strauss, mozart, posthorns, and end of life issues

Richard Strauss

I’m working on the program notes for the Oregon Symphony’s January 26-28, 2013 concerts, which will be a series you won’t want to miss. The first half is given to Mozart’s magnificent Serenade No. 9 in D major, K. 320 “The Posthorn”. Now, with a nickname like that, you’d expect there to be a virtual posthornpalooza going on. Not exactly. One of the trios of one of the minuets has some prominent passages for the postally-inclined horn and that’s it. Don’t fret, however, the piece is charming and beautiful, and even borders on the sublime on occasion. The second half of the concert contains two of my most favorite pieces in the entire repertoire, and they’re both by Richard Strauss. The first is his early tone poem Death and Transfiguration, Op. 25. It was a seminal work in my journey along the path towards becoming a professional musician, and so it has a huge sentimental attachment for me. Not only that, but I think it’s one of his strongest compositions just from a musical standpoint, and also one of his most vividly told musical narratives. Plus John Williams stole the transfiguration theme for use in his score to Superman. The last work on the program is Strauss’ Four Last Songs. The last pieces he ever completed, they are autumnal settings of poems depicting the close of life with great dignity, affection, and love. Something manages to get in my eye every time I listen to them – imagine the impact of hearing them in person!

Here are my picks for my favorite recordings of the works on the program – enjoy!

fond memories

Gotta love those rejection letters! And, as if I didn’t know right after I left the stage and they said “You’re done”, that I hadn’t won the job. Hello, Cleveland!

tentative settlement reached in cleveland

From the New York Times:

A one-day strike at the Cleveland Orchestra ended Tuesday morning with a tentative agreement but the issues that led to the dispute point to troubled times for the nation’s elite classical musical ensembles amid the Great Recession.

Orchestra members struck on Monday, the first such work stoppage here in 30 years. Terms of the agreement between the orchestra’s musicians and the board were not immediately released.

Complete story here [link].