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April 25-27, 2014
Leonard Slatkin, conductor Conrad Tao, piano
ROBERTO SIERRA Fandangos (2000) (b. 1953)
SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, op. 22 (1868) (1835-1921)
Andante sostenuto Allegro scherzando Presto Conrad Tao, piano INTERMISSION
COPLAND Symphony No. 3 (1944-46) (1900-1990)
Molto moderato—with simple expression Allegro molto Andantino quasi allegretto— Molto deliberato; Allegro risoluto
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS These concerts are part of the Wells Fargo Advisors series. These concerts are presented by the Thomas A. Kooyumjian Family Foundation. Leonard Slatkin is the Monsanto Guest Artist. Conrad Tao is the Ann and Paul Lux Guest Artist. The concert of Friday, April 25, is underwritten in part by a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. William C. Rusnack. The concert of Friday, April 25, includes coffee and doughnuts provided by Krispy Kreme. The concert of Saturday, April 26, is underwritten in part by a generous gift from Barbara Liberman. The concert of Sunday, April 27, is underwritten in part by a generous gift from Mrs. Mary Ann Lee. Pre-Concert Conversations are sponsored by Washington University Physicians. Large print program notes are available through the generosity of Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty and are located at the Customer Service table in the foyer.
FROM THE STAGE
Jonathan Reycraft, trombone, on Copland’s Symphony No. 3: “Copland’s Symphony No. 3 is a climactic moment for American composition. World War II has ended, and the mood of the nation has grown optimistic, prosperous. You can hear this in each movement of Copland’s symphony. Each comes from a very different place. “The beginning of the piece has almost a primitive feel to it. For me it’s a look back at the country before it was settled. Copland asks for the first movement to be played ‘with simple expression.’ He contrasts this with the churning, industrial sounds of the second movement. It’s America full of energy, of industrial output. The third movement continues with a development of themes from the first movement—more reflective, contemplative. There is conflict, but resolution is found in the spirit of dance—the balletic influence that Copland had gained from working with Agnes de Mille and Martha Graham. The final movement is profoundly uplifting, with the famous Fanfare for the Common Man theme. It was a valid message for its time, just as it is today.”
NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL
BY PA U L SC H I AVO
1868 SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, op. 22 Wagner’s Die Meistersinger premieres in Munich 1944-46 COPLAND Symphony No. 3 World War II comes to an end 2000 ROBERTO SIERRA Fandangos George W. Bush elected President of U.S. after Supreme Court decides against ballot recount in Florida
Much orchestral music proudly proclaims its nationality. Dvořák’s mature symphonies and other works use melodic and rhythmic features of Czech folk music so effectively that we can readily discern their provenance. Bartók similarly infused his orchestral works with something of his native country (Hungary), as did Sibelius his (Finland), and Glinka and Borodin theirs (Russia). But many other composers have managed to efface national characteristics from their music, cultivating instead what can properly be called an international idiom. Handel may have lived in England and Haydn in Austria, but there is little in their music to suggest this. Much the same can be said of Beethoven, Liszt, and Berlioz, to name but a few. Our concert includes music of evident national identity and, by contrast, of cosmopolitan character. In the former instance is Aaron Copland’s magisterial Third Symphony, which sounds distinctively American. In the latter is the Second Piano Concerto of Camille Saint-Saëns, a Frenchman who really was more a global citizen. A somewhat special case is Roberto Sierra’s Fandangos, which opens our program. Written by a present-day American composer, this work is redolent not only of Spain but of both the 18th and 21st centuries. ROBERTO SIERRA Fandangos A DANCE LEGACY Spain’s cultural treasures include the breathtaking architecture of the Alhambra, the wise humanity of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, and—in a more popular vein—many distinctive dances. Of the latter, the fandango is one of the most colorful. The fandango emerged in the early years of the 18th century, originally as a courtship dance, and typically was accompanied by guitars and castanets, and sometimes by
singing in the impassioned gypsy manner known as cante jondo. The fandango eventually made its way into the works of many composers, not all Spanish. Christoph Willibald Gluck used a fandango melody in his ballet Don Juan, as did Mozart in his opera The Marriage of Figaro. Domenico Scarlatti cast one of his keyboard sonatas in fandango rhythms. Later, the Russian composer RimskyKorsakov and others would write fandangotype melodies to evoke a Spanish ambience. But perhaps the most famous fandangos in concert music are the harpsichord piece Fandango, by the Spanish composer Antonio Soler (1729-83), and the finale of the Quintet in G for Guitar and Strings by Soler’s younger Italian contemporary, Luigi Boccherini. These last two pieces, as well as the general style and spirit of the fandango, are at the heart of Fandangos, by the American composer Roberto Sierra. Born in Puerto Rico, Sierra received his education there at the Conservatory of Music and the University of Puerto Rico. He subsequently pursued advanced studies in England and in Europe. His