Archive for June, 2009

Third Stream

Thursday, June 4th, 2009


Now that the season is winding down for many of the series which feature new music, it’s time to start thinking about some of those wonderful new works which will be featured by the St. Louis Symphony in ’09-’10, and take a look into their upcoming programs:

If it’s not too contradictory to employ the term “familiar modern works”, then certainly a few of my absolute favorites should be mentioned as highlights of the new symphony season: Bela Bartok’s “The Miraculous Mandarin Suite” comes with a fascinating narrative and colorful, wildly percussive climaxes; Samuel Barber’s “Violin Concerto” is rich in beautiful melodies but solid in tight construction, with one of the most exciting and virtuosic final movements you’ll ever hear! Other classic works are so enduring that they deserve to be restated every so often, i.e.: Barber’s “Adagio”, Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”.

Slightly less familiar composers to be highlighted in the new season will be Osvaldo Golijov (“Azul”, a cello concerto, performed by the Symphony’s own Daniel Lee); Tan Dun (Remember his opera, “The First Emperor”, shown last season at the Art Museum in video simulcast from the Met? In fact, “Water Concerto” is entirely different, but it happens to be featured in one of the more intriguing programs of the new season, called Powerful Percussion); Christopher Rouse (Actually, quite familiar to St. Louis audiences, his new work, “Rapture”, is a bright piece filled with rhythmic energy.); Others in this general category might be Roy Harris, Gustav Holst, Györgi Ligeti (“Violin Concerto” is one of his late works but one of his finest.) and John Adams (“Doctor Atomic – symphony” – If you missed the opera version, recently simulcast “live” from the Met, an interesting video has just been released which documents the production of the opera and its main theme, the Manhattan Project.)

In the category of “composers that even Fred has barely heard of” would be: Magnus Lindberg (a Finnish composer – I know and love his “Clarinet Concerto”, so if  “Parade” is half as good, we’re in for treat.); Luca Francesconi; Connesson and Bernd Alois Zimmermann.

So, if you’re like me and you get excited when you see unfamiliar names that you have a hard time spelling, and equally excited by more familiar names like Janacek (but obviously have no idea how to make the accents on the keyboard) or the standard repertory, there will be plenty to savor in the St. Louis Symphony’s 2009-2010 season!