Concert Insights: Magic Mountain

[MasterWorks 1] Featuring the Glacier Orchestra | Andrew Tyson, piano | John Zoltek, conductor
October 19 and 20, 2019

Mussorgsky | Night on Bald Mountain
Grieg | Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 16
Brahms | Symphony No. 1 in C minor

Magic Mountain will electrify you right from the start with the intensity of Modest Mussorgsky’ popular Night on Bald Mountain, a programmatic one movement symphonic poem where the composer sonically captures the scene of a violent storm on St. John’s Mountain where he was staying in the late 1800’s. The piece has become an iconic representation of foreboding energy and terror ending with the peacefulness of the return of the light at sunrise.

Andrew Tyson

The Magic Mountain thread will continue when our acclaimed guest American pianist Andrew Tyson takes the stage for one of the most beloved piano concertos in the repertoire, the Piano Concerto in A minor composed in 1868 by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. This legendary work exudes the natural atmosphere and folkloric poetry of mountainous Norway.

Grieg’s concerto was inspired and is often compared to Robert Schumann’s and is indeed in the same kay and share similarities. But if this is so, Grieg’s work departs from the Classical formula into Grieg’s personal world of the Late 19th century rhapsodic.

The three-movement work quickly brings the listener into Grieg’s fresh exotic world of rich harmonic progressions, memorable melodies and at times powerful and driving rhythms. The concertos opening movement, introduced by timpani roll and orchestral fortissimo releasing a solo piano flourish, revolves around a slow march motive in a minor (ala Schumann) and a hesitantly expansively lyrical counter theme. The development drama then ensues building towards a virtuosic piano cadenza and rushing finale that reiterates the opening introduction theme. The slow second movement is a Nordic pastoral dream introduced by muted misty strings followed by the stomping rustic dance of the third and final movement.

This concerto, the only one he composed, helped established Grieg as the first major musical voice emerging from 19th Century Scandinavia. Grieg now holds a historic place as the composer who captured the essence of his native land and molded it around a personal musical style. Andrew Tyson will bring his considerable interpretive talents to unlock the hidden secrets and magic of this almost mythological music.

The concert concludes with Johannes Brahms’ awesome Symphony No. 1 in C minor. Brahms waited until he was in his 40’s until completing his first symphony in 1876 after working on it on and off for nearly 21 years! But it was worth it.

The Symphony No. 1, cast in the traditional four movements, is a powerful towering statement of the composer’s mastery of the orchestra and allegiance to the classical traditions that came before him from Bach through Beethoven. The thunderous opening statement, like an anxious heartbeat is like no other in the repertoire and was clearly meant to be noticed.

The entire work like all of Brahms 4 symphonies is a masterpiece of compositional virtuosity as only Brahms could have conceived it. The first movement’s weightiness is dispelled by the “intermezzo” quality of middle two contrasting movements. The epic finale features the signature horn call replicating an alp horn’s call in the mountains. Brahms was an avid hiker in his younger years and this poetic nod to an imagined scene eloquently captures the spirit of an inspiring mountain scape. The finale then begins with an almost “hiking” strident theme that slowly builds musical momentum towards the exciting conclusion. It’s like a symphonic climb to through the mountain.

FREE Student tickets* through grade 12 available for this Masterwork concert!

* Part of the Glacier Symphony Youth Music Experience program generously underwritten by this season’s YME sponsors. Free student tickets are for Tiers 2 and 3.


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