compositions have been performed by major orchestras and other ensembles throughout the United States, England and Europe, and they have been widely recorded. Sierra has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Milwaukee Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. SUPER-FANDANGO Fandangos dates from 2000 and was commissioned by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra. The piece is based largely on Soler’s Fandango, which Sierra says has always fascinated him. He describes his composition as “a fantasy, or a ‘super-fandango,’ that takes as point of departure Soler’s work and incorporates elements of Boccherini’s fandango and my own Baroque musings.” The piece begins with a rhapsodic introduction but soon acquires a steady rhythmic pulse and strong tonal profile. The latter provides a short sequence of recurring harmonies that underlies nearly the entire work. The music is seductively melodious, and its scoring, with
Born October 9, 1953, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico Now Resides Ithaca, New York First Performance February 28, 2001, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Leonard Slatkin conducted the National Symphony Orchestra STL Symphony Premiere This week Scoring 2 ﬂutes piccolo 2 oboes English horn 2 clarinets bass clarinet 2 bassoons contrabassoon 4 horns 3 trumpets 3 trombones tuba timpani percussion harp piano celesta strings Performance Time approximately 12 minutes
Born October 9, 1835, Paris Died December 16, 1921, Algiers First Performance May 13, 1868, in Paris, the composer played the solo part, and Anton Rubinstein conducted STL Symphony Premiere January 7, 1909, Adela Verne was soloist, with Max Zach conducting Most Recent STL Symphony Performance May 2, 2009, Marc-André Hamelin was soloist, with Yan Pascal Tortelier conducting Scoring solo piano 2 ﬂutes 2 oboes 2 clarinets 2 bassoons 2 horns 2 trumpets timpani percussion strings Performance Time approximately 24 minutes
castanets, tambourines, and imitations of guitar strumming, creates a strong Spanish flavor. But from time to time, the work falls into a different idiom, one very much of our own era. Such diversions are always short lived, the fandango music quickly emerging and continuing on its way. Sierra notes that “in these parenthetical commentaries, the same materials heard before are transformed, as if one would look at the same objects through different types of lenses or prisms.” Distorting lenses or prisms, it might seem, but the brief views they provide are fascinating. CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, op. 22 PRODIGY AND POLYMATH Camille Saint-Saëns was one of the most fascinating musicians of the 19th century. During the course of a long career (he began composing at age four and continued to do so for the next 82 years) he produced an impressive quantity of music in every genre and distinguished himself as a pianist, organist, and conductor as well. A man of considerable intellect, Saint-Saëns also wrote plays and poetry, studied archeology, astronomy, and other sciences, and wrote treatises on philosophy and ancient music. Saint-Saëns composed his Second Piano Concerto in the spring of 1868 for a concert in Paris. Because the performance had been hastily arranged, the composer had to work quickly, and he completed the concerto in a mere 17 days. He played the solo part at the premiere. “Not having had the time to practice it sufficiently,” SaintSaëns recalled, “I played very badly, and except for the scherzo ... it did not go well.” But despite its unhappy debut, the work has become the most popular of Saint-Saëns’ five concertos featuring the piano. RETHINIKING THE CONCERTO In this composition, Saint-Saëns adopted an innovative approach to the concerto form. The piece begins not with the customary orchestral exposition but with a long prologue by the solo instrument. Here we
find an instance of the enduring influence of J. S. Bach on musicians of different temperament and outlook down through the generations. This opening idea is very much in the style of Bach’s keyboard preludes, though touched by a Lisztian type of virtuosity. This music returns, following the dramatic main body of the movement, to conclude the initial portion of the concerto. In place of the customary slow second movement, Saint-Saëns offers a breathless scherzo, with fleet figuration and gossamer textures. Here, the composer assigns the opening gesture to the timpani, an effective and original touch. The finale brings a tour de force of energy and bravura piano writing. AARON COPLAND Symphony No. 3 A TRULY AMERICAN SYMPHONY Aaron Copland’s position as America’s emblematic composer stems largely from the extraordinary success of that portion of his output which is in some way theatrical or descriptive. Copland’s ballet music for Billy the Kid, Rodeo and above all Appalachian Spring, his film scores for The Red Pony and Of Mice and Men, and the narrative cantata Lincoln Portrait have touched millions of listeners and are widely regarded as musical embodiments of an essential and idealized American spirit. Although these are Copland’s best-known compositions, his most impressive and important music lies in his more abstract concert works. Notable among the latter pieces are the strong and sober Piano Variations and the Symphony No. 3, which closes our program. Copland wrote his Third Symphony between 1944 and 1946, and its music is stylistically related to Appalachian Spring, Lincoln Portrait, and other works he produced during the early and mid-1940s. But the symphony is distinct from many of Copland’s pieces in three important respects. First, it has no extra-musical underpinnings—no ballet story, film scene, or text to provide a structure or suggest its themes. It is, in other words, a piece of “pure” music, non-referential and self-sufficient. The second difference,
