summer Replay Series! Here’s a quick recap of all the concerts we have available – all 3 are available until the dates noted below.
Shaham Plays Mozart … Available through Sept. 26
Acclaimed “first-rate Mozartean” by the Chicago Tribune, and “exquisite Mozart interpreter” by The Orange County Register, internationally-renowned Orli Shaham performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major. This bright and joyous work is one of the rare concertos that Mozart composed for another soloist to perform, instead of himself—the Austrian pianist Barbara Ployer.
According to American musicologist and critic Michael Steinberg, “On May 27, 1784, Mozart paid 34 kreuzer—roughly $10 in today’s money—for a starling who could whistle the beginning of the finale of his G Major Piano Concerto, or at least something very close to it. Mozart jotted down the musical notation in his account book with the comment ‘Das war schön’—‘That was fine!’—even though the bird insisted on a fermata at the end of the first full measure and on sharping the G’s in the next bar.”
Eileen Jeanette, senior vice-president of artistic planning, opens this performance with an interview with Orli Shaham.
Symphonie Fantastique … Available through Oct. 10
One of the most revolutionary works in classical literature, Hector Berlioz’s 1830 Symphonie Fantastique, showcases large strides forward from the typical instrumentation and musical form that was commonplace in that time. Contrasting themes of light and dark, like gracious ballroom dances with psychedelic depictions of a witches’ sabbath, the piece shows the composer’s obsessive love of the great Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson.
The first movement, “Reveries – Passions,” introduces the idée fixe—the object of fixation that appears in every movement following, represents the object of the Artist’s love. The second movement, “A Ball,” takes us to a ball, where the harps lead the waltz in which the Artist is trying to win the attention of his beloved. The third movement, “Scene in the Fields,” takes place in the countryside and opens with an echo from Berlioz’s childhood: the sound of a cowherd’s melody. This masterwork’s darker, more sinister side is demonstrated in the fourth movement, titled “March to the Scaffold,” where the Artist is executed for the murder of his beloved. Finally, the fifth movement, “Dream of a Witch’s Sabbath,” is represented as a satanic fantasy, where the Artist is surrounded by sorcerers and monsters for his funeral, as well as his beloved, now a witch. The well-known Dies Irae theme is established in this movement, and the orchestra divides to enact the ritual.
Opening with an interview with Principal Bassoonist Rose Corrigan by Eileen Jeannette, this performance is one which you don’t want to miss.
Tchaikovsky Spectacular … Available through Oct. 24
It is safe to say that most people recognize the flashy side of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture: the cannons, the church bells, the stabs of brass. This work is known for being widely used to accompany 4th of July fireworks shows, or in movies and TV shows, such as in the opening and ending scenes of the 2005 film V for Vendetta.
The fame and use in popular culture of this piece can be traced back in history. Tchaikovsky was tasked to compose this piece for the opening of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, Russia, and a century later, it was used to accompany a Boston Pops 4th of July show under Arthur Fiedler. This event combined Tchaikovsky’s celebratory work with celebratory fireworks for a brilliant and spectacular tradition.
Along with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, this performance includes Rimsky Korsakov’s “Procession of the Nobles” from Mlada, and Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances” from Prince Igor. The concert opens with an interview with Principal Trumpet Barry Perkins, hosted by Eileen Jeanette.
Alessandra Ramos is a Los Angeles-based music writer, oboist and marketing intern for Pacific Symphony.