[MasterWorks 4] Featuring the Glacier Orchestra | Roman Rabinovich, piano | John Zoltek, conductor
Tchaikovsky | Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb minor
Sibelius | Symphony No. 2 in D major
One of the more recognizable and iconic moments in the whole of classical music is probably the introduction horn motives and power piano chords of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb minor (1875-88). These powerfully scored motives sets the stage for the emotional intensity of the entire concerto, helping to make it one of the most popular in the entire repertoire today.
No wonder Tchaikovsky’s teachers in 19th century Moscow were so troubled by these revolutionary sounds from the upstart young composer! These themes have now become almost an anthem for late 19th century Romanticism and Tchaikovsky’s bravado statement of stark originality.
This concerto is one of two written by the composer to demonstrate both his ability as a pianist and invention as a composer of unbridled Romantic leanings. But the Concerto No.1 had become unquestionably the most popular as a showcase for piano expressivity and technical demands. The Concerto No. 1 is composed in usual three movements including a substantial first moevement Allegro ma non troppo molto maestoso followed by an Andante simplice movement 2 and final Rondo movement marked con fuoco (with fire!). The entire concerto has a somewhat Rhapsodic feel and is a true test of the soloists’ technical and expressive command.
Our guest soloist for this grand concerto will be Uzbekistan born Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich, praised by the NY Times for his “uncommon sensitivity and feeling’ and the winner of the 2008 12th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv.
Legendary Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major is perhaps the most often performed and approachable of his 7 symphonies. Symphony No. 2 was completed in 1902 shortly after the tremendous success of his tone poem and Finnish nationalist piece Finlandia.
Sibeius’ himself referred to his symphony as a “confession of his soul”. He began the work on holiday in Italy but was completed in Helsinki where the premiere was given with the composer as conductor. Because of the final movement’s triumphant, almost processional-like emergent theme, following a rather stormy and struggling music, it was for a time considered the “Symphony of Independence” in support of the nationalistic struggles against the Russian crown.
The work is written in 4 movements that are organically woven together by small motivic cells which form the basis and are transformed into the themes of the symphony. It is a strong example of a late-Romantic symphony using 19-century sensibilities projected into the turn of the century. Looking backward while looking forward.
Sibelius’ first two symphonies are firmly anchored in the 19th century tradition. Starting with his 3rd, the compose began to fashion a much more personal and austere approach to the symphony both technically and aesthetically.
Sibelius continued to question and struggle with this stylistic identity between the established Romantic language and emerging 20th century modernism. This struggled culminated in a highly original formal approach to symphonic syntax which some have labeled “thematic deformation”. The Symphony No. 2 however dwells in the established world of the grand symphonic form abundant in nature elements, humanistic philosophy, struggle, emotional polarity, foreboding portent and final soaring triumphant lyricism.