The RI Philharmonic Orchestra’s TACO Classical’s season finale features
Mendelssohn, Mahler and Jessie Montgomery–former Providence String Quartet member
Violinist Elena Urioste performs Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto
***At a Glance ***
Mahler & Mendelssohn
TACO Classic Concert
Saturday, May 5, 8:00pm
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Edwin Outwater, conductor
Elena Urioste, violin
MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concerto
MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 (Titan)
Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased: online at tickets.riphil.org; in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence; or by phone 401.248.7000 (M-F 9am-4:30pm). On day of concerts, tickets are also available at The VETS’ Box Office (Friday, 3:30pm–showtime; Saturday, 4:00pm-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.
Friday, May 4, 5:30pm
General Admission is $15. Tickets are available at tickets.riphil.org or 401.248.7000 (M-F 9 am-4:30pm).
About the concert: stories behind the music
Eclectic approach: Composer-violinist-educator Jessie Montgomery (1981-) hails from New York’s Lower East Side, where her father managed a music studio. She was, in her words, “constantly surrounded by all different kinds of music.” Thus, her own compositions have drawn from many diverse influences, such as African-American spirituals, civil rights anthems, improvisational styles, modern jazz and film scores. From 2004-2009 Jessie was a member of the Providence String Quartet, a pioneering ensemble in community-based music education.
A thoughtful piece: Starburst was commissioned by the Sphinx Organization and premiered by its resident Sphinx Virtuosi in 2012. She said, “I wrote the piece with their dynamic in mind.”
Listen for this: This brief one-movement work for string orchestra is a play on imagery of rapidly changing musical colors. Exploding gestures are juxtaposed with gentle fleeting melodies to create a multidimensional soundscape. A common definition of a starburst, she added, “The rapid formation of large numbers of new stars in a galaxy at a rate high enough to alter the structure of the galaxy significantly.”
Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op.64
Born from a friendship: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) studiously avoided any comparison with Beethoven. Mendelssohn’s concerto was born of a long and deep friendship between him and Ferdinand David, a professional violinist. Repeatedly, David had asked Mendelssohn for a concerto, but it was frequently put off due mainly to the composer’s many professional commitments. In July 1838, Mendelssohn wrote to David, “I would like to write you a violin concerto for next winter. One in E minor keeps running through my head, and the opening gives me no peace.”
The long game: The concerto did not come to fruition for nearly seven years. When he showed a partly complete score to David, the violinist exclaimed, “This is going to be something great!” David contributed many ideas to the work. Finally, it premiered in March 1845 at the Gewandhaus (Leipzig).
Listen for this: The violin has a ravishing melody played right at the beginning. The cadenza is controlled virtuosity—in spirit, a blend of Spohr’s classical reserve and Paganini’s flashy display. When the orchestra re-enters with the main theme, roles are reversed with the violin accompanying the orchestra. A single note in the bassoon joins the first movement to the second.
Symphony No.1 (Titan)
Radical score: The First Symphony of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) originated as a five-movement work under the generic title, Symphonic Poem. In that form, it had its 1889 premiere in Budapest. The work was not a critical success. Before the next performance in Hamburg in 1893, Mahler revised the score, renaming it Titan, a Tone Poem in the Form of a Symphony, and added programmatic titles and comments to all the movements. For the 1899 publication, the composer also reduced the number of movements to the more traditional four.
Fairy tale inspired: The third movement begins oddly as a grotesque parody of the children’s round Frère Jacques scored for some solo instruments with brief sarcastic comments from others. Mahler explains this strange opening and unusual later developments in his note. “The composer received the external stimulus to this movement from the parodical picture, The Huntsman’s Funeral, well known to all children of Austria from an old book of fairy tales. The animals of the forest accompany the coffin of the dead hunter to its tomb.”
Listen for this: Without pause, a cymbal crash announces the opening of the fourth movement. Full of dramatic contrasts and orchestration wizardry, this movement has themes of its own but is noteworthy for reminiscences and transformations of melodies from the previous movements. The length and power of this concluding essay shows Mahler at his best, tying up the ends of the symphony’s portrayal of innocence.
Tickets start at $15 (including all fees), and can be purchased online at tickets.riphil.org, in person from the RI Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office in East Providence, or by phone 401.248.7000 (M-F 9am-4:30pm). On day of concerts, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30pm–showtime; Saturday, 4:00pm-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.