WITH TWO BEAUTIFUL CONCERT IN NEW YORK IN THE REAR MIRROR, IT IS TIME TO CLOSE THE SEASON IN OREGON! HERE ARE MY NOTES ON THE SEASON FINALE.
I fell in love with the first number on our concert, La Création du Monde, as a teenager. Classical and jazz elements combine here in a way I never heard before. It was downright mysterious – as the creation of the world positively should be! Milhaud was inspired by African creation stories but I cannot help but giggle on how much it feels like a French esthetics. After the primordial chaos, things start to grow, bloom, and move – by the means of a jazz fugue! The real Frenchness comes afterwards: we get, of course, the creation of a man and a woman, which is followed by - you guessed it - a seductive passage and then the couple’s first kiss. Yes, the culmination of all the creation is a kiss! Could it possibly get more French?
We will stay in the francophone zone with the saxophone concerto by Tomasi. A word about the instrument first: it was created to be a member of the classical orchestral family. The now ubiquitous use in jazz came later. Why is this important? A different style of playing developed for jazz. Otis Murphy, a real master of the classical style, will prove what a versatile instrument saxophone is. It blends with its symphonic family in a seamless fashion. It is capable of incredibly smooth lyrical lines. It is also a mighty vessel for virtuosity, especially in the hands of Otis.
Did I mention that saxophone is a featured member of the orchestra in our first piece too?
The Concerto was written in 1949. If you expect a sigh of relief that the atrocities of WWII are over, this is not how Tomasi felt about it. He was bitterly disappointed in humanity. In his work, he is imploring us to recognize the error of our ways and to avoid grave mistakes we foolishly keep committing. I wish I could say we learned our lesson.
The sun does come up with our next selection – the ever-popular What a Wonderful World. Yes, it is the exact same arrangement that Frank Sinatra immortalized! There is a lot to be thankful for and our final selection of the season will bring this point home in a life-affirming fashion.
Pines of Rome describes four locations in the Eternal City, a place seeped in history like few others. We witness children playing without a care in the world, descend to catacombs, gaze at a full moon on a warm summer night and imagine a Roman legion triumphantly returning home. Respighi’s power of imagination is simply superb. The orchestra embodies these stories so successfully and with so much directness, that listeners are simply swept off their feet. It is like we are all taking a vacation in Rome together and while we are there, we time travel too.
I hope that a wonderful summer is upon you. Please join us again in the fall! We have truly upped the ante with our soloist selection. When imagining the next season, I asked myself: what programs would I personally find irresistible? Open your 2022/23 brochure to find out. It will be a wonderful journey, made complete by your presence.