“The Requiem is beautiful, like everything Mozart made, but it’s also profoundly scary. It sucks your measly soul into its wild dark maw and swallows it whole.”
Later today (Sunday, November 20), I’m going to see the St. Louis Symphony and Chorus perform Mozart’s Requiem, about which I am very excited. My friend Patty is singing, which is always a pleasure, and I’m going with my longtime pal Cat Pick, also always a pleasure. I didn’t write the program notes for this concert, but as it happens, I did write about Mozart’s Requiem for the Dallas Symphony a couple of seasons ago. Here’s an oldie-but-hopefully-goodie: Wolfgang Rihm’s Trio Concerto and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem. These notes were originally published in a somewhat different form, in the spring of 2015, but I hold the copyright, so here they are in their original incarnation.
Here I am in front of an old German poster at the wonderful City Museum, in St. Louis.
This weekend (November 11 through November 13), Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin returns to the St. Louis Symphony for a program featuring Barber, Copland, Gershwin, and a recent, deeply personal original composition about his late parents. My program notes begin on p. 33 this time (I didn’t write the Youth Orchestra notes that precede them).
Arnold Schoenberg, self-portrait
“Mysteries conceal a truth, but direct curiosity to unveil it.”—Arnold Schoenberg, “Brahms the Progressive”
I wrote about the “Brahms Reimagined” program for the St. Louis Symphony concerts of October 28 and 29, with special guest pianist Jeremy Denk, who performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23. Also on the program are Liszt’s Prometheus and Schoenberg’s orchestration of Brahms’s Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 25.
I wrote about an All-Mozart program for the St. Louis Symphony concerts of October 7 and 8, with special guest violinist Jennifer Koh, who performs Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Also on the program: Symphony No. 31 (“Paris”) and Serenade No. 9 (“Posthorn). My notes begin on p. 26. (Please excuse the typo in the penultimate line on p. 29; I would fix it if I could.)
Beethoven bust in Tower Grove Park. Photographed by me.
I wrote about Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (along with Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte overture and Benjamin’s Viola, Viola) for the St. Louis Symphony concerts of September 24 and 25, with special guest Yefim Bronfman. (My notes begin on p. 31.)
I had far more material than I was able to publish, given the word constraints, so I’m also including some supplementary content in the form of a PDF, which I hope turns out OK. If it does, I will probably start posting my notes for Dallas Symphony, which aren’t archived on the symphony website for some reason.
On May 6 and May 7, the St. Louis Symphony and St. Louis Symphony Chorus performed Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Flos Campi, Alban Berg’s Altenberg Lieder (with special guest soprano Christine Brewer), and Gustav Holst’s The Planets. That’s Holst in the photo. I feel tenderly disposed toward him because I am also extremely myopic.
My notes begin on p. 26:
I had the good fortune of interviewing Shannon Wood, St. Louis Symphony Principal Timpani, for Playbill. We met in his percussion studio/rehearsal space, across the street from Powell Hall. We talked about Kraft’s Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, No. 2, his mallet business sideline, and lots of other fascinating stuff.
You can read it here if you like:
On April 15 and April 16, the St. Louis Symphony performs the overture to Polyeucte, by Paul Dukas; Camille Saint-Saëns’s Fifth Piano Concerto; and Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. (That’s Camille Saint-Saëns in the photograph.)
Here’s a link to my program notes, which start on p. 26:
Way back in mid-March, the St. Louis Symphony performed Hector Berlioz’s magnificent and underperformed dramatic symphony Roméo et Juliette. I wrote about it here (my annotations begin on p. 26).
The painting, by the way, is by the English pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse, from 1898. It’s not as old as Berlioz’s musical work, but I think it captures the spirit.
On February 19 and 20, 2016, the St. Louis Symphony performs Hector Berlioz’s overture to Béatrice et Bénédict, selections from Jean Sibelius’s The Tempest (with passages from the Shakespeare play performed by members of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival), and John Adams’s dramatic symphony Scheherazade.2, with soloist Leila Josefowicz.
My program notes begin on p. 26.