Overture Magazine - 2018-19 Season BSO_Overture_JanFeb_19 | Page 34

ELGAR CELLO CONCERTO Seoul, Czech and Rotterdam philharmonic orchestras; the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Aspen Festival Orchestra; Frankfurt Radio Orchestra; and l’Orchestre de Paris. He has appeared with acclaimed conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Giancarlo Guerrero, Jakub Hrůša, Ton Koopman, Pavel Kogen, Neeme Järvi and Leonard Slatkin. He is Artist-in-Residence with the Malta Philharmonic and recently toured the U.K., China and Hong Kong with the Z.E.N. Piano Trio with colleagues Zhou Zhang and Esther Yoo, which also released a debut recording on Deutsche Grammophon in 2017. Hakhnazaryan has received scholarships from the Rostropovich Foundation and the Russian Performing Arts Fund and awards including First Prize in the 2006 Aram Khachaturian International Competition, First Place in the 2006 Johansen International Competition for Young String Players and First Prize in the 2008 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Hakhnazaryan was born in Yerevan, Armenia into a family of musicians. Mentored by the late Rostropovich, Hakhnazaryan received an Artist Diploma from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2011, where he studied with Lawrence Lesser. Prior to this he studied at the Moscow Conservatory and at the Sayat- Nova School of Music. Hakhnazaryan plays the 1707 Joseph Guarneri cello and F.X. Tourte and Benoit Rolland bows. 1906, he had already used this title for two sets of piano pieces. A slow and painstaking worker, Debussy had particular trouble with Images, which took him from 1906 to 1912 to complete. Its three constituent pieces were written and premiered separately. Each is an evocation of a different country: “Gigues” of England, the longer three-movement “Ibéria” of Spain and “Rondes de printemps” of France. Debussy’s French musical image, “Rondes de printemps” (“Spring Rounds”) is the most delicate and subtle of the three, its palette a wash of clear pastel colors. Its rhythms are complex, yet always supple and buoyant. The musical fabric is woven from a French nursery song “Nous n’irons plus au bois” (“We won’t go to the woods anymore”) that Debussy loved and had used in two earlier pieces. We hear it first in the oboe, but it is soon passed to flute and other winds and in various guises continues to be present throughout much of the movement. It lends a naive joy to this very sophisticated paean to spring. Instrumentation: Three flutes including piccolo, two oboes, English horn, three clarinets, three bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, timpani, percussion, two harps, celesta and strings. CELLO CONCERTO IN E MINOR Sir Edward Elgar Born in Broadheath, England, June 2, 1857; died in Worcester, England, February 23, 1934 Narek Haknahzaryan last appeared with the BSO in October 2017, performing Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, Nicholas Hersh, conductor. About the Concert “RONDES DE PRINTEMPS” FROM IMAGES Claude Debussy Born in St. Germain-en-laye, France, August 22, 1862; died in Paris, France, March 25, 1918 Many of Claude Debussy’s closest friends were visual artists rather than musicians, and he possessed an ear for color that rivaled their visual sensitivity. He easily sensed correspondences between the two art forms. When he began his orchestral Images in 32 OV E R T U R E / BSOmusic.org One of the masterpieces of the cello literature, Sir Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto is also a powerful, poignant farewell to an era irretrievably destroyed by World War I. Its creator was a true product of the late-Victorian and Edwardian ages who needed the cushioned security of pre- war England in order to flourish as an artist. The war’s wanton slaughter horrified and depressed Elgar. He mourned the innocence of an earlier England. “Everything good & nice & clean & fresh & sweet is far away—never to return,” he wrote in 1917 to his friend Alice Stuart-Wortley. And yet out of his despair came a final quartet of masterpieces, including three chamber works and the Cello Concerto. The concerto, with its mournful, elegiac quality, seems like a very personal war requiem, and Elgar marked it with the enigmatic words “Finis. R.I.P.” What Elgar couldn’t know as he completed the work on August 3, 1919 was that “R.I.P.” would soon apply to his beloved wife of 30 years and even to his career as a composer. Five months after the work’s premiere that October, Alice Elgar was dead. She had been his indispensable prop: supporting him with intelligent criticism, pushing him back into his study when he lost heart over a composition and even ruling his score paper for him. After her death, Elgar’s creative life was over, though he lived on for another 14 years. He wrote nothing of consequence after the Cello Concerto. Masterfully drawing on the cello’s power to speak with an almost human voice, the Concerto expresses all of Elgar’s regret and nostalgia for his lost past. Although he wrote the work for a fairly large orchestra, Elgar contrived to use this ensemble in such a spare and subtle way that the cello is nearly always in the foreground. The concerto begins with a grand rhetorical gesture from the soloist: a sweep of chords suggesting the opening of a bardic tale. Then the violas launch a wandering theme that is quickly passed to the soloist and eventually the entire orchestra. The mood and key brighten somewhat from E minor to E major in the movement’s pastoral middle section. The second movement, a scherzo predominantly in G major, is a challenge to the nimble fingers of the soloist. He begins with a recitative passage of agitated repeated notes, punctuated by pizzicato snaps. Eventually he flings himself into a flurry of sixteenth notes; these are periodically interrupted by a bold downward-upward leaping phrase. Abruptly, the movement bursts like a balloon with a pizzicato pop. Although brief, the third movement in B-flat major is the emotional heart of the work. Here the soloist pours out a magnificent, long-lined lament, while the orchestra is reduced to woodwinds and strings to throw the spotlight on the cello’s song. Upward leaps of an octave in the soloist’s melody gradually slip to leaps