Concert brings Mozart, friends to Manito Park

The music of W.A. Mozart, Antonin Dvorak and Frederic Chopin will emanate from the lawn east of Manito Park’s Duncan Garden next week.

It’s the 23rd annual Mozart on a Summer’s Eve concerts, set for Tuesday and Wednesday, featuring soprano Susan Windham, internationally acclaimed cellist Zuill Bailey and an ensemble of noted local performers.

The event, sponsored by Connoisseur Concerts and directed by KPBX’s Verne Windham, is titled “Song to The Moon” after an aria from the Dvorak’s opera “Rusalka.”

Opening the concert will be Mozart’s Overture from “The Marriage of Figaro.” Susan Windham will perform two arias and a song by Mozart: “An Emotion of Joy” from “Figaro”; “The Violet,” based on a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; and “You Will See, My Dear” from “Don Giovanni.”

The Octet in E flat major, Op. 103 by Ludwig van Beethoven will close the first half of the concert. In spite of its high opus number, this is an early effort of Beethoven composed in 1792-1793. “This work shows the influence of Mozart and his two well-known wind octets,” Verne Windham said. “The second movement, Andante, has an extended aria-like solo for the oboe. I suppose you could consider this Mozart’s ‘third’ octet.”

Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance Op. 72, No. 7 (15) will set the stage for three more vocal selections featuring Susan Windham: “Oh, While I Sleep” by Franz Liszt (1811-1886); “The Exquisite Hour” by Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947); and the program’s namesake “Song To The Moon.”

Rusalka is the title character in Dvorak’s opera. She is the daughter of a water-goblin who wants to become human after falling in love with a hunter/prince. This song implores the moon to reveal her love to the prince. The last lines are: “If this human soul is in fact dreaming of me, may the memory awake him. Moon, don’t disappear, disappear!”

Bailey, the incoming artistic director of the Northwest Bach Festival, will close the evening’s performance with three works. The first is Dvorak’s “Silent Woods,” a lyrical character piece that was originally a movement from a suite for piano four-hands.

Variations on a Theme of Rossini from the opera “Moses of Egypt” by Nicolò Paganini is a tour de force sure to delight and dazzle the audience.

“The Paganini Moses variations are a virtuoso violin showpiece that involves the use of only ONE string,” Bailey wrote in an email. “… With this piece, Paganini would end programs and send the crowds into a frenzy.”

Chopin wrote the Nocturne in C sharp minor in 1830 and dedicated it to his older sister. Chopin did not label this work a nocturne but “Lento con gran espressione” after its tempo marking. It was not published until 26 years after his death.

This haunting piece was featured in Roman Polanski’s award-winning film “The Pianist” (2002), which tells the story of Jewish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman, who played this nocturne during the final broadcast of Polish Radio in September 1939 as Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

“The Chopin is a wonderful transcription by the Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky,” Bailey remarked. “Being that Chopin’s last work was the sonata for cello and piano, Piatigorsky, I’m sure, knew he would have had the approval of the great Chopin in taking one of his gorgeous nocturnes and weaving in the cello.”

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