MATINEE WITH BEETHOVEN, DVOŘÁK AND PHOENIX SYMPHONY

img_6845MATINEE WITH BEETHOVEN, DVOŘÁK AND PHOENIX SYMPHONY

I had seldom spent a better lunch hour. Courtesy of the Phoenix Symphony, I did it in the company of Beethoven, Dvořák and a group of wonderful Phoenix Symphony musicians.

Oh, and did I mention Tito Muñoz conducting, Mark Kosower, cello? Outstanding performance all around!

The first piece was Egmont Overture, Op. 84, by Ludwig van Beethoven. Egmont is a set of incidental music pieces for the 1787 play of the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, arguably the greatest German language poet that ever lived. Beethoven wrote it between October 1809 and June 1810, and it was premiered on 15 June 1810.

Here’s the overture:

Direct link: https://youtu.be/VP7RnuCmM00

I was a little late and was not given the program before I took my seat. So I had no idea what the first piece would be. But I as soon as I heard a few opening bars, I knew it was Beethoven. The man has such a unique musical signature, like Mozart his senior.

This was followed by the brilliant Cello Concerto in B minor by Antonin Dvořák. He wrote it In the winter of 1894–95in Vienna. Dvořák’s first love and later sister-in-law, Josefina Kaunitzová, née Čermáková, died in May 1895. He and she had maintained friendly relations over the years. After her death he revised the coda of his Cello Concerto in her memory.

Here’s another recording of this cello concerto:

And today, Tito Muñoz, Mark Kosower and the Phoenix Symphony revived that love story in a brilliant fashion. What a luncheon treat! All received a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.

TWO “ROCKERS”

Afterward, I had my picture taken next to a Beethoven poster which depicted him as a rocker. 🙂

It has been ages since I was in downtown Phoenix in daytime. So I took some pictures from the steps of the Symphony Hall. The weather was perfect: 72F.

EPILOGUE

SITUATION COMEDY AT PHOENIX SYMPHONY

“Well, no wonder the second concerto sounded like Dvořák,” I said. “Because it was Dvořák.”

Two things happened during this concert that might put a smile on your face.

Remember how I was a bit late and didn’t get the program right away?

Well, after Beethoven’s Egmont Overture ended, I asked for one and went to my assigned seat. I quickly perused it before the start of the next piece. According to the program, it was supposed to be Symphony No. 1 by John Corigliano, written in 1938.

I had never heard of this composer before, so as the piece progressed, featuring an amazing cello soloist, I thought to myself,, “that’s quite incredible that a piece of this depth and richness of melody and harmony would be written by an unknown composer of the 20th century.”

I was mentally comparing it to George Gershwin’s music, for example, who was Corigliano’s contemporary. As popular as Gershwin is in America, his music sounds like factory machinery compared to the amazing concerto I was listening to. I began to quite admire this Corigliano I had never heard of before.

At the end, the soloist and the orchestra got a standing ovation and were called back several times.

According to the program, next was supposed to be a 2o-minute intermission. Being a daylight concert, I used the opportunity to go out for a little walk in downtown Phoenix. I had not been there in daytime for a very long time. And the weather was lovely – only 72F.

When I got back, it looked like almost everybody had left the Phoenix Symphony Hall. I asked the usher at the door, “what’s this about everybody leaving? Don’t they want to hear the second half?

“The concert is over, Sir,” the usher explained.

We then looked at my program together. And he said that for this daytime performance, they would skip Corigliano symphony and only play Beethoven and Dvořák.

“Well, no wonder the second concerto sounded like Dvořák,” I said. “Because it was Dvořák.”

And then I realized my second mistake. Corigliano did not write his music that I never heard in 1938. He was born in 1978 and is still alive and living in New York City.

So I just smiled and left. “Wonder if his music sounded anything like Gershwin’s?” I thought on the way out. In which case I am glad I missed it.

When I got back home I started to listen to a Youtube recording of Corigliano’s symphony. I didn’t last more than a minute. Corigliano is no Gershwin.  The segment I listened to sounded like a bunch of mice running away in mortal agony upon sighting a cat. 🙂

I know, that was not very nice. I don’t know the man. But I am pretty sure that Dvořák would have never voted for her. 🙂

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