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Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto
Series @ Strathmore I
Sunday, February 5, 2023 @ Strathmore at 3:00 PM
Valerie Coleman Seven O’Clock Shout
Ludwig van Beethoven Concerto for Piano No. 5 in E-flat major, op. 73 “Emperor”
~ Jon Nakamatsu, piano
Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga Overture to Los Esclavos Felices
Dmitri Shostakovich Symphony No. 1 in F minor, op. 10
Inspired by the evening serenades amidst pandemic isolation, Seven O’Clock Shout reminds us of the sacrifices of heroes. Celebrated pianist Jon Nakamatsu is featured in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5. Though it is a concerto, its scope is symphonic; a novel innovation for the time and remains the best known and most frequently performed of Beethoven’s five piano concertos. Arriaga’s opera tells the story of plucky Spanish nobles captured as slaves in Africa who find their way to freedom. 18-year-old Shostakovich burst onto the international music scene with his first Symphony, written to fulfill his graduation requirements from the Leningrad Conservatory. We can recognize the unmistakable personal voice that would become his signature.
Two Romantics – Brahms & Prokofiev
Series @ Strathmore II
Sunday, April 2, 2023 @ Strathmore at 3:00 PM
Behzad Ranjbaran Esther
Sergei Prokofiev Concerto for Violin No. 1 in D major, op. 19
~ Sayaka Shoji, violin
Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 73
The biblical story of Esther, who uses bravery and cunning to save the Jews of Persia, is the inspiration for this piece by Behzad Ranjbaran exploring the connections between music and mysticism of the Persian mythology of his native Iran. Simply too romantic for Paris audiences looking for riots like The Rite of Spring, the premiere of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 didn’t inspire. Happily, Russian audiences found it delightfully lyrical and “too romantic” is hardly an offense to modern ears. The D major Symphony by Brahms seems to reflect the composer’s relaxed state of mind during the happy summer of 1877. The lyrical character of the work—sometimes referred to as Brahms’s “Pastoral” Symphony—is remarkably intricate and unified, resulting in a composition that radiates energy and optimism from start to finish.
Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony
Series @ Strathmore III
Sunday, May 7, 2023 @ Strathmore at 3:00 PM
Michael-Thomas Foumai World Premiere
Erich Wolfgang Korngold Concerto for Violin in D major, op. 35
~ James Ehnes, violin
Camille Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 in C minor, op. 78 “Organ”
Korngold’s Violin Concerto is the late work of a prodigy that defies any suggestion that its composer lost his flair once his brilliant childhood was past. Part of the rich Viennese tradition, Korngold, famous for elevating the Hollywood film score to a high art, expected great artists to be endowed with a complete command of their technical resources and richly expressive. Grammy-winning violinist James Ehnes is sure to meet these expectations. Wagner famously espoused that after Beethoven’s Ninth the symphonic form could not be bettered. Camille Saint-Saëns with his Third Symphony said not so fast. His “somber and agitated” first movement and tranquil adagio leave you unprepared for the thundering finale announced by the organ roaring to a grand and glorious conclusion.