As Gershwin turned the corner from the 1920s – and the success of Rhapsody in Blue – to the 30s, the hues grew darker and the nation sank into Depression. The Second Rhapsody grew from music composed for a surreal New York dream sequence in the 1931 romantic comedy-musical Delicious, and became a sequel to its relative in blue.
With an active repertoire of more than 100 piano concertos, international pianist and educator Sara Davis Buechner performs the Second Rhapsody along with Gershwin's I've Got Rhythm Variations, another of his later works for piano and orchestra. Plus, a world premiere by DSO composer-in-residence Gabriela Lena Frank.
Saturday, February 18, 2017, 08:00 PM EST (GMT-5) / Sunday, February 19, 2017, 03:00 AM EET (UTC+2) – Live on Livestream
Υπό τη διεύθυνση της Αμερικανίδας Michelle Merrill, η Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα του Ντιτρόιτ παρουσιάζει τα έργα: "Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra" της Gabriela Lena Frank, σε παγκόσμια πρεμιέρα· τις Παραλλαγές "I Got Rhythm" και τη «Δεύτερη Ραψωδία» του Λέοναρντ Μπερνστάιν· "The White Peacock", έργο 7 αρ. 1, του Αμερικανού συνθέτη Charles Tomlinson Griffes· και τέλος, τη Συμφωνία αρ. 1 σε Φα ελάσσονα, έργο 10, του Ντμίτρι Σοστακόβιτς. Συμπράττει η Αμερικανίδα πιανίστρια Sara Davis Buechner.
Η συναυλία, διάρκειας δύο ωρών, θα λάβει χώρα στην αίθουσα συναυλιών Orchestra Hall στο Max M. Fisher Music Center στο Ντιτρόιτ των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών, την Κυριακή 19 Φεβρουαρίου 2017, στις 03:00 πμ (ώρα Ντιτρόιτ: Σάββατο 18 Φεβρουαρίου, 08:00 μμ), και θα μεταδοθεί ζωντανά από το Livestream.
Gershwin Rarities! The Rhapsody didn't end in Blue...
Gabriela Lena Frank (b. 1972)
♪ Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra (2016) World Premiere
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
♪ "I Got Rhythm" Variations (1933-1934)
♪ Second Rhapsody (1931)
Charles Tomlinson Griffes (1884-1920)
♪ The White Peacock, Op.7 No.1 (1919)
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
♪ Symphony No.1 in F minor, Op.10 (1923-1925)
i. Allegretto – Allegro non troppo
ii. Allegro (moto pepetuo)
iv. Finale. Allegro molto
Sara Davis Buechner, piano
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Michelle Merrill
Live from Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Detroit
Sunday, February 19, 2017, 03:00 AM EET (UTC+2)
[Detroit: Saturday, February 18, 2017, 08:00 PM EST (GMT-5)]
Live on Livestream
|Sara Davis Buechner|
Walkabout: Concerto for Orchestra is inspired by my travels in Perú, my mother's homeland. Born in the States, I did not begin these fateful trips until my time as a graduate student at the University of Michigan where my teachers encouraged me to answer questions of identity that long persisted for me: What does it mean to be American born yet with such a motley crew of forbearers hailing from Lithuania, China, and Andean South America? For more than twenty years, I've been answering this question, with each piece raising yet more to address.
In four movements, Walkabout uses both musical and extra-musical influences. The first movement, Soliloquio Serrano, features our string principles prominently in an introspective yet lyrical "mountain soliloquy". The second movement is lively and bold, a portrait of "huaracas", the slingshot weapons favored by the soldiers employed during the 16th century in the dominant Inca empire. "Haillí", the Quechua word for "prayer", is our third movement and is both lyrical and passionate. The last movement, "Tarqueada" portrays, after a mysterious opening, one of my favorite scenes of Perú: A great parade of "tarka" flutists who can number up to a hundred at once. These musicians also blow whistles and beat a variety of different drums, creating a sonic effect of controlled chaos that never stops building.
Gabriela Lena Frank
Gershwin's set of variations on "I Got Rhythm" was his final concert piece, written for a demanding 1934 tour – 28 concerts in 28 cities in 28 days. The Variations were the only new music on the bill, and even these looked back to a hit number from Girl Crazy (1930). Ethel Merman had made her Broadway debut in the show, and her rendition of "I Got Rhythm" helped seal Girl Crazy's success and the song's fame.
Gershwin wrote the Variations in December 1933 and January 1934 while he was working on Porgy and Bess. The original version of the Variations was conceived for the tour's band, the 35-member Leo Reisman Orchestra. Gershwin was the soloist for the work's premiere at the tour's first stop, in Boston on January 14, 1934. William C. Schoenfeld reworked Gershwin's original for large orchestra when the work was published in 1953.
