Monday morning the OSO begins its rehearsals for next weekend’s penultimate classical series of the 2011-2012 season. Yes, then end of our season is just over two weeks away. It’s hard to believe, often, it seems to stretch into infinity around January or February, and then May is here, and with the close of the month comes the close of our season.
This concert, which is advertised as being all about pianist Arnaldo Cohen and Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, really centers around two of my favorite pieces: Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes & Passacaglia from Peter Grimes, and Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony. I have written before that I have yet to encounter a work by Britten that I didn’t almost immediately like, and I must say that the Four Sea Interludes were the first pieces of Britten’s that I had ever performed, and most likely ever heard. They were written to transition between sections of the opera – hiding the noise of set changes and the like – but they are awesomely beautiful, and exquisitely crafted. These are not throwaway scraps by any means. The Passacaglia (another instrumental interlude from the opera) is notable both for its use of the ancient passacaglia form which relies upon a repeating bass line upon which the rest of the structure is built, and for its lonely and haunting solos for the principal violist – which will be expertly played by my long-time stand partner Joël Belgique this week.
The Sibelius is a fascinating end to his line of seven symphonies (almost eight, but for the loss of that manuscript at the hands of the composer), it begins with a simple C major scale in the entire string section, and then goes on to produce some of the most deeply emotional and beautiful music of all of his symphonic output. It features one of the crowning trombone solos in all of the symphonic literature – it will be a treat to hear Aaron LaVere play this music again.
More after the rehearsal period begins…