Music from the Palouse
Tuesday, Sept. 22 | 7:30 p.m.
The lush romanticism and brilliant neo-classicism of works by Richard Wagner and Igor Stravinsky are juxtaposed in the opening concert of the 2015-2016 season of the Auditorium Chamber Music Series in Moscow on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.
The Music from the Palouse concert is a biennial feature of the series and an audience favorite, bringing some of the regions’ finest musical talent together, this time for a “Chamber Orchestra Extravaganza.” The program is comprised of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Charles Gounod’s Petite Symphonie , Paul Dukas’ Fanfare to La Périe and Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds with pianist Rajung Yang as soloist. The program features conductors Torrey Lawrence of the University of Idaho, and Dahn Pham of Washington State University. The ensemble members come from the music faculties of the two schools as well as the Washington Idaho Symphony and the Walla Walla Symphony. Mary DuPree, Co-Director of the Auditorium Series, comments that “it’s inspiring and always a treat to see the most talented musicians of the region cross borders to make music together.”
Siegfrid Idyll, WWV 103; Richard Wagner
Petite symphonie, Op. 216; Charles Gounod
Fanfare to Precede La Péri, Paul Dukas
Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, Igor Stravinsky
The Siegfried Idyll was Richard Wagner’s birthday gift to his wife Cosima; he arranged to have it performed in their home as she awoke on her birthday—Christmas morning—in 1870. The title pays tribute to the recent birth of their son, Siegfried. Wagner borrowed themes for the Idyll from his music dramas Die Walküre and Siegfried, the second and third works in his monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. In particular, listeners may recognize the “sanctuary motive” which represents a father’s protective feelings towards his child. Tonight’s performance of the Siegfried Idyll uses Wagner’s original chamber instrumentation for thirteen musicians, although the composer later arranged the work for orchestra as well.
Best known for his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliet, the French composer Charles Gounod wrote the Petite symphonie pour neuf instruments á vent in 1885 at the behest of his friend, flutist Paul Taffanel of the Paris Conservatory. The work is modeled after Mozart’s wind serenades, which typically featured pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns. It follows the standard four-movement sequence of the classical period in form and mood, and the lyric second movement in particular features the flute part that was originally performed by Paul Taffanel. Overall, the Petite symphonie has a delicacy and whimsy that have made it one of the most popular nineteenth-century works for chamber wind ensemble.
Paul Dukas wrote the score to the ballet La Péri, based on a Persian legend, for a performance in Paris, at the very end of his compositional career in 1911. This regal fanfare to the ballet is frequently performed as a separate work.
The 1924 Concerto for Piano and Winds by Igor Stravinsky was premiered in Paris. Serge Koussevitzky conducted, and Stravinsky himself was the piano soloist. This concerto represents the height of Stravinsky’s neo-classical style. In form and in some aspects of style, it harkens back to Baroque keyboard concertos, but its overall language is uniquely Stravinsky: brittle, driving rhythm, harmony that eschews the chromaticism of the previous century, and a unique approach to instrumentation. Stravinsky felt that “strings and piano, a sound scraped and a sound struck, do not sound well together; piano and winds, sounds struck and blown, do.”
In the concerto’s first movement, a slow, dirge-like introduction for the winds is brushed aside by the piano’s jazz-like entrance. The main body of this sonata-form movement is highly syncopated, often contrapuntal, and features sharp interactions between the piano and winds before they all join together, returning to the slow introductory theme. The lyric second movement is more contemplative and has a simpler, usually chordal texture overall. It moves directly into the brilliant toccata-like finale, where the jazz-like quality of the first movement reappears. A reprise of the themes of the first movement briefly interrupts the drive to the final cadence.
Season tickets are now on sale through Idaho Marketplace or at 208-885-7557, and assure admission to sell-out concerts. The Auditorium Chamber Music Series receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Idaho Commission on the Arts, the Western States Arts Federation and the Idaho Community Foundation.
Tickets are sold at BookPeople in Moscow, online through Idaho Marketplace and at the door. Ticket prices are $10 for students, $19 for seniors and $22 for general admission.