Arts and entertainment columnist
The Folsom Lake Symphony Orchestra kicks off its seventh season in grand style this fall with a concert of ÒBeethoven, Brahms and BorodinÓ in its largest venue yet Ñ Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Fair Oaks Ñ Saturday, Oct. 16.
The popular symphony orchestra will perform in three venues this season. The inaugural concert will introduce FolsomÕs popular performing artists to the region at large. The second concert will be held at Folsom High School and the rest of the season will be at the Folsom Lake College Performing Arts Theater.
The facility at Fair Oaks Presbyterian has more than 900 seats with fantastic acoustics. Accordingly, FLSO has planned a special program to mark the occasion and take advantage of the large venue.
Begins with the ÒPrince Igor Overture.Ó Audience members may recognize part of the melody as ÒStranger in ParadiseÓ from the Broadway play, ÒKismetÓ (1953). However, this melody was originally composed by Aleksandr Borodin for his opera, ÒPrince Igor,Ó also referred to by some as the ÒPolovtsian Dances.Ó
Sadly, Borodin died before completing all of the music for ÒPrince IgorÓ in 1887. The world nearly lost the overture, as wellÑ the composer never wrote it down. Fortunately, he played it on numerous occasions for his friends, fellow composers Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov and Aleksandr Glasunov. Glasunov undertook the task of writing the overture from memory, while Rimsky-Korsakov endeavored to edit of the opera into a more completed format. ÒPrince IgorÓ was performed for the first time in 1890, three years after the composerÕs death.
So while the ÒPrince Igor OvertureÓ is correctly attributed to Borodin, it could also be attributed to Glasunov, since it would have been lost to the ages if he hadnÕt stepped in to write it down.
The second item on the evening program is the ÒConcerto for Violin, Violoncello and Piano: Opus. 68 in C Major ÔTriple ConcertoÕÓ by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is the only concerto that Beethoven wrote for three instruments.
ÒThis is our largest venue, ever,Ó said Bruce Woodbury, president of FLSO. ÒThis concert is special because this is the first time weÕve put three soloists together for our first triple concerto.Ó
The special guest soloists are: Ben Dominitz (violin), Richard Andaya (violoncello, or commonly called, cello) and Natsuki Fukasawa (piano).
Beethoven composed this work in 1803 for one of his royal pupils, Archduke Rudolf von Habsburg-Lothringen. The archduke was a talented teenager at the time. For reasons lost to history, however, the work was not performed for some years. When it finally emerged for its first public performance in 1808, the piece bore a different dedication, to Prince Franz Joseph Maximilian FŸrst von Lobkowitz. Such are the vagaries of musical history and patronages.
The Triple Concerto is divided into three movements, Allegro, Largo and a Rondo alla Polaka. The themes are joyful and soaring. Audience members will enjoy this masterful work that blends orchestra with the talents of soloists on violin, cello and piano.
Concluding the evening is Johannes BrahmsÕ ÒSymphony No. 1, Opus 68 in C Minor.Ó Personally, this is one of my favorite pieces in all of music. It is grand, majestic and poignant Ð and has perhaps the loudest fortissimo there is, to quote Charlton HestonÕs character, Lionel Evans, in ÒCounterpoint.Ó
Brahms began the work in 1854, but it took him 21 years to complete it. It was first performed in 1876.
Brahms struggled with the composition, deterred at the outset by his lack of orchestral experience. It could be fair to say that he learned through this work over the years. His friends viewed the work with mixed views. Clara Schumann was not favorably impressed: ÒI find it lacks melodic inspiration, for all the ingenious working-out.Ó Hans von BŸlow was of an entirely different opinion. To him, BrahmsÕ First Symphony was living proof that it was still possible to compose symphonies of Beethovenian dimensions Ð even after BeethovenÕs Ninth.
The workÕs greatest challenge is a part of its great triumph. Brahms was actively working to produce a piece that could stand up to Beethoven. You will notice leitmotifs that are very similar to BeethovenÕs ÒJoy,Ó particularly in the Allegro movement.
Composers, musicians and critics will doubtless continue to argue about the merits of this work, which has remained in the popular repertoire for over a century, and likely will for centuries more. I, for one, never tire of hearing this soul-stirring work.
ÒBeethoven, Brahms and BorodinÓ will be performed one night only, Saturday Oct. 16 at the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, located at 11427 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Fair Oaks. Single tickets are for sale from $22 to $42. Season tickets are also available To make a purchase call the ticket line at (916) 357-6718 or visit folsomsymphony.com.
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