The moniker for the season opening special concert this year is “Opening with a Bang”, and it’s very appropriate! If you love all of the spectacular (both loud AND soft) things that a full symphony orchestra can do, then this concert is tailor-made for you.
I know that Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Fountains of Rome are widely acknowledged as ‘warhorses’, but they are wonderful ones. The scenes that Ottorino conjures up in his two sonic portraits of early 20th century Rome are so vivid, and so delightful, that I really never tire of playing them. The last time the Oregon Symphony visited these pieces, we recorded them for Delos (along with Roman Festivals) under then music director James DePreist. The brass, in particular, will wow everyone tomorrow night, even up in the cheap seats.
Colin Currie is back with us, and he’s brought a percussion concerto (entitled Sieidi) by the Finnish composer Kalevi Aho, which will be the US premiere of the work. It’s a wonderfully kaleidoscopic piece, as percussion concertos often are, but it’s got that seriousness of intent that in other pieces can often be lost in the pyrotechnics of the soloist’s display. It ends meditatively, in a sort of Finnish riff on Ravel’s Bolero. The word sieidi refers to ancient burial or ritual locations, much like standing stone sites in the United Kingdom:
The sieidi is a type of sacrificial place among Sámis. It usually consists of natural objects, either of stone orwood, unshaped by human [sic]. Offerings of meat, antler, metal and in later times alcohol were made to sieidi in order to obtain good hunting success, among other things. According to the ethnographic material, they served as a medium to contact supernatural forces. The dating of sieidi sites is often complicated. There are finds from the Iron Age and Middle Ages but there is also oral tradition indicating their use even in the 20th century [source]