On the Upbeat OCTOBER 2011 • VOLUME 5, EDITION 1
The Santa Barbara Symphony
Nir’s Notes Dear Friends, It is my pleasure and honor to welcome you to the opening concert of the Santa Barbara Symphony’s 59th season. After the long summer vacation we will warm up our engines with a piece by John Adams, entitled Tromba Lontana (Distant Trumpet). Not just one, but two stereophonically placed trumpets lead this fanfare in a minimalist style. Showing very original thinking, the composer replaces the traditional loud and bombastic character of a fanfare with a rather gentle and soft creation. The main theme will surely be recognized by our youngest audience members as part of the soundtrack of “Civilization IV.” Our first program of this season will feature internationally acclaimed cellist Lynn Harrell, performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto, one of the most beloved cello pieces of all times. This concerto is an example of a masterpiece that had a disastrous premiere at the opening concert of the London Symphony Orchestra’s 1919-20 season conducted by the composer himself. Now a beloved cornerstone of the repertoire, this is once again a reminder that history judges an artwork in different ways through the years, something we need to have in mind while programming new works. I am especially excited to share the stage with Maestro Harrell, who is also a great teacher and has taught members of our own cello section. In the second part of the concert we will indulge in the visionary and dream-like atmosphere of Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. Regarded as one of the most important symphonic works in the repertoire, this brilliantly orchestrated “program symphony” explores five dreamy episodes of an artist’s life including a ball, an execution and a witches’ Sabbath. The musicians and I are again looking forward to combining forces for this challenging program. But this is just the very beginning. Stay with us for a Fantastique Season!
Nir Kabaretti, Conductor Lynn Harrell, Cello
ADAMS Tromba Lontana (Fanfare for Orchestra)
ELGAR Cello Concerto in e minor, Op. 85
(1857-1934) Adagio — Moderato — Lento — Allegro molto Adagio Allegro non troppo — Poco più lento — Allegro molto
— I N TE R M I S S I O N — BERLIOZ Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14a (1803-1869) Reveries and Passions: Largo — Allegro agitato
e appassionato assai A Ball. Valse: Allegro non troppo Scene in the Country: Adagio March to the Scaffold: Allegretto non troppo Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath: Larghetto — Allegro
KDB will be broadcasting LIVE the Santa Barbara Symphony’s concert on Sat., October 22, 8 p.m. with hosts, Ramón Araïza, Music Scholar and Tim Owens, KDB’s Vice President and General Manager. Sponsored by:
SARA MILLER McCUNE ARTIST SPONSOR CONCERT SPONSOR
Nir Kabaretti Music and Artistic Director MEDIA SPONSOR
Join Ramón Araïza for “Music Behind the Music” beginning one hour before each concert!
SEASON MEDIA SPONSOR
Sponsored by Marlyn Bernard Bernstein
Lynn Harrell Lynn Harrell’s presence is felt throughout the musical world. A consummate soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, conductor and teacher, his work throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia has placed him in the highest echelon of today’s performing artists. Mr. Harrell is a frequent guest of leading orchestras throughout North America and Europe, collaborating with noted conductors including James Levine, Sir Neville Marriner, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, Leonard Slatkin, Yuri Temirkanov, Michael Tilson Thomas and David Zinman. He has also toured extensively to Australia and New Zealand as well as the Far East, including Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. An important part of Lynn Harrell’s life is summer music festivals, which include appearances at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, the Aspen and Grand Tetons festivals, and the Amelia Island Festival. Mr. Harrell has an extensive discography of solo and chamber music for the cello. He was awarded two GRAMMY® Awards — in 1981 for the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio and in 1987 for the complete Beethoven Piano Trios, both on Angel/EMI. Most recently, Mr. Harrell recorded Tchaikovsky’s Variations for Cello and Orchestra on a Rococo Theme, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 2, and Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Gerard Schwarz conducting (Classico). Since the start of the 2002-03 academic year, Mr. Harrell has taught cello at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. In the summer of 2006 he participated in the 10th Anniversary Morningside Music Bridge program in Shanghai. Mr. Harrell plays a 1720 Montagnana. He makes his home in Santa Monica, CA.
