Events & Tickets
Richard Strauss’ famed “Sunrise” fanfare promises greatness with just five notes, summoning a sweeping tone poem like none other. The triumphant tour de force, based on the writings of Nietzsche and made even more famous by 2001: A Space Odyssey, musically navigates life, religion, science and more with bombastic brass, winding winds and soaring strings. Jeffrey Kahane shot to fame after winning the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition and brings his authority to Mozart’s ornate and majestic Concerto. But first, Cesar Franck offers a cautionary tale with his symphonic poem, where dark hunting horns, church bells and frantic gallops leap right from the pages of its inspired ballad.
**The Saturday, January 30 performance will be presented as a WALLCAST™ concert, presented by Citi®, in SoundScape Park. WALLCAST™ concerts are free and do not require a ticket.**
Approx. Duration: 15 minutes
The Accursed Huntsman
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Approx. Duration: 33 minutes
Concerto No. 22 in E-flat major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 482
Approx. Duration: 35 minutes
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Op. 30
The Accursed Huntsman
Approximate duration: 15 minutes
César Franck began his musical life as a piano prodigy. His father enrolled him in the local conservatory in Liège at age seven, and then the family moved to Paris five years later to launch Franck’s concert career. By the time he split from his father in 1846, Franck’s ascent as a pianist had fizzled, and he began to focus instead on composition. His progress as a composer was fitful at best, and he devoted most of his time to large-scale oratorios and cantatas that are now all but forgotten. In his lifetime Franck was more known for his organ improvisations, which could be heard at the Basilica of Saint Clotilde in Paris for more than 30 years. He was also a beloved teacher at the Paris Conservatory, attracting a clique of devoted students that included Chausson, d’Indy and Duparc.
When those young musicians and others banded together to form the Société Nationale de Musique in 1871, they made a point of featuring their mentor in their regular concerts. Franck unveiled many works on the Society’s programs in the coming years, including the symphonic poem Le chasseur maudit (The Accursed Huntsman), composed in 1882 and debuted in March of 1883. Franck modeled the score on an old European tale of supernatural hunters who terrorized those unlucky enough to cross their paths, specifically a version of the legend written in ballad form by the German poet Gottfried August Bürger (1747-1794).
The action begins on a Sunday morning: the horn calls represent the start of a hunt led by an impious count, while bells in the distance and peaceful music depict the godly folk headed to church.
The second section tracks the hunt, with its whirlwind activity and tense air of foreboding.
In the third section, the count finds himself alone and frozen, unable to move, as a spectral voice (interpreted as a dirge-like theme, first played by clarinet and tuba) curses the hunter for violating the Sabbath.
The ghoulish final section portrays “The Demons’ Pursuit,” in which the hunter becomes the hunted.
Translation of Bürger’s original poem by Sir Walter Scott
Illustrations linked to the poem
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Concerto No. 22 in E-flat major for Piano and Orchestra, K. 482
Approximate duration: 33 minutes
Following his arrival in Vienna in 1781, Mozart established himself as the preeminent keyboard virtuoso in the Imperial capital. He launched a series of subscription concerts featuring his own music, and he kept his audiences enthralled by debuting new piano concertos at a rapid clip, including a dozen concertos introduced between 1784 and 1786. Mozart’s lucrative run only ended when a protracted war with the Ottoman Empire scattered Vienna’s elites and dampened the city’s appetites for musical entertainment, precipitating the financial hardship that marred the composer’s final years.
Mozart completed the Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat major on December 16, 1785, amid his work on the opera The Marriage of Figaro. At their core, all of Mozart’s mature piano concertos carry some operatic DNA, but the link to opera is especially strong in this work, partly as a result of its orchestration. This was the first piano concerto in which Mozart included clarinets, and in doing so he placed a spotlight on the woodwinds in general, as heard in the prominent solos and counter-melodies throughout the opening tutti section.
After setting up this joyous opening in the comforting key of E-flat major, the most arresting passages of the first movement are those in which the piano plunges suddenly into minor-key music.
Mozart did not write out a solo cadenza at the end of the first movement, since he would have improvised it on the fly. For this performance Jeffrey Kahane uses his own original cadenza.
The Andante slow movement continues the exploration of this Concerto’s darker side by setting its theme and variations in the key of C minor, with the strings dampened by mutes throughout.
One episode for winds alone and another featuring a cheerful duet for flute and bassoon maintain the focus on individual woodwind voices.
When Mozart performed the new Concerto a week after finishing it, he was quite pleased that the audience demanded an encore of this slow movement.
The closing Allegro begins and ends with the type of jaunty, hunt-inspired music that is right at home in such a finale.
The surprise is that, nested between these outer sections, a passage marked Andantino cantabile intervenes with what is essentially a whole new slow movement, one graced with woodwind passages that might be the most beautiful yet.
