Music of the Americas
In yet another unique and adventurous program, the Philharmonic performs works by composers from five different countries of the American continent. Mexico’s José Pablo Moncayo, one of his country’s most revered composers, is represented by his festive Sinfonietta. Canadian composer Jean Coulthard’s Prayer for Elizabeth, written to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, is a heartfelt meditation in the manner of Barber’s Adagio for Strings. From Brazil, we sample the evocative music of Camargo Guarnieri, as one of the Philharmonic’s dearest friends, the dynamic pianist Sophie Lippert, performs his Piano Concerto No. 1. Following intermission, we turn to the hauntingly beautiful Mediodía en en Llano (Afternoon on the Plain) by Venezuela’s Antonio Estévez. The concert ends on U. S. soil with the Concerto for Orchestra by Morton Gould, a work that deftly combines classical, popular, and jazz elements (including a rip-roaring boogie-woogie finale!).
MONCAYO | Sinfonietta
COULTHARD | A Prayer for Elizabeth
GUARNIERI | Concerto No. 1 for Piano & Orchestra
Soloist | Sophie Lippert, Piano
ESTÉVEZ | Mediodía en el Llano
GOULD | Concerto for Orchestra
Fantasy: A World with No Boundaries
A musical celebration of myths, legends, and fantasies. The program opens with the overture to Prometheus by Ludwig van Beethoven (his sole full-length ballet score), based on the Greek myth, and closes with the most beloved waltz of Johann Strauss, Jr., The Blue Danube, a magical conjuration of Austria’s past, the peace and love that the river inspires, and even its mermaid inhabitants. Australian composer Maria Grenfell’s orchestral fantasy Hinemoa, based on a Maori fairytale about young lovers united by music, is heard in its first U.S. performance. Alexander Borodin’s popular “musical tableau” In the Steppes of Central Asia, an evocative vision of a desert caravan, precedes a Halloween-timed performance of the dance music (described by one commentator as “an orgiastic ballet”) from Charles Gounod’s opera Faust — a work appropriately charming and sensuous, as it accompanies the seductive enchantresses summoned forth for Faust’s pleasure by the wily Méphistophélès.
"Intimate and Original": Dvořák's Eighth
This all-Slavic program brings together three works that boast passionate emotions, vivid colors, and consummate compositional mastery. Antonin Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, a perennial audience favorite, is a work aglow with the joys of life. The Philharmonic’s esteemed concertmaster Luke Fitzpatrick joins the orchestra for the U, S premiere of Serbian composer Isidora Žebeljan’s violin concerto Three Curious Loves, a work once affectionately described as a form of “crazy, wild, capricious Balkan dance”. As an opener, we present a little-known symphonic poem by Alexander Glazunov, Spring, a sumptuous and lyrical paean to the season of rebirth.
"A Spirit in search of serenity": Honegger's Third
The Swiss composer Arthur Honegger’s third symphony, subtitled Liturgique, was written as a postlude to World War II, and is a fervent outcry against war and its concomitant dehumanization, and a plea for abiding peace. The program begins with Bell and Drum Tower by Alexis Alrich, a work that, to quote one commentator, “navigates the scenes and moods of Beijing by replicating the metallic and percussive qualities of Chinese bell towers.” Franz Liszt’s alternately heroic and tender Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by the winner of the Philharmonic’s 2023 Don Bushell Competition, the blazingly talented Nathan Zhao.
"My best work": Tchaikovsky's Second
Welsh composer Grace Williams (1906-1977) composed her exquisite and powerful Fairest of Stars, a setting of texts from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, in 1973; this final work by Williams to feature solo voice is presented in its U. S. premiere by soprano Stacey Mastrian, whose operatic and recital performances have garnered critical acclaim for “effortless mastery” and “showstopping heights”. Ms. Mastrian and the orchestra will also present Sibelius’ little-known symphonic poem with voice, Luonnotar. The Philharmonic then concludes its 2023-24 season in grand fashion with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2, the Ukrainian, a work in which the composer unreservedly expresses his love for the Ukrainian people and their folk music.