We are pleased to announce our upcoming concert
A Spring Concert
Featuring the Co-Grandprize Winner of the Concerto Competition
Cellist Zlatomir Fung is 13 years old (he turns 14 the day before the concert) and is a resident of Westborough
~ Rococco Variations
~ Symphony No 1 in E Minor, Andante
~ Chicken Reel
– Mark Zarrow, edited by Carol Zarrow, 2013
Sibelius acheived great fame during his lifetime. In his native Finland, he became a national hero for his tone poems about Finnish folk legends, including his patriotic “Finlandia,” which was composed and played during the country’s struggle for independence from czarist Russia. But he also achieved renown abroad, including in America. In the 1940s, New York Philharmonic audiences voted him the greatest living composer, even though he had published virtually nothing new after 1929.
His First Symphony was published in 1899, in the middle of the two decades of his greatest productivity. One could say Sibelius kept one foot in the 19th century and one in the 20th. Symphony No. 1, like many of his other works of the period and even later, contains both elements of high romanticism a la Tchaikovsky and great originality. They are highly individual works presaging Bartok’s and Stravinky’s use of native folk tunes.
Where Sibelius looked forward from the Romantic Era into which he had been born, Tchaikovsky, with his Variations on a Rococco Theme, looked back to an earlier musical era. In contrast to his more widely known and unabashadly romantic ballets, symphonies, concertos and operas, the Variations show a quieter, classically oriented style, reflecting Tchaikovsky’s great love of Mozart. Written in 1876, relatively early in his career, the Variations constitute a virtual cello concerto.
The “rococco” label can be attributed not to the theme itself, but to the decorations and embellishments on the theme that are played by the cello soloist. As you watch the soloist, you might note that he plays much of his part in the so-called “thumb position.” The cello can be played through much of its range (nearly four octaves starting at C two octaves below middle C) with the thumb of the musician’s left hand under the neck to anchor the fingers as they stop the strings at different positions. As the notes reach the upper range, however, the thumb runs out of room under the neck and must switch to the top of the neck to support the action of the fingers.
Leroy Anderson’s name will forever be inextricably linked with the Boston Pops and its music director Arthur Fiedler, for whom he composed and arranged dozens of pieces. Although his work is highly varied – including a piano concerto and a Broadway show, he may be best known for taking folk and dance tunes, including “Chicken Reel,” and orchestrating them, adding strong dynamics, contrasting rhythms and fast tempos. Among his many compositions in a similar vein are “Blue Tango,” “The Syncopated Clock,” “The Typewriter” and “Sleigh Ride” to name only a few. It would be difficult to find an Anderson piece that’s not full of high spirits and good humor. In the words of John Williams, the composer and conductor laureate of the Boston Pops, “Leroy Anderson is one of the great American masters of light orchestral music. Though we have performed his works countless times over the years at the Boston Pops, his music remains forever young and fresh as the very first day on which it was composed.”