On May 4 and 6 (Thursday and Saturday) the St. Louis Symphony and St. Louis Symphony Chorus perform Richard Wagner’s opera Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) in its entirety. I’m very much looking forward to attending the Thursday evening performance with my mom, and I’ll be sure to tune in to the live broadcast on St. Louis Public Radio on Saturday night as well.
My notes begin on p. 25. Yes, I realize that I left a great many things out, but that’s what happens when you attempt to stick to your word count (and fail, but only mildly). I guess no one will miss my wanton gothisms.
This weekend, February 24 and February 25 (but not Sunday, sadly), the St. Louis Symphony and St. Louis Symphony Chorus perform William Walton’s insane and gorgeous oratorio Belshazzar’s Feast. Also on the program are Otto Nicolai’s delightfully nutty overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor and Edward Elgar’s Falstaff, a more nuanced and tragic portrait of the same Shakespearean buffoon. (Sense a literary theme here? SLSO programs are always very thoughtfully conceived, which makes writing an introduction somewhat easier.)
You can tune in to the live broadcast on St. Louis Public Radio if you can’t make it to the concert at Powell Hall tonight. The St. Louis Public Radio broadcast streams live on the website, too, starting at 8:00. Once I figure out how to make a hyperlink again, I will do it; in the meantime, Google is your good buddy. And speaking of good buddies, check out the photo I found featuring William Walton (left) with a baby koala. Baby koala doesn’t seem too impressed, but my huge love for Walton’s facial expression compensates for the fact that he is much older in this photo than he was when he composed Belshazzar’s Feast, a completely koala-free endeavor as far as I can determine.
My program notes are on pp. 26-30.
On January 13-15, 2017, the St. Louis Symphony performs Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) preceded by John Adams’s Chairman Dances and Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto (with soloist Gil Shaham). My program notes begin on p. 30. Please excuse the typos (“Move Motives” should be “Movie Motives” in the heading, and “staticy” should be spelled “staticky.”) Also, this photo of Dvořák was taken a few years after he completed the symphony, but I prefer it to more contemporaneous images because I like his stance and his pleasant but distant expression. With his fancy watch chain, velvet smoking jacket, and slight avoirdupois, the Proud Bohemian looks quite pleased with himself, and why wouldn’t he be?
“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.
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:
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.