Last weekend for the first time since moving to Ohio, I had the pleasure of seeing a performance by the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. Originally on the program were a handful of pieces ranging from Mozart to Mendelssohn: Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183; Klein’s Partita for Strings; Mysliveček’s Octet (parthia) for Winds No. 3 in B-flat Major and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor featuring ProMusica’s Creative Guest Partner and Principal Artist, Vadim Gluzman.
I heard Mr. Gluzman perform a violin concerto by Alban Berg last May with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. He’s incredibly good and has an album of Partitas out that I especially enjoy. You should check it out!
Unfortunately, because of a sudden family emergency, Mr. Gluzman had to fly back home to Israel at the last minute. That was announced last Tuesday. The concerts were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday! Fortunately, Mr. Gluzman’s good friend and amazing violinist, Mr. Philippe Quint (American violinist, Russian by birth) was able to stand in. Plus, Maestro Danzmayr was able to change his schedule around to conduct the ensemble as Mr. Gluzman was originally going to be on the podium as well.
The show must go on, right?
Mr. Quint arrived in Columbus on Friday and performed on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately, Mendelssohn’s violin is standard repertoire for him and he already had it memorized because he only had about one rehearsal with the orchestra prior to performing it for us.
Wow. He was so good and while I only have my CD recording for comparison, he definitely topped that! The recording I have is of the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Maestro Leonard Bernstein with Pinchas Zuckerman on the violin. I couldn’t help but grin during the cadenza in the middle of the first movement. I didn’t know fingers could move that fast. He really did an excellent job playing that for us.
After listening to Mendelssohn’s violin concerto a million times in my car or on headphones, I finally got to hear it live! Oh wow – it was so beautiful and apparently the rest of the sizable audience agreed with me because we all gave him a standing ovation with a couple extra curtain calls!
We weren’t the only ones who enjoyed it. Check out Jennifer Hambrick’s concert review!
Philippe Quint seems to be quite prolific in terms of recorded music. He’s been nominated for several Grammy awards and has even recorded the Mendelssohn concerto we heard at this concert. Visit his website so you can learn more about him. Be sure to check out his recordings, while you’re there.
On a side note, Philippe Quint was also in a movie last year about a Russian violinist working in New York. Take a look at this trailer. At least here we certainly don’t have to worry about the lead actor’s merely playing the “air violin!”
The beauty of ProMusica Chamber orchestra is that it allows for chamber music to be played. It’s smaller than a full-fledged symphony orchestra and can still play symphonies that call for a full orchestra, (though you probably won’t see something like Mahler or Stravinsky in this setting) but it also has the ability to just send out a handful of musicians as it did with its opening piece: Mysliveček’s Octet (Parthia) for Winds in B-flat Major. The concert started with eight musicians: two clarinets, two oboes, two bassoons and two french horns – played by CSO hornists Principal Gene Standley and Adam Koch.
What they played was a beautiful piece by someone I’d never even heard of before: Czech composer, Josef Mysliveček, a contemporary and friend of Wolfgang A. Mozart. (though I saw somewhere they eventually had a falling out over an opera commission or something. I’ll have to look into that!). The clarinet parts were especially good and it was all extremely well-played.
Speaking of Mozart
The second half of the program was devoted to Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Maestro David Danzmayr commented on how they just exchanged one G-minor symphony for another. (The program was originally going to perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G-minor, K. 183. If you’ve seen the movie Amadeus, you’ll recognize it as the opening music being played after Maestro Salieri makes his entrance.)
I’ve been hearing so much Romantic and 20th Century era music lately that hearing this symphony was like I had a chance to go home and spend time relaxing in a familiar and comfortable setting. It was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Of course – I like Mozart so much that I’m already planning a road trip down to Chattanooga, TN to hear this very piece performed again by the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra as part of its chamber series. I’m really looking forward to hearing them play in February!
KUDOS to ProMusica Chamber Orchestra for an added piece of entertainment: Coda. After their concerts, they allow the audience to meet and ask questions of some of the musicians from that evening’s concert. In this case, we had the opportunity to hear Maestro Danzmayr and soloist Philippe Quint afterwards. And while sure, that was cool and all, I also got to finally meet Classical 101′s own morning host, Boyce Lancaster! Yea!
Mr. Lancaster started things off (once someone found batteries for the microphones! D’oh!) asking them about the changes and such for this concert. From there they went all over the place and seemed to really enjoy answering questions from the audience. I loved having the opportunity to get to know the musicians a little bit in a more informal – and approachable – setting.
Upon meeting Mr. Lancaster, he asked me, “Isn’t this a wonderful way to spend an evening?”
Absolutely! Well done, ProMusica!
Want more violins? Come back on Monday for part I of an exclusive interview with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster, Jean-Sébastien Roy. OK – I still don’t know how exclusive it really is, but it’s pretty cool all the same! He’s very talented – you’ll want to meet him!
- Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 (wqxr.org)
- Thank You Mendelssohn! (susanhrach.wordpress.com)
- Pictured: The Mozart violin that has returned to Salzburg (artsjournal.com)
- Music Review: Philharmonic Plays Mendelssohn and Dvorak (nytimes.com)
- Felix, The Prodigious Cat (sago.com)
Though this week hasn’t been much better, last week at work was quite a bear. Last Friday, when the high stress level and general craziness of my workload had me feeling rather exhausted, I decided I needed an escape. So around 6:30 pm last Friday (I work a 10-7pm mid-shift), I decided that the Columbus Symphony could provide just the escape I needed. A couple hours’ worth of good music would be just what the doctor would order, right?