On his radio show Music by Gershwin, the composer explained that the work was in seven distinct parts – an introduction, the melody, four variations, and a finale. He continued, "After the introduction by the orchestra [beginning with a solo clarinet], the piano plays the theme rather simply. The first variation is a very complicated rhythmic pattern played by the piano while the orchestra takes the theme. The next variation is in waltz time [slow, with sighing violins and the piano marking the rhythm]. The third [beginning with chinoiserie from the xylophone and cymbals] is a Chinese variation in which I imitate Chinese flutes played out of tune... Next the piano plays the rhythmic variation [largely reimagined by Schoenfeld as a jazzy, clarinet-led interlude] in which the left hand plays the melody and the right plays it straight, on the theory that you shouldn't let one hand know what the other is doing. Then comes the finale". It's a riotous ending to Porgy and Bess' lighthearted counterpart, a crowd-pleaser rather than any grand summation of Gershwin's art as a concert-hall composer.
Source: John Mangum (laphil.com)
Second Rhapsody premiered at Symphony Hall, Boston, on January 29, 1932. Boston Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky (conductor), George Gershwin (piano).
In November 1930, George and Ira Gershwin arrived in Hollywood to write the score for their first movie, Delicious. Besides the songs, George was asked to compose an instrumental piece to underscore a sequence where the film's immigrant heroine wanders through a somewhat menacing Manhattan. In the end, only six minutes of what was originally entitled Rhapsody in Rivets was used in Delicious, but George – never wanting good work to go to waste – believed that his score deserved an additional life as his next work for the concert hall. Upon his return to New York, while also working on the score for Of Thee I Sing, he completed the Second Rhapsody, and prepared it for its Boston debut under the baton of Serge Koussevitzky. Though greeted with cheers from the opening night audience and described as descriptive of an "...America of untrammeled manners and cocktail energy", the Second Rhapsody never reached into the hearts of its listeners the way the Rhapsody in Blue did eight years earlier.
Charles Tomlinson Griffes was born September 17, 1884, in Elmira, New York, and died April 8, 1920, in New York City. He composed The White Peacock as a work for solo piano from May 30 through June 8, 1915, with slight revisions following; in that form it was premiered February 23, 1916, by pianist Winifred Christie at the Punch and Judy Theatre in New York City. Griffes created the orchestral version in 1919, substantially finishing it on June 5 of that year; it was first performed on June 22, 1919, in a ballet staging at the Rivoli Theatre in New York, with Ernő Rapée conducting. It received its concert premiere on December 19, 1919, with Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. The score calls for two flutes (second doubling piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, three trumpets, two trombones, timpani, tam-tam, suspended cymbal, two harps, celesta, and strings.
First symphonies are generally unsuccessful, or at least questionably successful as compositions. The Brahms First and the Prokofiev "Classical" Symphony are exceptions, not least because in the former instance the composer completed the work when he was 42, and in the latter because the pastiche nature of the piece reflected Prokofiev's youthful inclination toward surprises and stimulated his natural ability to write memorable melodies. Shostakovich's First Symphony is light in mood, like Prokofiev's, but is written in a thoroughly modern, if conservative vein.
Shostakovich was 19 when he completed the piece, which he used as his graduation exercise for the Leningrad Conservatory. While he was working on it, he considered calling it "Symphony-Grotesque." It was premiered on May 12, 1926, to an overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception. The symphony quickly caught on throughout the world, as Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski, and other noted conductors championed it. By the age of 21 Shostakovich was something of a celebrity, even mentioned in the company of the two Russian giants living abroad, Prokofiev and Stravinsky.
The symphony already shows characteristics of Shostakovich's mature style, especially in its sense – burgeoning though it was – of irony and satire, as evidenced in the mischievous second movement. Both the first and second subjects of the first movement are rather typical of the mature composer as wel; their character would be out of place in the later symphonies, though not in the ballets and film scores to come.
The work is cast in four movements, with the second lasting about five minutes and the other three having a duration of around eight to ten minutes each. The first movement begins with an introductory theme played by muted trumpet and answered by the bassoon. The main theme is march-like and serious, while the second subject is lyrical and has an air of nonchalance and grace. There is much color in the orchestration when the themes are developed. Overall the melodies in this movement, light though they are, are as memorable as any Shostakovich would write.
As mentioned above, the second movement is satirical and a fine example of the composer's precocity. While it is colorful and imaginative, again featuring brilliant orchestration, it also divulges the influence of Prokofiev. It is no mere imitation, though. The third movement (Lento) begins with an oboe solo and leads to a threatening theme from the brass, after which a Largo brings calm but at the price of gloom. This movement also brings hints of the composer's later tragic style. The finale is connected to the third movement by a drum roll. The finale (Allegro molto) clearly comes across as episodic, switching from fast to slow and from triple forte to triple piano, and moving from melancholy moods to irony and even playfulness. The music also has a tendency to stop and start in places. Overall, though the work is not one of Shostakovich's greatest, it is one of the finest first symphonies ever written and has remained in the standard repertory.
Source: Robert Cummings (allmusic.com)
Identity has always been at the center of Gabriela Lena Frank's music. Born in 1972 in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions. Inspired by the works of Béla Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Frank is something of a musical anthropologist. She has travelled extensively throughout South America and her pieces reflect and refract her studies of Latin-American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own. She writes challenging idiomatic parts for solo instrumentalists, vocalists, chamber ensembles, and orchestras.
