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The Spokane Symphony staged a Beethoven mini-festival over the weekend with two excellent concerts at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. Conductor Eckart Preu took the highly appreciative audience from Beethoven’s First Symphony into his innovative middle period, with stops at the Fifth Symphony and the Violin Concerto. Both concerts were filled with the kind of festive dramatics that is Beethoven’s trademark.
Ludwig van Beethoven reigns. Still. It’s hard to name a form in classical music – instrumental music, anyway – that listeners do not associate with Beethoven.
The Spokane Symphony opens its 2009-10 season with concerts Saturday and Sunday featuring pianist Pascal Rogé. Budget cuts because of the bad economy have forced some changes in the orchestra’s programming later in the season, but not for opening night.
Usually people share blankets and lawn chairs, but this year umbrellas and big blue tarps were in high demand, too, as picnickers claimed their spots at the Spokane Symphony’s traditional Labor Day concert in Comstock Park. Showers came and went all afternoon, but the sun broke through around 5 p.m.
The Spokane Symphony announced significant cost-cutting measures last week, including 20 percent pay cuts for administrative staff and a number of changes in the upcoming 2009-’10 repertoire. A number of pieces have been switched, with an eye toward the budget. Also, one guest soloist, violinist Philip Quint, has been replaced with the symphony’s Mateusz Wolski. The Symphony on the Edge concerts at the Knitting Factory and the Chamber Soiree concerts in Post Falls have been canceled. Executive director Brenda Nienhouse talked recently about these developments. Q.What has prompted the symphony to take these belt-tightening steps?
Once, I sat through an excruciating orchestral rendition of “The Nutcracker Suite.” You know the famous part that goes, “Dah-da-da-dah-dut-dah”?
If you are familiar with only one Mozart symphony, chances are it’s Symphony No. 41, “The Jupiter.” Maybe you’ve heard parts of it in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall.” Or maybe you’ve heard Allen’s character, in “Manhattan,” famously include it in the list of things that make “life worth living” (ranked alongside “Groucho Marx” and “Willie Mays”).
Disney has created many memorable images: The lion king with his cub, Aladdin with his lamp, beauty with her beast. Yet tonight, we’ll be reminded that Disney has also provided the world with a remarkably rich soundtrack over the decades. The Spokane Symphony will present a family concert titled “The Magical Music of Walt Disney,” featuring music from Disney features ranging from “Mary Poppins” to “Mulan.”
When the words “Beethoven’s Ninth” are spoken, everyone knows it means Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 – not his ninth string quartet or ninth piano sonata. There are good reasons for that: It’s big, it’s bold, it’s difficult for performers, and it gives a thrill to audiences.
Classical concertgoers nowadays know their Mozart. Most people think of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as the greatest composer of 18th-century classicism. Some consider him the greatest composer of any period.
Cirque de la Symphonie combines two venerable European traditions: classical music and the circus. Or, should we say, the cirque. This Spokane Symphony SuperPops concert features high-flying performers more in the tradition of Cirque de Soleil (although not associated with that group) than the Ringling Bros.
The Spokane Symphony seldom has its classics concerts led by a guest conductor. It rarely programs modern works that might be called radical. And the orchestra plays few works by Polish composers. But this weekend’s performances at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox brought two outstanding Polish-born musicians to the forefront, guest conductor Michal Nesterowicz and violinist soloist Mateusz Wolski. The program included two major Polish works, including a nearly 50-year-old piece that still has the power to agitate – even anger – some in the audience.
Brandi Carlile? The Seattle alternative singer-songwriter? Backed by an orchestra? That’s exactly what will happen in the second half of Carlile’s concert on Thursday, 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.
Poland might as well be Pluto for most American concertgoers. Certainly, classical audiences here know the music of Chopin and maybe one or two of the violin concertos of Wieniawski. But that is where most American listeners’ knowledge of Polish music stops.
The Spokane Symphony and conductor Eckart Preu treated their audiences this weekend by contrasting two unfamiliar works with one that is a staple of the concerto repertoire. Preu began the concert with the Prelude to Franz Schreker’s 1915 opera “Die Gezeichneten” and followed it with Igor Markevitch’s music for the ballet “Icare,” written in 1933 but extensively revised 10 years later. Neither work has been heard in a Spokane Symphony concert, and rarely anyplace else.
Alisa Weilerstein wasn’t born playing the cello. But it didn’t take long for her to start; she was 4 when she began lessons. Still, she did not play Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto right away, despite the fact she wanted to.
Most people would say Frank Sinatra or the Beatles created the soundtrack of the 1960s. However, you can make an excellent case for Enrico Nicola Mancini, better known as Henry Mancini – who will be celebrated in Saturday’s Spokane Symphony SuperPops concert, “Mancini Madness.”
A new “Beethoven Bash,” pops at The Fox and a different dance partner for “The Nutcracker” will be among the highlights of the Spokane Symphony’s 2009-2010 season. Season tickets go on sale today for the various series on the schedule, which was announced in a mailing to symphony subscribers. The season opens Sept. 26 with two orchestral blockbusters – Ravel’s “Bolero” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” – along with Gershwin’s Concerto in F with Pascal Roge as piano soloist.
When the Spokane Symphony crosses Monroe Street, lots of things change besides the “walk” light. Members of the symphony will leave their posh art deco venue at the Fox Friday to take the stage at the Knitting Factory, which is usually occupied by rock groups. The occasion is one of the orchestra’s Symphony on the Edge concerts. Morihiko Nakahara, the orchestra’s associate conductor, will lead a program of works by six living American composers.
The Spokane Symphony and the women of the Symphony Chorale soared to space this weekend. The concert was a visual and sonic spectacular with the music of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” and photographs from NASA missions. Saturday and Sunday concerts were conducted by Eckart Preu and presented works that explored the inner space of religion and human psychology, along with a bit of interplanetary adventure.