Historical photo of the Burgtheater, where Mozart debuted many of his piano concertos
Digital Mozart Edition, a comprehensive site for Mozart’s scores, letters and more
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Op. 30
Approximate duration: 35 minutes
Richard Strauss began his musical life with conservative tastes, taking after his father (the great horn player Franz Strauss) in a preference for the Classical style of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. It was only once Strauss left home that his ears opened up to the “music of the future,” to quote a phrase associated with his new musical idol, Richard Wagner. While Strauss was working as the assistant conductor to Hans von Bülow at the court orchestra in Meiningen, Germany, an older violinist took Strauss under his wing, introducing him to Wagner’s operas and Franz Liszt’s symphonic poems. In time Strauss would inherit Wagner’s mantle as the king of progressive opera, thanks to works like Salome (1905) and Elektra (1909). But first he followed Liszt into the realm of the symphonic poem, as heard in Don Juan (1889), Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks (1895) and Also sprach Zarathustra (1896). These “tone poems,” to use Strauss’ preferred term, redefined the genre and placed the young composer at the forefront of the musical avant-garde.
Whereas previous tone poems followed a concrete plot or image, Thus Spoke Zarathustra instead drew freely from the philosophical novel of the same name by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). In that chronicle of a fictionalized Zarathustra (inspired by the historical figure known in English as Zoroaster, the founder of an ancient, mystical religion in Persia), Nietszche elaborated some of his most impactful and controversial ideas, including the paradigm of the “Übermensch” as humankind’s end goal, as well as the provocative claim that “God is dead.” Strauss patterned his descriptive headings after episodes in Nietzsche’s text, but otherwise the work developed independently into a massive, through-composed musical form that stretched to some 35 minutes, far longer than any tone poem before.
At one point, Strauss described the Introduction as a “Sunrise,” an image that captures the sense of awakening as the fanfare rises from the deepest rumble, climbs up a series of perfect intervals and splashes into colorful chords that teeter between C major and C minor.
Thanks to Stanley Kubrick and the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, this passage is among the most recognizable in all of music, but it is just the beginning of a work that offers up many more riches. The rising theme from the fanfare and the key of C major recur throughout as reminders of nature, whereas B major and chromatic-tinged themes represent the contrasting aspects of humankind. The section titled Of Science brings these competing tonal and thematic elements together in a dizzying fugue, and still the conflict remains unresolved as the final Song of the Night Wanderer fades toward silence, when the faint B-major chords sounded in the upper range and the low C’s plucked by the cellos and basses bow out, each unbending, leaving behind a musical enigma as provocative as the philosophy that inspired it.
Opening scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey featuring Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Analysis and listening guide by conductor Marin Alsop
-- Copyright © 2016 Aaron Grad
Aaron Grad is a composer, guitarist and writer based in Seattle. Besides providing program notes for the New World Symphony, he has been the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s program annotator since 2005 and also contributes notes to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Seattle Symphony.
Audio clips provided by Naxos of America, Inc.
Hailed for the natural ease of his conducting and the compelling insight of his musicianship, James Gaffigan continues to attract international attention and is considered by many to be the most outstanding young American conductor working today. In January 2010 he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and he recently concluded his tenure as Principal Guest Conductor of the Gurzenich Orchestra in Cologne.
In addition to these titled positions, Mr. Gaffigan is in high demand to work with the leading orchestras and opera houses throughout North America, Europe and Asia. In the United States, Mr. Gaffigan has guest conducted the Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Chicago, Toronto, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati, National, Atlanta, Houston, Baltimore, Vancouver, Milwaukee and New World symphonies, among others. His U.S. festival engagements include appearances at the Blossom, Aspen, Grand Teton and Grant Park festivals, as well as at the Hollywood Bowl and the Music Academy of the West.
Mr. Gaffigan’s international career launched when he was named a first prize winner at the 2004 Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition in Frankfurt, Germany. Since then he has appeared with prestigious orchestras such as the Munich, London and Rotterdam philharmonics, London Symphony, Dresden Staatskappelle, Deutsches Symphony Orchestra Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, Vienna Symphony, London and Czech philharmonics, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Tonhalle Orchestra and Camerata Salzburg, among others.
Highlights of his 2015-16 season include his debut with the New York Philharmonic and re-engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, both downtown and at the Hollywood Bowl, as well as with the Toronto, National, Dallas and New World symphonies. Internationally, in addition to his work with the Lucerne Symphony and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, he guest conducts the London Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra National de France, Sydney Symphony and Sãu Paulo Symphony Orchestra.
Equally at home in the opera house, Mr. Gaffigan made his Vienna State Opera debut in 2011-12 conducting La Bohème, was immediately invited back to conduct Don Giovanni the following season, and returned once again in the fall of 2015 for performances of The Marriage of Figaro. He made his professional opera debut at the Zurich Opera in June 2005 conducting La Bohème. In the summers of 2009 and 2010 he conducted performances of Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro at the Aspen Music Festival and made his debut at Glyndebourne sharing a production of Così fan tutte with the late Sir Charles Mackerras. Since then he has returned to Glyndebourne leading performances of Falstaff and a new production of La Cenerentola and led performances of The Marriage of Figaro with the Houston Grand Opera, Salome with the Hamburg Opera, Rigoletto with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and La Traviata with the Norwegian Opera. Future opera project include his debuts with the Bavarian State Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Washington National Opera and the Santa Fe Opera.