Born November 14, 1900, Brooklyn, New York Died December 2, 1990, Tarrytown, New York First Performance October 18, 1946, in Boston, Serge Koussevitzky conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra STL Symphony Premiere February 7, 1964, Eleazar De Carvalho conducting Most Recent STL Symphony Performance November 23, 2003, Joseph Swensen conducting Scoring 3 ﬂutes 2 piccolos 3 oboes English horn 2 clarinets bass clarinet E-ﬂat clarinet 2 bassoons contrabassoon 4 horns 4 trumpets 3 trombones tuba timpani percussion 2 harps celesta piano strings Performance Time approximately 43 minutes
in part a result of the first, is that the symphony contains no quotations of folk music. In Billy the Kid, Lincoln Portrait, and Appalachian Spring, Copland used traditional American song melodies to impart a distinctly American ethos to his music. In the Third Symphony, however, the composer showed that he could preserve the essence of his populist American style—its tunefulness, its sense of strength, and its broadly spaced harmonies—without relying on folksong quotations. Finally, in contrast to Copland’s usual modesty and restrained musical rhetoric, the Third Symphony accepts the heroic character traditional to its genre. Indeed, Copland admitted that in writing this piece “I ... was reaching for the grand gesture.” DIGNITY, GRANDEUR, ELEGY, AND FANFARE The symphony unfolds in four movements, the first beginning with a declamatory theme presented by the strings and marked by Copland’s characteristic wide melodic leaps. Following a second subject, closely related to the first in its contours, there appears a more energetic idea announced in the trombones. The eloquence of these materials imparts a strong sense of dignity and grandeur to the music. Copland conceived the movement, he noted, as an arch whose apex is the animated central section. A broad coda, or epilogue, brings this first portion of the symphony to a close. More regular in form, the second movement follows the outline of a traditional symphonic scherzo. Its first portion is boisterous, at times nervous and even strident. Copland offers effective contrast in a lyrical central section that begins with pastoral sounds from the woodwinds. A striking piano solo leads back to a reprise of the scherzo music. The third movement brings a moving elegy, beginning with the icy sounds of the violins in their highest register. Only briefly, during the middle of the movement, does the prevailing somber tone give way to music in a more animated vein. Although Copland employed no traditional melodies in his symphony, he did quote one of his own earlier works. This is the stirring and justly famous Fanfare for the Common Man, composed in 1942, whose music serves as a prologue to the finale. As the strains of the fanfare die away, we hear the oboe musing in what seems an almost improvisational manner on a simple motif. Other woodwinds now join in, their lines flowing together into a stream of melody that forms the principal theme for the main portion of the movement. Copland develops this subject in fluid contrapuntal textures and later adds both the signal motif of the fanfare and a broad new melody to the sonic mix. Finally, he recalls the first theme of the opening movement, thereby bringing the symphony full circle to its point of origin. The work closes on a note of exultation.
Program notes © 2014 by Paul Schiavo
MONSANTO GUEST ARTIST
Leonard Slatkin is Music Director of both the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lyon, France. During the 2012-13 season he led the DSO in highly acclaimed concerts at Carnegie Hall, including one concert in which all four Charles Ives symphonies were presented in a single evening; directed the Orchestre National de Lyon in a triumphant Paris concert of Ravel’s L’heure espagnole and L’enfant et les sortilèges; and celebrated Rachmaninoff’s 140th anniversary with Denis Matsuev and the State Symphony of Russia in Moscow. During the 2013-14 season, Slatkin conducts at Penderecki’s 80th birthday celebration in Warsaw, records with Anne-Akiko Myers and the London Symphony, and appears with the Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, and the Boston Symphony at the Tanglewood Music Festival and School. Slatkin has received the prestigious National Medal of Arts, the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Gold Baton Award, and several ASCAP awards. He has earned France’s Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, Austria’s Declaration of Honor in Silver, and honorary doctorates from the Juilliard School, Indiana University, Michigan State University, and Washington University in St. Louis. He is also the recipient of a 2013 ASCAP Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award for his book Conducting Business. Founder and director of the National Conducting Institute and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, Slatkin continues his conducting and teaching activities at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and the Juilliard School. Born in Los Angeles to a distinguished musical family, he is the son of conductor-violinist Felix Slatkin and cellist Eleanor Aller, founding members of the famed Hollywood String Quartet. He began his musical studies on the violin and studied conducting with his father, followed by Walter Susskind at Aspen and Jean Morel at the Juilliard School. Leonard Slatkin is Conductor Laureate of the St. Louis Symphony.
