The last two concerts before the PSO went on its European tour impressed me with their strong symmetries of program, performance and mood.
Both concerts featured "our American Resident Composer" John Corigliano, offering contemporary music based on literary imagination rooted in a romantic past, two string virtuosi: PSO’s Principal Cellist Anne Martindale Williams and the Violinist Joshua Bell, two "minor composers": Edward Elgar and Samuel Barber whose music is so perfectly crafted and emotionally penetrating, two "major composers": Mozart and Mussorgsky offering popular "signature pieces".
Presiding on it all, the Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who, in my mind, sealed this "symetrical enterprise". (Did anyone miss Sir Andrew Davis?)
When reflecting on the various symmetries, all sorts of playful
connections come to my mind and I find myself in what feels as a web of
endless artistic ties.
I want to touch on just a few: Corigliano’s ‘"Phantasmagoria" on The Ghosts of Versailles for Orchestra’
is a suit from his opera in which his imagination mixes tragic figures
of the executed nobility of the French Revolution with imaginary comic
characters from Mozart’s operas. Past reality & fantasy
reflect each other, creating vibrations of horrific humor… Only music
allows me to delight in such a venture. In the second concert, Corigliano’s ‘Concerto for Violin and Orchestra’ is based on his music to the movie "The Red Violin"
with its tale of a violin’s journey through time, space & cultures,
reflecting on a range of musical styles as mirrors to the constant
condition of human agony, moralilty and struggle.
Both Pieces picture tales of fantasy but in the same time this
contemporary music is penetrating a continuous, unending state of the
So the first concert concludes with Mozart’s ‘Symphony No.41 – Jupiter’. Mozart, the master of human character revealed in timeless operas, and the second concert concludes with Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’, converting artistic visual images into musical notes.
These are endless possibilities of music’s wealth to tell stories,
and they offer me endless sources for reflection and never-ending