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On the Upbeat NOVEMBER 2010 • VOLUME 4, EDITION 2

The Santa Barbara Symphony

Nir’s Notes

2 0 1 0 - 2 0 11 S E A S O N

Dear Music Lovers: The 2010-2011 season-opening concerts were every conductor’s dream: Beethoven’s Ninth, stellar musicians, sold-out concerts and standing ovations! The November program promises to be equally stimulating. To begin, we will take you on a dazzling journey based on the Arabian Nights Tales of One Thousand and One Nights. Scheherazade by Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov is not only the title of the featured symphonic work, but of the courageous Persian queen and storyteller who was able to keep the Persian king’s curiosity for One Thousand and One nights, thus saving her life and winning the King’s heart. Inspired by the divine queen “Scheherazade,” RimskyKorsakov’s tone poem is an orchestral masterpiece featuring most of the principal players in brilliant and colorful melodies including our concertmaster Caroline Campbell in the memorable Scheherazade theme on the violin. Joining us for the second half of the program is the vibrant Argentine-Venezuelan pianist Sergio Tiempo. Sergio was to have performed with us in May of 2008 but was forced to take shelter in his hotel room as Santa Barbara battled the Jesusita Fire. We are delighted to welcome Sergio back to finally make his debut with the Santa Barbara Symphony in one of the most beloved piano concerti of all time: Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The November program will be the last subscription concerts under the leadership of our Executive Director John Robinson. I don’t know of many EDs worldwide who can recite, by memory, “Freude Schoener Goetterfunken” (from Beethoven’s 9th) or who are able to sing and recognize almost every theme from the Symphonic and Choral Repertoire. Our John is able to do that in addition to all of the other skills and talents which have made him such a successful Executive Director! I want to thank John for the wonderful and enriching time that we have worked together, and for being such a passionate and supportive partner. While it is with sadness that I bid John farewell, I am very happy for the new opportunities that lie ahead for his family and wish them all the best.

November 13-14, 2010 Nir Kabaretti, conductor Sergio Tiempo, piano IMSKY-KORSAKOV Scheherazade, Symphonic R (1844-1908) Suite, Op. 35

The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship The Story of the Kalandar Prince The Young Prince and the Young Princess Festival at Baghdad — The Sea — Shipwreck

— INTERMISSION —

TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in (1840-1893) B-flat minor, Op. 23

Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso — Allegro con spirito Andantino semplice — Prestissimo Allegro con fuoco

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Sergio Tiempo

piano

Described by Gramophone magazine as “a colourist in love with the infinite variety a piano can produce”, Sergio Tiempo has developed a reputation as one of the most individual and thought provoking pianists of his generation. Tiempo established his international credentials at an early age, making his professional debut at the age of fourteen at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. A tour of the USA and a string of engagements across Europe quickly followed. Since then he has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors and is a frequent guest at major festivals worldwide. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Tiempo began his piano studies with his mother, Lyl Tiempo, at the age of two and made his concert debut when he had just turned three. Whilst at the Fondazione per il Pianoforte in Como, Italy, he worked with Dimitri Bashkirov, Fou Tsong, Murray Perahia and Dietrich FischerDieskau. He has received frequent musical guidance and advice from Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire and Nikita Magaloff and performs regularly with fellow-countryman and friend Gustavo Dudamel including concerts with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. Sergio Tiempo has made a number of highly distinctive and acclaimed recordings. On EMI Classics’ ‘Martha Argerich Presents’ label, he recorded Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit and three Chopin Nocturnes, and for Deutsche Gramophon he has recorded several discs with Mischa Maisky, including a disc of Rachmaninov which was awarded five stars by Classic FM and the BBC Music Magazine, which also named it their benchmark Recording. Most recently, Sergio Tiempo released a disc of French music for two pianos with Karin Lechner for Avanti Classic entitled La Belle Epoque. In the current season, Tiempo appears with the Bournemouth Symphony, Iceland Symphony, RTÉ Dublin, Gothenburg Symphony, Malmö Symphony and the Hallé Orchestra and makes his recital debuts at the Vienna Konzerthaus and London’s Wigmore Hall, and at the Berlin Philharmonie in a chamber music program. Future seasons include concerts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in Paris and on tour to South America, the Northern Sinfonia, and his recital debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in the International Piano Series.