OTES JOHN ADAMS (BORN IN 1947)
Tromba Lontana (Fanfare for Orchestra) Composed in 1986. Premiered on April 4, 1986 in Houston, conducted by Sergiu Comissiona. Two solo trumpets, two flutes, two piccolos, two oboes, two clarinets, percussion, piano, harp and strings. Approximately 4 minutes. John Adams is one of today’s most acclaimed composers. Audiences have responded enthusiastically to his music, and he enjoys a success not seen by an American composer since the zenith of Aaron Copland’s career: a recent survey of major orchestras conducted by the League of American Orchestras found John Adams to be the most frequently performed living American composer; he received the University of Louisville’s distinguished Grawemeyer Award in 1995 for his Violin Concerto; in 1997, he was the focus of the New York Philharmonic’s Composer Week, elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and named “Composer of the Year” by Musical America Magazine; he has been made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture; in 1999, Nonesuch released The John Adams Earbox, a critically acclaimed ten-CD collection of his work; in 2003, he received the Pulitzer Prize for On the Transmigration of Souls, written for the New York Philharmonic in commemoration of the first anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, and was also recognized by New York’s Lincoln Center with a two-month retrospective of his work titled “John Adams: An American Master,” the most extensive festival devoted to a living composer ever mounted at Lincoln Center; from 2003 to 2007, Adams held the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall; in 2004, he was awarded the Centennial Medal of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences “for contributions to society” and became the first-ever recipient of the Nemmers Prize in Music Composition, which included residencies and teaching at Northwestern University; he has been
photo: christian steiner
granted an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University in England, an honorary membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and the California Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. Tromba Lontana (“Distant Trumpet” or “Trumpet in the Distance”) was composed in 1986 as one of some twenty fanfares commissioned by the Houston Symphony Orchestra in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the declaration of independence of the Republic of Texas. Tromba Lontana is, however, an unusual example of the species, since it eschews the brilliance and festivity of most fanfares, favoring instead music that is atmospheric rather than aggressive, “incredibly quiet, slowly moving, mysterious, almost ethereal,” in the composer’s own description.
EDWARD ELGAR (1857-1934)
Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 Composed in 1918-1919. Premiered on October 27, 1919 in London, conducted by the composer with Felix Salmond as soloist. Piccolo, two each of flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani and strings. Approximately 30 minutes. It is not impossible that the First World War was the most traumatic event in the history of Western civilization. Wars, intrigues, religious upheavals, disasters of every ilk had regularly wreaked havoc upon Europe from the beginning of recorded history, many reshaping political boundaries, changing ruling houses, or even redirecting basic philosophies. Nothing previous to The Great War, however, so profoundly altered the assumptions on which our civilization is founded. Between 1914 and 1918, three royal lines — Habsburg, Hohenzollern, Romanov — lost their thousand-year birthrights, the awesome destructiveness of modern technological warfare became stunningly apparent, social repression of ancient ancestry sought redress. World War I shaped not only political boundaries, it shaped our modern world. It taught us not about the fragility of human life (our most primitive Cro-Magnon ancestor who chiseled the first spear-point knew that), but about the fragility of our institutions, our culture, our civilized order— about the razor’s-edge balance on which they rest. When added to these profound concerns, the personal grief of death, deprivation