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I didn’t watch the Oscars, so don’t ask me about them. While Maestro Richman did not win one, the Hollywood Connection concert for him this year is Stravinsky’s Concerto in D, which was actually written in Hollywood in 1946 and is often called the “Basle” Concerto for the city whose orchestra commissioned it. (Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Sunday at 2:30 at the Bijou).
Upon first hearing, the musical language of the Concerto is strangely exciting and excitingly strange. This is a product that has inspired everyone from John Williams to Frank Zappa to Shostakovich. The Arioso second movement sports thick, juicy slabs of major/minor string tonality reminiscent of Britten. The outer movements are edge-of-your-seat carnival rides through previously-unexplored tonal and rhythmic territory, and I don’t mean the merry-go-round. Thank God for the hyphen.
Another foray into the ears of an eventual Hollywood resident is the Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) of Arnold Schoenberg. Although sometimes flagged (or flogged) for his abandonment of traditional tonality in favor of a more mathematically derived 12-tone system of composing, this is his op. 4, written just before he tore the roof off of diatonic sound as we know it. The poem by the same name which inspired this work was written by Richard Dehmel, whose poetry also was set to music by the likes of Kurt Weill, Richard Strauss and Max Reger. The rich, stirring harmonies will make you wonder why you didn’t play a recording of it on Valentine’s Day for your sweety.
I’d love to say something about the other Stravinsky work on the program, A Soldier’s Tale or (Please! Call it by this name!) L’histoire du Soldat, not to mention Saturday night’s thrilling Celtic Celebration Pops, but frankly these other pieces are wicked hard and even though it’s 2:20 in the morning, I am going to shed a little more wood before calling it a night.
6 years ago | Read Full Story
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