Notes NIKOLAI RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)

Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite, Op. 35 Composed in 1888. Premiered on December 15, 1888 in St. Petersburg, conducted by the composer. Piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp and strings. Approximately 40 minutes. “In the middle of the winter [of 1888], engrossed as I was in my work on Prince Igor and other things, I conceived the idea of writing an orchestral composition on the subject of certain episodes from Scheherazade.” Thus did Nikolai RimskyKorsakov give the curt explanation of the genesis of his most famous work in his autobiography, My Musical Life. His friend Alexander Borodin had died the year before, leaving his magnum opus, the opera Prince Igor, in a state of unfinished disarray. Rimsky-Korsakov had taken it upon himself to complete the piece, and may well have been inspired by its exotic setting among the Tartar tribes in 12th-century central Asia to undertake his own embodiment of musical Orientalism. The stories on which he based his work were taken from the Thousand and One Nights, a collection of millennium-old fantasy tales from Egypt, Persia and India which had been gathered together, translated into French and published in many installments by Antoine Galland beginning in 1704. They were in large part responsible for exciting a fierce passion for


turquerie and chinoiserie among the fashionable classes of Europe later in the century, a movement that left its mark on music in the form of numerous tintinnabulous “Turkish marches” by Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and a horde of lesser nowfaded lights, and in Mozart’s rollicking opera The Abduction from the Seraglio. The taste for exoticism was never completely abandoned by musicians (witness Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers or Puccini’s Madama Butterfly or Turandot or even The Girl of the Golden West; Ravel prided himself on his collection of Oriental artifacts), and proved the perfect subject for RimskyKorsakov’s talent as an orchestral colorist. Preliminary sketches were made for the piece in St. Petersburg during the early months of 1888, the score was largely written in June at the composer’s country place on Lake Cheryemenyetskoye, near Luga, and the orchestration completed by early August. Scheherazade was a success at its premiere in St. Petersburg in December, and has remained one of the most popular of all symphonic works. To refresh the listener’s memory of the ancient legends, Rimsky-Korsakov prefaced the score with these words: “The sultan Shakriar, convinced of the falsehood and inconstancy of all women, had sworn an oath to put to death each of his wives after the first night. However, the sultana Scheherazade saved her life by arousing his interest in the tales which she told him during 1,001 nights. Driven by curiosity, the sultan postponed her execution from day to day, and at last abandoned his sanguinary design. Scheherazade told many miraculous stories to the sultan. For her tales she borrowed verses from the poets and words from folk-songs combining fairy-tales with adventures.” To each of the four movements of his “symphonic suite” Rimsky gave a title: The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship, The Story of the Kalandar Prince, The Young Prince and the Young Princess and Festival at Baghdad — The Sea — Shipwreck. At first glance, these titles seem definite enough to lead the listener to specific nightly chapters of Scheherazade’s soap opera. On closer examination, however, they prove too vague to be of much help. The Kalandar Prince, for instance, could be any one of three noblemen who dress as members of the Kalandars, a sect of wandering dervishes, and tell three different tales. “I meant these hints,” advised the composer, “to direct but slightly the hearer’s fancy on the path which my own fancy had traveled, and leave more minute and particular conceptions to the will and mood of each listener. All I had desired was that the hearer, if he liked my piece as symphonic music, should carry away the impression that it is beyond doubt an Oriental narrative of some numerous and varied fairy-tale wonders.” Of the musical construction of Scheherazade, Rimsky-Korsakov noted, “A characteristic theme, the theme of Scheherazade herself, appears in all four movements. This theme is a florid melody in triplets, and it generally ends in a free cadenza. It is played, for the most part, by the solo violin.” There is another recurring theme, given in ponderous tones in the work’s opening measures, which seems at first to depict the sultan. However, the composer explained, “In vain do people seek in my suite leading motives linked always with the same poetic ideas and conceptions. On the contrary, in the majority of cases, all these seeming leitmotives are nothing but purely musical material, or the given motives for symphonic development. These given motives thread and spread over all the movements of the suite, alternating and intertwining each with the other. Appearing as they do each time under different moods, the self-same motives and themes correspond each time to different images, actions and pictures.” Well, then, if there is here no programmatic plot and if the movements tumble forth in some sort of free musical fantasy, how is the attentive listener to find his way through Rimsky-Korsakov’s story of Scheherazade? Perhaps the advice of Donald N. Ferguson about this veritable orgy of orchestral color and atmospheric sensuality is profitably heard: “Ecstasies of imaginatively fulfilled desire: visions of celestial luxury engendered in the hashish-fevered mind of some squalid dreamer in the market place of Baghdad or Teheran — such are the tales of Scheherazade and the Arabian nights.”

PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 Composed in 1874-1875; revised in 1889. Premiered on October 25, 1875 in Boston, with Hans von Bülow as soloist. Woodwinds and trumpets in pairs, four horns, three trombones, timpani and strings. Approximately 35 minutes. These days, when the music of Tchaikovsky is among the most popular in the repertory, it is difficult to imagine the composer as a young man, known only to a limited public, and trying valiantly to solve that most pressing of all problems for the budding artist — making a living. In 1874, he was teaching at the Moscow Conservatory and writing music criticism for a local journal. These duties provided a modest income, but Tchaikovsky’s real interest lay in composition, and he was frustrated with the time they took from his creative work. He had already stolen enough hours to produce a sizeable body of music, but only Romeo and Juliet and the Symphony No. 2 had raised much enthusiasm. At the end of the year, he began a piano concerto with the hope of having a success great enough to allow him to leave


his irksome post at the Conservatory. By late December, he had largely sketched out the work, and, having only a limited technique as a pianist, he sought the advice of Nikolai Rubinstein, Director of the Moscow Conservatory and an excellent player. Tchaikovsky reported the interview in a letter: “On Christmas Eve 1874... Nikolai asked me...to play the Concerto in a classroom of the Conservatory. We agreed to it .... I played through the first movement. Not a criticism, not a word. Rubinstein said nothing.... I did not need any judgment on the artistic form of my work; there was question only about its mechanical details. This silence of Rubinstein said much. It said to me at once: ‘Dear friend, how can I talk about details when I dislike your composition as a whole?’ But I kept my temper and played the Concerto through. Again, silence. “‘Well?’ I said, and stood up. There burst forth from Rubinstein’s mouth a mighty torrent of words. He spoke quietly at first; then he waxed hot, and at last he resembled Zeus hurling thunderbolts. It appeared that my Concerto was utterly worthless, absolutely unplayable; passages were so commonplace and awkward that they could not be improved; the piece as a whole was bad, trivial, vulgar. I had stolen this from that one and that from this one; so only two or three pages were good for anything, while the others should be wiped out or radically rewritten. I cannot produce for you the main thing: the tone in which he said all this. An impartial bystander would necessarily have believed that I was a stupid, ignorant, conceited note-scratcher, who was so impudent as to show his scribble to a celebrated man.” Tchaikovsky was furious, and he stormed out of the classroom. He made only one change in the score: he obliterated the name of the original dedicatee — Nikolai Rubinstein — and substituted that of the virtuoso pianist Hans von Bülow, who was performing Tchaikovsky’s piano pieces across Europe. Bülow gladly accepted the dedication and wrote a letter of praise to Tchaikovsky as soon as he received the score: “The ideas are so original, so powerful; the details are so interesting, and though there are many of them they do not impair the clarity and unity of the work. The form is so mature, so ripe and distinguished in style; intention and labor are everywhere concealed. I would weary you if I were to enumerate all the characteristics of your work, characteristics which compel me to congratulate equally the composer and those who are destined to enjoy it.” After the scathing criticism from Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky was delighted to receive such a response, and he was further gratified when Bülow asked to program the premiere on his upcoming American tour. The Concerto created such a sensation when it was first heard, in Boston on October 25, 1875, that Bülow played it on 139 of his 172 concerts that season. Such a success must at first have puzzled Rubinstein, but eventually he and Tchaikovsky reconciled their differences over the work. Tchaikovsky incorporated some of his suggestions in the 1889 revision, and Rubinstein not only accepted the Concerto, but eventually made it one of the staples of his performing repertory. During the next four years, when Tchaikovsky wrote Swan Lake, the Rococo Variations, the Third and Fourth Symphonies, the Violin Concerto, and, in 1877, met his benefactress Nadezhda von Meck, he was not only successful enough to leave his teaching job to devote himself entirely to composition, but he also became recognized as one of the greatest composers of the day. Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto opens with the familiar theme of the introduction, a sweeping melody in D-flat major nobly sung by violins and cellos above thunderous chords from the piano. After a brief cadenza for the soloist, the theme — which is not heard again anywhere in the Concerto — is presented a second time in an even grander setting. Following a decrescendo and a pause, the piano presents the snapping main theme, in which the dark-hued nominal tonality of the work, B-flat minor, is finally achieved. (Tchaikovsky said that this curious first theme was inspired by a tune he heard sung by a blind beggar at a street fair.) Following a skillful discussion of the opening theme by piano and woodwinds, the clarinet announces the lyrical, bittersweet second theme. A smooth, complementary phrase is played by the violins. This complementary phrase and the snapping motive from the main theme are combined in the movement’s impassioned development section. The recapitulation returns the themes of the exposition in altered settings. (The oboe is awarded the second theme here.) An energetic cadenza and a coda derived from the second theme bring this splendid movement to a rousing close. The simplicity of the second movement’s three-part structure (A–B–A) is augured by the purity of its opening — a languid melody wrapped in the silvery tones of the solo flute, accompanied by quiet, plucked chords from the strings. The piano takes over the theme, provides it with rippling decorations, and passes it on to the cellos. The center of the movement is of very different character, with a quick tempo and a swift, balletic melody. The languid theme and moonlit mood of the first section return to round out the movement. The crisp rhythmic motive presented immediately at the beginning of the finale and then spun into a complete theme by the soloist dominates much of the last movement. In the theme’s vigorous full-orchestra guise, it has much of the spirit of a robust Cossack dance. To balance the impetuous vigor of this music, Tchaikovsky introduced a contrasting theme, a romantic melody first entrusted to the violins. The dancing Cossacks repeatedly advance upon this bit of tenderness, which shows a hardy determination to dominate the movement. The two themes contend, but it is the flying Cossacks who have the last word to bring this Concerto to an exhilarating finish. © 2010 Dr. Richard E. Rodda


