weekending

by pieces of moments

Friday. And another weekend with visitors! Lovely.

Another thing I’m excited about is the upcoming 4th season of A Far Cry – a brilliant group of string players I’m proud to call not only my colleagues, but my friends. I’ve been working on program notes for the 2010-2011 season, and I have to tell you, it’s going to be o-u-t-s-t-a-n-d-i-n-g. They always pick the best repertoire and really know how to program an evening of music. The season is called, “History of the Night.” Intriguing, right? So pumped. So very pumped. Just check out this line-up for one of the upcoming concerts:

Xenakis: Analogique A et B

Mozart: Serenata Notturna in D major

Cornell: New Fantasias (new commission)

Purcell: Suite from “The Old Bachelor”

Bartók: Divertimento for String Orchestra

S-weet.

This clip is from a Jordan Hall concert in their 2009-2010 season. I think it’s a terrific way to blast off into your weekend. Oh, and just for fun, I posted my program notes for this piece from the concert below the clip. See you on Monday!

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) is one of those composers whose musical style brings out the best lyricism strings can produce. The Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70, is certainly one of those works. The St. Petersburg Chamber Music Society had submitted their commission in 1887, but Tchaikovsky did not begin work on the string sextet until 1890 whilst he was in Florence, Italy, where he completed the score of his opera Pique Dame (“The Queen of Spades”) in a little over a month. Even then, it was just the ideas that were wrought there – the Souvenir de Florence became just that, a memory that finally was captured on paper in back home in Russia.

The work opens with the Allegro con Spirito in Tchaikovsky’s favorite key signature: anything minor. This stormy opening, however, allows for a brilliant contrast with the major when the rollicking rhythmic undertones move from the shadows into sunshine. As the movement progresses brief soloistic moments punctuate the skyline like doves soaring through. The sublime second movement, Andante Cantabile e con Moto, falls over your as if you have entered a world where sound is the only gravity. The movement has often been referred to as a duet between the high and low strings as they weave their melodic threads together. The contrasting homophonic middle section flits and flutters as a singular unified intrusion that dissipates nearly as quickly as it arrived. The Allegro Moderato and concluding Allegro Vivace bleed Russian as if to remind the listener that it might be a memory of Florence, but a memory within one of the greatest Russian compositional minds. You are what you love.

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