Sara Davis Buechner is one of the leading concert pianists of our time, praised worldwide as a musician of "intelligence, integrity and all-encompassing technical prowess" (New York Times). Japan's InTune magazine says: "When it comes to clarity, flawless tempo selection, phrasing and precise control of timbre, Buechner has no superior".
In her twenties, Ms. Buechner was the winner of a bouquet of prizes at the world's première piano competitions – Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, Leeds, Salzburg, Sydney and Vienna. She won the Gold Medal at the 1984 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, and was a Bronze Medalist of the 1986 Tschaikowsky International Piano Competition in Moscow.
With an active repertoire of more than 100 piano concertos ranging from A (Albeníz) to Z (Zimbalist) – one of the largest of any concert pianist today – she has appeared as soloist with many of the world's première orchestras. Audiences throughout North America have applauded Ms. Buechner's recitals in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl; and she enjoys wide success throughout Asia where she tours annually.
Sara Davis Buechner's numerous recordings have received prominent critical appraisal. Her extensive discography includes music by Bach, Brahms, Busoni, Dvořák, Mozart, Stravinsky and Turina; Hollywood piano concertos by Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman; rare American music of George Gershwin, Dana Suesse, Pauline Alpert and Joseph Lamb; and the complete piano music of Miklós Rózsa. Her piano artistry may also be heard on the recent DVD of Carl Dreiser's 1925 silent film Master of the House, available through the Criterion Collection.
Ms. Buechner can be seen and heard on numerous live video and audio recordings on her website and YouTube Channel; and she has created many essays in written, spoken and film format on her blog Sara Says.
Sara Davis Buechner is a Professor of Piano at Temple University in Philadelphia, and an Honorary Visiting Professor of Music at the University of Shanghai. She has presented lectures and masterclasses worldwide, and is a regular adjudicator of prominent international piano competitions. She is a Yamaha artist and has served as Principal Music Consultant for Dover Publications International.
Rapidly rising conductor Michelle Merrill currently serves as the Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where she also carries the title of Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador. A passionate and dynamic artist, Ms. Merrill was named as one of Hour Detroit Magazine's 3 Cultural Organization Leaders to Watch, and made her classical subscription debut with the DSO in April 2016 She is also a recipient of a 2016 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award.
Recent and upcoming engagements include the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, Symphoria (Syracuse), Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, Boise Philharmonic, Orlando Philharmonic, New Music Detroit, and the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic, where she formerly served as Assistant Conductor before coming to Detroit. As the Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, she helps plan and conduct over 30 concerts per season, including the renowned educational webcasts, which have reached over 100,000 students to date in classrooms throughout the nation. Ms. Merrill also gives pre-concert lectures, leads adult music education seminars, engages with students in and around Metro Detroit, speaks on behalf of the DSO throughout the community, and participates in hosting Live from Orchestra Hall, the DSO's free concert webcast that launched in 2011 and is now watched in more than 100 countries.
In March of 2014, Ms. Merrill stepped in on short notice with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra for their performance of Shostakovich's Symphony No.4, which music critic Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News described as "stunning" and later named to his list of Top Ten Classical Performances of 2014. She was awarded in 2013 the prestigious Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship by members of the Vienna Philharmonic and the American Austrian Foundation, which enabled her to be in residence at the world-renowned Salzburg Festival. Recent praise came from her classical debut with the DSO conducting Beethoven's Symphony No.6: "from the off this was a heavenly Pastoral... Merrill (conducting from memory) certainly has an ear for focused inner parts, and her meaningful flexibility was welcome... There was something reassuringly old-world about this performance (reminding of but not emulating such views of the music as Böhm, Boult and Klemperer) yet with a New World bloom that trod freshly-mown grass and also looked skywards..."
A strong advocate of new music, Ms. Merrill recently collaborated with New Music Detroit for their annual marathon Strange Beautiful Music 9, which featured David Lang's "are you experienced?" and the world-premiere of Andrew Harrison's "Hum" based on the poetry of Detroit native Jamal May. She worked with composer Gabriela Lena Frank and soprano Jessica Rivera in 2015 on Frank's work La Centinela y la Paloma (The Keeper and the Dove), as a part of numerous community programs related to the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts. In June 2015, she made her debut at the St Augustine Music Festival conducting the world-premiere performance of Piotr Szewcyzk's "St Augustine Suite" which was written in honor of that city's 450th anniversary. The highly praised performance was later featured nationwide on NPR's "Performance Today". Additionally, her work in the 2011/2012 season with Voices of Change, Dallas's professional contemporary music ensemble, was part of a program later named as one of Dallas Morning News critic Scott Cantrell's Top Ten Classical Performances of 2011.
Born in Dallas, TX, Ms. Merrill studied conducting with Dr. Paul C. Phillips at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts, where she holds a Master of Music Degree in conducting and a Bachelor of Music in performance. Apart from music, she loves cooking, running, hiking, and spending time outdoors with her husband, Steve Merrill, who serves as the principal percussionist of the Jacksonville Symphony.
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