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Rachmaninoff at the BPO - Kopperud and Manes at UB
by Jan Jezioro
From the colossal to the intimate
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, under the dynamic, longtime leadership of its current music director JoAnn Falletta, has evinced a remarkable ability to re-invent itself on a continuing basis. An excellent case in point is the BPO’s Rachmaninoff Festival which started last weekend, and concludes this weekend with a pair of concerts at Kleinhans on Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2:30pm.While the BPO had previously programmed Rachmaninoff’s very popular 2nd and 3rd piano concertos about 15 times each in its almost 80 year history, last weekend’s concert’s marked the orchestra’s first-ever performance of the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Additionally, Respighi’s masterful orchestration of one of the composer’s brief Étude Tableaux for piano solo, “The Sea and Seagull” revealed a miniature gem unknown to almost everyone in the audience. That being said, the orchestra’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 found the orchestra playing at the kind of organically cohesive level that equaled the very best performances that this listener has ever had the opportunity to hear, either in person, or through recording.
This weekend’s BPO concerts will feature another trio of works by Rachmaninoff that have only appeared once or twice on a concert series program.
Rachmaninoff completed his massive choral symphony The Bells, in 1913 after a girl he had never met, who admired the poems of Edgar Allan Poe, sent him an anonymous letter, urging him to set to music “The Bells.” He chose to set the poem as a four movement symphony with three soloists and chorus for large orchestra and it has been claimed that Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony provided a precedent for the work’s gloomy finale. The somber tone of this work will be more than matched by that of the composer’s tone poem, The Isle of the Dead, which the BPO has recorded, reminding us that Halloween is just around the corner.
The young, highly acclaimed Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Martinez, who won the first prize at the Anton Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Dresden, will offer the second-ever BPO performance of the Piano Concerto No. 1.
UB Faculty Recitals at Slee
On Friday, October 17 at 7:30 clarinetist Jean Kopperud, professor of music at UB, presents a recital of works for clarinet and piano with New York City based pianist Stephen Gosling. The unusual selections to be performed include her transcriptions of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, “originally in the full twenty or so minutes, but now I have it down to nine minutes.” says Kopperud, and Charles Ives’ Sonata No. 4, Children’s Day at the Camp Meeting. “In my career I have ‘stolen’ quite a number of works from other repertory”, says Kopperud, “partly because the clarinet repertory is small, but also because had I not grown up in a small town in South Dakota where there were no strings and no orchestra, I probably would have become a violinist and have always coveted their music. I have done all the Ives violin sonatas and love them—I actually think they work better on the clarinet!” Kopperud commissioned Don York, a composer who had worked as the music director for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, “to write a set of variations on a theme as a part of my one woman show CloudWalking, says Kopperud. Rapunzel’s Rhapsody will be a concert version of one of the variations, but in the original I danced these works, and I can’t imagine now how I did that.” Leonard Bernstein’s early Sonata for clarinet and piano and jazz clarinetist’s William O. Smith’s quirky Five Fragments for Double Clarinet, which requires the soloist to play two clarinets simultaneously, round out what should be a very interesting program.
On Tuesday October 21 at 7:30pm, Stephen Manes, former chair of the department of music at UB, returns to town from Los Angeles, where he currently resides, to perform a solo piano recital, in what has become a now eagerly anticipated fall tradition, as an alternative for lovers of classical music to the kind of homecoming more usually associated with football.
During his 39 year tenure as a faculty member, including 11 years as chairman, Manes played a pivotal role in the development of the UB department of music into its strong current form. He also found more than enough energy to perform the entire 32 sonata Beethoven piano cycle, from memory, in a single academic year, no less than three times, and based on his return performances in the past several years, he has lost nothing of his abilities to learn new repertoire and deliver compelling performances from memory alone.
Tuesday’s concert will feature three challenging masterpieces, spanning three centuries of music: J.S. Bach’s French Overture (Partita) in B minor, Chopin’s B minor Sonata, and Bartók’s “Out of Doors” Suite.
Tickets: $15/10; free for UB students. Information: slee.buffalo.edublog comments powered by Disqus
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