On the Upbeat May 2014 • Volume 7, Edition 7
2013-2014 Subscription Series
May 17 and 18, 2014
A few words
Dvořák & Shostakovich
Dear Music Lovers, It is my pleasure to continue welcoming you to our 61st season. Each program of our subscription series is offering something unique and special which combines the greatest works of the symphonic repertoire together with some works that we are delighted to unveil for you. The programs of the season bring flavors from four centuries of music history, and include versatile styles and different emotions and experiences. Join us to rediscover some of your favorite music, with interesting connections that you may not have thought of before. Because education is at the core of our mission, we strive to make each season a feast of learning and growth. Whether you’re new to the world of the classics or a seasoned expert, our goal as a symphony family is to explore, teach and learn together. Discovering something new and making classical music part of our community is our vision and by joining us this season you can help make it a reality. No season is complete without a celebration of some of the very best this art form has to offer—and this season we’re performing works by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Copland, Wagner, Verdi and many others, from the exquisite talents of Hélène Grimaud to the undeniably powerful compositions of Dmitri Shostakovich, all played by the motivated and passionate musicians of the Santa Barbara Symphony. Joining us this season gives you the chance to rediscover the music you love. Come celebrate with us, and I look forward to seeing you at the fabulous Granada Theatre!
Nir Kabaretti, Conductor Sara Sant’Ambrogio, Cello
SHERIFF Akeda (The Sacrifice of Isaac)
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Allegro Adagio ma non troppo Finale: Allegro moderato
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SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 5, Op. 47 Moderato – Allegro non troppo – Moderato Allegretto Largo Allegro non troppo
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Sara Sant’Ambrogio cello
Grammy Award-winning cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio first leapt to international attention when she was a winner at the Eighth International Tchaikovsky Violoncello Competition in Moscow, Russia. As a result of her medal, Carnegie Hall invited Ms. Sant’Ambrogio to perform a recital that was filmed by CBS News as part of a profile about her, which was televised nationally. Ms. Sant’Ambrogio has appeared as a soloist with such orchestras as Atlanta, the Beijing Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Budapest, Chicago, Dallas, Moscow State Philharmonic, the SARA SANT’AMBROGIO Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Osaka Century Orchestra (Japan), The Royal Philharmonic, St. Louis, San Francisco and Seattle. Sara has also performed with Sting, Trudie Styler, and Joshua Bell in the production of “Twin Spirits,” the story of the love affair between Robert and Clara Schumann. Ms. Sant’Ambrogio started cello studies with her father John Sant’Ambrogio, principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony, and at the age of 16 was invited on full scholarship to study with David Soyer at the Curtis Institute of Music. Three years later world renowned cellist Leonard Rose invited Ms. Sant’Ambrogio to study at The Juilliard School; within weeks of arriving, she won the all-Juilliard Schumann Cello Concerto Competition, resulting in the first of many performances at Lincoln Center. Ms. Sant’Ambrogio won a Grammy Award for her performance of Bernstein’s “Arias and Barcarolles” on Koch Records. Ms. Sant’Ambrogio has been profiled in Strings, Glamour, Gramophone, Vogue, Strad, Elle, In Fashion, Bon Appetit, Detour, Travel and Leisure, Fanfare and Swing magazines, as well as multiple newspaper and television networks. Ms. Sant’Ambrogio is a founding member of the Eroica Trio. The Trio won the prestigious 1991 Naumburg Award, resulting in an acclaimed Lincoln Center debut and has since extensively toured the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand. While touring the globe, Eroica has released eight celebrated recordings for Angel EMI Classics Records, garnering multiple Grammy nominations.