Mr. Gaffigan’s first recording with the Lucerne Symphony for Harmonia Mundi, an all-Wolfgang Rihm disc, received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, as did his second recording with Lucerne of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 and American Suite, also for Harmonia Mundi. He is in the process of recording the complete Prokofiev symphonies with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, and his most recent recording is the first Tchaikovsky and second Prokofiev piano concertos with Kirill Gerstein and the DSO Berlin for the Myrios label.
Born in New York City in 1979, Mr. Gaffigan attended the New England Conservatory of Music and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, where he earned his master of music degree in conducting. He was also chosen to study at the American Academy of Conducting at the Aspen Music Festival and School and was a conducting fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. In 2009 Mr. Gaffigan completed a three-year tenure as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, where he assisted Michael Tilson Thomas, led subscription concerts and was Artistic Director of the orchestra’s Summer in the City festival. Prior to that appointment he was the Assistant Conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra, where he worked under Music Director Franz Welser-Möst from 2003 through 2006.
Mr. Gaffigan resides in Lucerne with his wife and their children, Sofia and Liam.
Jeffrey Kahane, piano
Equally at home at the keyboard or on the podium, Jeffrey Kahane has established an international reputation as a truly versatile artist, recognized by audiences around the world for his mastery of a diverse repertoire ranging from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Gershwin, Osvaldo Golijov and John Adams.
Since making his Carnegie Hall debut in 1983, Mr. Kahane has given recitals in many of the nation’s major music centers, including New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. He appears as soloist with major orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony, and is also a popular figure at all of the major U.S. summer festivals. Mr. Kahane is equally well-known for his collaborations with artists and chamber ensembles such as Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Thomas Quasthoff and the Emerson and Takács quartets.
Mr. Kahane made his conducting debut at the Oregon Bach Festival in 1988. Since then, he has guest conducted many of the major U.S. orchestras, including the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, The Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Indianapolis and New World symphonies, among others. Currently in his 19th season as Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), Mr. Kahane concluded his tenure as Music Director of the Colorado Symphony in June 2010 and for ten seasons was Music Director of the Santa Rosa Symphony, where he is now Conductor Laureate. He has received much recognition for his innovative programming and commitment to education and community involvement with all three orchestras and received ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming for his work in both Los Angeles and Denver. He is also the Artistic Director of the new Green Music Center Chamber Fest in Sonoma, California, which had its inaugural season in June 2015.
In addition to his programs and projects with LACO, recent engagements include appearances at the Mostly Mozart, Caramoor, Ravinia, Blossom and Oregon Bach festivals; recitals in Salt Lake City, Scottsdale, Denver and the Green Music Center in Santa Rosa; concerto performances with the Toronto, Houston, Oregon, Nashville and Colorado symphonies and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; play/conducts with the San Francisco, National, Detroit, Vancouver, Indianapolis and New Jersey symphonies and the Rochester Philharmonic, as well as for the third time in four seasons with the New York Philharmonic; and conducting the New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra in Boston, The Juilliard Orchestra at Lincoln Center and the National Repertory Orchestra in Colorado. Highlights of Mr. Kahane’s 2015-16 season include return appearances at the Ravinia and Aspen Music festivals and with the New World, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Colorado and North Carolina symphonies; and premiering a new concerto by Andrew Norman with the New York Philharmonic.
Mr. Kahane’s recent European engagements include play/conduct programs with the Camerata Salzburg, Hamburg Symphony and Real Philharmonic de Galicia in Spain, as well as appearances at the Meck-Pomm Chamber Music Festival in Germany.
Mr. Kahane’s recordings include works of Gershwin and Bernstein with Yo-Yo Ma for SONY, Paul Schoenfield’s Four Parables with the New World Symphony for Decca/Argo, Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety” with the Bournemouth Symphony/Andrew Litton for EMI, the Strauss Burleske on Telarc with the Cincinnati Symphony and the complete Brandenburg Concertos (on harpsichord) with the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra under Helmuth Rilling on the Haenssler label. He has also recorded the complete works for violin and piano by Schubert with Joseph Swensen for RCA, Bach’s Sinfonias and Partita No. 4 in D major for Nonesuch and Bernstein’s “The Age of Anxiety” for Virgin Records, which was nominated by Gramophone Magazine for its “Record of the Year” award. His recordings as conductor include the Bach violin concertos with Hilary Hahn and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon.
A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Mr. Kahane's early piano studies were with Howard Weisel and Jakob Gimpel. First prize winner at the 1983 Rubinstein Competition and a finalist at the 1981 Van Cliburn Competition, he was also the recipient of a 1983 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the first Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award in 1987. An avid linguist who reads widely in a number of ancient and modern languages, Mr. Kahane received a master’s degree in classics from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011. Beginning in the fall of 2015 he is a Visiting Professor of Keyboard Studies at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.
Mr. Kahane resides in Santa Rosa with his wife Martha, a clinical psychologist in private practice. They have two children—Gabriel, a composer, pianist and singer/songwriter and Annie, a dancer and poet.