Leonard Slatkin was St. Louis Symphony Music Director from 1979-96, and appeared on the Symphony conductor roster under various titles from 1968-78. He most recently conducted the orchestra in January 2013.
STEvE J. SHERMAN
ANN AND PAUL LUX GUEST ARTIST
Conrad Tao most recently performed with the St. Louis Symphony in February 2013.
Born in Urbana, Illinois, to parents of Chinese descent, Conrad Tao was found playing children’s songs on the piano at 18 months of age, gave his first piano recital at age four, and four years later made his concerto debut performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major, K. 414. In June 2011, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars and the Department of Education named Tao a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts awarded him a YoungArts gold medal in music. Later that year, Tao was named a Gilmore Young Artist, an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation. Tao was also the only classical musician on Forbes’ 2011 “30 Under 30” list of people changing the world. In May 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. In June 2013, Tao kicked off the inaugural edition of his UNPLAY Festival at the powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn. The festival featured Tao with guest artists performing a wide variety of new works. That same week, Tao, an exclusive EMI recording artist, released Voyages, his debut full-length album for the label. Tao’s 2013-14 season includes two tours of South America featuring Benjamin Britten’s piano concerto; two tours of Europe including performances on the ARTE network, with the Swedish Radio Orchestra, and a recital at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; a third consecutive annual recital at Carnegie’s Weill Hall; and performances in North America with the Detroit Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Utah Symphony, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada, among others. Conrad Tao currently attends the Columbia University/Juilliard School joint degree program and studies piano with Professors Yoheved Kaplinsky and Choong Mo Kang at Juilliard. He studies composition with Professor Christopher Theofanidis of Yale University.
A BRIEF EXPLANATION
You don’t need to know what “andante” means or what a glockenspiel is to enjoy a St. Louis Symphony concert, but it’s always fun to know stuff. For example, What is “Coplandesque”? Coplandesque: listen to the Fanfare for the Common Man theme in the last movement of the Symphony No. 3, and hear many of the elements that are referred to as Coplandesque—melodic, open intervals (distance between pitches), layered and expressive harmonies; many hear in Copland an evocation of wide spaces, or of small-town virtues, which is curious, since much of his style first emerged when he was writing in Paris under the influence of the legendary teacher Nadia Boulanger and the modernist Stravinsky; but in films, advertising, political campaigns—even the theme of The Simpsons—we hear something Coplandesque, something singularly American
JONATHAN REYCRAFT, TROMBONE
“Copland’s style of writing has a lot of open intervals, spread out wide across the range of the brass. Endurance is a factor, especially in the formidable part for the first trumpet. In the last movement, the tuba part in Fanfare goes very high, which you would think would be the climax, but it’s not. It’s only the beginning of the coda.”
YOU TAKE IT FROM HERE
If these concerts have inspired you to learn more, here are suggested source materials with which to continue your explorations. robertosierra.com Composer Roberto Sierra’s website John Lithgow, Carnival of the Animals Simon & Schuster The famed actor is also a popular children’s book author, with this volume inspired by Saint-Saëns’ magical work; the Symphony will perform the Saint-Saëns next season with another Lithgow work, Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo, for Education and Family Concerts Aaron Copland and Vivian Perlis, Copland, 1900 Through 1942 and Copland Since 1943 St. Martin’s Press Essentially a two-volume autobiography, though it contains reminiscences and comments by many who knew Copland.
Read the program notes online at stlsymphony.org/planyourvisit/programnotes Keep up with the backstage life of the St. Louis Symphony, as chronicled by Symphony staffer Eddie Silva, via stlsymphony.org/blog The St. Louis Symphony is on
CLASSICAL CONCERT: TCHAIKOVSKY 5
MAY 9-11 David Robertson, conductor; Andrew Kennedy, tenor DALBAVIE La Source d’un regard BRITTEN Les Illuminations TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5 Despair, the edge of the abyss—these are motifs identified with Tchaikovsky. But out of his dark nights there is revealed a more profound vision of humanity, as in his Fifth Symphony, a life made richer for its suffering. Arthur Rimbaud’s vision in his great book Les Illuminations is wild, erotic, dizzying, and provocative. Benjamin Britten creates the most compelling music to match Rimbaud’s words. Contemporary French composer Marc-André Dalbavie is interested in vision too. The title may be translated as “the source of a glance.”
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