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Program Notes by Dr. Richard E. Rodda Akeda (The Sacrifice of Isaac) (1997)
“Isaac’s ‘sacrifice’ symbolizes and expresses one of the most significant ideas in Judaism. As against the idea of Greek tragedy in its structure and consequences, Jewish thinking does not easily accept tragedy. Tragic events, in all their complexities, are only a kind of a ‘purgatorio’ towards redemption. It is not only the story of Abraham but also the story of Job that yields a so-called ‘happy ending’ with its annexed canon of morals. “This composition was written in memory of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, whose brutal assassination questioned the statement above. Contrary to the Bible, our Yitzhak was sacrificed tragically. Some may argue, however, that he risked his life on the altar of the peace process. I conceived the work in the form of a passacaglia [a piece built of variations upon a repeating phrase or harmonic pattern]. As the passacaglia moved forward, I felt looming on the horizon the opening bars of Gesualdo’s madrigal Moro, Lasso (I die, alas, in my suffering, published in Genoa in 1613). I felt that this eloquent cry of anguish fit the mood of Akeda perfectly, so the first four harmonies of the madrigal are interwoven as a kind of ‘ritornello’ [a returning element] bringing the work to its peaceful end.”
Noam Sheriff (born in 1935)
Approximately 10 minutes Israeli composer and conductor Noam Sheriff, born in Tel Aviv in 1935, began studying composition privately when he was fourteen with the highly respected Paul Ben-Haim, and continued his music education with Ze’ev Priel (conducting and piano) and Horst Salomon (horn); he also studied philosophy during the late 1950s at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, conducting with Igor Markevitch in Salzburg (1955) and composition with Boris Blacher at the Berlin Musikhochschule (1959–1962). Sheriff’s works — an opera, a ballet and numerous compositions for orchestra and chamber ensembles that synthesize Western and Middle Eastern influences — have been regularly performed in Israel and internationally since. Sheriff is also recognized as one of the country’s leading teachers of composition and conducting, having served on the faculties of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv universities as well as the Musikhochschule in Cologne and the Mozarteum in Salzburg; he was director of Tel Aviv University’s Rubin Academy of Music from 1998 to 2000 and in 2012 was appointed Dean of the music faculty at the ONO Academic College in the Tel Aviv suburb of Kiryat Ono. Among Sheriff’s many honors are the Acum Prize (1991, for his life’s work), EMET Prize (2003, Israel’s highest award for excellence in culture and sciences) and Israel Prize (2011, the nation’s highest honor). The composer wrote, “Akeda in Hebrew has a very special meaning. It is not simply ‘a sacrifice,’ but it relates specifically to the famous scene in the Bible in which Abraham takes Isaac to sacrifice him to God. At the last minute, Isaac is replaced by a sheep. The Lord tried Abraham, and Abraham stood with inhuman courage this severest of all tests.
Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104 (1894-1895) Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Approximately 30 minutes
During the three years that Dvořák was teaching and composing in New York City, he was subject to the same emotions as most other travelers away from home for a long time: invigoration and homesickness. America served to stir his creative energies, and during his stay from 1892 to 1895 he composed Continues
NOTES, From Page 3
not appear in the score — the Fifth Symphony was created and presented to an enthusiastic public. Shostakovich had apparently returned to the Soviet fold, and in such manner that in 1940 he was awarded the Stalin Prize, the highest achievement then possible for a Russian composer. Since the appearance in 1979 of the purported memoirs of Shostakovich (Testimony), however, the above tale needs some reconsideration. The prevailing interpretation of the Fifth Symphony had been that generally it represented triumph through struggle, à la Beethoven’s Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, and specifically the composer’s renunciation of his backslidden ideological ways. But in Testimony, Shostakovich, bitter, ill, disillusioned, said, “I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the [finale of the] Fifth Symphony. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat, as in Boris Godunov. It’s as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying, ‘Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,’ and you rise, shaky, and go marching off muttering, ‘Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.’ What kind of apotheosis is that? You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that. People who came to the premiere in the best of moods wept.” Shostakovich’s thoughts about the Fifth Symphony bear directly on the listener’s perception of the work. The key to the work’s meaning, its finale, can not be seen just as a transcendence or negation of the tragic forces invoked in the earlier movements, especially the third, but rather as an affirmation of them. The boisterous trumpets and drums are not those of a festival or a peasant dance, but of a forced death march — Stalin’s “exterminations” outnumbered those of Hitler. The Fifth Symphony arose not from Shostakovich’s glorification of his nation. It arose from his pity. The sonata-form first movement begins with a stabbing theme in close imitation. The tempo freshens for the second theme, an expansive melody of large intervals. The sinister sound of unison horns in their lowest register marks the start of the development. The intensity of this section builds quickly to a powerful, almost demonic march. The recapitulation rockets forth from a series of fierce brass chords. The scherzo brims with sardonic humor. The Symphony’s greatest pathos is reserved for the Largo. For much of its length, the expression is subdued, but twice the music gathers enough strength to hurl forth a mighty, despairing cry. The finale is in three large sections. The outer sections are boisterous and extroverted, the central one, dark-hued and premonitory. Whether the mood of rough vigor of this framing music or the tragedy of the central section stays longer in the mind is a matter listeners must determine for themselves. The delicate formal balance that Shostakovich achieved here could be tipped in either direction depending on the experience the individual brings to it. Only great masterworks can simultaneously be both so personal and so universal.
some of his greatest scores: the “New World” Symphony, the Op. 96 Quartet (“American”) and the Cello Concerto. He was keenly aware of the new musical experiences to be discovered in the land far from his beloved Bohemia when he wrote, “The musician must prick up his ears for music. When he walks he should listen to every whistling boy, every street singer or organ grinder. I myself am often so fascinated by these people that I can scarcely tear myself away.” But he missed his home and, while he was composing the Cello Concerto, looked eagerly forward to returning. He opened his heart in a letter to a friend in Prague: “Now I am finishing the finale of the Cello Concerto. If I could work as free from cares as at Vysoká [site of his country home], it would have been finished long ago. Oh, if only I were in Vysoká again!” The Concerto’s opening movement is in sonata form, with both themes presented by the orchestra before the entry of the soloist. The first theme is heard immediately in the clarinets. “One of the most beautiful melodies ever composed for the horn” is how Sir Donald Tovey described the second theme. Otakar Sourek, the composer’s biographer, described the second movement as a “hymn of deepest spirituality and amazing beauty.” It is in threepart (A–B–A) form. The finale is a rondo of dance-like nature. Following the second reprise of the theme, a slow section recalls both the first theme of the opening movement and a melody from the Adagio.
Symphony No. 5, Op. 47 (1937) Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Approximately 45 minutes “COMPOSER REGAINS HIS PLACE IN SOVIET,” read a headline of The New York Times on November 22, 1937. “Dmitri Shostakovich, who fell from grace two years ago, on the way to rehabilitation. His new symphony hailed. Audience cheers as Leningrad Philharmonic presents work.” Shostakovich’s career began before he was twenty with the success of his cheeky First Symphony; he was immediately acclaimed the brightest star in the Soviet musical firmament. The mid-1930s, however, the years during which Stalin tightened his iron grasp on Russia, saw a repression of the artistic freedom of Shostakovich’s early years, and some of his newer works were assailed with the damning criticism of “formalism.” The storm broke in an article in Pravda on January 28, 1936 entitled “Muddle Instead of Music.” The “muddle” was the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mzensk District, a lurid tale of adultery and murder that is one of Shostakovich’s most powerful creations. The denunciation, though it urged Shostakovich to reform his compositional ways, also encouraged him to continue his work, but in a manner consistent with Soviet goals. As “A Soviet composer’s reply to just criticism” — a phrase attributed to Shostakovich by the press, though it does
©2013 Dr. Richard E. Rodda
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©On the Upbeat, MAY 2014 VOL. 7, EDITION 7. 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 May 9, 2014