Skyscraping grandeur, sheer beauty and energy to match the excitement of the New Year-Pacific Symphony rings in 2013 with a concert featuring two timeless masterpieces: Beethoven's Violin Concerto and Rimsky-Korsakov's astonishing "Scheherazade."
First, Canadian virtuoso James Ehnes takes the stage for Beethoven's crowning achievement, the most frequently performed violin concerto in the repertoire. The Grammy-Award winning violinist surmounts the technical difficulty of the piece on his 1715 "Marsick" Stradivarius, revealing the exquisite lyricism of Beethoven's work. Then the orchestra, led by Scottish guest conductor and rising star Garry Walker, tells the story of "1,001 Nights" through the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, once called the "master magician of orchestration," in his "Scheherazade."
The concert takes place tonight through Saturday, Jan. 10-12, 2013, at 8 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall; a preview talk with Alan Chapman begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25-$102; for more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
Composed in Vienna for one of the best-known virtuosos of the day, Franz Clement, Beethoven's Violin Concerto epitomizes the classical concerto form. Written in 1806, it exceeds the scale of any violin concerto that preceded it, and begins with the longest introduction preceding the soloist's entrance.
"It is pretty much a perfect piece of music," says violinist Ehnes. "The melodic and rhythmic material is among the most memorable and moving in the entire repertoire, and the piece has perfect proportions. Not a note seems out of place.
"The overall 'experience' of the piece is what I find most attractive," he continues. "It's of pretty substantial length, and the journey from start to finish seems to transcend time. I play this piece a lot, and always feel honored to be the medium that brings this amazing music to a live audience. It's wonderful to think how many people in every audience are hearing it for the first time, or hearing it live for the first time."
While sharing an epic quality with Beethoven's grand work, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" is otherwise unique-full of exoticism and foreign lands, it's an orchestral palette of color and vibrant textures, featuring cadenzas by multiple sections of the orchestra, including the concertmaster. Through an ominous and chromatic opening enters the voice of a lone violin, representing the voice of Scheherazade, a woman who tells the tales of "The Arabian Nights" and takes the listener on a journey to meet sultans, princes and a voyager named Sinbad.