10th Symphony Concert 2013/14 //
Conductor: Stefan Solyom
Soloist: Olga Kern, piano
Edgar Varèse “Amériques” (1927 version)
Sergei Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 in C minor op. 18 for piano and orchestra
Antonin Dvořák Symphony No. 9 in E minor “From the New World”
In 1892, Dvořák headed to America – still regarded as the ›New World‹ back then – to become the director of the New York National Conservatory. His task was to teach Americans how to compose ›national‹ music. It was an adventure and obviously a great honour for the Bohemian-born artist, though the scenario seems a bit absurd in hindsight. Dvořák spent much of his time in the US searching for sources of ›typically American‹ music and even invited American Indians to perform on their drums and sing for him. And yet the sound of his 9th symphony, in which he integrated some of the characteristics he discovered, is perhaps more distinctively Bohemian than any of his other works. The uncomplicated feel of the piece, however, possesses a distinctive charm which has made the »Ninth« – though not truly ›American‹ – one of the most popular works of the modern-day concert repertory.
Rachmaninoff’s rising star in the United States rose even higher after the debut of his 2nd piano concerto. However, as a media sceptic and self-proclaimed »last romantic«, he would have probably felt uneasy to see Hollywood eventually embrace this famous work as a classical film score. But there is no denying the compositional content of the piece. In fact, the popularity of Rachmaninoff’s concert demonstrates his unusually fine sense of musical impact and good taste – and as we know, there is no point in arguing about matters of taste.
Edgar Varèse’s work offers a perfect contrast. After immigrating to the United States in 1915, this gifted pioneer of musical modernity wrote »Amériques« at the beginning of his American phase. In this work, he incorporates childhood dreams – »the unknown, new worlds on our planet, far-away places« – as well as the experience of a new beginning, musically expressed in the visionary sounds of his first impressions of the »audible New York«. Music of elementary force whose range of colours seem to combine in unlimited possibilities.
Introduction: 6.45 pm in the Flügelsaal I (Weimarhalle). The introduction is given in German.