JoAnn Falletta leads National Repertory Orchestra through Romantic favorites | SummitDaily.com

JoAnn Falletta leads National Repertory Orchestra through Romantic favorites

Benjamin Paul
Special to the Daily

On Wednesday, July 29, the National Repertory Orchestra and guest conductor JoAnn Falletta will present a concert of Romantic favorites at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. The program will feature Brahms' Symphony No. 2 and Schumann's Cello Concerto in A Minor, as well as a piece by contemporary composer Kenneth Fuchs.

Falletta is the music director and conductor for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. She is regularly featured as a guest conductor with top-tier orchestras worldwide and has done extensive work with the Naxos recording label, including four discs of Fuchs' music with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Johannes Brahms was one of the great masters of the 19th century Romantic Era — a golden age for classical music. Having the utmost respect for earlier musical giants such as Bach, Haydn and Beethoven, the German composer strove to apply their technical mastery to the musical ideas of his own time.

Brahms' 1877 Second Symphony is often referred to as his Pastoral Symphony, referencing both the music's bucolic charm and Brahms' reputation as a successor to Beethoven. Brahms wrote the symphony while vacationing on Lake Worth in Austria, and its peaceful music reflects the lake's beautiful alpine landscapes. The first movement uses the symphonic techniques of thematic development and contrast to gradually reveal a tranquil and achingly beautiful melody for strings. This theme is a variation of the melody known as "Brahms' Lullaby," which the composer had made famous in an earlier vocal composition.

While the symphony is best known for its idyllic scenery, Brahms punctuates this beauty with stormier episodes to create a compelling journey toward a serene destination. The slow second movement follows this model, as sweeping cello themes overcome dramatic tension to reach a graceful conclusion. The third movement scherzo is light and carefree, presenting a series of lively dance episodes over a peaceful countryside setting. The fourth movement's joyous finale departs slightly from the symphony's gentle mood in favor of spirited, triumphant celebration.

"Symphony No. 2 is pastoral and sublime," said Doug Adams, CEO of the NRO. "It is full and rich, and its structure is very clear."

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Robert Schumann is another German composer who is among the Romantic Era's most influential figures. Despite a troubled life, Schumann wrote a prolific amount of music and played an important role in promoting the other great composers of his day.

His Cello Concerto in A Minor — the only concerto he wrote for the instrument — was not premiered until 1860, four years after Schumann's death. Since then, it has become a well-loved staple of the cello repertoire. The concerto consists of three movements, which are played together without pause as a single piece. Its music is tailored to the cello's strengths, focusing on lyrical, expressive passages and contrasting the instrument's warm timbre with the variety of the orchestra.

"The instrumentation is impressive," Adams said. "Schumann managed to find that elusive balance between soloist and orchestra without drowning out the cello."

The NRO's principal cellist, Patrick Hopkins, is the concerto's featured soloist. Hopkins has a bachelor's degree from the Julliard School and a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

The program will also include a modern piece of music in Fuchs' "Atlantic Riband." Fuchs is an American composer and a prominent voice in today's classical music scene. In this piece, inspired by the ocean liners of his New York childhood, Fuchs evokes the mystery of the ocean and the optimism of trans-Atlantic travel.

Anne and Bill Mills, John and Betsy Crossman, Blue River Bistro and Benson Family Foundation are the NRO's sponsors for this concert. For tickets and more information, call (970) 547-3100, or visit http://www.nromusic.com.

Benjamin Paul is the marketing and public relations intern for the National Repertory Orchestra.

If you go

What: National Repertory Orchestra presents Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, featuring guest conductor JoAnn Falletta

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 29

Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge

Cost: Tickets are $25 to $40, or $7 for youth 18 and younger

Program: “Atlantic Riband,” by Kenneth Fuchs; Cello Concerto in A Minor, by Robert Schumann; Symphony No. 2 in D Major, by Johannes Brahms

More information: Call (970) 547-3100, or visit http://www.nromusic.com

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