Pianist Sara Davis Buechner performs R. Strauss Burleske
and Mozart Rondo for Piano and Orchestra
TACO Classical Series concert is on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m.
Open Rehearsal is on Friday, Jan. 25, at 5:30 p.m.
Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra welcomes Conductor Tania Miller for a classical concert that pays tribute to the Viennese waltz and Beethoven. The concert features Beethoven’s Symphony No.4, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture, J. Strauss’s On the Beautiful Blue Danube and pianist Sara Davis Buechner performing R. Strauss’s Burleske and Mozart’s Rondo for Piano and Orchestra.
“I love conducting Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony with its’ fullness of joy, grace, surprise, humour, and above all Beethoven’s electrifying energy! Sara Buechner is one of my favorite artists, and is particularly astonishing in her virtuosic and powerful performances of Strauss’ Burleske,” said Tania Miller, guest conductor and music director of the Victoria (Canada) Symphony. “It will be a tour de force that the audience will remember for a long time. I’m excited to be working with the wonderful Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra in this beautiful Viennese concert.”
***At A Glance ***
TACO Classical Series concert
Viennese Favorites & Beethoven 4
Saturday, Jan. 26, 8 p.m.
The VETS, One Avenue of the Arts, Providence
Tania Miller, conductor
Sara Davis Buechner, piano
MENDELSSOHN: A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture
R. STRAUSS: Burleske
MOZART: Rondo for Piano and Orchestra
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No.4
J. STRAUSS: On the Beautiful Blue Danube
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 (Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). On day of concerts only, tickets are also available at The VETS Box Office (Friday, 3:30 p.m.–showtime; Saturday, 4 p.m.-showtime). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, Jan. 25, 5:30 p.m., at The VETS
General Admission is $15. Tickets are available at tickets.riphil.org or 401.248.7000.
About Tania Miller, conductor
Canadian conductor Tania Miller has distinguished herself as a dynamic interpreter, musician and innovator on the podium and off. This season, she will return to the podium for the Chicago Symphony as well as the Toronto Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic and Orchestra Métropolitain de Montreal. Miller has appeared as a guest conductor in Canada, United States and Europe with the Bern Symphony and National Arts Centre (Ottawa) orchestras, Hartford, Oregon, Seattle and Vancouver symphonies, and the NFM Wrocław, Louisiana and Naples philharmonics.
During the past 14 years as music director of the Victoria Symphony in Canada, Ms. Miller gained national acclaim for her passion and commitment to the orchestra and community. She was the driving force behind new growth and innovation for the Victoria Symphony, and gained a national reputation as a highly effective advocate and communicator for the arts. As curator, she distinguished herself as a visionary leader and innovator.
Acknowledged for the impact and success of her tenure, she was recently bestowed the title music director emerita for the Victoria Symphony. Recipient of the 2017 Friends of Canadian Music award from the Canadian League of Composers and Canadian Music Centre for her acclaimed commitment to contemporary music in Canada, Ms. Miller has been a story about the impact of commitment and dedication to an orchestra and to the future of orchestral music through creative innovation and vision.
In 2015, Miller received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Royal Roads University in recognition of her exemplary work as a leader and for her extraordinary artistic achievements in the community. In addition, she was a recipient of the 2016 Paul Harris Award from the Rotary Foundation for distinguished musical excellence and leadership. Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music bestowed her with an honorary diploma in 2015 for her impact on music in Canada.
About Sara Davis Buechner, piano
“When it comes to clarity, flawless tempo selection, phrasing and precise control of timbre, Buechner has no superior.”–Japan’s InTune magazine
Sara Davis Buechner is one of the leading concert pianists of our time, praised worldwide as a musician of “intelligence, integrity and all-encompassing technical prowess” by the New York Times. With an active repertoire of more than 100 concertos ranging from Albeníz to Zimbalist, she has appeared as a soloist with many of the world’s prominent orchestras. Audiences throughout North and South America have applauded Ms. Buechner’s recitals in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl. She enjoys wide success throughout Asia where she tours annually.
Ms. Buechner’s numerous recordings have received prominent critical appraisal. Her extensive discography includes music by Bach, Brahms, Busoni, Dvořák, Mozart, Stravinsky and Turina; Hollywood piano concertos by Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman; rare American music of George Gershwin, Dana Suesse, Pauline Alpert and Joseph Lamb; and the complete piano music of Miklós Rózsa. Her piano artistry may also be heard on the recent DVD of Carl Dreiser’s 1925 silent film Master of the House, available through the Criterion Collection.
