February 6, 2012

Music for Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday, which means that couples around the world will be celebrating love and its many-splendors. Everyone loves a good love song and regardless of genre, music has always had a unique capacity to express the passions and emotions associated with love. This Thursday and Saturday, bring your Valentine to Kodak Hall as Arild Remmereit leads the RPO in an evening of romantic works.

The program begins with Richard Strauss’ Don Juan, a tone poem based upon the legendary womanizer who ‘loves them and leaves them’ before coming to a fiendish end (click here for a full summary). The Don Juan legend has inspired countless works of art, literature, and music over the years, including the great Mozart opera, Don Giovanni. Strauss’ version is magnificent and wonderfully original, using soaring melodies to encapsulate the swagger, debauchery, and bravado of the lusty seducer.

Strauss (pictured left) composed Don Juan as a young man of 24; its international success and original, groundbreaking style cemented his place as a rising star of the composition world. Notorious for its technical difficulty (it’s an orchestra-audition-list staple), Don Juan is a virtuoso piece that will showcase the abilities of the RPO's world-class musicians to full effect.

The program also includes music from Strauss’ comic opera, Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose). Composed 20 years after Don Juan, Der Rosenkavalier shrewdly examines the full spectrum of love; the plot celebrates the excitement and passion of love-at-first-sight, but also shows the repercussions involved when love grows cold. The RPO will be joined by sopranos Noelle McMurtry (as Sophie) and Rebecca Farley Witty (as Marschallin), and mezzo-soprano Laura Vlasak Nolen (as Octavian) for these performances.

Violinist Stefan Jackiw (right) will join the RPO as well, performing Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. Scottish Fantasy is both Romantic and romantic, evoking the rugged beauty and exuberant spirit of Scotland. The piece is a fantasy on traditional Scottish folk melodies including Auld Rob Morris, Hey the Dusty Miller, I’m a’ doun for lack o’ Johnnie, and Scots wha hae. Click here or below for a preview, performed by Jascha Heifetz.

Valentine's Day is associated closely with roses, and this weekend's program will feature a rose of the musical variety in the form of contemporary composer Karen Tanaka's Rose Absolute. Read below for Tanaka’s introduction to this piece:
Rose Absolute was inspired by a perfume of the same name, created by the French perfumery Annick Goutal, located near the Place Vendôme in Paris. Rose Absolute is the most beautiful and pure rose of roses. The image of this composition, sounds and colors came to my mind instantly when I visited the shop and was handed a beautiful bottle of the perfume with a lovely scent of roses. The piece was written as a floral bouquet for a lover, as my personal, romantic present.”

Share these works with your Valentine, Thursday, February 9 at 7:30 pm or Saturday, February 11 at 8:00 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased online or by calling 454-2100.

* Scottish image: Eilean Donan Castle; scotland-flavour.co.uk

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