Santa Barbara Symphony’s upcoming performances:

“Music Behind the Music” Pre-Concert Events

New Year’s Eve Pops Concert

with your host, Ramón Araïza

January 22-23, 2011

FREE TO ALL CONCERT TICKET HOLDERS Concert Saturdays 7pm-7:30pm Concert Sundays 2pm-2:30pm (1 hour prior to each concert)

“‘Music Behind the Music’ is one of my favorite parts of the concert! We did not want to miss Ramón!” – Sandra Lindquist, SB Symphony Subscriber

Concert pianist, composer/arranger and music scholar Ramón Araïza presents “Music…Behind the Music!” These lively, interactive events take you on an insightful (and humorous) journey of discovery, shining light on the music you’re about to hear in the concert hall. Mr. Araïza’s extensive musical background, presentation style and passion bring each work and composer to life. Please join us in The Granada. Arrive early, venture in, and experience Ramon’s unique genius! Plus, make sure to read Ramón’s creative and artistic “Notes Behind the Notes” in The Granada lobby!

December 31, 2010

Appalachian Spring With State Street Ballet Artistic Director, Rodney Gustafson

Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite Schubert: Symphony No. 5 Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite For single tickets, call The Granada box office, 1214 State Street, at (805) 899-2222

Santa Barbara Symphony Concerts One-time-only Broadcasts on

November concert broadcasts January 16, 7 pm New Years Eve concert broadcasts January 9, 7 pm January concert broadcasts February 13, 7 pm February concert broadcasts March 13, 7 pm March concert broadcasts April 10, 7 pm ©On the Upbeat, NOVEMBER 2010 VOL. 4, EDITION 2. 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.

We invite comparison. Nir Kabaretti Music and Artistic Director

Scheherazade On the Upbeat Program Notes  

Santa Barbara Symphony's November 2010 program notes for Scheherazade.

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