[MasterWorks 3] Featuring the Glacier Orchestra | Sheng Cai, piano | John Zoltek, conductor
Enescu | Romanian Rhapsody No. 2 in D major
Mozart | Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major
Dvorak | Symphony No. 7 in D minor
Danubia highlights music from cultures of Central Europe including Austrian, Czech and Romanian. The concert opens with the George Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 2 in D major composed in 1901. This is a one movement introspective work on a grand scale that employs themes from Romanian music tradition which the composer treats in a rhapsodic symphonic manner almost like a through-composed piece with an improvised feel. The nostalgia and romance of this music is palpable and seduces the listener into a cultural world few have known.
Internationally acclaimed Chinese-Canadian pianist Sheng Cai, currently based in Toronto, will be our featured soloist in one of Mozart’s most romantic sounding and popular piano concertos, the Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major.
Long an audience favorite, Concerto No. 23 was composed in 1786 just two weeks prior to the premiere of his great opera The Marriage of Figaro and has immediate audience appeal due to its captivating lyricism. The first movement is one of the composer’s most elegant and lush with a thematic lightness that never seems diffused.
None the less, the first movement is musically full and satisfying as the piano and orchestra take part in a delightful dialogue between two beautiful theme groups. The Adagio in F# minor contains the real romance of the concerto and features a wonderful simplicity of melody with beautiful clarinet responses. The work ends with a lighthearted rollicking dance inspired Allegro that provides ample opportunity for solo piano passages and opera buffa like themes!
Antonin’ Dvorak’s somewhat dark Symphony No. 7 in D minor from 1884-85 is a sleeping masterpiece that has been somewhat neglected and overshadowed by the brighter No. 8 and massively popular No. 9 (New World). However, No. 7 is actually considered by some Dvorak scholars to be his best.
According to Dvorak himself, when composing he set out to reflect the struggles of the emerging Czech nation into this particular work. As the symphony progresses, the piece moves from the dark and powerful motives (“God grant that this Czech music will move the world!”) towards the jubilant 4th movement finale where Dvorak tried to capture the stubbornness and resilience of the Czech people in the face of political oppression.
The middle movements are cast in slow and dance forms respectively both infused with tuneful melodies and catchy folk rhythms. The D minor Symphony was the first of Dvorak’s last three great symphonies and as such belongs to this final period of symphonic form mastery.