2017 Blossom Music Festival
August 19 – Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
Introducing the Concert
Dazzle, Daring & Drums
This evening’s concert presents four works of dazzling execution and artistry. We hear orchestral pieces by three French composers, whose daring work a century years ago juxtaposed modern frisson against more introspective ideas and ideals — yielding some extraordinarily vivid music and illuminating musical picture painting. The fourth piece is a brilliantly fiery piano concerto by a Russian early in his rise to the pantheon of great composers.
The evening begins with a rarely-heard piece from a hundred years ago by a French composer relatively unknown today. At the time, Florent Schmitt was at the top of his game, celebrated in Paris and beyond. His Haunted Palace from 1904 is a musical study (or étude) on a spectral poem by Edgar Allan Poe. It is filled with beautiful, well-calibrated — and, at times, dark and dramatically haunted — music.
Next comes Sergei Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto, written in 1911 when the composer was just 20 years old. He wrote it for himself, and this score clearly demonstrates Prokofiev’s prodigious abilities as a pianist. For our concert, Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen takes up the demanding solo role.
After intermission, guest conductor Fabien Gabel examines one of Claude Debussy’s amazingly evocative works, Ibéria, from his three Images for orchestra. This is painting in music of incredible depth, rich and impressionistic in its portrayal of scenes from life on the Iberian peninsula.
The program ends with Ravel’s Boléro from 1928, a work that began as a simple exercise in variation and repetition — and has ridden a wave of popularity to be one of the most-recognized pieces ever written. It is mesmerizing and tensely-coiled, and offers a brilliant ending to a night of musical gems. —Eric Sellen