National Philharmonic: The Debut
Saturday, February 23, 2019, 8pm
The Music Center
Member Encore Q&A
Zuill Bailey, cello
Roberto Diaz, viola
Piotr Gajewski, conductor
Schumann Manfred Overture
Miklós Rózsa Theme, Variations and Finale, op. 13
Richard Strauss Don Quixote
Wagner Prelude to Die Meistersinger
The 4,025th concert in the history of Carnegie Hall, which took place on Sunday afternoon, November 14, 1943, was an unforgettable breakthrough in American musical life. Leonard Bernstein, a young and inexperienced assistant to the mighty Bruno Walter, took to the stage on very short notice to replace the suddenly ill maestro and to conduct the New York Philharmonic in a demanding program that included three warhorses of Western music and a contemporary orchestral piece. Bernstein recalled his debut in one of his last interviews: “I never thought I would have to walk out there [the Carnegie Hall stage] on my own. When it came to the time – that very day – all I can remember is standing there in the wings shaking and being so scared. There was no rehearsal… I strode out and I don't remember a thing from that moment, until the sound of people standing and cheering and clapping.” The works that he conducted mark important moments in the development of Western music. Schumann’s Manfred Overture, part of his incidental music for the dramatic poem by Lord Byron, was composed when he was already hearing the “inner voices” that heralded his descent into madness. Strauss’s Don Quixote is a symphonic poem that calls for a very large orchestra and yet deploys great subtlety in orchestration, with ingenious combinations of sonorities to depict Don Quixote and his servant Sancho Panza. Rózsa’s Theme, Variations and Finale is an exquisitely constructed work of unforgettable appeal, combining traditional variation techniques with emotionally charged melodies and haunting sonorities. Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger and the composition of the opera itself, were motivated by a flash of inspiration that was awakened in him by the contemplation of Titian’s painting “The Assumption of the Virgin” at the Academy of Arts in Venice, an experience that reignited his creative powers. The Prelude was composed in the course of a single train ride. Eventually, Bernstein’s association with the New York Philharmonic spanned 47 years, 1,244 concerts, and 200-plus recordings.
Zuill Bailey, a three-time Grammy Award winner, “is easily one of the finest cellists alive today.”
"With a world-class sound, [Grammy Award winner Roberto Diaz's] serious and dramatic approach to the Schnittke Viola Concerto is among the best we've heard this year..."
- El Mercurio
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