Violetta is the most desirable courtesan in Paris. Sought after by society’s most important me,n and wealthy in her own right, she is perfectly content—until she falls in love with Alfredo Germont. But when Alfredo’s father insists that she’ll ruin Alfredo’s family name, she selflessly pushes away the only man she’s ever loved. Will they ever be together again? Yes, but by then it’s much, much too late. A love story as unforgettable as Verdi’s sweeping and spectacular melodies. Massimo Zanetti conducts. Saturday, June 7, 1 to 4 pm.
For more than 20 years, the world-renowned jazz group Fourplay has set the benchmark for contemporary jazz. From their eponymously titled debut in 1991, to their 2012 Heads Up release, Esprit du Four, pianist Bob James, bassist Nathan East, drummer Harvey Mason and guitarist Chuck Loeb have continued to innovate and charm listeners with their precise, dynamic instrumental jazz/pop sound. On record and on stage, their tasty grooves and virtuosity remain impressive.
On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, 5 to 6 pm. For convenience, we divide time with round numbers and mark the beginnings of eras with an 800 or 1600 or 1900. But that convenience may hide real divisions, those watershed moments before which something ends and after which something begins.
One hundred years ago, June 1914 marked the end of the world as it had been known, with the shooting of an archduke precipitating the First World War. Then, the Russian Revolution of 1917 began much of what we know as the 20th Century. This ridge of history may be symbolized by two familiar works, heard with new ears.
In his early twenties and at the cusp of a brilliant career, Sergei Prokofiev outdid himself in 1917. He began a cantata and the Third Piano Concerto, and completed, along with this Violin Concerto No. 1, major piano works and the evergreen First Symphony, called the “Classical.” But premieres were canceled because of the upheaval of the Revolution. The violin concerto, the first of two, would not be performed until 1923.
Feeling artistically stymied, Prokofiev left Russia for America to try to make his way as a composer, performer, and conductor: to make a living, in other words. He received permission from a People’s Commissar, even though he was told that, as a “revolutionary” composer, he should remain with the Revolution. He would indeed return to his country, renamed the Soviet Union, as one of the most famous composers in the world, but not until 1936, after years in Paris.
If Prokofiev looks forward, Max Reger looks back, which even his most fervent admirers grant. He was a contrapuntalist when harmony was—in any of its clothes—king. While Debussy invented evanescent wisps of sound, while Schoenberg forged new, gray girders of pitches from the lava of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, Reger composed interlocking lines of relentless notes that recalled Bach. In a world of uncertainty Max Reger wrote fugues.
Like Bach, and like Bruckner and Messiaen, composers of earlier and later generations whom we still don’t know what to make of, Reger was an organist. His fugues and toccatas and variations are scarcely known today except by cognoscenti, as are his many songs, choral works, and other pieces. This is regrettable. The mighty Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart has often been performed, but not as much now as in the recent past.
The theme is from a Mozart piano sonata and the music is redolent of Brahms, his model, with Beethoven, of “absolute” music, or music that need not refer to any art outside itself. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms: Reger inhaled them all and breathed out, in a relatively short time, a volume of work that is remarkable. In 1914 he wrote the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart; in 1915 it was premiered; in 1916, at the age of 43, he would be dead. It was almost as if he was not supposed to see 1917.
This season, The Philadelphia Orchestra juxtaposed Beethoven’s path-breaking symphonies and concertos with those of the great orchestral master of the 20th century Dmitri Shostakovich...we’ll be treated to such a pairing Sunday afternoon at 1 pm.
BP wrote this article in 2011 for ICON Magazine, and wanted to share it again now in memory of Mr. Jeffries, who passed away on May 25, 2014 at age 100.
If you have high mileage on your odometer, and over the years have been in tune with standard popular music and jazz, you may have heard the name Herb Jeffries, and perhaps even know something about the singer/actor. He sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the early 1940s, and scored a hit with his rendition of “Flamingo.”
Join us Sunday from 4 to 6 pm for a varied program, with lots of American music - ranging from Gershwin to Jerry Lee Lewis! Members of the Chicago Symphony Brass, and violinist Rachel Barton Pine, are among the performers in a program recorded at Wolf Trap, America's National Park for the Performing Arts.
BACH: arr. Fred MILLS: Toccata in C Major, BWV 564 (CSO Brass)
By the time this Sunday’s three-hour broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert airs, Principal Harp Elizabeth Hainen, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Yannick Nezet-Seguin will have performed Tan Dun’s Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women three times in three different Chinese cities, as you might have been reading in the Philadelphia Inquirer.