Russian Festival at the Symphony

Saturday night I went to the Symphony for the first time this season. The program was part of their Russian Festival. Two of the composers featured, one in each half of the program, were Russian.

The concert opened with a Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra with Harp and Piano by Copland. The principal clarinet was the soloist. In reading my program, I was amused to see that the first movement was to be taken slowly and expressively while the second was “rather fast.” It was interesting to see one of the orchestra members step out into the soloist spot. He did a superb job! But I did wonder why he kept doing these funny little knee bends all through the piece.

The Russian part of the first half was a Symphony in Three Movements by Stravinsky. The orchestra did a good job with this piece, too, which made listening to it very enjoyable.

After the intermission we had Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings. The horn was played by an orchestra member who had a bit of a problem with a mouthpiece in the beginning but he overcame that difficulty and did a good job. The tenor sang with good tones and enunciated well so we could understand the words of the poems which Britten had set to music. Just in case, the words were projected on a large screen above the orchestra but we didn’t need that. The tenor projected them almost perfectly.

The concert concluded with a symphony by Shostakovich, one of the Russian composers who come first to mind when thinking about symphonic music. The orchestra once again did a great job in performing this piece which had some lyrical sections and others that seemed to me to have a march tempo.

All in all, it was a very nice evening.

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One Response to Russian Festival at the Symphony

  1. ray says:

    What Shostakovich was played? He’s one of my favorite composers, a titan on a par with Beethoven. I don’t think he’s played enough. The Stravinsky piece is good too, though I don’t think I’d call it Russian. It probably has more in common with the Britten work (which I also love, particularly the interlude without the Tenor’s voice). Copland always seems dated to but I’m not familiar with the concerto.

    If you liked the Shostakovich, I suggest listening to a recording of his 5th Symphony. The long, slow 3rd movement probably one of the 5 greatest passages of music ever written.

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