Saturday, May 11, 2019

Rachmaninoff's Choral Symphony and Prokofiev's Dazzling Piano Concerto Highlight This HSO Concert

This Saturday night Mrs. B and I will once again be at Jones Hall to hear our great director, Maestro Andres Orozco-Estrada, lead out Grammy Award winning Houston Symphony Orchestra in a big program [big in great masterpieces (5) and large ensemble (orchestra and chorus) that will be on stage].  The highlight of the first half of the concert will be Sergei Prokofiev's explosive piano concerto #1; and the second half will be highlighted by Sergei Rachmaninoff's huge choral Symphony, "The Bells".  Could we call this concert the tale of two Sergei's.  :-)

Many times there will be a theme that connects a concert program and there is no doubt a connection in this program as the two main pieces were composed by two great late Romantic Era Russian composers who lived at similar times.  Another piece on the concert will also feature another Russian composer, Mikhail Glinka, his Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila.

Along with the 3 Russian composers will be two pieces by American composer's Charles Ives [finale of 4th symphony] and George Gershwin [I got Rhythm Variations].  Now do you see why I can call this concert, as we are nearing the finale of the great 2018/2019 Houston Symphony Orchestra's season, a "big program". 

Rachmaninoff [1873-1943]
Prokofiev [1891-1953]

If that isn't treat enough, those patrons arriving 45 minutes early will get to hear some pre-concert chamber music, as members of the Houston Symphony Chamber Chorus will perform Aaron Copland's "In The Beginning."

From The Houston Symphony Orchestra Website about this concert program: "Edgar Allan Poe’s words meet the lavish opulence of Rachmaninoff in this powerful choral symphony, which Rachmaninoff himself cited as his favorite creation. The vibrant, jazzy rhythms of Gershwin and the blistering energy of Prokofiev are on full display as International Tchaikovsky Competition Silver Medalist George Li brings his “staggering technical prowess” (Washington Post) to Houston. To start, step inside the haunting, visionary world of America’s greatest musical pioneer and prophet as AndrĂ©s’ season-long exploration of Charles Ives’ Fourth Symphony continues."

This concert will also include the finale of American composer, Charles Ives, with the finale of his unique 4th symphony...unique in that it requires an extra conductor for the percussion section which, as you will hear in the finale, plays at a different tempo then the main orchestra [thus requiring the extra composer].  Also unique will be the dissonant sound as sometimes exemplified in other modern, post Romantic symphonies.

Prokofiev's piano concerto in D Flat Major is one of my favorites.  It is of short length but of great intensity.  It has 3 movements: 1. Allegro brioso; 2. Andante assai; and 3. Allegro scherzando.  This concerto may not have great melodies, but it certainly has great excitement and a haunting theme. 

As always, when the fetching Mrs. B and I go to a Houston Symphony Concert in Jones Hall I like to give you a small sample of what we will be hearing on Saturday night. So, for your enjoyment please turn up the volume and put in full screen and enjoy some American and Russian magic.

Charles Ives: Symphony #4, Finale - Largo Maestoso:  

Sergei Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #1 in D Flat Major:

Mikhail Glinka: Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila:

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