I already had tickets last weekend to the Westerville Symphony, which I wrote about earlier this week, that ended up providing an amazing performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto Number 1. (WOW! The pianist was AWESOME!) I wasn’t however, originally planning on also going to the CSO. That’s OK, though, because I figured I could get tickets at the door.
So at 7pm, I rushed out of work. I had an hour to get downtown from the west side where I work, get parked, buy a ticket and get seated. Friday was a casual day so I was in jeans, but there was no time to change clothes and get into something nicer. That’s OK – I’d be way up in the rear balcony anyway and I’ve seen people in jeans at concerts before. Besides – I’d rather be there in jeans, than not at all!
I arrived at the Southern Theatre ticket window about 7:40 where I was able to easily get a ticket in my usual, rear balcony section. I was surprised however to see that I pretty much had my choice of nearly any seat in any section. Where were you, Columbus?! OK Columbus, for your homework, you have to look up the next performance (Hint: 1st weekend in November, lots of Mozart) and buy a ticket so you can be there with me!
Friday’s performance was titled Suites and Songs, but Maestro Zeitouni told us he originally wanted to call it something in reference to an homage…because each of the songs being performed was written in homage to someone else. On the program:
Respighi: Trittico Botticelliano
Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin
Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs
Abigail Fischer, mezzo-soprano
Kim Garrison Hopcraft, narrator
Like many pieces in many concerts, I was completely – I mean 100% – unfamiliar with all the music on the program. But – that’s why I like coming. Our orchestra is great and for just $25, I can sit in a comfortable seat and listen to it being performed live! Trust me – even if I end up not liking something, I am still hearing a great performance and that is well worth a mere $25 and I’m trying something new. Besides – how often have you gone to the movies where, after buying the ticket, popcorn and soda, you’re out $25 for a movie you may or may not have liked? Well – same thing here, only at least with the symphony, even if the music isn’t your preferred style, you’re still assured a great performance! Can you say that about some of the “actors” who make it to the big screen these days? I think not! Trust me – the symphony’s a treat – and an affordable one at that!
Say that three times fast
Up first was Ottorino Respighi’s Trittico Botticelliano, (say that three times fast!) written in homage to the Italian Renaissance painter, Botticelli. It was written based on the “story” told via three of Botticelli’s paintings: La Primavera, L’adorazione dei Magi and La nascita di Venere. Prior to hearing the music itself, Maestro Zeitouni showed us the three paintings and explained some of the background, so in addition to the music, we had a little bit of an art appreciation class. Always nice to learn something new and mix in some additional forms of art.
The Respighi piece was definitely my favorite of the evening. I especially enjoyed the 2nd movement which included some wonderful parts for the wind section – especially the bassoon, flute, clarinet and oboe – which included a bit of a middle eastern feel (we’re talking the Three Wise Men, remember?). It also incorporated a very familiar tune “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” which you’ll definitely recognize before the 2-minute mark.
I wish I could share a recording of the CSO itself because principal bassoonist, Betsy Sturdevant, had many solos throughout the entire concert and sounded absolutely fantastic!
Throwback to the baroque era
Maurice Ravel paid homage to baroque era composer, François Couperin, with his piece Le Tombeau de Couperin. I really enjoyed this piece as well, but then again, I enjoy anything to do with baroque era music! I had the pleasure of speaking to our new concertmaster, Jean-Sébastien Roy, earlier this week for Giocosity. Super nice guy and I have to giggle because he was surprised that I wasn’t overly familiar with Ravel’s work – especially learning that I’d studied French (and in France) during college. His surprise was genuine, but I grew up loving classical and baroque eras of music – especially German and Italian composers – so I basically knew anything Beethoven and earlier. Going to CSO concerts and hearing new music has truly expanded my musical horizons.
Last up on Friday’s program was a piece by modern-day composer, Peter Lieberson, called the Neruda Songs for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra, paying homage to Chilean poet, Pablo Naruda. This piece was just written within the last 10 years – in 2005, in fact, and featured a wonderful mezzo-soprano, Ms. Abigail Fischer. The piece itself was in five parts and each part as narrated in English by a local actress, Kim Garrison Hopcraft, and then sung in Spanish. I found the sung Spanish difficult to understand so I had to follow with the written word in the program, but wow – her voice was just beautiful!
I really enjoyed this program and though not something I would have planned in advance to attend, it really hit the spot and was quite enjoyable. I just wish more people could have been there with me, but I’m really happy I went!
My next concert is the first weekend in November: Mozart, Father and Son with horn player james Sommerville as soloist and conductor. (I still haven’t figured out how he’s going to play and conduct at the same time. Very curious!) Two weeks after that, is Beethoven’s 5th. My friend and I are trying to get some people from work together to see the Beethoven (And Elgar Violin Concerto).
My 11-year old nephew will be joining us as well for his 2nd ever symphony concert, so that should be fun, though I’m absolutely sure he’ll tell me there weren’t enough saxophones!
Guess what HE plays!