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AN EVENING WITH HÉCTOR GUZMÁN AND FRIENDS!

Héctor Guzmán, Conductor
Tammy and Charles Miller Assistant Conductor Shira Samuels-Shragg, Conductor
Héctor Guzmán, organ

MARCH 16, 2024 • 8 PM | Christ United Methodist Church

This special concert features a rare performance by PSO Maestro Héctor Guzmán on the organ. Conducted by Shira Samuels-Shragg, the symphony will perform the colorful and imaginative work Concertino for Organ and Orchestra by M.B. Jimenez. The concert will also include performances by the three grand prize winners of the PSO’s annual Collin County Young Artist Competition which always reminds us that the future of orchestra music shines brighter than ever!

This concert is sponsored in part by

 

 

PROGRAM

 

PROGRAM

 

Concerto for piano and orchestra No. 12

in A Major K.414 (Allegro) ——————————————W.A. Mozart

Jenna Tran, piano

 

Concerto for clarinet and orchestra No. 2

in E flat Major, Op. 74

(recitative and alla Polacca) ————————————–C.M von Weber

Daniel Tauhert, clarinet

 

Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 for

cello and orchestra ———————————————-P.I. Tchaikovsky

Jin Han, cello

INTERMISSION

 

Concertino for Organ and

Orchestra: Medieval Portrait ——————————–M.B. Jimenez (*)

(*) first performance in Plano

 

Mester de Juglares

Mester de Clerecía

Don Carnal y Doña Cuaresma

Dueñas e Monjas

 

Hector Guzman, organ

Shira Samuels-Shragg, conductor

 

Capriccio Espagnol Op. 34———————————-N. Rimsky-Korsakov

 

Alborada

Variazioni

Alborada

Scena e canto gitano

Fandango asturiano

 

Hectór Guzmán & Friends

An American Composer’s Perspective on

Weber, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Jiménez & Rimsky-Korsakov

 

© Robert Xavier Rodríguez

 

 

Tonight’s Plano Symphony Orchestra concert features Maestro Héctor Guzmán both as a conductor and as an organ soloist along with this year’s winners of the PSO Young Artist Competition.  The program features four concertos by German, Austrian, Russian and Mexican composers followed by the popular Capriccio Espagnole by Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov.

 

I.

 

Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) was a younger contemporary of Beethoven (1770-1827).  Along with Schubert (1797-1828), he was one of the first Romantic composers to follow Beethoven’s stylistic journey from Classicism to Romanticism.  Weber was unique among Romantic composers in that he worked with equal ease both in concert forms and in opera.  His opera Der Freischütz was important in establishing the nationalist German opera tradition which Wagner developed later in the 19th century.

 

Tonight, we hear two movements from Weber’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No. 2, Op. 118 in E- Flat.  The second movement is slow and expressively poignant, with a dramatic, operatic recitativo in the central section.  The finale, alla Polacca, is in in triple meter: “One and-a TWO and three and.”  The polonaise is normally danced at a stately pace, as in Chopin’s famous piano polonaises, but this one is often played quite fast in order for the soloist to show off all of the brilliant leaps and runs.  The effect is like a coloratura soprano singing a Rossini aria and decorating it with sparkling virtuoso pyrotechnics.

 

II.

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was the greatest musical genius who ever lived.  In his 35 years — from his first, elegant minuet (K. 1), written at the age of five, to his sublime, uncompleted Requiem (K. 626) — Mozart composed masterpieces in all the genres of his day.  Aaron Copland wrote of “the despair factor” when any other composer considers the scope and perfection of Mozart’s achievement.   Albert Einstein wrote, “The music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he simply found it — that it always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed.”

 

Mozart lived in the late Classical era of comic opera, with the witty repartée and lively dialectic of the Enlightenment.  For him, quick contrast is the rule.  After every opening musical statement, he immediately “one-ups” himself with a contrasting rejoinder.  His finest works are in the field of opera, in which he reveals an unparalleled capacity for depicting human experience in music, especially in the three comedies of romantic intrigue:  The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte

 

After Mozart’s operas, his piano concertos are the greatest delight of his output.  He wrote them mainly for himself to play, which he did with gusto.  Tonight, we hear the first movement of his elegant Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414, which he wrote at the age of 26.  He performed it soon after he moved from Salzburg to Vienna, to announce himself ready for “the big city.”  Here, ever the theater composer, he turns his sonata-allegro form into a miniature comic opera, as the themes create a pair of ardent lovers and an endearing cast of characters racing around and trading clever asides.

 

III.

 

Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky (1804-1893) was the leading Russian composer of his time, and, with Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), he was one of Russia’s two greatest composers of any time.  In Russian, his name is pronounced “Chee-kov-ski.” Tchaikovsky first brought his music to the United States when he was commissioned to compose and conduct a Festival Coronation March for the opening of Carnegie Hall in 1891.  The concert also included the famous 1812 Overture.   Stravinsky wrote that, as a child, he was thrilled to have caught a glimpse of Tchaikovsky at a concert.  Stravinsky also said he was “impatient with music that does not sing or dance.”  Tchaikovsky’s music always does both.  Few composers have achieved equal success with both symphonies and operas.  His chamber works, concertos, overtures and particularly his ballets, such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, are known and loved throughout the musical world.