In 2016, Ms. Buechner joined the prestigious piano faculty of Temple University, Philadelphia. Formerly, she had taught at New York University, the University of British Columbia, and was an honorary visiting professor of music at the University of Shanghai. In 2017, she marked her 30th year as a dedicated Yamaha artist.
As a proud transgender woman, Ms. Buechner also appears as a speaker and performer at important LGBTQ events, and has contributed interviews and articles about her own experience to numerous media outlets worldwide.
Sara is a dual American-Canadian citizen who makes her home in Philadelphia.
Learn more about Sara Davis Buechner on her website: saradavisbuechner.com/about/
About the concert: stories behind the music
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture
Romantic Shakespeare: It was a dreamy 17-year-old Felix Mendelssohn who wrote to his sister, Fanny, “I have grown accustomed to composing in our garden. . . . Today or tomorrow I am going to dream there A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is, however, an enormous audacity.” That audacious dream took shape in the following weeks as the overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Listen for this: The four magical woodwind chords heard at the opening (and twice later) forecast Titania awakening to fall in love with her monster. Immediately then, the strings give us fairy music, interrupted occasionally by a mysterious chord.
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Burleske in D Minor for Piano and Orchestra
Splendid moments: Throughout the nineteenth century, the Romantic Period, it became common for instrumental virtuosos to compose or commission very showy single-movement concertos for their instrument plus orchestra. The range of style for these was broad but the soloist always reigned supreme and the orchestra was used mainly for support. One of the earliest of these was the Konzertstück (Concert Piece or Concertino). In fact, Carl Maria von Weber’s Konzertstück for piano and orchestra (1821) was among the earliest of such works. Notably, Franz Liszt followed with Malédiction (Curse, 1833) and Totentanz (Dance of Death, ca. 1860).
Listen for this: Burleske has an unusual opening. We hear its brief main theme, but it is performed unaccompanied on four timpani (kettle drums). We’ll call this the “motto,” and a great many of the musical ideas that follow derive from it. Listen especially for all the things the piano does with snippets of the motto.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Rondo for Piano and Orchestra
Concerned about compositions: Mozart rarely agonized over his compositions, but for some reason the first of these concertos (in A major, K.414) troubled him. Getting the Rondo finale to be distinct enough from the first movement seems to have been the issue. Thus, we now have one complete A Major Concerto plus a Rondo in A, which he had discarded despite its distinction and attractiveness.
Listen for this: Courtliness rather than Mozartian playfulness informs the main theme. Restraint also shows in distinctly pastoral passages. In the orchestra, strings dominate but for good reason. Mozart had told publishers that his A Major Concerto could be performed either with or without wind instruments. In the Rondo, we might wait in vain for humor or playfulness, but aristocratic graciousness abounds instead.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Symphony No.4 in B-flat Major, Op.60
Shadowy: The symphony opens with a slow introduction (a throwback to Haydn). However, Beethoven infuses it with dark mystery and what analyst Donald Tovey calls a “sky-dome vastness.” In the main Allegro vivace, Beethoven forms some themes simply on chord outlines, the notable exception being the second theme, a folk-like conversation among the woodwinds. About half the development section hovers in the remote key of B major, a particularly wonderful effect when the music lands back in B-flat major at the recapitulation.
Listen for this: Beethoven’s boisterous sense of humor comes to the fore in the Scherzo (third movement). Though its quickness and near-constant rhythmic shifts lift it from the strictly Classical minuet tradition, the woodwind-centered Trio section harks back to the older type. Beethoven then repeats the Trio and main Scherzo sections, concluding with a short passage in the horns.
JOHANN STRAUSS (1825-1899)
On the Beautiful Blue Danube
Waltz king: Between the mid-1840s and early 1870s, Strauss became not only Vienna’s most popular composer but also the most universally popular composer of light music ever. He reached his peak as a waltz composer during the 1860s with a string of hits such as On the Beautiful Blue Danube.
Listen for this: In the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the buoyancy and transparency of Strauss’s famous waltz are used to illustrate a spaceport. The almost imperceptibly rotating satellite, seen from some distance, slowly accepts and later emits a rocket ship from Earth.