and destruction left no one in the West untouched. Edward Elgar was no exception. It seemed that Elgar’s world was crumbling in 1918. The four years of war had left him, as so many others, weary and numb from the crush of events. Many of his friends of German ancestry were put through a bad time in England during those years; others whom he knew were killed or maimed in action. The traditional foundations of the British political system were skewed by the rise of socialism directly after the war, and Elgar saw his beloved Edwardian world drawing to a close. (He resembles another titan among fin-de-siècle musicians, Gustav Mahler, in his mourning of a passing age.) His music seemed anachronistic in an era of polychords and dodecaphony, a remnant of stuffy conservatism, and his 70th birthday concert in Queen’s Hall attracted only half a house. The health of his wife, his chief helpmate, inspiration and critic, began to fail, and with her passing in 1920, Elgar virtually stopped composing. His friends drifted away. He became a lonely old man, given to flinging about caustic remarks, even concerning his own music. At a rehearsal of the Cello Concerto in 1923, he turned to Ralph Vaughan Williams and said, “I am surprised that you came to hear this vulgar music.” The Cello Concerto, written just before his wife’s death, is Elgar’s last major work, and seems both to summarize his disillusion over the calamities of World War I and to presage the gnawing unhappiness of his last years. Wrote former New York Times critic Harold Schonberg, “In the elegiac Cello Concerto it is hard to escape the notion that Elgar— consciously or otherwise — was making a final statement, retreating into a private world from which he was never to emerge.” The adjectives “mellow,” “autumnal,” “resigned,” “meditative” all attach themselves appropriately to this introspective Concerto, which Elgar said mirrors “a man’s attitude to life.” Large sections of the Concerto are given over to the solitary ruminations of the cello in the form of recitative-like passages, such as the one that opens the work. The forms of the Concerto’s four movements only suggest traditional models in their epigrammatic concentration. The first movement is a ternary structure (A–B–A), commencing after the opening recitative. A limpid, undulating theme in 9/8 (Moderato) is given by the lower strings as the material for the first and third sections, while a related melody (12/8, with dotted rhythms) appears first in the woodwinds in the central portion. Elgar’s biographer Michael Kennedy wrote of the poignant mood of this movement, “This is overpoweringly the music of wood smoke and autumn bonfires, of the evening of life.”
The first movement is linked directly to the second (Allegro molto). It takes several tries before the music of the second movement is able to maintain its forward motion, but when it does, it proves to be a skittering, moto perpetuo display piece for the soloist, Elgar’s closest approach to overt virtuosity in this work. It is music, however, which, for all its hectic activity, seems strangely earth-bound, a sort of wild merriment not quite capable of banishing the dolorous thoughts of the opening movement. The almost-motionless stillness of the following Adagio returns to the introspection of the opening movement. It, in the words of Herbert Byard, “seems to express the grief that is too deep for tears.” Its calm resignation lays open a window into the soul of the composer that was usually well-shuttered by the vigor and complexity of much of his other music. The finale, like the opening, is prefaced by a recitative for the soloist. The movement’s form following this introductory section is based on the Classical rondo, and makes a valiant attempt at the “hail-and-well-met” vigor of Elgar’s earlier march music. Like the scherzando second movement, however, it seems more a nostalgic recollection of past abilities than a potent display of remaining powers. Toward the end, the stillness of the third movement creeps over the music, and the soloist indulges in an extended soliloquy. Brief bits of earlier movements are remembered before a final recall of the fast rondo music closes this thoughtful Concerto.
HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14a Composed in 1830. Premiered on December 5, 1830 in Paris, conducted by François Habeneck. Piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, four bassoons, four horns, two cornets, two trumpets, three trombones, tenor and bass tubas, timpani, percussion, two harps and strings. Approximately 50 minutes. By 1830, when he turned 27, Hector Berlioz had won the Prix de Rome and gained a certain notoriety among the fickle Parisian public for his perplexingly original compositions. Hector Berlioz was also madly in love. The object of his amorous passion was an English actress of middling ability, one Harriet Smithson, whom the composer first saw when a touring English theatrical company performed Shakespeare in Paris in 1827. During the ensuing three years, this romance was entirely onesided, since the young composer never met Harriet, but only knew her across the footlights as Juliet and Ophelia. He sent her such frantic love letters that she never responded to any of them, fearful of encouraging a madman. Berlioz, distraught and unable to work or sleep or eat, wandered the countryside around Paris until he dropped from exhaustion and had to be retrieved by friends. Berlioz was still nursing his unrequited love for Harriet in 1830 when, full-blown Romantic that he was, his emotional state served as the germ for a composition based on a musical “Episode from the Life of an Artist,” as he subtitled the Symphonie Fantastique. In this work, the artist visualizes his beloved through an opium-induced trance, first in his dreams, then at a ball, in the country, at his execution and, finally, as a participant in a witches’ sabbath. She is represented by a musical theme that appears in each of the five movements, an idée fixe (a term Berlioz borrowed from the just-emerging field of psychology to denote an unhealthy obsession) that is transformed to suit its imaginary musical surroundings. The idée fixe is treated kindly through the first three movements, but after the artist has lost his head for love (literally — the string pizzicati followed by drum rolls and brass fanfares at the very end of the March to the Scaffold graphically represent the fall of the guillotine blade and the ceremony of the formal execution), the idée fixe is transmogrified into a jeering, strident parody of itself in the finale in music that is still original and disturbing almost two centuries after its creation. The sweet-to-sour changes in the idée fixe (heard first in the opening movement on unison violins and flute at the beginning of the fast tempo after a slow introduction) reflect Berlioz’s future relationship with his beloved, though, of course, he had no way to know it in 1830. Berlioz did in fact marry his Harriet–Ophelia–Juliet in 1833, but their happiness faded quickly, and he was virtually estranged from her within a decade. The composer gave the following program as a guide to the Symphonie Fantastique: “A young musician of morbid sensibility and ardent imagination poisons himself with opium in a fit of amorous despair. The narcotic dose, too weak to result in death, plunges him into a heavy sleep accompanied by the strangest visions, during which his sensations, sentiments and recollections are translated in his sick brain into musical thoughts and images. The beloved woman herself has become for him a melody, like a fixed idea which he finds and hears everywhere. “PART I: Reveries and Passions. The young musician first recalls that uneasiness of soul he experienced before seeing her whom he loves; then the volcanic love with which she suddenly inspired him, his moments of delirious anguish, of jealous fury, his returns to loving tenderness, and his religious consolations. PART II: A Ball. He sees his beloved at a ball, in the midst of the tumult of a brilliant fête. PART III: Scene in the Country. One summer evening in the country he hears two shepherds
playing a ranz-des-vaches in alternate dialogue; this pastoral duet, some hopes he has recently conceived, combine to restore calm to his heart; but she appears once more, he is agitated with painful presentiments; if she were to betray him!...One of the shepherds resumes his artless melody, the other no longer answers him. The sun sets...the sound of distant thunder... solitude...silence... PART IV: March to the Scaffold. He dreams that he has killed his beloved, that he is condemned to death, and led to execution. The procession advances to a march which is now somber and wild, now brilliant and solemn. At the end, the idée fixe reappears for an instant, like a last love-thought interrupted by the fatal stroke. PART V: Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath. He sees himself at the Witches’ Sabbath, amid ghosts, magicians and monsters of all sorts, who have come together for his obsequies. He hears strange noises, groans, ringing laughter, shrieks. The beloved melody reappears, but it has become an ignoble, trivial and grotesque dance-tune; it is she who comes to the Witches’ Sabbath....She takes part in the diabolic orgy... Funeral knells, burlesque parody on the Dies Irae [the ancient ‘Day of Wrath’ chant from the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass for the Dead]. Witches’ Dance. The Witches’ Dance and the Dies Irae together.” ©2011 Dr. Richard E. Rodda
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©On the Upbeat, OCTOBER 2011 VOL. 5, EDITION 1. Published for Symphony Series concert subscribers by the Santa Barbara Symphony, 1330 State Street, Suite 102, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, (805) 898-9386 — A non-profit organization.
Published on Oct 18, 2011
October 22 & 23, 2011 Fantastique Opening at The Granada Theatre John Adams: Tromba Lontana Elgar: Cello Concerto Berlioz: Symphonie Fantas...