 

Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo theme for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 33 are part of the standard repertoire.  There are seven (originally eight) variations, deftly written and superbly crafted for the cello with the aggressive, some say too aggressive, help of the composer’s cellist friend, Wilhelm Fitzenhagen.  The theme, however, is not rococo.  It is actually by Tchaikovsky himself, inspired by the music of his favorite composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), whom Tchaikovsky described as a “musical Christ.”  Writing of Mozart, Tchaikovsky said, “Through this music, I entered that world of artistic beauty inhabited only by the greatest geniuses…It is to Mozart that I am obliged for the fact that I have dedicated my life to music.  He gave the first impulse to my musical powers and made me love music more than anything else in the world.”  This work, however, sounds nothing like Mozart.  As French poet-playwright-director-visual artist Jean Cocteau put it, “A truly creative artist is incapable of copying; therefore, in order to create, an artist need only try to copy.”  True to Cocteau’s dictum, Tchaikovsky thoroughly immersed himself in Mozart, and out came pure Tchaikovsky.

IV.

 

Mexican composer and musicologist Miguel Bernal Jiménez (1910-1956) toured internationally as an organist, and he became the director of the Conservatory de las Rosas in Morelia.  His catalogue includes ballet, religious and orchestral works, and he enjoyed the respect of his contemporaries, Carlos Chávez, Manuel Ponce and Silvestre Revueltas.  Born at the start of the Mexican revolution, he was at the forefront of the movement for Mexican nationalism in the arts which arose during that period.

 

Jiménez based his Concerto for Organ and Orchestra (1949) on a medieval

Spanish altarpiece.  There are four musical sections.  Maestro Guzmán explains, “It is called Retablo Medieval because each movement depicts a scene in medieval times: Mester de Juglares (master of minstrels), a scene of a medieval clown performing in front of a kingly court playing an instrument or singing; Mester de clerecia (master of the clergy), a peaceful meditation at a church; Don Carnal y Doña Cuaresma, a contrast of secular and sacred life; and finally Dueñas e Monjas (ladies and nuns), a contrast of family life and church life.” 

 

The music is traditionally modal, with liturgical echoes of medieval polyphony and the dramatic organ works of Bach.  One can also hear the austere religious atmosphere of the slow movement of Falla’s masterly Harpsichord Concerto (1926).  The final section contains a vigorous contrapuntal orchestral buildup to a dazzling pedal solo, after which the orchestra reinters with a powerful statement to bring the work to a close.  Maestro Guzmán adds, “The last time I played it was 24 years ago with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson…it is a fascinating piece for the organ, beautifully orchestrated…I think everyone will have fun!”

 

V.

 

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) was the central figure of the nationalistic 19th-century “Russian Five” (Mily Balakirev, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin).  None of “The Five” made his living as a professional musician.  For much of his adult life, Rimsky-Korsakov was an officer in the Russian navy.  Only later in life did he become a professor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory.  His 1883 Principles of Orchestration is still used today as the gold standard on the subject, and he has had enormous influence as Stravinsky’s teacher and as the inspiration for Debussy, Ravel and later generations of composers.

 

Rimsky-Korsakov began his 1887 Capriccio Espagnole as a virtuoso work for violin and orchestra, but the material had a mind of its own.  Instead, it developed into a mini concerto for orchestra, in which solo winds and percussion join the violin in virtuoso passagework to create an orchestral showpiece.  There are five sections, played without pause.  “Alborada” is a festive morning song in which the violin and clarinet exchange florid outbursts. “Variazioni” presents a rocking theme, which starts in the horns, spreads to the oboe and horn, then to the full orchestra and ends quietly with the flute.  “Alborhada” recalls the opening, but in a new key and with the violin and clarinet switching roles.  “Scene and Gypsy Song” creates a dramatic episode, as in a ballet.  Each section of the orchestra takes a turn in the spotlight, starting with a drumroll, a brass fanfare and a flashy violin cadenza.  The gypsy song builds all the way through, stopping for more cadenzas and continues directly into the exciting “Fandango Asturiano,” in which the fandango morphs into a madcap Spanish waltz.  A quick reference to the opening “Alborada” ends the work with a jubilant flourish.  

 

Upon its premiere, critics hailed the fine orchestration, but the composer insisted upon making a distinction between orchestration as a kind of musical costume vs. using the choice of instruments as the basis for the music itself.  As he put it, “The change of timbres, the felicitous choice of melodic designs and figuration patterns, exactly suiting each kind of instrument, brief virtuoso cadenzas for solo instruments, etc., constitute here the very essence of the composition and not its garb or orchestration. The Spanish themes of dance character furnished me with rich material for putting in use multiform orchestral effects.”  It is said that, during Rimsky’s rehearsals for the premiere, one particular passage delighted the players so much that they cheered every time they played it.

 

————–

 

 

Robert Xavier Rodríguez has served as Composer-in-Residence for the Dallas Symphony and the San Antonio Symphony.  He holds an Endowed Chair in Art and Aesthetic Studies and is Director of the Musica Nova ensemble at the University of Texas at Dallas.  His music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer (Wise Music Classical).

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Tauhert (clarinet
Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 74, Movement 2 from Recitativo and Movement 3 by Carl Maria von Weber
 
Jenna Tran (piano
Concerto No. 12 in A major, KV 414, Movement 1 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  
 
Jin Han (cello
Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky