Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1
Sibelius: Legends From the Kalevala (aka Lemminkainen Legends)
Our program stated that the Legends are not performed much, at all. I certainly don't remember hearing it before. I have always loved Sibelius' "Finlandia," which contains within it the hymn we all know as "Be Still, My Soul." The French horn section played magnificently this weekend...full, rich, and clear. The bassoons were loud and clear, as well! It's not often that one can hear them so well above the rest of the orchestra. The hymn section was flawless and peaceful, from the flutes and oboes playing of it, to the cellos and violas repeating it.
The first movement of Sibelius' "Legends" contains a most impressive solo by the English Horn player. I don't recall a longer set of solos by one instrument in my years of visiting the symphony live, or in my years of playing flute and bassoon, and a basic study of music appreciation in high school and college.
The third movement is a little lifeless and slow, but the second and fourth are very nice. The Fourth contains a wave of melody that begins with the double basses, moves to the cellos, then flows seamlessly on to the viola section, to the first violin section, to be completed by the rest of the violins in the orchestra...at least, that was the interpretation done by Osmo Vänskä, visiting conductor. It was very impressive, and occured about three times in the fourth movement.
For more on Sibelius, click here: http://inkpot.com/classical/finlandia.html
The Liszt piece was played by 1997 Van Cliburn winner, Jon Nakamatsu, and was beautiful and very smooth. Flashy piano concertos are not Hubby's or my favorite thing, but it was very well-done, and easy to listen to. It brought to my mind memories of trickling streams and large waterfalls, (and this will sound cheesy, but it's true) like that of the Rhine River Falls (Rheinfalls) near Schaffhausen in Northern Switzerland. For an awesome aerial java-script photo, click here: http://www.rheinfall.com/Milan/index-e.html
It is fun to watch the different musicians on the stage. When they are pausing and waiting to play, different ones assume various restful poses. Some of the trumpet players cross their arms and/or hang their heads, looking as if they are napping. Others, like one of the trombonists, who is quite tall and lanky, look very much like a character from a Norman Rockwell painting! Once, we even looked on as the poor bass clarinetest, who had a substantial solo one night last year, grew very pale and had to leave after the piece being played was completed. He was back after intermission to finish playing the last set of the night. What a trooper!