From a surprise to the Exquisite to the Grand: Stravinsky, Schumann & Sibelius – Naomi Yoran

Last concert’s program spanned 3 centuries of classical music when counting in Pergolesi as the inspiration for Stravinsky’s ‘Suite from Pulcinella’. No doubt, this program was greatly fitting the PSO with Maestro Sir Andrew Davis for tour of the West Coast. So in a way, our concert was a "dress rehearsal"! (Fact: the orchestra treated us to an encore! a traditional gift to new audiences when on tour.)

I perceived the program as having all the right elements for a great concert, especially for presenting the PSO in its full virtuosity.            

I think that a bit of surprise is a great way to engage the public at the start of a concert. Igor Stravinsky is usually associated with his exciting and high spirited ‘Fireworks’, ‘Petrushka’ and ‘The Rite of Spring’. To listen to his variations based on a baroque Italian composer is getting a glimpse into a whole host of his musical output.

Robert Schumann’s ‘Piano Concerto’: an
exquisite example of the romantic era, with its melodic, playful and
emotional tones was a feast to the spirit, especially with the young
and so talented Jonathan Biss at the piano. Whenever I listen to this ‘Piano Concerto’ I always wish that Schumann
would have composed a few more… It is such a tragedy that his short
life ended in an asylum, isolated from music, friends, family… from
his virtuoso pianist wife.

The conclusion of the concert with Jean Sibelius’ ‘Symphony No.5’
was as grand as it gets: melodic, harmonious and the climatic solo
chords of the timpani which follow what it felt as an eternity of
silence. Somehow, I always associate this Symphony with Beethoven’s ‘5th. Beethoven starts and Sibelius concludes with those thunderous & unexpected timpani chords. (What would the PSO do without Timothy Adams?)

To conclude with a personal surprise: I found out that Stravinsky orchestrated Sibelius’Canzonetta’. So we come to a full circle.

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